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Barack and the BVI

The day an African-American was elected to become arguably the world’s most powerful man was one that most people, in the US at least, will remember for the rest of their lives.  I’ll remember it also because bright and early the very next morning, somewhat blurry eyed, I had to attend a closing on a property that would bring Coldwell Banker a rather nice commission check.  After the exchange of several bits of important paper, some frantic phone calls to make sure the numbers were correct and then the all important handing over of checks, the other broker present and I could relax a little and we got to talking about the global financial crisis and its effect on the BVI.

The interesting thing, most obviously perhaps, was that we were actually at a closing – hoorah! – and at (almost) full asking price. Over the past few months in other parts of the world, such an event seems to have been uncommon to say the least. Admittedly, the deal was really done several months earlier but still…give us some credit. We got to closing. And this was by no means the only one. The BVI property market is clearly alive and well and property is still selling without homeowners having to give away the ranch.

 

Why might this be the case? Well, whilst the BVI economy has recently been expanding quicker than Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, largely due to the offshore financial services industry, relatively few homes have been built to suit the tastes of our core audience i.e.; wealthy Americans, Brits and others looking for a vacation or second home. Also, you probably noticed but we’re kinda small. There’s simply not much of us and not a lot of land available.

And there are still an awful lot of wealthy boaters, bankers and Brits who would love to own a home in the BVI. So alright, we may have lost the odd chap who, having watched the value of his portfolio plummet, may be considering a similar descent from the window of his 32nd floor office on Wall Street, instead of putting in a full price offer on that lovely beachfront villa in the BVI he vacationed in last Christmas. But the point is that demand for the right property at the right price still far outstrips supply.

On the other side, our sellers of vacation and second homes are quite often ex-pats who, let’s be honest, are not struggling to pay the mortgage. These guys were smart enough to invest in the BVI a few years ago so perhaps were also smart enough to avoid the worst of the current financial crisis. They therefore don’t necessarily need to sell immediately and won’t be dropping their asking price any time soon.

So then, prices are not falling and decent property is in short supply? Wow, property in the BVI is beginning to sound like a pretty secure investment. And we haven’t even mentioned that it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

I don’t pretend to know what the other broker at the closing was secretly thinking but I remember my own thoughts. Firstly, I really hoped the commission check wouldn’t bounce because I have a mortgage to pay; secondly, life could be worse. I could be a Real Estate Broker in Florida, US, or Hertfordshire, England; and finally, what a relief that Obama won instead of the other guy!

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