Real Estate Buyers Guide 2024
The Cayman Islands stands strong as a compelling choice for global property investors, not only for its stunning landscapes and sophisticated yet relaxed island lifestyle but also for its enticing government incentives. These include property tax exemptions, residency by investment programs, and a “safety first” policy that has made it one of the most secure destinations in a world grappling with a pandemic.
Cayman continues to hold its position as one of the top luxury real estate markets in the world, with a record-breaking revenue of US$1.43 billion in 2021 and a resilient follow-up of US$992 million in 2022. These consecutive years mark the strongest and most profitable period in Cayman’s real estate history.
In 2023, despite predictions of a global slowdown, the real estate sector ended the year with a total sales value of over US $865 million. Although this figure is slightly lower than last year’s performance, there has been a noticeable increase in the average price of properties.
Rising confidence for long-term investments
With people gaining more confidence to carry on business as usual in the new normal, the Cayman Islands continues to flourish as an attractive destination for global property investors.
A significant milestone for the Cayman Islands in the previous year was its removal from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a development celebrated by the real estate sector. This accomplishment is anticipated to bring about positive effects on the local economy, contributing to the restoration of confidence among property investors.
“Being removed from the ‘grey list’ is a testament to the Cayman Islands’ solid reputation and commitment to global best practices in financial regulation and compliance,” affirms ERA Cayman broker Jeanette Totten, a former six-term CIREBA president.
She emphasizes that this development instills confidence among foreign property investors, enabling larger investors and developers to feel more secure in strategizing their long-term investments in the Cayman Islands.
Unmatched incentives for property investors
“Generally speaking, the Cayman Islands has always made it attractive to buy property here – hence the record-breaking property investment boom,” says ERA Cayman associate broker and sales agent, John Pohlmann.
The most widely known advantages to investing in Cayman real estate include:
- Absolute freedom from direct taxation
- Clear title guarantee; no requirement to pay for title insurance
- No restrictions on foreign ownership of residential property
- Online property search via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Ease of banking and lending transactions
- High-yielding return on investment
- Permanent residency options for persons of independent means
In addition, there is also the Global Citizen Concierge program which allows eligible professionals to live and work remotely in the Cayman Islands for up to two years — adding a vibrant island spin to the “work from anywhere” option of an emerging culture.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss out on pre-selling perks
Despite predictions of a slowdown in the Cayman property market after two consecutive record-breaking years, real estate professionals concur that the anticipated decline is a natural part of the market’s normalization process.
Aligning with global trends, the local real estate industry strategically positions itself for the long term, recommending prospective buyers to proceed with “cautious optimism” and maintain their investments in high-quality properties moving forward.
For those investing in luxury real estate, John says interested buyers can still land some excellent deals by taking advantage of pre-selling offers.
“New developments often sell pre-construction property at lower prices,” he points out. “Typically, this is done by steadily increasing the prices of the property as inventory shrinks and construction milestones are reached. New property built here will almost assuredly cost more and be worth more at completion versus the preconstruction phases.”
Buying below market price is a long-term investment strategy that makes pre-construction purchases extremely viable. For instance, at the Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences on Seven Mile Beach, condominium units are pre-selling at an average of only US$1,400 per square foot, presenting an immense opportunity for capital appreciation over time.
Meanwhile, some property developers offer unique ownership packages that seamlessly combine business with pleasure. At the Kailani Grand Cayman (Curio Collection by Hilton), investors can purchase a hotel suite they can enjoy for two weeks in a year, beyond which period the unit is made available to hotel guests. Under this arrangement, the hotel suite owner receives 50% of the gross room rental (less applicable costs), while the other 50% goes to the hotel management company.
“Anything new on Seven Mile Beach should see a huge ROI if purchased pre-construction,” shares John. “We see a steady increase in pricing on most of the property inventory along the beach. Quality listing in Cayman Kai/Rum Point also does very well, traditionally, in appreciating over time. Both of these areas, especially with beach property, do exceptionally well in the rental market.”
“I would also recommend buying raw land and building affordable, multi-unit homes or apartments for families. We have a huge demand for this market sector. Just make sure the property is zoned for multi-unit construction.”
“You can also try to invest in beachfront land — if you can find it. Or land that has a multi-use designation, such as hotel/tourism or residential/commercial.”
Get the best deal by working with an experienced team
To assure ease of transaction and peace of mind, John says it is important for both buyers and sellers to seek out a CIREBA member company, to ensure that their interests are protected by qualified real estate professionals throughout the entire process.
“Our ERA brokers and sales agents provide free market consultation and education to prospective buyers, both here and abroad, in the hopes that they will trust us with the handling of their real estate transactions,” he says. “Clients can put their trust in us as we consistently observe strict compliance with rules and regulations, follow due diligence processes, and undergo ongoing education and training on anti-money laundering best practices.”
“Moreover, as CIREBA members, we have access to a wide network of experienced real estate attorneys and property valuation firms that can assist with transactions and whose services are often indispensable during the buying and selling processes,” he concludes.