The appeal of a mature market

THERE’S nothing emerging about Barbados. Barbados has arrived. It arrived a long time ago. But in a property environment where the hot new thing has lost some of its appeal over the past five years, tried and true is sometimes best. Like a Starbucks when you want to be sure of what you’re getting.

But there are some pleasant surprises to be had in the pricing of properties in Barbados. Christian de Meillac, head of Knight Frank’s Caribbean desk, says: “The year2011 saw prices fall by between 5 and 10 per cent on the island, with the average price for a prime property now around $900 per sq ft.”

Meillac attributes this downward trend in prices to keen sellers getting “more realistic” – but 2012 is expected to see an uptick in momentum. Good for sellers, less good for buyers – in the short term, at least, as prices may rise. Still, de Meillac is cautious: “If we add to this the scale of wealth generation globally, the island’s tax-friendly regime for high net worth individuals and the quality of the homes on offer, I believe prices will stabilise and possibly start to rise again in the most desirable locations.”

For buyers, Barbados has another useful quirk: a 15 per cent gap between asking price and trading price. James Burdess, of Savills, says: “We’ve got asking prices and values you trade at. That’s the way the market in Barbados works. We’ve got a property on the market now, for example, where the asking price is £19.5m, and we’re receiving offers in the region of £15m.”

Condominiums, of which there is something of a glut, are still depressed in price. “If you want to buy a condo,” says Burdess, “then you’re probably going to get it for 15 per cent less than you could have done prior. There’s an oversupply – mainly on the west coast and south.” Are these toxic, empty investments, as so many Spanish and Eastern European developments were? Burdess is confident they are not: “there isn’t big scale distress in the Bajan market. You can still get value with these.” Ultimately, Barbados’s strength is that it’s not the hot new thing.

Sandy Lane Estate: A glorious Palladian Estate , with six bedrooms and extensive grounds, minutes from the beach.This is certainly one to impress your most high-flying friends with and the value should hold well. Price: $8.5m.
Contact: Knight Frank on 020 7629 8171

The Hillside Villas at The Grove Residences: this is the residential element of Limegrove, a major new shopping and lifestyle centre in the heart of Holetown. The Caribbean’s first Louis Vuitton store opened here at Christmas. Price: from $700,000 for a three bedroom villa.
Contact: Savills on 020 7016 3740.

St Peter, Schooner Bay. All residents have access to an on-site gym and a peaceful pool area with an inviting lagoon-style swimming pool, Jacuzzis and a poolside gazebo; residents also benefit from 24-hour security. Price: $1.8m.
Contact: Knight Frank on 020 7629 8171.

Alang Alang Bay: a five bedroom, five bathroom palace in the Balinese style, with 25m swimming pool. Price: $20m. Contact: Aylesford on 020 7349 5100.

Beach View, Paynes Bay: Two and three-bed condos on the West Coast. Price: From $499,000.
Contact: Savills on 020 7016 3740.