Archives for posts with tag: Little Harbour

Many times I am asked how the process of buying real estate in the Bahamas works.  Often our foreign home buyers (who love the idea of having a tropical home in the islands) are concerned about the process and the security of the investment.  I will discuss the Bahamas Investment Safety and Security at another time.  Below I have outlined the rough steps and a very rough estimate of the time it takes for each one.  I have to qualify all of this by saying the estimates of the length of time it takes vary widely.  How quickly a sale will close in the Bahamas is dependent on many many factors, some of which are beyond the parties control.  For instance I have seen a financing application take 6 months for approval.  I have seen title and requisition process take as long at 6 months due to continuing questions arising from the history of the chain of title.

Beach View 6

Above: Palm Ridge at Bookies Bay, The Most Charming Cottage In The Most Beautiful Place on Earth, currently priced at $750,000.

On the other hand, I have seen instances where the whole process moved like clockwork and the new homeowner had the keys and were enjoying a cocktail on the back porch in less than 7 weeks from the time of first offer.  For things to move this quickly under the bright Bahama sun (which seems to slow everyone and everything down to the speed of warm molasses) is not a common occurrence and it is imperative to have patience when dealing with a real estate transaction in the Bahamas.

There is a major factor which can influence the speed of a real estate transaction here, and that is whether a bank is involved providing financing for the purchase and/or if a bank is releasing and existing mortgage on the property being sold.  This is partly a result of the Bahamas banking environment being dominated by 3 major Canadian institutions.  The final approvals of any major decisions the lending institution has to make is not made here in the Bahamas, it is made offshore somewhere.

That said, the lender won’t commit to financing a purchase until they have a copy of a formal purchase agreement in hand.  We commonly insert a 21 day financing clause in purchase agreements which allows the buyer 3 weeks to formalize their loan and get a commitment letter.  3 weeks may seem like a good length of time, but I would suggest working on getting as much of the paperwork as possible into the loan rep, before making an offer.  They will take 2-3 weeks just make a decision, so if they are waiting on something from you like a reference or utility bill that will hold the hole process up.  I would ask 3 times for the complete list of all the documents they will need from you just to be sure that all the bases are covered.  In my experience they always come back a week later and say they need one more thing, and often that happens more than once.

With the 21 day financing clause inserted into a formal “purchase and sales agreement”, if you don’t get the loan secured you can get your deposit back and everyone can walk their separate ways.  The vendor is often weary of entering into an agreement which is dependent on a bank partly due to the time off the market with no guarantee of a sale and partly due to a bit of expense in hiring a lawyer to prepare a purchase agreement and work with the purchaser’s attorney on the deposit etc.  Title investigations typically don’t start until after the financing commitment letter is in hand.  Once the title is approved, they we move to conveyance drafting and approval and then the mortgage would be drawn down.

 Time to close a cash sale (no mortgage involved) is 60-90 days.  Time to close with a bank mortgage will be 90-150 days.  So keep in mind you won’t be able to take possession of the home for some months while waiting on the lender to do their thing.  Some people will purchase a home in cash and then leverage the cash back out with a mortgage after the purchase as it allows them to take possession of the home sooner.

  •  First step is to get the ball rolling with the bank and get a nod. (about a 1week)
  • Second we put in the offer to purchase, negotiate and hopefully reach agreement in principle (1-2 weeks)
  • Third you retain an attorney top represent you in the transaction, put up a deposit with the seller’s attorney’s ‘Escrow Account’ and the purchase agreement is executed by both parties. (1-3 weeks, this begins the real process of purchase, get appraisal, all paperwork to bank, references, etc.)
  •  Forth, you put in the formal application for financing, provide the bank with a copy of the executed purchase agreement and go through the motions with them. (3-5 weeks) (If Necessary, no bank financing involved, it would skip straight to the title search)
  • If the buyer is getting a permit from the Foreign Investments Board, the application gets put in right away and approval of the permit can take 2 weeks up to 3 months.
  • Then, once the mortgage is approved and you have a commitment letter in hand. Your attorney begins title search. (3-5 weeks)
  • Once title is approved the vendors attorney drafts a conveyance, it gets approved and the vendor executes (2-3 weeks)
  • Then the bank gets a copy of the conveyance and begins to draw down funds. (2-6 weeks)
  • Once the funds are disbursed, the sale closes and you can take possession. (you get the keys).

So, the long and short of it – it could take as little at 6 weeks to close a purchase or it could take as long as 6 months and it all depends on the seller, the buyer, the attorney’s involved, the government for the permits and often most importantly the lender.  So make sure to have the right people involved who are attentive, motivated and on the ball to see the sale happen.

I recently had a sale occur where the buyer’s attorney lost the purchase agreement after the purchaser had signed it and neglected to send it to the seller’s attorney for 3 months.  So while we all thought the sale was proceeding, it hadn’t even started.  Stay in touch with your lawyer and keep them moving things forward.

Lastly, having an experienced and motivated real estate broker or agent on your team can have a very positive effect on ensuring the least amount of frustration and delay.  HG Christie is one company with a strong team of professional sales staff who know the ins and outs of Buying and Selling homes, land and development property around the Bahamas.  Feel free to comment and tell us your story in buying or selling real estate below.  I hope you enjoy this post and find it somewhat useful.

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HG Christie has finally launched a new website portal that allows you to view listings by area and see their exact location and pricing.  It is kind of interesting and somewhat eye opening, if for instance one zooms into Marsh Harbour or Treasure Cay and views how many properties are currently for sale in a specific area.  There are few little kinks to work out but overall a great tool.  Check it out here:

http://hgchristiebahamasrealestate.bs

 

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.

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