Editor's note: Real estate expert Robert Greenwood talks about the Turks and Caicos Islands real estate market performance in 2020 in this exclusive Q&A with Haute Residence.
Photo Credit: Paradise Photography
How did the real estate market look at the beginning of 2020?
Q1 of 2020 set out to break records. It indeed exceeded the previous years' successes by increasing the dollar volume of sales for the residential market by over 60% across the board, with Villa and Single Family home sales doubling from 2019, up over 120%. It's also important to note that not only did we break the ceiling as it relates to the dollar volume of sales but that of our Average Sell Price, which increased exponentially. We in the real estate community had the sense that the momentum we had gained toward the end of 2019, and the ever-increasing popularity of the Turks and Caicos would drive sales to a record number, believing firmly that 2020 would be the year to beat all years.
What, if any, changes did the pandemic have on prices? On inventory?
Moving into Q2 as Covid-19 was first realized globally, the Turks and Caicos Islands, along with the rest of the world looked to find equilibrium and understand their circumstances.
As we collectively understood more about the issues related to the Virus, it was clear that a significant factor which contributed to its spread was personal contact, leaving highly populated areas and big cities around the world in a vulnerable position—ultimately looking for an escape, looking for a SAFE-HAVEN.
The Real Estate Industry in the Turks and Caicos quickly recognized this need, which in-tern became a demand. We just as quickly adopted new, remote ways to reach those who were looking to find their safe-havens far removed from the stress of big city lifestyles. As such, and even during our islands own lock-down that included the closing of our borders and stay-at-home orders we were able to increase sales in the Villa and Single Family Home Market by almost 6% over the previous year. Which given the circumstances was a fantastic accomplishment, and further highlighted our islands desirable features.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are known for being a vacation home destination, be it our clients 2nd or 3rd property owned around the world. As such, our islands owner demographic is not as susceptible to swings in the market or financial issues related to events such as COVID. The point to my explaining this is that we do not, and have not become a major buyers market, in-fact with our real estate becoming more desirable due to the environment we offer. Therefore, in my opinion, we have maintained real estate prices.
Photo Credit: Paradise Photography
Professionally, what have you learned in 2020 about yourself?
This is a question that I could spend a great deal of time on as it would not just reflect an answer related to the industry, but the importance of our islands to the world, and as a human being living in a very unusual time.
As it relates to the real estate industry, the famous quote by Franklin D Roosevelt become incredibly poignant and relevant to me. He said during the great depression that, "Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world." It was as true then as it is today. Therefore the home is the cornerstone of wealth.
Within this quote, he was obviously talking about a safe investment in real estate as it was far more secure, true today, especially with the continued current volatility in the market. But more importantly, when one looks at the interpretation of 'wealth', one can see that in this period we are enduring with COVID, wealth is not necessarily the measure of a single material possession, but what it brings to you and your loved ones. In this case, to provide a safe-haven where you and those you love can quarantine in a healthy environment, both physically and mentally, is priceless, therefore offers more than wealth, but that of life and a piece of mind not found in most countries across the globe.
As a collective within our firm, we had to pivot very quickly to fully understand the message we wanted to share and how to communicate our message. It was a time to simply share ourselves, our time and our compassion with our clients, no more, no less. Given our largest demographic are all from locations that were suffering great hardships we wanted to connect on a personal level, ask how they were, how were their families and that we couldn't wait to see them again. And if necessary, how could we help. First and foremost our clients are our friends, so opening a dialogue in this way was very uplifting for them, especially when we video conferenced providing a view of our stunning turquoise waters as a backdrop. Since then, this has resulted in continued conversations that have translated into new sales. Not the intention of the initial outreach, but an organic result.
Photo Credit: Sailrock Living
We learned that there's a definite paradigm shift that's arrived where one-on one-contact is all-important, but having the technology to share your properties through Matterport or Video, or live-streaming is critical.
Networking with our Christies affiliates from the region and our feeder markets has and continues to be of paramount importance.
Slow down; this is not going to be a typical year! A statement I made to myself early on in the year. Before you can manage others expectations, you first have to manage your own.
Think differently and be willing to try new approaches.
Understand that this to shall pass. Once you understand this fact, you can work from a balanced place and be far more effective.
Empathy and compassion must remain prevalent in your interactions with clients.
More so than ever, I learned that the Turks and Caicos Islands is an exceptional place that offers far more than just a vacation retreat.
Understand that this is no longer just about buying a piece of real estate on a Caribbean island; it's so much more.
Click "Learn More" above to get in touch with Robert Greenwood.