What’s happening?

Here we are in the middle of our busy season and our market is: Active.  

Since about November the activity level in the real estate Industry has increased. Thank goodness. 

Property showings are up and sales volume is also up. So is tourism and therein lies the key to this unexpected increase in activity. But not only are the numbers of air arrivals up, the interesting aspect of all of this is that we are getting new visitors from areas that had not previously been as active.

The expansion of new cities serviced by Cayman Airways has, we believe, led to not only more visitors, but also more visitors who are interested in buying property here. 

Think about it. How did you feel about Cayman when you came here for the first time? Weren’t you amazed that such a pretty place also had as many conveniences as it does? Weren’t you surprised at how easy it was for you to relax here?

That is what these new folks are feeling. What about the rest of us? Well there is an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”. Many residents and repeat customers seem to fixate on what is not as good about Cayman as it was when they first got here, rather than all the reasons why it is a better place to be than where they came from. And I think we are all guilty of that to a degree. 

That’s why it is refreshing to look at our home through the eyes of a first time visitor. It helps us to realise what a gem Cayman really is. That is the first reason business has improved and we have to give a tip of the hat to Cayman Airways for that. 

Secondly, while the US is not really out of the woods yet – economically, politically or socially – some Americans either want to get a beach head (no pun intended) offshore because of that, or are now getting used to their continuing sorry circumstances and are now buying here despite that. 

Lastly, the recent decisions made by the Cayman government have breathed new life into a local market, which was beginning to get tired of carrying us since Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The “For Cayman Alliance” seems to be a win/win from our perspective as it provides solutions for some long standing gnarley problems and supports continuing development here in Grand Cayman.

Just the prospect of these projects has increased local interest and since we know that The Dart Family Foundation will do what they say, there is confidence at least in those developments. The continuing public opposition to a deal that is already done seems to be sour grapes. Especially since those complaining have shown no ability to solve Cayman’s existing problems with any other plan. It is time to move on and “get er done”. 

Meanwhile we have recently heard of the creditors taking over the Ritz from developer Mike Ryan. That is no surprise really. Combine an underfunded developer with an economic recession and the result is almost a foregone conclusion.

The question to be answered is what will the receiver (KPMG) do with the development? Can the real estate be sold off to pay the debt? Not likely, so there will have to be significant losses incurred for a liquidation, or the property will have to be managed until the market improves and sales prices increase. It will be interesting to see which route is taken. 

What many want to know is what will happen to Dragon Bay and especially the North Sound Club, including SafeHaven and its golf course? It is actually very good news that this golf course will not become part of the Ritz, although unfortunate that the cause is what it is.

However, it is crucial to our tourism product that Cayman has an 18 hole golf course that is playable by the visiting public. Without a joint venture partner this property is destined to a similar fate as the Ritz – but we are betting on Dart as the white knight here.

There have been rumours of a joint venture with Ryan, which will likely evolve into outright ownership by Dart. They could use a golf course as part of the residential component of Camana Bay.  

That’s it for now. Watch for our Coldwell Banker Cayman Market Report in June for a more comprehensive analysis of what is happening in the Cayman Marketplace. 

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People who first arrive in the Cayman Islands continue to experience a sense of awe.