Whether you’re a foreign investor seeking a vacation or retirement home or want the Cayman Islands to be your primary residence, there’s a wide range of properties for sale. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, an attractive alternative is to build from scratch or buy pre-construction developments so that you can customise features to suit your personl style.
Whilst Cayman’s infrastructure and economy are growing at an unprecedented rate, the world-famous Seven Mile Beach continues to be the most popular location to invest in property; additionally, the canal lifestyle is also very attractive, especially if you’re an avid boater. For those who prefer a more laid-back lifestyle, the East End is an ideal option, whilst West Bay has special attributes of its own.
Still, the idea of being in a resort location with a sandy white beach and all of the modern-day conveniences like restaurants, shops and watersport activities is attractive to many purchasers.
“The hot spots in Grand Cayman are still the main resort areas of Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Kai and East End,” says Kim Lund, broker/owner of RE/MAX Cayman Islands. He notes that the stronger demand for these locations means purchasers are willing to pay more. And just as importantly, visitors seeking rentals will also pay more.
Sharing the same sentiment is Alvin Sluchinski, real estate adviser at Engel & Völkers Cayman Islands. “Anything on Seven Mile Beach is red-hot right now, and many owners are getting involved in short-term rentals (like Airbnb), which bring in a strong return on investment. The adjacent locations anywhere in the Seven Mile Beach corridor and on the canals or waterfront nearest to Seven Mile Beach will bring in the best returns,” says Sluchinski, adding that the most expensive condo location per square foot is still on Seven Mile Beach.
“Selling prices are around US$1,000 per square foot, with the newest and most prestigious developments going for upwards of US$1,800 per square foot,” he says.
As for the East End, Sluchinski believes its relative remoteness attracts many retirees or those who seek a more casual lifestyle and still provides a good return on investment for visitor renters to the island who seek the same.
Paula McCartney, broker/owner of Diamond Properties, spent her formative years in West Bay and says it shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to purchasing a high-end property.
“Having grown up on Boggy Sand Road, the quaint and friendly community was something that always felt like home. There are as many different views in this district of Grand Cayman as the colours of blue in our Caribbean Sea, and the newly extended bypass [Esterley Tibbetts Highway] makes the location incredibly convenient to Seven Mile Beach and George Town,” she says.
So what does a luxury real estate purchaser look like, exactly? Lund says they are typically wealthy business people and professionals between ages 40 and 70 with mature businesses and executive positions.
“They are able to spend time in Cayman to enjoy their property and investments and able to work remotely. They are anywhere from millionaires to billionaires,” he says, adding that the typical upscale luxury property sells in the range of US$5 million to US$10 million.
“There is a growing affluent base of multi-millionaires and billionaires who are prepared to pay higher prices to get the level of quality and facilities that they desire,” says Lund.
The demographics indicate that a large section of purchasers are “baby boomers” who are already in retirement or near retirement age, and the majority of foreign investors hail from the United States (75 to 80 per cent), followed by Europe (8 to 10 per cent), and Canada (5 to 8 per cent) — with the balance from the rest of the world.
Sluchinski notes there are many locals, like long-time expatriate residents, who seek to downsize and therefore purchase property on Seven Mile Beach. This includes empty nesters as well as those without children who are attracted to maintenance-free condo living.
Others with families prefer to purchase an existing property in great condition that is located in an established community close to schools, work, parks and shopping, with mature trees and landscaping. There are many luxury properties of this nature, especially on the canals, in the range of US$2 million.
LUXURY PROPERTY TRENDS
Trends indicate a desire for more contemporary and transitional buildings that are highly luxurious and have the very best facilities and amenities. Purchasing a newly constructed development, for example, allows you to have a blank slate so that you can put your personal stamp on it to suit your particular style and bespoke tastes.
The sky’s the limit in terms of amenities in these types of luxury properties and can include several pools, fitness facility and spa, 24-hour security, valet and concierge services, property cars, guest suites, food and bar service, wine storage, owner’s lounge and private elevators, to name a few.
In terms of must-have features, Sluchinski says many luxury purchasers opt for modern and open kitchens with all of the latest bells and whistles, including large kitchen islands, top-of-the-line appliances, quartz countertops and energy-efficient appliances.
Other essentials include expansive master baths and storage closets, high-quality finishes with sleek modern cabinetry, superior and unique floor tiles in modern neutral colours, high ceilings, beautiful light fixtures, large hurricane-resistant windows which maximise views and low-maintenance storm protection.
“Smart Homes” are also the new standard in any high-end luxury property — for security purposes as well as for the day-to-day conveniences they provide. From turning off the lights to closing the shades to starting the Jacuzzi, it can all be done with a touch of a button on a remote control, phone or tablet.
For the emerging future, McCartney sees a modern design landscape that allows owners to feel like they are living in their own private sanctuary.
“Open and bright plans with organic textures are at the forefront of interior design trends,” says McCartney. “Our homes have evolved from a living space to a place where we can escape, relax, enjoy our favourite hobbies and live within our interests. From multilevel waterscapes to three-storey walls of wine, homeowners are demanding exclusive and sophisticated amenities in the properties they call home.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Whether you buy property or land in the Cayman Islands, there are some unique advantages that make it especially appealing for foreign investors. Except for a one-time stamp duty, there is no direct taxation imposed by the Cayman Islands government. In other words: no property tax, no capital gains tax, no income tax, no non-resident tax, no sales tax and no inheritance tax.
There’s also no restriction on foreign ownership of real estate. Ownership of land can be held directly by the purchaser, via a trust or by a company. And when it comes to buying raw land, there are no deadlines to build a property. You can hold the land indefinitely for future investment potential and pass on your property or land to the next generation without being taxed.
For all of the above reasons and more, you can look forward to a solid capital return on any investment you make; and with a myriad of Cayman-based legal and financial experts at your disposal, your purchase can also be a straightforward process.
Author: Lisa Boushy