|Published Articles on Real Estate - Anguilla Life Magazine|
As Anguilla attempts to accommodate and adjust to the rapid pace of development that has occurred over the past few years, Government has (quite logically, in my opinion) resorted to development and sales moratoriums in an to attempt to moderate the growth of the economy—for while there are numerous benefits associated with economic progress, such progress poses social challenges which must be analyzed and mitigated…fortunately the Government is attempting to do just that.
The first moratorium Government enacted was the moratorium on major new foreign investment tourism related projects that went into effect November 2005—although that version of the moratorium is due to expire in Nov 2007 (with a construction delay until April 2008) common wisdom is that the moratorium will be extended…perhaps until 2010 or later. One reason for this extension on major foreign investment tourism related projects is that there have been a number of major local investment tourism related projects that have been announced—most significantly, those located at Rendezvous Bay, Conch Bay and Shoal Bay…all of which fits into Government’s desire to increase local ownership of the development process (not just local employment).
This desire for local ownership of what Karl Marx might call the “means of production” has been a clearly defined core principal of Anguilla political thought since August 14, 1967 when The Anguilla White Paper signed by Ronal Webster as Chairman of The Anguilla Island Council entitled “Is it ‘silly’ that Anguilla does not want to become a nation of bus boys?” was published in The New York Times—a copy of which has hung on my office wall for the last 20 years…inspired in part by the message and in part by the fact the signatory is my father in law.
The second moratorium relates to the submission of Alien Land Holding License Applications for any property (either developed or undeveloped) that is not currently alienated—i.e. that is not currently owned under an Alien Land Holding License. Thus far there have been two such moratoriums, each of six weeks that have run consecutively, whereby the first was enacted on February 1, 2007 and the second expired on May 1, 2007--however (as above) common wisdom is that this moratorium will also be extended as Government struggles to put in place new foreign ownership policies and guidelines…perhaps for another six week period, perhaps for several more six week periods.
Ultimately the second moratorium has more potential to be socially problematic and controversial than the first--restricting the sale of non-alienated property puts the Anguillian property owner at a distinct economic disadvantage vis-à-vis the foreigner property owner…a disadvantage which is clearly inconsistent with effect of the first moratorium that restricts new foreign investment projects as that moratorium clearly puts Anguillians in a better economic position by giving them (by giving us) the opportunity to establish development ownership. Thus far there hasn’t been discernable objection to the second moratorium based in part on the short duration of that moratorium (a short duration which is, of course, mitigated by repeated extensions) and by the fact that most Anguillians want a more cohesive real estate policy put in place to prevent over development.
With the above in mind, a couple of thoughts with reference to the moratoriums and their evolution:
With regard to the moratorium on major new foreign owned real estate projects, although there is general consensus on the acceptability of extending that moratorium, there would be value in clearly identifying the geographic areas impacted to take ambiguity out of the situation—in addition, some sort of policy could be put in place to ensure that the owners of prime large parcels that fall within the targeted geographic areas are not unfairly stripped of private wealth by Government’s pursuit of social public policy…for example a land bank could be established to enable Government to purchase (or lease) land it will not permit to be sold (or leased) to foreigners for major tourism projects.
With regard to the moratorium on the sale of locally owned property, although there hasn’t yet been substantial disagreement with that moratorium I believe such disagreement will evolve unless a more effective economic solution is put in place—for example (in an effort to shift demand from the purchase of locally owned undeveloped land, which remains the product type of choice for those not purchasing within managed communities) a policy could be established that allows for the sale of locally owned land but increases the stamp duty on the Alien Land Holding Licenses for such land purchases…concomitantly a decrease in the Alien Land Holding License stamp duty levied on the built structures that sit upon the underlying land would facilitate the sale of existing homes outside of managed communities (which continues to be the slowest segment of the real estate market on island). If a moratorium is deemed to be required in addition to the above suggestions, that moratorium might best be placed on the issuance of building permits--in Anguilla’s current economy there isn’t any contractor that can (legitimately) claim to need more work, but any individual land owner can (legitimately) claim to need the cash infusion that a property sale will bring…and legitimacy is always the bedrock of sustainable policy.
Scott Hauser was born in the United States and moved to Anguilla in 1976, having been involved in numerous development and business ventures since his arrival on island. In 1989, Mr. Hauser left Anguilla for two years to pursue and earn a Pre-professional Degree in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Masters Degree in Real Estate Development from MIT, both universities being in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since returning to Anguilla in 1991, Mr. Hauser’s primary area of interest has been in the marketing and sale of luxury residential real estate, whereby he has represented Sotheby’s International Realty since 1995—initially as an unaffiliated associate and currently as a fully affiliated associate being the Director and Principal Realtor of “Anguilla Properties – Sotheby’s International Realty”. Mr. Hauser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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