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    Anguilla:
  Tranquillity
   Wrapped
         in
      Blue

HIGH VALUE / LOW VOLUME

The recent real estate boom on Anguilla that I discussed in my last Anguilla Life article (“The Rock Rocks”) has gained momentum—not only with regard to the sale of undeveloped coastal land (the availability of which is now more scarce than I’ve ever seen) but also with regard to the sale of existing homes (with the market virtually depleted of six figure properties). For the first time since I began real estate work on Anguilla in 1990, I don’t have any undeveloped coastal property in inventory—while I have more undeveloped coastal land under Purchase and Sale Agreement and pending License approval than I’ve ever had before…correspondingly, for the first time in fifteen years of brokerage, I have more seven figure homes in inventory than any other property type.

Four or five homes that had been on the market for an average of four or five years (all of which were in the approximate price range of US$450,000) went to contract within four or five weeks of each other this past winter season—a multimillion dollar home that had been on the market for three or four years went to contract within weeks of doubling its price…homes that were actively on the market are being taken off list as owners delay their sales in an effort to maximize their returns by waiting to see how much further prices will rise. Very shortly, existing homes will be purchased for their locations and then the homes themselves will be demolished—insofar as undeveloped coastal land is becoming harder and harder to find, while the high net worth individuals investing in Anguilla remain committed to creating their own tropical vision, this demolition development is inevitable…and will be another step in confirming Anguilla’s emergence as a focal point of real estate interest and activity.

With regard to the inevitable concern regarding “comparables” that potential purchasers raise, at this point I feel the appropriate frame of reference is not Anguilla’s prices of a year or six months ago, but of current prices in similar upscale locations elsewhere in the United States and the Caribbean—without much exaggeration (although with a bit of poetic license) Anguilla comparables are now Nantucket, South Hampton, South Beach, Aspen, St. Barths, Mustique, etc… pretty impressive company. This change in appropriate comparables is a function of celebrity holidays and sightings; the extended runway that enables private jets to comfortably land; the impressive travel press praising the overall quality of life and service on island; the very impressive architectural press lauding the design of private villas, super villas and hotels; the substantial commitment of high end institutional investors represented by the south coast west end project (golf course, hotel and residences), the north coast west end project (hotel and residences) and the upcoming south coast east end project (golf course, hotel and residences)—not to mention the political stability and basic wisdom of Anguilla’s Government…or the enduring civility and social stability of Anguillian society.

Given the above, however, one might wonder if Anguilla is about to be “ruined” by too much development, occurring too quickly. While I do believe over heated growth is a concern to be monitored, given the fact that all of the developments proposed and approved as referenced above are very high value and very low volume, I feel Anguilla is well positioned to avoid the ravages of unfettered growth—especially as Anguilla’s growth isn’t unfettered…but monitored through the cumbersome (but ultimately viable) Alien Land Holding License process. To my knowledge, there aren’t any low value / high volume developments (normally represented by large time share projects, correspondingly large condo projects, and facilities for high capacity cruise ships) being encouraged or considered—this restraint exists while the island continues to wisely invest in its infrastructure…with a primary focus being on the improvement and expansion of the road system, now the airport project has been fundamentally competed. As such, as far as I can foresee, Anguilla’s real estate position will continue to be (and, in fact, will increasingly be) the pride of those currently invested, the envy of those not yet invested, and the bane of those who once considered investing but didn’t do so.

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