Often market commentators are heard speaking about the Caribbean as if it is a single market for real estate investment. That is like going to the Olympics to watch sports. There is everything from a sprint to a marathon, from horse riding to the hammer throw, and everything in between. Pick a sport please – they are not all the same. From my seat I get to see the southern Caribbean real estate market from both the helicopter, and in the trenches. While there are similarities it's the differences that provide the insight.
As we publish this 10th edition we cannot ignore that it falls at a time in the 50th year of independence of our small island state. As a nation we have all been struggling to focus on what we can be proud of when there is so much that is not meeting the high standards that we set for ourselves 50 years ago. From a real estate perspective I choose to focus on the words and meaning in the the chorus of our national anthem:
Why do we publish The Red Book? The truth is that we think it is a showcase for our culture. Specifically our culture of knowledge. All firms have a DNA and ours certainly is a strong mix of knowledge, innovation, integrity, excellence, caring and fun. Let’s not forget fun. We like our clients, we like what we do, and we have a great deal of fun doing it – sometimes too much!
It’s seven year itch time! Yes, this is the seventh edition of The Red Book. The challenge each year is to make it better, and by ‘better’ we mean more relevant to you the reader. This year we have added more statistics, more professional articles and we have even done some “ancient history” research with Hayden interviewing the two agents responsible for the sales at Sandy Lane Estate in the 1960s. I think you will find that article both informative and entertaining.
Some years ago I wrote about the role of real estate agents in “leading their clients in abandonment”. This was a concept I borrowed from a lecture I attended at Harvard some years earlier. The way we applied it in our business was to provide our clients with current market information so that they could make an informed decision, meaning they had to abandon old views of market value.
I think we have done a good job in leading our clients in understanding this new market – but have we as an industry done the same? I think not, and this year’s article is therefore going to be focused on leading our industry peers in abandoning the old business model that may have served them well in the past.
The annual event of writing an introduction for The Red Book is always filled with trepidation for me. I do not want to over build expectations and then disappoint, nor do I want to fail to introduce the articles in an exciting way. What to do? Risk behind every door. But that is our world today. Every time I think the market has found a direction, there seems to be a further shift. Recently I read that an engineer does not see the glass as half full like the optimist, nor half empty like the pessimist, but rather as a design that is twice as big as it needed to be. I learnt from this that I need to adjust my expectations and face the reality of our market. The half full glass tells us nothing of our future but only of our present. So that is what I hope we will do for you – provide you with an accurate picture of the real estate market in Barbados at present. Whether you are the optimist, the pessimist or the engineer, you will have the data that you need to reach a conclusion.
Last year I opened the Pink Pages by speaking to uncertainty in the market. This year I thought I would provide you with “miscellaneous ramblings” of what we have seen in the market and what we are likely to see. While it is probably impossible to predict with complete certainty the direction of the market in every segment, I hope that from these perspectives you will have an indication of the direction that the market is likely to take. (Please do not skip to the conclusion as it may make no sense without following the progression in thought.)
Within the past week the new notices of valuation have been arriving at mailboxes around the island. In Barbados, every three years is a valuation year. The last valuation year was in 2008, thus making this year, 2011, a valuation year as well. Here is a quick background on the valuation legislation and the process to be followed.