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Above: Beautiful oceanfront acre and 3 bedroom home for $340,000.

Well, a lot has happened recently:   Lou Reed will be missed, World Polio Day marked the near eradication of the disease on the 24th Oct, Hurricane in the UK, and this week marks 1 year since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast.  Thankfully, Abaco and the rest of the Bahamas have escaped all the major storms this year.  The hurricane season is not over yet though and once in a rare while a storm will come through in November.

I always tell folks that if a home survived Hurricane Floyd it will survive anything.  It is described with bone chilling details by some of the locals who witnessed it.  There weren’t any deaths, but the destruction to property was unprecedented.  Some people on the cays say it was so bad, they drained their concrete water cisterns and rode out the storm inside.  The tanks are usually 8” to 10” solid concrete to as good as any bomb shelter and the perfect sanctuary from extreme elements.

A good resource for Bahamas hurricane history is on this website:  http://www.bahamasweather.org.bs/index.php?page=storm-history

It describes Hurricane Floyd as the worst on record since the 1929 storm.  The ’29 hurricane was so bad because it did a U-turn and came back to hit Nassau a second time.

In the real estate market – Things are looking like they are improving at the moment.  The broker at HG Christie, John Christie says he is seeing a good boost to activity – there have been a few good sales in the luxury segment notably at Ocean Club, and Lyford Cay in Nassau.  John also noted that the private island’s market has seen a good boost recently, but in the same breath he says that private islands sales seem to be a completely different world.  (meaning the ups and downs don’t seem to correspond to the rest of the real estate market).  The new development projects in Nassau are doing well, and being well received by the market, namely Balmoral, Albany, the Old Fort Bay Town Centre.

In my recent experience, the year of 2013 started out well, with plenty of activity during the first three months, then as of April it seemed like someone turned off the tap the real estate market in Abaco seemed to be in the doldrums all summer.  Then lately, over the past 6 weeks it is like another mini uptick in interest and activity.  3 times in the past 2 weeks I’ve had serious inquiries from buyer who were literally a week or two too late.  The property had just been signed up and deposit either down or expected to be soon.  One purchaser in August/September took a long time to send in the deposit and after 8 weeks of waiting, another buyer showed up, wrote a check and bought the property.  So these are signs that things may be turning around.  The Florida market is up 30% year over year, and inventory is now at the lowest point since 2007.  When supply is low, it pushed values up.  So what is happening is sellers who were waiting for improvement are not starting to get into the market.

Here in the Bahamas we generally see a 9-12 month lag time between an upturn in the market in Florida and when that spills over to the Bahamas.  The mechanism of why this happens is not really understood, but I would love someone to do some research and tell me (anyone?).  That said, many brokers that I speak to in the Bahamas are expecting a significant upturn in the market during the spring of next year.  – All assuming there isn’t a massive fall out from the new VAT tax regime set to become reality in the Bahamas in July 2013.

What are the current stats on the Bahamas MLS?  1,756 active listings right now for the entire Bahamas.   557 active listings in Abaco.  While this is a large inventory which is a good thing for buyers, the number of well-priced properties is fairly limited.  In my humble opinion probably under half of all properties on the Active Bahamas MLS database are priced to sell.  The other half are all ‘fishing’ or simply unwilling to face reality.  So, in Abaco that would leave less than 278 well priced active listings, we’ve had 67 sales for the year 2013 to date, and probably another 4 or 5 this week that aren’t updated as yet.  That is an Absorption rate of 7 a month, which is higher than we’ve seen in 5 years.

Bahamas wide, there have been 279 transactions on the Bahamas MLS for 2013 year-to-date, again a good indicator, though a long way from a seller’s market.

Things are looking up for the market, and while prices are not rising and therefore property values are not rising, it is still a good time to buy.  And you probably don’t want to wait too long, as I’ve seen with several instances lately…  It is a nice change to see buyers fighting over a property instead the sellers begging someone to buy…

As John said – Pricing is still extremely important in this market.  Listen to a realtor or an appraiser you trust, it can save you months or years of waiting and as it is said time is money…

As the end of the year gets closer, lets all hope that the European economies stabilize and the US economy gains more speed.  And take advantage of the well-priced properties before someone else gets there first.

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