A traditional Bahamian cottage with three bedrooms is on the beachfront of Treasure Cay on Great Abaco Island. It is on the market for $1.895 million.
By VIRGINIA C. McGUIRE
Published: July 25, 2012
THREE-BEDROOM BEACHFRONT COTTAGE ON GREAT ABACO ISLAND $895 MILLION
This cottage was one of the first built on the beach in the resort community of Treasure Cay on Great Abaco Island. Built in traditional Bahamian style in 1975, it has a cedar roof, wood siding, and vivid colors: purple, turquoise and white, inside and out. The front door is reached through a lush tropical garden with palm trees and bright pink bougainvillea. The living-and-dining area has a double-height ceiling of unpainted local pine, and a pale gray floor in Mexican ceramic tile. Across the room, a full row of sliding glass doors topped with windows to the ceiling provide beach and ocean views. To the right of the entrance, a partial wall separates the living and dining area from the galley kitchen, which has white wood cabinets, an electric stove and a pantry. Beyond the kitchen are two bedrooms, one facing the beach and the other the garden. They share a hall bath.
A short flight of steps up from the living room leads to the master bedroom, which has one wall painted lavender, and a sliding glass door that opens onto a screened-in porch. In the adjacent master bathroom, the wooden vanity has a porcelain top. A door from the bathroom leads to a private outdoor shower with ocean views.
A turquoise-painted wood deck runs the length of the house.
One step down from the deck is the beach, a pristine three-and-a-half-mile expanse of powdery white sand.
The center of Treasure Cay is a five-minute walk from the house, but most people travel by golf carts. The town has restaurants and shops, along with tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, a dive shop and a marina. The Treasure Cay International Airport, 15 minutes away, has flights to Florida.
The Bahamian market is closely tied to the American economy. It was hit hard by the global financial crisis and has not yet recovered, said Everett Pinder, a real estate agent with Treasure Cay Real Estate. Prices dropped as much as 30 to 40 percent between 2007 and 2010, depending on the area. “Prices are still down that far,” Mr. Pinder said.
There are signs that the market is stabilizing, according to James Burdess, head of the Caribbean desk for Savills, the London-based real estate company. Mr. Burdess says that prices have held steady over the past year, and that sales volume is picking up as bargain-hunters swoop in to take advantage of reduced prices.
The price difference between beachfront and inland property can be huge. In Treasure Cay, the site of this house, inland houses start at $575,000, but it’s hard to find a beachfront house that costs less than $3 million, Mr. Pinder said. Even an empty lot on the beach can cost $1.3 million to $1.5 million. This house is priced at $1.895 million. The current owners live outside the Bahamas and are pricing to sell as soon as possible.
Prices in Nassau, the capital, on the island of New Providence, tend to be 25 to 30 percent higher than in Treasure Cay. Mr. Pinder says this is because Nassau is easier to reach from the United States, and because Nassau has more shopping and nightlife than Treasure Cay.
WHO BUYS IN THE BAHAMAS
As many as 80 percent of the Bahamas’ buyers are Americans, Mr. Pinder said. In Treasure Cay, most of the homes are owned by Americans, who spend winters there, but Europeans and Canadians are also represented, according to Stan Sawyer, an agent for Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty and the listing agent for this property.
There are no restrictions on foreign property ownership in the Bahamas. Foreigners buying property can apply to the Bahamian government for permanent residency status, a move some people make because it may carry significant tax advantages in their home countries, Mr. Sawyer said.
When property changes hands, a stamp tax of 10 percent is levied by the government. The buyer and the seller split this expense, according to Mr. Burdess.
The real estate agent commission, usually 6 percent for houses and 10 percent for undeveloped land, is paid by the seller, Mr. Sawyer said.
Legal fees vary, but Mr. Burdess says the buyer’s share is usually about 1.5 percent of the purchase price. He advises foreign buyers in the Bahamas to find a reputable lawyer to help them navigate the process and catch any legal snags with the title.
The Bahamas government site: www.bahamas.gov.bs
Treasure Cay Beach Resort: treasurecay.com
Abaco Escape: abacoescape.com
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
English; dollar (1 Bahamian dollar = $1)
TAXES AND FEES
Property taxes, determined when a house is sold, should be around $15,800 per year for, according to the listing agent. Homeowner association fees of about $120 per year cover maintenance costs for roads and streetlights.