It didn’t take long. Shortly after Hurricane Dorian damaged countless homes and businesses in the northern
“We’ve surprisingly had several calls,” said
“They say, ’I don’t want to sound heartless, but if any properties come up, I’m a buyer.’”
While the timing of the phone calls may appear awkward, the inquiries from would-be buyers is not new for a region whose island nations and territories are often roughed up by hurricanes.
In 2017, investors scanned the
There were discounts to be had. On
Some of the would-be buyers include investors in search of profits, foreign nationals seeking vacation homes, or hedge fund operators who see future profits in apartment buildings and hotels.
Overall, agents say, investors are attracted by depressed prices, and a possible upside fueled by government disaster funding and new capital from the private sector.
Still, timing is critical. And so is knowledge of insurance, construction, regulations, and local contacts, agents and other experts say.
“I’m not sure I’d rush today,” said
“There probably are some deals now … people need the cash,” he added. “These people lost their living. They’re going to take a big discount to be able to liquidate today. There may be good opportunities if you can find the people.”
But there are wild cards in the speculation game, including the extent of damage in the affected islands and the nation’s capacity to recover from disaster. In some places, is it so severe that an investment isn’t worth it?
“My concerns would be what’s going to happen" in islands that had very high levels of devastation, said
Investors with an eye for affected Bahamian properties could be in for a long wait for profits, given the severity of the storm and the widespread damage it caused. In the northern islands, storm waters rose as high as 23 feet, and horizontal tornadoes leveled homes as Dorian dawdled for days over the islands.
The pace of any property turnover is likely to hinge on how quickly homes and business can be repaired or rebuilt, who wants to stay and who wants to leave, and who has insurance and who doesn’t.
Earlier this month, he said he was wearing two hats: one as a
The worst damage was on the northern shore, Sarles said. “The southern shore, where all of the higher-end properties are, was virtually untouched.”
He said that he, too, lost a personal home in
“This is a transition period here,” he said.
“We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of foreign relief,” Sarles said. “Now everyone’s at the building stage. We still need water on the island. It’s going to take a while on the east end to get the salt out of the system.”
Some of the relief is coming from nonprofits, such as the
“In this situation, we need 10,000 sheets of plywood,” said
Wearing his agent’s hat, Sarles sees opportunities for renewal and economic growth beyond the destruction.
“Immediately after the storm, two people had been looking and called me. We were working on derelict properties,” he said. “The sellers were motivated.”
He said there is an active rental market on
Sarles is also encouraged by multimillion-dollar investment commitments from the cruise line operators
“We’re going to have an influx of capital,” he said. “There are going to be jobs. There’s opportunity.”
In the end, the bet is that the northern islands will pick up on their history of being one of the most active real estate markets in the country.
According to a residential market report by Lightbourn’s firm that covered 2014 to 2018, the Abacos “was one of the strongest markets where
“Definitely there is going to be a reset in the market on the values, probably below 2009 recession levels,” Lightbourn said. “But I think it is going to come storming back, particularly in the cays around the Abacos.”
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