When Kim Lund introduced RE/MAX to the Cayman Islands 25 years ago, the real estate company did not have a presence outside of North America.
Despite Cayman’s small size and population, Lund convinced the company to take a chance on the rapidly developing market.
The risk proved worthwhile. The Cayman office, launched in 1992, would become the first of many international locations for RE/MAX.
The company now has more than 7,000 offices in more than 100 countries.
In Cayman, where the market was in its developing stages, Lund found great growth potential. By 1997 and 1998, he ranked as the No. 1 RE/MAX agent in the world.
The one-man show quickly expanded and RE/MAX Cayman Islands now includes 16 agents and 12 support staff.
“Cayman has always been an incredible place to live, work and for tourists to visit. However, we didn’t have the critical mass to really attract a lot of attention internationally,” Lund said.
“With development over the last 25 years to where we are now, we are getting a lot more awareness from the international market.”
In the endeavor’s first year, he took on Edna Ebanks as his first agent. She is still with the business today. Lund says much of the company’s success has stemmed from its ability to attract and maintain high-quality agents like Ebanks.
The company’s beginning days also brought in agent James Bovell, who started at RE/MAX early in his real estate career.
Four years after joining the company, Bovell became co-owner. That year, 1998, proved to be a challenging time for RE/MAX. The company lost its office manager and wife, Brenda Tibbetts-Lund, to breast cancer.
This loss would be one of many challenges that put RE/MAX to the test over the years. In 2004, the business and the Cayman Islands suffered extensive damages from Hurricane Ivan. Four feet of flooding destroyed the company’s computers and filing cabinets. Bovell recalls staff taking wet files home to hang out to dry and then iron page by page, before re-filing.
The following year forced the company to focus on recovery, both internally and with clients in the community. Business dropped by 37 percent that year, and agents wouldn’t close a sale for six months, Bovell recalled.
Ultimately, he believes the rebuilding process made RE/MAX stronger.
“Ivan to me was one of those things that created an opportunity to be tested,” Bovell said.
“It was a shining moment to work together and rebuild.”
The global financial crisis in 2008 dealt another unexpected blow to the company. This period brought low capital appreciation and sales became difficult, Lund said.
Despite these challenging years, RE/MAX pulled through once again.
“We’ve now come out of that and are in a totally different cycle where we have good capital appreciation for different properties, and more demand than supply,” Lund said.
He now has significant interest from baby boomers looking to retire and settle in Cayman, particularly along Seven Mile Beach. He has seen interest grow as well beyond the main tourist spots.
“The other striking thing over the last 25 years is that the growth has gone all over the island now. It’s everywhere now, whereas 25 years ago it was predominantly in the capital and in the tourism centers or towns,” Lund said.
“It’s always going to be weighted where more of the conveniences are located, which are George Town, Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Kai and East End. However, all of the in-between areas now have homes or developments scattered across.”
As development continues and companies like Dart drive construction projects, Lund expects the company to continue growing. New restaurants, road improvements and housing developments have all made Grand Cayman a better place to the live, he said.
“We are no longer the ‘land that time forgot’ and people are becoming more and more aware of what we have to offer,” he said.