With half of Cayman’s 60,000 population holding work permits, there are a large number of renters on the Island searching for somewhere to live. After recent hurricanes hit other islands in the Caribbean, causing some of those residents to relocate to Cayman, any inventory on the market was quickly swallowed up. “There’s currently almost nothing on the market for rent, so trying to locate suitable accommodations for either singles or families is difficult,” explains Paul Young, broker/owner at Prime Locations Cayman. “Rents are at the highest they’ve been in a long time based on lack of inventory, and that’s where the investor spin comes in.”
Investors are looking to fill the much-needed gap in Cayman’s market by purchasing properties to rent out to those arriving on work permits — or simply to use as vacation homes. “Everybody who comes here initially is looking for that transition period and wants to take the time to settle in before committing to a purchase, so the rental market is underserved and always has been,” Young says. “Although there are a lot of new developments happening, including Indigo Bay [oceanfront luxury condos] in South Sound, they’re not built yet.”
In terms of renting versus buying, both markets are looking at one key factor: location. George Town and Seven Mile Beach are two of the top spots, but they’re also the most expensive. Renters typically start with these centrally located neighbourhoods before moving outward based on what they can afford, Young says. Whilst high-end executives may be looking to properties in the Seven Mile Beach Corridor, like canal-front Britannia Villas, which rent for $7,500 a month, a young accountant coming to the Island may not want to spend more than $3,000 to $4,000 per month. Construction workers or landscapers, however, are looking in the lower end of the market for apartments in the $1,500 range.
“On the higher end of the spectrum, there’s inventory because the air is thinner up there,” Young says. “Across the board, the low and middle section of the rental market continues to be underserved, but it’s a better place to be as an investor if you’re buying because you can turn property over very quickly. At the higher end, if it’s empty for a couple of months, it really erodes here profit-wise.”
Tips for First-Timers
In Cayman, the old adage rings true: It’s all about location, location, location. Since half of the population falls into the expatriate category, Young recommends buyers keep an exit strategy in mind when purchasing property. “Buy in the right neighbourhood, one that’s in a central location, so you’re confident you can sell in a reasonable amount of time when you’re ready to move on,” he says. Seven Mile Beach, for example, is the perfect area to hone in on if you’re only looking to spend a few weeks or months a year in Cayman. Snowbirds who want to spend some of the Winter here may be looking for another home because they’re avid fishermen or want to connect with the Island. In this case, they’re searching for a “lock-and-leave” property, such as an oceanfront condo on Seven Mile Beach that they can easily close up the rest of the year or successfully rent to tourists when they’re out of town.
Earn miles as part of the Sir Turtle Rewards loyalty programme, which you can redeem for Cayman Airways flights and upgrades, making frequent visits to your retreat in the Islands that much smoother.
Author: Lane Nieset