Archives for category: Abaco Events & Happenings

This is my first post for 2017.  I was terrible at writing in 2016, I was just too busy to keep up with it.  It was great to have so much real estate activity I couldn’t find time to write a post.

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One of the most interesting things I noticed when compiling the data for this blog post was how many properties take a really long time to close.  For instance, as of the date of writing this, there are 13 properties still in pending status on the Bahamas MLS from 2013.  3 years have passed and the property is still not a completed sale.  I am sure several of these are just agent error in not updating their listing status, but I bet several of the properties are still in limbo waiting some legal document or other challenge to be overcome.  The take away here is make sure you hire a good attorney who can get the job done in a timely fashion.

What’s New in Bahamas Real Estate?

The government of the Bahamas recently announced plans to raise the investment threshold for residency application from US$500,000 to US$1,000,000.  This will obviously affect many potential investors in this country who would like to take up Permanent Residence here.  I believe that the investor mindset changed somewhat after the Great Recession, leading to more risk adverse thinking.  And investing a large sum of money off shore in another country is definitely a risk.  I would counter this argument to say that the Bahamas, while not insulated from the recession, is historically a stable jurisdiction.  While some people got hit pretty hard if they bought at the high and had to sell during the low, those others who made savvy choices and invested in active markets still made out relatively well.  Take away here is stay close to active busy markets, with good amenity levels and strong service sectors.  For example, Hope Town is a very safe bet while Rum Cay or Acklins is not necessarily.  It is possible to see the vast differences in values on the Island of Abaco, where central Marsh Harbour maintains strong growth and values, while the southern part of the island has seen little to no growth or improvement (save Schooner Bay, but that is an entirely different topic).

Going back to the new investment threshold, the legislation has not taken effect as yet, and there has been some push back from the real estate sector.  With a reconsideration or concession being considered.  You can read more on the Tribune website here:

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2017/jan/20/govt-reconsiders-1m-residency-bar-following-push-b/

and here:

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2017/jan/23/bahamas-warned-real-estate-market-not-wrapped/?news

Bahamas Real Estate Market Update

I have prepared some research in the real estate market using data from the Bahamas MLS over the past 8 years.  You will see in the table below results.  The most important parameter to consider in my opinion is the orange line which shows the total number of real estate transactions recorded.  This line has a strong trend of growth for the sector.  2016 saw a total of 500 transactions recorded on the MLS, extrapolating the growth rate out, roughly an extra 50 sales a year, by 2020 we should see 700 transactions or 10% growth per year.

As the sales volume increases we can expect to see the market shift in favour of sellers and corresponding shift away from the strong “buyer’s market” which has existed for the past 10 year period since 2008.

On the chart are average and median sales price.  The MLS now has enough data to pull a meaningful median out.  The 2016 Median was $225,000, the 2016 gross average was $451,702.  You will note the sharp drop in 2014 in the average and median, this was due to the commercial banks beginning to dump distressed properties into the market through the use of licensed brokers.  The low value, high volume significantly skewed the market figures.  The positive side is that the distressed property inventory is now almost normalized and the negative pull on the market averages will soon end.

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I have added my estimates for future years, using the trend lines and my background knowledge of the market to suggest that the coming years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 will very good for the real estate sector.  However I believe the change in investor value threshold will have a significant effect.  It will mean that the local Bahamian market remain unchanged with Bahamian residents trading in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.  The higher range between $500,000 and $1,000,000, which is historically strong with our foreign investor market, is expected to dry up almost completely.  I expect do expect a bump in the market over the $1M mark as a result of the change in legislation, however I do not see the increase to be sufficient to balance the fallout in the lower segment which is effectively being eliminated.

Last years “Brexit” together with the change to Britain’s non-domicile rules has lead to a nice boost to ultra luxury home sales.  Reports are that the luxury communities of Ocean Club, Lyford Cay and Old Fort Bay have seen the strongest sales activity in years as a result of this change in Britain.  The lower end of the foreign investor market from the UK has correspondingly seemed to have seen a heavy fallout with less serious buyers for this segment.

Now, Trump is the new POTUS – What does this mean for Bahamas real estate?  It is still early days, too early to tell, but it would appear that there has been a significant increase in serious buyers from the US.  The new trend appears to have begun just before the US elections and looks like it is continuing.  I suspect it will continue through this year.  The reasons for this are not really known yet.  It could be the confidence the new president is inspiring in High Net Worths, or Ultra High Net worth investors.  It could be that the markets all over the world are doing very well, which means cash is available to invest.  It could be that the policies of the last president are starting to reap benefits?  Whatever the case may be, the indicators are good that 2017 may be a banner year.  There are certainly many changes happening in the world’s economies which so far are benefitting Bahamas real estate.

Value Added Tax was implemented 2 years ago.  It looks like it is here to stay and the economy of the Bahamas has mostly accommodated to it.  It is definitely lowering the purchasing power of the average resident, and definitely increasing revenues for the government.  Whether this is beneficial for the whole Bahamas in the long run, we shall see.

In other interesting news, the WEB.com golf tour has just completed at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay.  Early reports is that it was a great success and everyone is looking forward to next years event.  Similarly, there was another WEB.com tournament at Emerald Bay in Exuma.  It was wonderful to see these 2 spectacular courses in the Bahamas highlighted in the Golf Channel.  The Pure Silk LPGA tournament starts on Saturday at the Ocean Club, Paradise Island.  The Silk tournament on PI has been growing and gaining prestige over the past years.

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Upcoming events in Abaco:

Abaco has many other events coming up, late winter and early spring are a wonderful time on the island with all sorts of things happening.  – the BNT Art for the Parks is Saturday 28th Jan,  Friends of the Environment’s Reef Balls are in February, one in Hope Town, one in Marsh Harbour.  Mangoes Restaurant is set to re-open with wonderful new management, I am hoping it may live up its history when Bo Albury ran it and it was the best place in Abaco.  The fishing tournaments will start up again in about a month.  The Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club flotilla is back in town.  Junior Junkanoo is February 24th/25th, always a fun night.  MOW Fea Market, always a fun day trip on February 18th.

So, lets bring on 2017 and see where this year takes us.  Looks like it will be a good one so far.

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“Top Real Estate Trends Impacting You & Your Business”

My name is Dwayne Wallas, 12 years working in the real estate business with HG Christie Real Estate.  I moved to Abaco in 2007.

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I’ve been asked to come here today and present some insight in the real estate market in Abaco.  As you all know Abaco is a unique part of the Bahamas and a unique part of the world.  In my view it is the people that make it unique.

But also and perhaps more importantly it is the geography – it is the only island in the Bahamas which has a relatively large land mass of 650 square miles similar to Grand Bahama or Andros while also having the 120 mile long chain of barrier cays.

This combination is not found anywhere else in the Bahamas or the Caribbean for the most part.  The ‘mainland’ of Abaco offers the ability for farming, logging, and more light industry or the option to have an estate or many acres with waterfront.  The tourism potential of Great Abaco Island is also very much untapped.

The barrier cays offer unique boating experiences together with wonderful communities.  Put the two together and the potential is tremendous.

I believe Elbow Cay is a perfect example of a thriving development model for the Bahamas.  It offers several small scale hotels together with restaurants and most importantly ATMOSPHERE.

The data I will be showing is derived from the Bahamas MLS.  Therefore it only takes into account sales transactions that have had a broker involved.

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What is selling in Abaco?

Hope Town is booming.  The rest of the Abacos have had a banner year but it all trails way behind Hope Town.  The community has managed to strike a balance between authenticity and capacity.  This year you could not rent a golf cart on the cay unless you booked it well in advance.  The real estate market on the cay is similarly very strong.

Treasure Cay is the close second for driving the economy of the Abacos.  The area sees a strong tourism market as well as posting a strong year for the real estate market.  The condominium market in Treasure Cay was in terrible shape, but the past 2 years have finally seen the inventory reduced and the market is beginning to normalize.

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The Marsh Harbour market is a tough nut to crack.  The market for Bahamians is starting to normalize as the banks are starting to ease lending requirements, but the property values are still depressed.  On the other hand the luxury or foreign investor market in Marsh Harbour (MH) is still very much stagnant.  I see lots of growth potential for the centre of Abaco, but it is suffering as a tourism destination.

Marsh Harbour is generally just a transit point and a shipping/business centre.  There is an opportunity to grow the tourism market here and by extension improve the foreign second home owner market.  From what I see MH seems to lack the charm and “islandy feel” visitors expect when they arrive at the airport.

Baker’s Bay is in full steam construction mode and providing tons of employment but not affecting the real estate market of Abaco at all.  It is its own microcosm and has little direct effect on the Abaco economy apart from the jobs.

Similarly the Abaco Club at Winding Bay is in slow growth mode and provides good employment but has little to no effect on the real estate market anywhere else in the Abacos.  The new developer, Southworth, is slowly rebuilding the prestige and demand.

My last point on this topic, as you can see from the chart, the strongest areas of Abaco are Elbow Cay and Treasure Cay.  The remote parts of Abaco have limited demand.

There are some good opportunities in the remote areas, but be aware that you will be in for a long haul.

Similarly the vacation rental market is only really functioning in Treasure Cay or Hope Town.

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So What about Abaco Compared to the Rest of The Bahamas?  

It is often said that Abaco is a more vibrant economy than Grand Bahama and this chart certainly shows that, although it is given that Grand Bahama is more than just real estate sales.  There is industry in Freeport which we lack here in Abaco.  Maybe for the better, maybe not?

Point is, Abaco is a strong real estate investment market, high sales volume and a high average price point.  Prices in Abaco are not too far off Nassau and second in the country.

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It is, I believe, an economic model to be learned from and encouraged to blossom.  The current test case of locally operated property tax collection on Elbow Cay is interesting and I’m keen to see how it works out.

Chart of Sales Growth Abaco

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Over the past 7 years the data shows growth of sales volume of 18% per year.  Despite the growth in the market and strong activity levels, I’m seeing property values are still dropping somewhere around 5% per year.

I anticipate this trend to turn around in the next 12 months.  As inventory is absorbed, we should see prices start to stabilize and begin to push up a little.

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Government Stimulus to Real Estate

Current incentives of 1st time buyers and Family Island Encouragement Act are having positive impacts.  I believe they should continue.

I believe the taxes on the purchase and sale of real estate is too high.

Stimulating the real estate market and providing incentives to buy here will further stimulate the wider economy.  It is said that a new home owner will further spend an additional 10-20% of the purchase price on furniture or remodeling etc.  That adds up to a significant amount of money being circulated around the economy.

I would urge the government of the Bahamas to further incentivize the real estate market and encourage home buyers, both local and foreign.

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The Acreage and Development Market is completely dead…

There has not been a single transaction of a tract of acreage in Abaco in 10 years.  There are many factors at play but the 2 key reasons I believe to be

  1. Restrictions on foreigners purchasing tracts of land via Foreign Investment Board
    • I believe this market should be liberalized.
    • Keeping it restricted does not benefit the Bahamas.
    • The tax revenue on the sale of large tracts of land is a good reason to encourage the market not restrict it.
    • The vast tracts of raw land are not benefiting anyone by sitting dormant.
    • It is all too common to have a large tract of land owned by 10 or 20 people who inherited it and they will never reach a decision on what to do with it.
  1. The cost of developing land in the Bahamas for sales of lots has risen beyond the ability to realize a profit. The cost of utilities, road paving and legal expenses, plus marketing costs are significantly higher than the price one could sell a residential building lot for right now.
    • A Non-waterfront residential lot on the main island of Abaco sells for an average of $30,000
    • Cost to develop a subdivision of lots for sale in Abaco is around $30,000
    • Therefore No incentive to develop.

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The Tribune has recently published 2 articles on land registration reform, one from the president of the Bahamas Bar Assocation, the other form the president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association.  To quote Mr. Elsworth Johnson

“A registered land system would divulge the number of frauds that cause people to be dispossessed of their land. It would also reduce the amount attorneys are able to charge [for real estate transactions]”

Thank you all very much for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts today.

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Have a wonderful day.

Total Bahamas MLS listings active right now:  2,145

Total Listings Sold On the Bahamas MLS in the past 6 months: 86

However, it is worth noting that I personally have been involved in 3 transactions in the last 6 months, that are not being recorded on the MLS for various reasons, either it was a ‘pocket listing’ or just recently expired etc. If one assumes that one quarter of the licensed agents in the Bahamas have been involved in one transaction that was not recorded on the MLS it bumps up the number of sales transactions up to 221.  This sales volume figure is modest but indicates strong gains over the previous year.  In the past month, every active broker or agent I’ve spoken to has seen a marked increase in inquiries, visits, showings and offers.  This is all leading to a significantly improved real estate market for the year of 2015.

The long wait since 2007 is definitely officially over in my opinion.

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Above: Beautiful Luxury Estate on Man O War Cay. Multiple dwellings, 3 beaches, large private marina. More information here:

http://www.hgchristie.com/details/abaco/man-o-war-cay/house-as12394/

Every company in the Bahamas is seeing major improvement across the board. In the local Bahamian real estate market, it seems the commercial banks are starting to make loans a bit easier to reach although the lending standards are still quite high. Typically Scotiabank is looking for the borrower to have 30% equity, however they are currently offering extremely low interest rates. RBC has in my opinion been the easiest bank to work with in terms of securing a mortgage with 10% deposit/equity and they will allow the borrower to finance closing costs which is a major help to a first time real estate buyer looking to start out. The government stamp tax of 10% (usually split between buyer and seller) is still a major financial hurdle for most buyers of real estate in the country, so being able to get financial assistance with that is a blessing. CIBC Fist Caribbean is offering 15% equity/deposit with interest rates on par with the other institutions.

In the non-resident or second home owner market there has been a large increase in interest from potential buyers and the sales activity is indicating a strong improvement. The problem I am seeing now though is that sellers who had been on the side lines waiting for the past couple of years have now seen the market improvement and chosen to put their property on the market. This has had the effect of increasing the inventory of available properties on the market which causes the market to skew in favour of the buyers. That said, I believe we are out of the woods and it is still a great time to buy.

When you have multiple people looking at making offers on one piece of real estate that definitely shows a vastly improved market for the past years. I have seen multiple offers at the same time on 5 different occasions in the past 6 months.

Happening right now a reality TV show called ‘Below Decks’ filming in Abaco right now. It is a Bravo network show similar to Big Brother set on a luxury yacht. The film crew is based out of Abaco Beach Resort and has been using the beautiful scenes of Abaco as the backdrop. Good exposure for the island, however I think it only appeals to the teenage audience so economic spill over is likely to be very limited.

I have heard mention of the possibility of the Marsh Harbour airport runway being extended so we might finally see direct flights from New York and Atlanta. Something that will make getting to the Abacos from Europe and the Northeast US much, much easier.

The Friends of the Environment Annual Reef Ball was recently held at the Abaco Inn with great success, and the Marsh Harbour edition is coming up in about a week. Great Cause, Great Food and Great Fun to be had at the Marsh Harbour Marina.

Upcoming events in Abaco – Great Abaco Family Fitness Weekend (Triathlon), Fishing Tournament season, Hope Town Music/Songwriters Festival (Happening Now).

Get out of the snow and come down for a visit.

http://www.hgchristie.com/blog/regatta-time-in-abaco-2014-race-recap-with-dwayne-wallas/

Regatta Abaco 2014

Well written Dave.

(Apologies for my last post, I wrote it and then it got lost when publishing and wordpress posted it to FB and LinkedIn before I realized the post was blank.)

A few weeks back everyone was talking about a recent video shoot for a new music video that Pitbull shot in Staniel Cay, Exuma.  It shows some great images of the mesmerizing waters of the Exuma Banks, and some shots of the whimsical Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  Staniel Cay is definitely one of those places in the world that should be visited at least once in your life.  It is a magical place, the location of the cave scenes in James Bonds ‘Thunderball’ movie.  At the dock, nurse sharks hang out all day and keep you company.  Personally I don’t think the music video does the cay and the area justice, but it is worth a look:

In other news there is a rumor that Miley Cyrus may be spending time in Treasure Cay, Abaco.  Reports are unconfirmed though.  Treasure Cay is home to a fabulous beach and I’ve taken on a new home for sale, sited right at the end of the point, with the best location and positioning in all of Treasure.  ‘Casa Bella’ is the kind of home dreams are made of and indeed made in.  Endless memories will be created in this stylish beach home.  Check it out click on the photo below for more details:

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Recent happenings of note in the Bahamas include the Bahamas Speed Week which was another success but still lots of growing pains.  The participants say it is one of the most striking places they have raced their cars.  Hope Town held it’s annual Boxcart Derby (racing on a completely different level but just as fun) and despite inclement weather was another huge success – Once again I endeavor to enter a cart next year.  We will see if I can pull it off.

Upcoming event – the 242 Colour run in Hope Town on the 28th December.  This should prove to be an exciting event, where you run/walk/crawl a 5k and get covered in colourful paint?  (?? Seems interesting, maybe I’ll try it out)

I would also mention that New Years in the Abacos is lots of fun.  Very family friendly and each of the cays does it a little differently, but there is always great fireworks, usually some Junkanoo and great entertainment across the island.  Pete’s Pub is often a low key but fulfilling atmosphere to ring it in.  Book early though as all of the rental homes get booked solid for the New Years holiday.

Schooner Bay is now functional, with gas dock, marina, several different villas to stay in, the Blackfly Lodge is open for business and there are now 2 options for eating out plus a newly opened general store which is bound to expand and grow.  Be sure to make plans for an afternoon relaxing by the harbour.

Otherwise in real estate news, it seems 2013 is finishing up on a low note, but signs are pointing to a very much improved 2014.  Florida’s real estate market is 30% up year over year, and has steadied out with inventory dropping significantly.  Typically we see spill over in the Bahamas from 6 months to a year later, so I anticipate we will see some big improvement in our local market in Abaco from around spring time through the summer.

That said, there is still a high inventory of real estate here in Abaco at 620+ listings, and over 230+ of those are single family homes.  Homes are continuing to sell much faster than undeveloped land or multifamily properties.  It is now the perfect time to buy, before the almost guaranteed upswing coming next year.  Things have been improving in market but at a subdued rate over the past 2 years.  Most brokers and agents I speak with around town all agree that there will be significant gains next year.

On the other side of the coin though, Abaco Beach Resort and Treasure Cay are both in need of a fresh injection of energy and would really benefit from new owners.  If these to anchor properties in Abaco were rejuvenated it would have a profound effect on the rest of the Abacos.  Both resorts could be an option for the right investor with the right vision.  Send me a proposal if you are interested.  In other news, there has been some recent activity in the commercial market in Abaco, with some significant properties looking to have new owners in 2014.  All good signs but still fairly muted at the moment.

Newly redeveloped projects are doing extremely well – I mentioned Schooner Bay already, other places to check out are Firefly Resort, The Hope Town Inn and Marina, and Bakers Bay is setting new standards in Abaco.  The Bluff House and the Green Turtle Cay Club are both undergoing improvement works and they’ve recently dredged the channel to White Sound to accommodate larger vessels.  All good news and good things happening around the cays.

Finally, take a look at recent video I’ve shot of a beautiful home on Gillam Bay, Green Turtle Cay.  This is almost the perfect home…http://youtu.be/W0yxqA3XWlc

Now in closing can I ask all my readers to please cross your fingers and send positive vibes that the new Marsh Harbour airport terminal will be finally opened and functioning in January 2014 as has been recently promised.

This may be my last post before the end of the year – Happy Holidays, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, may 2014 be another wonderful year to add to the memories.

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So I am terrible at this blogging thing.  Its been a month since my last post and I had planned to post every week.  This blogging thing takes a lot more determination and dedication than I anticipated.

Why haven’t I posted in a while you ask?  well, I’ve been too busy with training for the triathlon, spending time with my wonderful daughter and keeping up with work.  The other big time consuming activity lately – the real estate market in the Bahamas and Abaco specifically, has taken a significant uptick lately and I’ve been able to find the time to sit down and put together an update.

Since my last post, quite a lot has happened in Abaco.  The Hope Town Museum Heritage festival, which is always fun and good to support the museum. – And any excuse to go have lunch in Hope Town.

There was the annual Man O War Cay flea market, where you can find some of the best fudge and home baked goods on the planet.  It is also a great time to check out Man O War, see the museum, boat building works and history of the settlement.

There were 2 ‘Reef Balls’, one at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge and one at the Jib Room Marsh Harbour Marina. Both are held in aid of the programs and projects of the Friends of the Environment group.  The ‘Ball’ is an elegant evening affair and a rare excuse to get ‘dolled up’ in Abaco.  So fella’s pull out those rarely used suits and black ties while the ladies dig out the equally untouched elegant evening wear.  They are wonderfully entertaining events with both live and silent auctions, and delicious meal followed by live music and dancing and libations.  I’ve missed it for the first time in 7 years of living in Abaco, but the upside was avoiding the hangover the following day.  Always a hoot though and definitely marking on your calender for next year.

Below are a few photos from the joint Interact and Rotary Club “Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival” back in January.

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Above the winning entry for the Abaconian Newspaper, and below the entry for HG Christie.

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I have also taken part in the Hope Town Sailing Club Sunday regatta on the 16th and took home the first place, narrowly pushing Andrew Wilhoyte out by 1 point.

Now this past weekend was the Great Abaco Family Fitness Weekend and I completed my first triathlon.  I did the ‘Sprint’ distance.  I don’t know why they call it a sprint because there is absolutely no way anyone would be sprinting for a half kilometer swim, a 15km cycle and a 5km run – SERIOUSLY?  Anyway, despite the cloudy day, cold water and rain it is a a wonderful day and a great place to do a triathlon.  The beach at Treasure Cay is perfect, a long shallow water swim along the beach in calm water is unrivaled.  The roads for the bike are pretty flat and there is really very little traffic that time in the morning in North Abaco.  And then the run is down a scenic Windward Drive with several spots to see the water and canals.  It truly is a great spot.  The Treasure Cay Hotel was a great supporter of the event providing room discounts.  The hotel rooms in Treasure Cay are reasonably priced for Abaco, and while the rooms could use updating and renovating, they are generally clean and maintained and the big plus is that they usually have a fridge, microwave and coffer maker in them.  Plus they all the rooms have a porch or balcony looking out over the marina.

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Above:  A Beautiful sunrise swim to start of the Triathlon.  The water was cold (65 degrees) but wonderful.

Below: me heading out on the run portion of the Tri:

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I finished 19th out of 34 in my first triathlon using a fat tire mountain bike against mostly road bikes, with a time of 1h 45 minutes.  Not bad for a guy that hates running with a passion.  On the plus side i lost 15 lbs as a result of the training.  and I’ve raised $900 towards the eradication of Polio Effort of Rotary International.  Thank you to all the people who sponsored me to do this and for helping contribute to the end of Polio.  I would not have done this excruciating task otherwise.

Next up on the calender – the Homer Lowe Memorial regatta held in Marsh Harbour.

In other news, the real estate market has shown serious signs of heating up lately.  Just about everyone is in agreement that the ‘bottom’ was reached sometime last year and the housing recovery in the US is in full swing.  As a result, many people who had been waiting and holding off on buying a home or lot or condo have realized now is the time to make that move to buy a vacation home in the Bahamas.  Over the past 2 weeks, there will be about 5 homes in Abaco gone to contract int eh $200,000 to $400,000 price range.  There is also some activity in the higher price ranges too.  I’ve already witnessed twice, where a potential buyer wanted to make an offer on a home and it was already under contract…

My appraisal business has been non-stop too and I’m having trouble keep up with the demand.  As I understand it, Bahamian banks have good liquidity and cash available to lend, but they are only considering clients with strong financial track records.  So while lending is tight, it is loosening up a bit.  As they say, in this market right now Cash Is King when making an offer on a home.

Thanks for reading.

Another Monday morning after another wonderful weekend.  Ho hum well time to get back to work.  Once again I find myself delinquent of not meeting my personal goal of one post every week – Oh well, goals are made to be set and broken right?  In any event due to my lazy posting I find myself in a situation of having too much to write about.  Some might say that is not a problem but a blessing.  It is not a blessing when you have too much to do and too little time to get it done, especially for a Monday morning.

First off, while most of western world was watching the ever entertaining Super Bowl, the Bahamas once again ponied up for an advertising slot and aired a very nice commercial promoting the islands.  It focused on the Exuma Cays natural beauty, but it speaks for most of the Bahamas as there are little hideaway spots like these hidden all over the archipelago.  If you missed it you can see it here either on youtube or the Caribbean Journal site:

Bahamas Airs Super Bowl Ad Featuring Rick Fox and David Copperfield

or

http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/02/03/bahamas-airs-super-bowl-ad-featuring-rick-fox-and-david-copperfield/

It is nicely done and does show off the Bahamas’ hidden “backwaters” well but I must admit I personally found it a little boring and i had no idea why it was felt that David Copperfield should be included…  “my 2 cents”  as we say around here.

What else happened recently?

Well on Saturday Pete Johnston turned 50 for the 19th time.  It was a great time had by all, being a perfect family friendly party, fundraiser and celebration at Pete’s Pub.  There were dozens of kids and families running around the sand and beach or mashing down on the pig roast or jerk smoked chicken which enhanced their usual menu of fresh caught fish.  The day was a fundraiser which successfully raised funding for a young local man in Cherokee (I believe) who has cerebral palsy.  Pete is also a recent grandfather.  I was chatting Pete’s son Greg about the day and we remarked about how the event has changed dramatically over the years – It certainly was not family friendly 19 years ago when Pete first turned 50.  My daughter has a blast and really enjoyed her lunch too.

The weekend before, 26th and 27th of January:  this is another extremely busy weekend for me.  It is a wonder I ever get any of the ‘honey do’ list done at home.  Friday, Saturday & Sunday was the Bahamas National Trust’s   “Art for the Parks”  art show.  I went and had a look at some of the promising and/or talented exhibitors there and our Rotary Club held out 4 the annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival fundraiser which beautifies the sidewalk along the marina docks near the art show tent.  it raised $3,000 and is also a competition among artists.

The following day on Sunday, the wife Sheree, the daughter Clara and I got up early and hopped on the 9am ferry to Hope Town.  We had a mouthwatering chicken souse at “On Da Beach” at Turtle Hill.   This is a local staple for folks living in Abaco, our friends Matt & Lindsey have had souse there just about every Sunday for almost 7 years.  Chicken Souse is a bahamian dish for breakfast and is a wonderful recovering meal after a long night ‘plying the party waters’. Which incidentally is on the market for sale if you know anyone interested, details can be found here:  http://www.hgchristie.com/details/abaco/hope-town-elbow-cay/business-as11549.

Then Matt & I headed out to the crystal clear waters off of Hope Town to join the Hope Town  Sailing club for one of the winter series sailing.  We had 14 sunfish on the start line which is great size for a racing fleet.  Several of the racers were in the 10-16 age group, a couple of which nearly beat me to the finish.  It was one of those days of sailing racing that makes living here so perfect.  The winds were NE over the north end of Elbow Cay blowing 8-12 knots.  This made for inconsistent but constant wind shifts.  I was the only one who brought a compass out to track the wind shifts and just beat out Dave to take first place on a tie breaker.  It was some really tight sailing with all boats finishing within a couple of minutes of each other and it could have been anyone’s race.  The HT sailing club is very keen and always a great resource.  I must thank them and especially Dave & Carol Pahl for handling the thankless task of running race committee.  If you want to get involved or learn to sail check them out: www.hopetownsailingclub.com.   And thanks to them for this photo of me sailing:

 

So the year 2013 is getting off to a very good start, I hazard to say.  Business wise, real estate seems to be showing good signs of improvement (check out my last post).  I’ve been seeing good activity both in sales and appraisals.  All price levels seem to be moving again, which is a good sign, but don’t think that prices are improving – remember we are in the ‘new market’ – good value is the key driver right now.

The first three weeks of 2013 have been absolutely stunning weather-wise in Abaco.  perfect 75-80 degrees and sunny during the days and then a casual 68-72 at night.  Could you ask for better?  The water is a little chilly for Bahamians, but many of our visitors really enjoy it regardless of the 65F degree chill :).

https://i1.wp.com/www.rclaser.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/lasers.jpg

Anyway, last Saturday, me, the wife and the kid went down to Little Harbour had a wonderful lunch with Heather and the youngest resident of the area Fletcher.  The food at Pete’s Pub is always spectacular and in my opinion probably the best in Abaco period.  The main reason for going down was to take part in the 2nd RC Laser regatta of Abaco for 2013.  I missed the first one in Marsh Harbour due to work commitments and haven’t used the boat since last year.  As usual, no one could top Jim Kaighan who took all the bullets in every race.  I followed up with 4 seconds and 3 thirds, while Randy Key was closely on the heels with 3 seconds and 4 thirds.  It was a tight fleet and a perfect day for it.  The winds were medium and the sun was out.  While the big boys played with their toys there were a few toddlers including my daughter Clara, who had a splashing good time running up and down the sheltered beach in the harbour and splashing into the calm clear waters.

For photos of the day check out:http://www.flickr.com/photos/amylillianphotography/8395846145/in/set-72157632559481265/

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Above Picture: View of Little Harbour from one of my listings, ‘Top Deck’,  AS11860

All in all, a wonderful day and everyone had a good time.  Dad got to play, daughter got to splash around and exhaust herself, and mom got to relax in the sun.  What more could you ask for right?

In other news, related to Little Harbour – The following day, Sunday 20th, 2013, friends of mine and members of the Friends of the Environment organization went on a spectacular kayaking trip up in to the timeless creeks behind Little Harbour to seek out a few of the mesmerizing blue holes to be found up there.  It is a dreamy place to visit and can only be done by shallow draft boat, ie a kayak or a flats boat.  This is where the Kayak Challenge happened last year and I did a 14 mile paddle to raise funds for charity.  Little Harbour really is one of the hidden jewels of the world in my humble opinion.  If you are in Abaco you should make the effort to go down for a Blaster and lunch with your feet in the sand.

This past Sunday, I hopped on the 7:30am Sky Bahamas flight that is usually running a bit early.  They were early again this time too, but about 10 minutes.  I was on my way to Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau.  It was a neat trip and worth the effort.  There were some really cool cars there, a couple of DB5’s like those seen with James Bond.  There was a very rare original condition 375MM Spyder, a Delorean and I still like Jimmy’s Jaguar E-class the best.  It was a short trip and I was back in Abaco by 4:30 that day, thanks to Sky Bahamas prompt service.  For car enthusiasts it was a great event, with some great food, champagne and chocolates.  Check it out at www.BahamasSpeedWeek.com.

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^ One of the starts of the pratice runs around the track before the time trials begin.

Upcoming events include the Abaco Christmas Festival which is always a good bit of fun and well attended by locals, this coming Saturday December 8th.

Now a bit of advice based on a recent experience for friends, readers and potential home buyers or future builders in Abaco.  It is not a good idea to leave furniture and bedding etc. at the port dock in Marsh Harbour.  Clients of mine have had their stuff left on the port dock in Marsh Harbour both in a container and some items were shipped loose.  They were left on the dock as a result of the contractor’s inability to finish their house (It still isn’t finished as I write).  They were sitting on the dock in a container for 5 months, including Hurricane Sandy.  When the furniture was taken to the house, the mattresses were wet and growing mildew, as were the couches.  It would appear that neither the shipping company nor the shipping insurance company nor the customs broker will take any responsibility for the items condition if they are not collected within 30 days of arriving.  So, just a word to the wise, don’t leave your stuff on the dock and expect everything to be fine.  Take the time and pay the extra money to put it into a proper storage facility if you cannot put it anywhere else.  30 days is the magic number I believe.

This coming month of December is going to speed by as usual, firmly punctuated by the festivities of the year end holidays.  I will plan to keep up with this blog posting once a week and we shall see how it goes.

And now a shameless plug for a potential new listing coming on stream – for a beautiful unique home in the vicinity of the idyllic cove between Great Guana Cay and Scotland Cay.

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So, it’s been a few days since my last post because I’ve been so busy in Hope Town this past weekend and trying to catch up.  Then Tuesday and Wednesday this week were taken up doing the whirlwind real estate tour with a wonderful couple who are looking to buy a home here.

Hope Town is a beautiful, quaint little settlement in Abaco and one of my personal favourites.  Starting on Thursday of last week, The Hope Town Harbour Lodge and Friends of the Environment hosted their first annual Turtle Trot.  The Turtle Trot is a 5k fun run/walk open to any and all.  They had an amazing turnout.

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The Hope Town Harbour Lodge held their annual Art Show on Friday.  Saturday brought about the exciting Annual Box Cart Derby at Big Hill in Hope Town.  Tons of family fun and always so well organized.  This year HG Christie’s sponsored cart placed 3rd.  It is always a blast with many vendors of food and beverages.  It is one of the most enjoyable fund raisers in the Abacos.
Then on Sunday, I participated in the annual Homer Lowe Sunfish Regatta held just outside of Hope Town, in ‘Nathan’s Bay’.  We had a great turn out.

Here is a write up that Jim Kaighan, the organiser of the event who rarely get the reconition he deserves:

22nd Annual Homer Lowe Memorial Regatta

November 25, 2012

Nathan’s Bay Beach

Elbow Cay, Bahamas

The 22nd Annual Homer Lowe Memorial Regatta was at risk of not happening for the first time in 22 years.  Due to the fast ferry canceling, a busy regatta schedule, hurricane Sandy, and other factors, the regatta was delayed and delayed.  We finally found an opening in the schedule and set the regatta date for November 25.

Nathan’s Bay beach was the venue and turned out to be a very nice gathering spot.  Dave and Lenore Muloch from Little Harbour, along with Steve, came all the way in “Mr. G” to take care of the race committee responsibilities.  The early wind forecast was 10-15.  We got 2-7, with subtle shifts.

The sunfish in race 1 began with Dwayne Wallas leading the first lap, to be passed by Jim Kaighin, who was then passed by a nose at the finish line by Andrew Wilhoyte.  Race 2 had Dwayne and Andrew fighting for the lead, but Andrew had the lead when it counted, at the finish.  Jim Kaighin got off to a good start in Race 3 and caught the first shift and lead from start to finish by a big margin.  Things were looking interesting when Andrew rounded the first windward mark in 5th.  But Andrew made his way back to 2nd, winning the Homer Lowe for the first time, with scores of 1,1,2.

In the Opti fleet, it was a battle between Joey Gale and Brandon Sands.  It was fun to watch these to young sailors in tacking duels and covering each other.  They never seemed to be more than a few yards apart around the race course.  Joey Gale won the regatta with 2 first and a second, Brandon Sands had 2 seconds and a first.

We were very fortunate to have Denis Beauchesne sailing with us who has a house right on Nathan’s Bay.  He and his wife Veronica were very generous and allowed us to use their grill and hold the trophy presentation on their back deck.  Thanks to Robert Key for cooking those good burgers and hotdogs.  Thanks to Dave and Lenore Mulock once again.  I owe you big-time.  Thank you to Dave Pahl for setting the course. Thanks to Matt McCoy and the Hope Town sailing Club for making arrangements in Hope Town.  Complete results below.

The 23rd Annual Homer Lowe Memorial Regatta hopes to be back in Marsh Harbour in April or May 2013.

Sunfish:

  SAIL # NAME 1 2 3 TOTAL
30 ANDREW WILHOYTE 1 1 2 4
75 JIM KAIGHIN 2 3 1 6
2505 DWAYNE WALLAS 3 2 5 10
3953 JEFF GALE 6 4 3 13
3946 MATT MCCOY 5 5 4 14
3958 RON ENGLE 4 7 9 20
0 CHRIS ALBURY 8 6 7 21
3917 TIM SANDS 7 9 6 22
3920 DAVE PAHL 9 8 8 25
BA71 ROBERT KEY 10 10 11 31
YELLOW DENIS BEAUCHESNE 11 11 11 33
OPTI
TOTAL
211 JOEY GALE 2 1 1 4
212 BRANDON SANDS 1 2 2 5
202 CHLOE SWEETING 4 6 3 13
213 ANDREW JOSEPH 5 3 7 15
207 WILLIAM CASH 6 5 4 15
203 ROBIN JEANTIL 3 7 6 16
231 LILLY HIGGS 7 4 5 16
227 STELLA HIGGS 8 8 10 26
201 KHALEA RICHARD 9 9 10 28

For such a small group of communities, (especially Hope Town) it is surprising that there is always a constant hub-bub of activity going on, it near impossible to get bored over here.  From now until next August I will have to really push to find a free day to take care of the house, or yard of boats.  All in all, it was a full and fabulous weekend but I really needed Monday to get back into the swing of things.  Can’t wait for next year ;).

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