High-end real estate developers are beginning to reap dividends from the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp initiative, which was officially introduced just over two months ago.
Real estate mogul Sir Paul Altman said he was upbeat about the performance of the real estate market, reporting that since the start of the programme there has been a “wonderful flow” of people, a number of whom have been buying properties in Barbados.
Moreover, he said, several places, including the swanky Apes Hill, have been making minor changes as the demand for such locations increases.
“In terms of how we have tweaked the product here, there are some well-known names that everyone coming to Barbados knows – Sandy Lane, Royal Westmoreland, Sugar Hill – and then Apes Hill has been there but it is undergoing a complete redevelopment,” Sir Paul said, while pointing out that attracting high net worth individuals was nothing new to Barbados.
“At Apes Hill, the product is being tweaked slightly because the sense is that people who are coming now want to have a home office. So that is one of the things being built into the new designs; and larger kitchens, because people want to entertain at home more. So we are making slight changes.”
He was speaking as part of a panel during an online forum, Why High Net Worth Individuals and Families Should Consider Investing in Barbados. It was organised by Invest Barbados and global media platform Worth Media.
Highlighting some of the changes he has witnessed in recent times, Sir Paul said the West Coast was no longer the sole magnet for high net worth individuals.
He explained that while the East Coast area in St Joseph was once considered a location to “get away”, it was now appealing for many who wanted to reside here.
“So the East Coast is quietly becoming not only a place where you go to the shabby, chic, rustic type of place to stay, but you have some of these signature homes . . . . So all of a sudden, whether it is the west, east or the south, it is all becoming one,” he said.
“People are upgrading their properties all around the island and the full signature of what used to be just a West Coast focus type of lifestyle is creeping all around the island.
“We are not known to downplay anything we deal with in this business, but I will assure you that we are very excited by what we are seeing,” he added.
Sir Paul, who has been in the real estate business for more than four decades, has catered mainly to wealthy individuals over the years, offering them a range of commercial and residential sales as well as short-term and long-term rentals.
Giving an example of a family that came to Bridgetown on the 12-month Welcome Stamp initiative but decided within days to purchase a property here, he said: “That is the type of thing we see happening. These are people who came here to work remotely for a year on this 12-month stamp, but they have warmed up so much to the lifestyle of working from Barbados. It could be the efficiency and the ease of doing that.”
Sir Paul added that he was not certain this would have happened had there not been a COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he was encouraged by the number of visitors renting his properties for October, and the high interest, when compared to previous years.
“We are seeing more activity in October this year than we have seen in almost any October during my career. It is usually a dead month. So the people who are coming here now for a longer stay don’t have to come in December when everyone comes,” the real estate mogul said.
He also pointed out that people in some countries that did not have a direct flight to Barbados were now finding their way here, even on private jets.
“When we were telling people to come to Barbados from California previously, for two weeks, it was a bit of an effort to get here, but now if they are coming for two months or a year, all of a sudden that drops off as an issue and they can easily prepare to take that trip . . . . The people from many places we thought were far away and didn’t have connectivity, all of sudden they will make the effort because they are staying for a longer period of time,” he explained.
An upbeat Sir Paul said he was also aware that some people who came on the long-stay initiative were eyeing business opportunities, especially in the tourism related industries and real estate development.
All panellists agreed that in addition to the quality of lifestyle in Barbados, safety and low levels of COVID-19 cases, good infrastructure and friendly people were some of the major influences bringing high net worth individuals to the island.