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Paul Altman's real estate review


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Monday 19, April-2004
By Wendy Burke

PRICES FOR REAL ESTATE IN Barbados – especially on the West Coast – will continue to rise, but when analysed, the increases are not significantly higher than they were three years ago.

This is the view of realtor Paul Altman, who admitted prices were rising in some areas and on some properties, but that was mainly because of the type of structures which are going up and the general state of the economy.

He said because of the bounty which Barbados has been able to enjoy in tourism (cruise especially), people with wealth have been attracted to the island and therefore buy villas or condominiums and they contribute to the economy.

“What you want is people coming through that will use the services. They have staff to pay, they rent cars, buy cars, go in the shops, these are people who have money and come in here and spend it. They spend a fortune when they come to the island. Their ability to spend money goes beyond your imagination and mine,” Altman, one of the island’s leading realtors, said.

The land prices, he argues, are still within reach of most, especially given the good interest rates which banks are currently offering. It may not be at $6 per square foot anymore but with that hike came a raise in areas such as salaries and wages and therefore a better economy will result.

As for the cost of beachfront properties, Altman said this would always be a high cost area, as it was in demand from people abroad and locally, especially given the safety of Barbados as an alternative destination in which to live.

“Not too many places are better than here; there are no terrorists. We maintain prices for two markets, the local and overseas; there is something to fit everyone. There are people here who buy properties on the West for as low as US$600 000 and some rise to in excess of US$1 million,” Altman said.

He added that people were still hungry for properties along this end of the island as it was future equity for them.

Altman made the comparison to a car, where some people would purchase a BMW at similar prices.

“I saw a pretty car in the showroom at BMW and I asked how much is that and the salesman said $480 000. By the time you finish polishing that up, you spend US$300 000 for a car. So you put two cars and you have a condominium.”

However, owning and renting a property on the West Coast does not always equate to big bucks, as the maintenance on the homes is sometimes more than the rents paid.

“Sometimes you end up subsidising the property more than what you made from it. There is security, maintenance, staff wages and a number of other costs to be paid and sometimes the rent does not cover the cost. Some would say it may pay to sell the property, but it is an investment which would give returns in the long run.”

Also, the value in price of the land and property, more than made up for the fact that there were losses.

The realtor, who owns and runs AA Realty, said the contribution could not be measured only from the rental but also the use of the other services in the country which the visitors took advantage of, such as watersports, the shopping, car rentals, car purchase and several other interests, which they participated in while here.

Altman is not comfortable with the argument that the island is being sold out, since the buyers do contribute to the economy.

Altman said the South Coast was developing just as fast as the West, with prices of property also changing.

Apart from there being more property to sell, there were also more sellers, and therefore competition for agencies such as his. However, the difference with his company, was that he concentrated his energies in the project management area, and not just on buying and selling.

“We know the projects inside out and we are involved with all of them. We are not the developers but we are on the inside track so the level of competition, in a way, tends to help rather than hurt, because it spreads the net and more people are out there encouraging others to invest,” he said.

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