October 15, 2020
More than 150 real estate professionals from across The Bahamas and Florida’s Royal Palm Coast participated in the first Florida-Bahamas real estate trade mission October 1.
The event, nearly two years in the planning stages as a live pre-pandemic in-person trade mission shifted to a virtual platform but, according to organizers was “an historic and successful move” bringing agents and brokers together to network, exchange information and show what each region has to offer that would attract buyers and investors from the other.
“This historic meeting, even though not face-to-face, was successful beyond our expectations and helped to bridge the gap that exists between neighbours who, pre-trade mission thought of each other as competition and now consider one another as colleagues with whom we can cooperate,” said Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) 4-term President Christine Wallace-Whitfield. “We have clients in The Bahamas who may be interested in Florida property and they certainly have clients in Florida who dream of owning in The Bahamas. Sharing specific information about what is involved in a purchase was extremely helpful. We all came away from the meeting with a clearer understanding and a bilateral commitment to work more closely together.”
For The Bahamas, the message to Florida Realtors was clear -- The Bahamas is open for business.
“Global turmoil as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on all countries but The Bahamas remains a premier destination for investments and a favourable environment to offer,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest. The pandemic, he said, has opened the eyes of the world to non-traditional thinking when it comes to real estate. “Today more people are looking for less dense vacation spots and properties, opportunities to commune more with nature and to find alternative sources for entertainment that do not necessarily involve close contact with people.” He assured Florida associates that the government was undergoing modernization to make it easier to invest.
Along with the DPM, the industry leader star-studded mission included Bahamas Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, chief of Global Strategy & Engagement for NAR, the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors, Director-General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu, Regional Vice President of Private Banking & Wealth Management for RBC Dwight Burrows, and Wallace-Whitfield along with Florida counterparts and colleagues Bianca Jones, CEO Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association and Donna Guido, Ambassador and liaison from that association to The Bahamas.
“Real estate tourism is an individual experience magnified many times over,” the tourism minister told participants. “We are now not only advertising stopover visits but also looking for second home market as new beginning for The Bahamas.”
D’Aguilar noted that despite Hurricane Dorian, 2019 was a ‘banner year’ for tourism with seven million visitors who could return home to “tell of the magic and magic of The Bahamas,” a land, he said, that aside from its beauty and desirability offered proximity to the US, political stability, tax advantages and ease of purchase for non-Bahamians interested in a residence or property of less than five acres.
“We were really honoured to have the participation of so many great speakers, including NAR Director of Global Strategy Joe Schneider who maintains relationships with 86 countries and took time out to spend with us. Considering that the NAR is the largest trade association in the U.S. with 1.4 million members, his participation in this trade mission takes on great significance. What is interesting is that they see part of their role is the creation of more business opportunities in the US to partner with others around the world and helping them to create strategic marketing campaigns.”
BREA recently launched a strong campaign advising non-Bahamian agents and brokers to work with BREA-licensed firms as required by law when handling Bahamian property transactions, reminding foreign sales associates that Bahamians cannot go to the U.S. or Canada and sell property in those jurisdictions without working with local firms.
“We do want agents and brokers in other countries to know that we appreciate their networking ability and their interest in the desirability of Bahamian property so we are especially appreciative of Donna Guido and Bianca Jones from Florida’s Royal Palm Coast who worked so hard to make this trade mission possible in order to encourage foreign interest in the legal and correct way of interacting,” she said. “We learned a lot more about the areas around Florida’s southwest coastal region, including Ft. Myers, and we hope their members learned a lot more about the appeal of The Bahamas and what it takes to buy here.”