New harbour deal could help lift Bahamas from stamp duty hike doldrums

A deal to re-vitalise downtown Nassau in the Bahamas which includes developing a new freight hub will create new opportunities for commercial and residential projects, experts believe.

The real estate industry has welcomed the deal between the government and private investors which means the rather run down area can be transformed into a charming harbour front city.
   
‘Citizens and residents are extremely excited. This means that downtown Nassau can be transformed into the charming harbour front it used to be,’ said Zachary Bonczek, broker and sales manager of RE/MAX Paradise Realty.
 
It is a positive for the real estate industry after the government announced a 2% rise in stamp duty which was seen as a blow to the island’s recovering property market.
 
‘Just when you think the good news for real estate in The Bahamas is starting to fizzle, we get the news that the government of The Bahamas has finally signed the deal to move the main shipping terminals from the ultra-valuable Nassau Harbour front to a more effective and environmentally friendly area to the west of the main harbour,’ explained Bonczek.
 
‘New opportunities for commercial and residential development are imminent. This is good news,’ he added.
 
But some believe that the Stamp Duty increase in the recent budget could set back the real estate recovery in the Bahamas by up to 18 months. William Wong, head of ReMax Ocean Realty Bahamas, said he could not understand the thinking behind the decision to raise Stamp Duty rates across the board, apart from transactions involving first time buyers.
 
‘It’s going to mean the price of real estate is going to go up a lot higher and we don’t need that in this market, where someone will have to pay 1% more to buy a home and the seller sees their Stamp Duty go up equally if they have decided to split the payment 50/50,’ said Wong, a past president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) said.
 
The ReMax Ocean Realty head described the Bahamian real estate market as being ‘slow’ and is worried that oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill could devastate the real estate market if it heads towards the Bahamas.
 
‘There’s very little activity based on what I see and who I speak to in the field. By now, I thought we would be lifted out of this, but it looks like it will go on for another 18 months. Heaven help us if this oil comes down this way,’ he told The Tribune.