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The following article was originally published on www.christophercolumbuscondos.com, please click here to read the full article.

During my time spent in the Cayman Islands, the experiences that stand out the most were the ones that showed me the true lifestyle of the Caymanians. . . and what better way to experience the local community than to attend a Sunday service at a neighborhood parish? From the exterior, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church seemed to resemble any modernly designed church one would find in middle America; however, once I walked in, I was met with an explosion of color from all around. The beautiful and bright Caribbean sun worked its magic through the stained glass windows, streaming in through both sides of the room. The people standing up front in the choir had bright smiles on their faces, ready to sing their hearts out. Even the congregation all seemed to be dressed in vibrant, island colors—a mix of locals and tourists alike waiting for Mass to begin. Growing up Catholic, I knew what to expect from a typical Sunday church service—the familiar songs, the readings from the Bible, the homily from the priest, and of course, communion. However, this service was already off to a unique and intriguing start.

I remember Father Edwin, the priest residing over the Mass that morning, seemed to have a quiet yet joyful peace about him as he read from the gospel of Mark: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. . . and you must love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” I smiled to myself when I heard those words, since everything about my experience in the Cayman Islands so far had reflected that sentiment. I thought of my first encounter with the lovely Patricia at Christopher Columbus Condos, welcoming us all to the island with her warm hugs and infectious smile. I thought of Scottie, our scuba instructor, who kept us smiling with his knowledge and wonder at the sea creatures below. Before I could drift off too far into my memories, we were all standing up together to say the Our Father and exchange the sign of peace. Once again, the room filled with this palpable spirit of joy as everyone turned around and shook hands with each other, beaming smiles on their faces. I thought to myself how easy it was to already feel like a neighbor in Cayman when everyone is treating you like their own!

Read the full article on ChristopherColumbusCondos.com


 
Hurricane season starts June 1st and lasts through to the end of November. In 2009 the National Hurricane Center has predicted an "average" storm season, 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, two of which may be a category 3 or higher. 

Have a survival kit and disaster plan ready, here are some suggestions and tips: 

Bottled Water - one gallon per person for 72 hours 
Flashlights with extra Batteries - candles can pose a serious fire hazard should there be propane or gas leaks in the area 
Supply of Nonperishable Food Items - protein bars, canned goods (don't forget a can opener!), dried or prepackaged energy food 
Medicine - 30 day supply stored in plastic waterproof containers, clearly marked and kept in a zip-lock bag 
Eyeglasses 
Proper Footwear and Protective Clothing for post-hurricane 
Portable Radio and extra Batteries 
Important Documents - drivers license, passport, notes of allergies, important contact numbers, insurance documents, extra cash, ATM and bank/credit cards 
Generator - ensure filled with propane/gas and in good working order 
Insurance Coverage for yourself and family, home, boat and vehicles - ensure it's current and up to date plus note contact information should you need to make a claim or contact your provider in case of injury 
Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water if so advised by authorities 
Action or Evacuation Plan - hotel, friend's home or shelter, evacuation plan if residing on an island or coastal areas that are remote or vulnerable to storm surge 
Let Friends and Family Know how to contact you and where you plan to be, forward land lines to cell phones 
Text Message rather than voice mail, uses less battery time and communication is faster 
Cell Phone and charger, car charger, extra batteries 
Care and Plan for your Pets Safety- food, water, medicine, bowls, plastic bags, collar with your name and contact info, extra leash, pet crate for transporting, name and number of vet and copies of vaccinations, photo, favorite toy or blanket 
Secure Hurricane Shutters or board your home securely, move all outside items to basement or inside storage, flying debris and items can cause tremendous damage to your home, vehicles and neighbourhood 
Car, keep gas tank full - especially important if you live in a remote place or on an island where supplies may be limited or cut-off after a storm 
Know Where to get Information on Storm Conditions - local radio station, tv station, website or through the internet on your cell phone 
Secure Your Boat - consider turning off the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) if your boat is docked, secured and unoccupied. When boats with this system start to sink or capsize a signal via a satellite is sent to the nearest emergency satellite call center. These centers need to maintain clear and unjammed communication lines for satellite phones and emergency personnel during a hurricane 

The National Hurricane Center released the following names for 2009 hurricanes... 

Ana 
Bill 
Claudette 
Danny 
Erika 
Fred 
Grace 
Henri 
Ida 
Joaquin 
Kate 
Larry 
Mindy 
Nicholas 
Odette 
Peter 
Rose 
Sam 
Teresa 
Victor 
Wanda 

What is a storm surge? For those residents living on the coast or in the islands a storm surge is something we are always concerned about. Storm surge is water that's pushed toward the shore by winds swirling around the storm. Recent hurricanes have produced storm surges in the neighbourhood of 15 feet, combined with winds in excess of 75 miles per hour this can be very dangerous. Water weighs approximately 1700 pounds per cubic yard - extended pounding by frequent waves can demolish structures not specifically designed to withstand these forces. 

Please be prepared and have a plan, review it on a yearly basis. If you are an absentee homeowner arrange for someone to secure the premises in your absence, neighbour, friend, property management company. 

For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane please visit the National Hurricane Centers website: www.nhc.noaa.gov 

 
An honest appraisal of the Cayman marketplace 

Review 
In our last report we predicted renewed confidence in the US & UK and increasing business activity in Cayman. Those two predictions have certainly been in evidence. This is mirrored by the stock market levels, continuing growth in our tourism industry in Cayman, and a generally more positive outlook. 

General Outlook 
The year to date CIREBA Statistical Report shows very similar volume to YTD 2016 for active listings and sales. This is good news as 2016 was our first strong year in some time. As we have mentioned previously not all segments of the market move at the same pace or even in the same direction. But today most sectors are going in the same positive direction to a greater or lesser degree. It is just the pace which varies from sector to sector. We have to keep that in mind when media headlines tout 'markets on fire' or 'depressed markets'. Generally, it is the improvement of tourist related sectors which jump starts our economy, like beach and waterfront properties. Canal properties follow and inland properties are last to rise. It is also generally Residential markets which lead the way, then Commercial markets and then Industrial, as the people involved need services, and then the service businesses need supplies. That is what is happening now as most market sectors are feeling some degree of increase depending on where they are in the pecking order above. 

Condos 
Condo supply is up YTD by 35% but the increase is largely in developments off 7 Mile Beach which is demonstrated by the total value of all condo listings being about the same as it was this time last year. The # of condo units sold is down 14% YTD and the dollar value of sales is down 27%. Again this has much to do with this market sector being most recently fuelled by non-7 Mile Beach sales. But we also mentioned last issue that as 7 Mile Beach condo prices continue to rise due to short supply, the higher prices would begin to slow the pace of sales a little. That has begun to happen. 

Single Family Homes 
Supply of homes is up YTD by 13% and the total value of listing prices is off slightly. Meanwhile, the # of sales YTD is off by 29% and the dollar value by 30%. Over the last few years, (especially 2015) there were a lot of house sales. Many of the most attractive homes at the most attractive prices, were sold and the remaining supply at the most attractive prices, is not as appealing in our view. However, prices of the most expensive nicer homes are beginning to come down, so we will probably see more high level homes sold in the last half of the year, which will push the average sale prices up again. 

Multi-Family 
With interest rates so low this has been a popular sector with Purchasers. This year existing supply is down 30% due to last years strong sales activity. YTD for 2017 the number of sold properties is down about 57% over last year, but the value of those properties which did sell is up 66% so fewer properties sold, but either better quality or larger complexes are selling. 

Land 
Land listings have decreased by about 9% over last year. Land sales are almost identical to last years as is the value of those sales. It is still Crystal Harbour leading the way, but there is also more building activity in Grand Harbour and the Shores than we have seen in a while. With confidence levels rising it should not be long before increased sales activity will lead to rising prices, but especially in inland land, that is not yet in evidence. 

Sister Islands 
The Sister Islands are still waiting for the improved market we are feeling in the Tourist Sectors of Grand Cayman to show up over there. In Little Cayman sales of detached homes have increased a bit which is encouraging. 

Local Election Results 
The election process in Cayman this time around was 'interesting'. The move to 'one man one vote' as expected resulted in more Independents running and being elected. So much so that neither party was able to achieve a majority. As a result, all sorts of combinations of Parties and Independents were agreed, announced, and then reneged upon throughout a pretty messy and unsettling week. The final results are: 7 PPM Members and 3 CDP Members joining forces, and with 3 Independents formed a Government ostensibly coming together 'for the good of the country'. 

The Ministries were divided with Hon. Joey Hew getting the nod to oversee most of the directly Real Estate Industry related departments. We welcome that change and hope a new point of view can help remove some of the totally unnecessary bureaucracy which has built up in a number of departments and makes doing business in Cayman much more difficult than it needs to be. 

Although Hon. Tara Rivers is now Minister of Financial Services, which is obviously a very important ministry, it is unfortunate that she could not continue her good work in Education. As we see it the previous failures in our Education System have led directly to our local labour issues. If we can't be sure our children are getting the best possible education, then the industries into which they matriculate cannot possibly maintain any level of excellence either. And that includes the 'all important' Financial Services Sector. We hope Hon. Minister Julianna O'Connor-Connolly with her background in teaching will continue Hon. Minister Rivers proactive approach to education. 

Perhaps the most disturbing election result was Mr. Marco Archer losing his seat in George Town. It is a sad commentary that someone who was arguably our most able MLA and also Finance Minister, and in fact voted the Caribbean's best legislator for 2016, was so unappreciated by the George Town voters. To his credit Marco made the tragic political mistake of telling people what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear. 

Landlords / Tenants Rights 
Over the years here, in the rental market the rights of tenants have become stronger and stronger while the rights of landlords have become weaker. I suppose that is not surprising considering the fact that Cayman is really only a small town of 66,000 people who now have 19 political representatives who need to take the side of tenants in order to get reelected. Add to that the themes of political correctness and the rights of minorities which have been championed by the liberal media all over the world. The problem with all this is that the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of the tenant that few want to manage rental properties anymore (that's why we stopped) and many owners of rental properties don't want to own them anymore. It has gotten to the point that in a dispute, the landlord cannot even depend on the terms of his signed lease anymore. We are seeing the same thing with banks being forced to tippy toe around dead beat mortgagees even though the terms of the loan agreement are generally very clear. What does 'human rights' mean if it does not apply equally to the Landlord and the Lender? Most were human last time we checked! To make matters worse a new draconian law has been written which makes it even worse for the Landlord and lenders, and the Police are already using this as a guideline even though it has not been passed. If Cayman Laws & behaviour continue in this direction, we will be seeing a lot fewer rental properties being built and a lot fewer mortgages being granted. Let's hope the new Government can reintroduce some common sense and equanimity into this equation. 

New Development 
All of a sudden there is a lot of development activity projected for the west side of Grand Cayman. This is not surprising based on the lack of supply in this market sector. A new development has been announced on the old Pageant Beach site called The Pageant Beach Hotel Resort. This is slated to be a 10 story Hotel Resort with 450 units for sale making it the most ambitious residential project ever in the Cayman Islands. This 7.1 acre site at the base of 7 Mile Beach was the site of an early hotel also called the Pageant Beach Hotel, which burned down in the 1970's. The property has always been interesting in that it has not only a long stretch of waterfront, but also very good depth with sunset views as well as views toward the downtown waterfront and cruise ships. Only about 25% of the waterfront is beach, however, with the bulk of it resembling the Grandview waterfront. We understand the Developers (HHG) are the same group which has refurbished the Treasure Island Hotel and converted it to Margaritaville. Sales and marketing have begun at prices ranging from US$545,000 up for 1 bedrooms to US$1.2M up for 2 beds and nearly $5M for a few 3 bed penthouses. The huge scope of the development may make this a tough sell, and even if sales are strong, there will likely be a long wait for a residence to use. If that is not an issue, however, and if the deposits are held in escrow until the start of construction, you may find this project interesting. 

Right on the heels of the above was announced a yet to be named 5 story 60-unit Boutique/Hotel complex on the land which used to house the Almond Tree & Tree House Restaurants. These units will be sold but will be required to be in the rental pool for most of the year, so this is much more of an investment approach, by NCB Developments. 

Roadworks 
The puzzle which has been the roadworks both from Kings Sports Centre to the west and from the Thompson Roundabout to the Butterfield Roundabout through Camana Bay is becoming clearer. One can now finally begin to get a sense of the finished product. Estimates for completion now point to September and hopefully it will not only be our curiosity which will be relieved. Here's hoping traffic flow will be as well. 

Crime 
Crime reared its ugly head lately with gunshots fired in a gang related incident, as well as several robberies. It was good to see a strong response by the police and we hope that is an indication of a continuing proactive direction by local law enforcement. While this may not be a lot of violence relative to other jurisdictions, crime is definitely on the increase in Cayman. And if you were to ask anyone looking for a place to vacation or to which to relocate, what the single most important factor is for them, the vast majority would say a safe environment. If we give away our well deserved reputation as possibly the safest locale in the Caribbean, we will have lost everything, and we will enter the downward spiral that is all too visible in many other Caribbean countries. So we all better take notice right now and turn this around. 

Solar Power 
After many years of 'false starts' and 'soon comes' from CUC and various potential wind and solar developers, Solar has come to Cayman. The sale of a contract for a renewable energy facility to North Carolina-based Entropy Management by the original Pittsburg-based tender winner led to the current 20,000 Solar Panel array now operating on a site in Bodden Town. This facility is expected to provide about 5MW of the 100MW Cayman demand. CUC will pay Entropy $.17/KW, adding to that its own 'base rate costs' to arrive at a retail price to customers of about what we are already paying. (So much for the consumer savings part of renewable energy). During the early stages of introducing this new energy sources to the grid, service disruption for short periods can be expected. 

Permanent Residency 
With the elections now safely in the rearview mirror, Government seems ready to address the issue of about 1,000 Applications for Permanent (working) Residency which have been ignored for the last 4 years. Letters have gone out asking applicants to update their applications if they wish, and once that is done the earliest applications may be heard within the next 30 days. Applications are being heard in the order they were received. Considering the huge time delay and the fact that many of the benchmarks have been changed recently by Government, it is likely most of the applications will have to be updated (that is if the applicant hasn't died of old age or just been put off by the whole process which was likely one of the intended purposes). Regardless, I am sure we will be hearing about this issue going forward. In fact, we were surprised there was no ultimatum already given to our Government about this issue by the UK, as popular as 'Human Rights' is these days. 

For the Applicants of Residency with Independent Means, that bar has also recently been raised. The 25-year certificate now requires a $1.0M Real Estate investment (up from $500K) and an annual income of $120K or a local 'nest egg' of $400K. The 'Permanent' Permanent Residency Certificate investment (as opposed to the 25-year version) has risen to $2.0M in developed Real Estate (up from $1.6M). Plus dependents now must pay an annual fee of $1K (as opposed to a one time). Residency on the Brac is the best deal in town at $500K (up from $250K). 

New Governor 
Current Governor Helen Kilpatrick's term was extended to accommodate the appointment of the new Governor Mr. Anwar Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury (58) will take office in March 2018. Most recently Mr. Choudhury has served as the UK's Ambassador to Peru. Born in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and a British Citizen it is somewhat unusual for someone not born in the United Kingdom to receive such an appointment. In a previous posting as British High Commissioner in Bangladesh, (wherein Mr. Choudhury was Britain's first ethnic minority senior high Commissioner appointed to that position), he was targeted by Islamic Militants and was wounded in that attack. He has significant British Military as well as e-government experience. We fervently hope that Mr. Choudhury finds his Cayman posting much less exciting than some of his previous ones! 

Forecast 
We are right in the middle of our 'slow season' however, one only has to drive down 7 Mile Beach or eat at one of our many great restaurants to see the surprising numbers of tourists in Cayman in June/July. This is great news for the Cayman economy and will further feed the improving Real Estate Market. We expect this trend to continue. Cayman has so much going for it, so many reasons for people to want to vacation and live here, and such a limited market supply. Without a significant increase in supply of existing buildings, we should still find the demand increasing and pushing prices higher. For these reasons we predict sunny skies and balmy weather for our market this Fall punctuated by an occasional shower due to lack of inventory.

As an innovative leader in the real estate industry, Coldwell Banker once again claims bragging rights over the competition. coldwellbanker.com topped the charts in the Nielsen NetRatings report, coming in ahead of Re/Max and Century 21. Also, two Coldwell Banker affiliated companies appeared on REAL Trends Top 25 for largest housing services firms. 

 

* coldwellbanker.com Remains #1 

Through April, coldwellbanker.com remains the most visited national real estate brand website according to the Nielsen NetRatings report. Nielsen also reported coldwellbanker.com as the most visited nation brand website for 2007 and it has continued to be #1 through April of 2008 with 7.6 million visitors so far this year. The closest competition to coldwellbanker.com within national brand websites was remax.com which trailed by more than 700,000 unique visits. Nielsen NetRatings ranks sites based on their unique visitor traffic each month, and for the year coldwellbanker.com is more than 1.3 million unique visitors ahead of the closest national brand website. Be sure to tell your customers that when they list with you, their listing is seen on the most visited national brand website giving them the exposure they need! 

 

* Real Trends 25 Includes Two Coldwell Banker Companies 

Real Trends, the nation's leading publisher of trends and analysis on the real estate industry, recently ran an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal showcasing the nation's top 25 largest housing services firms. Congratulations to Coldwell Banker United Realtors based in Bryan, Texas, and Coldwell Howard Perry and Walson, based in Raleigh, NC, who were numbers 10 and 22 on the list. 

 

* Real Estate Magazine Interview with COO Charlie Young 

The April, 2008 issue of RIS Media's Real Estate Magazine featured an interview with Coldwell Banker COO Charlie Young. In the article, Young discussed the 2008 Coldwell Banker advertising campaign strategy. 

 

* Jim Gillespie Appears on Fox Business and Continues Media Interviews to Provide Accurate Information on the Real Estate Market 

Recently, Coldwell Banker President and CEO Jim Gillespie appeared on Fox Business. Jim also met with reporters from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNNMoney.com and Forbes and continued to talk up several key message points with the national media; 

-Why now is a great time to buy - inventory, price, affordability 

-Real estate is a local business, not a national headline 

-Don't time the market


 
With a flooded market and tons of competition, selling a home in the summer can be worrisome for sellers  but it really shouldn't be. As any experienced real estate agent will tell you, houses sell every day in the summer, as long as they are priced right and are appealing to a buyer. Here are five essential summer staging tips to give your home the competitive edge it needs for a successful summer sale. 

1. Maintain Curb Appeal 

Curb appeal is essential, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Pull any dead shrubbery or plants and keep healthy ones trimmed back. Weed your garden, and consider placing a hardy ground cover, such as bark mulch, to keep weeds down and provide a finished look. 

Walkways, patios, and entrances are key points to consider, so edging sidewalks, the driveway, and weeding patio stones are key tasks that don't cost a penny. Finally, consider painting your front door and laying a new doormat to create a welcoming space that beckons buyers inside. 

2. Make Functional Outdoor Space 

During the summer months, it's important for buyers to see your outdoor area as added living space, rather than just another space to maintain. If you don't have seating on your front porch or backyard, now's the time to create a functional space that echoes the relaxation of lazy summer days. Online buy and sell sites are great places to pick up outdoor furniture at a fraction of the cost. 

Add a pop of summer color by placing bright throw pillows on existing outdoor furniture, and matching it with coordinating annuals or potted plants. Stage outdoor spaces with candles, place-settings, or fresh-cut flowers for showings to kick-start the imagination of potential buyers. 

3. Bring the Light In 

Natural light is a desirable trait in a home. But, even if you don't have much of it, you can successfully pull off the same vibe and give buyers what they want. Simply cleaning the windows in your home - inside and out - will let the light reach your rooms unfiltered. Replace heavy drapes with something light and gauzy. Open blinds and drapes for all showings and consider the role of wall paint in your staging. Some colors tend to absorb light rather than reflecting it back into the room, so consider painting over dark colors with a neutral shade. 

4. Pare Down 

An essential part of staging is clearing the clutter and depersonalizing the space. This does two things to help sell your home: It creates the feel of more space and helps buyers picture themselves in your home. A storage unit is a great investment to hold any extra furniture, unused or off-season items, and allows you to showcase the true potential of your home. 

5. Coddle the Kitchen 

It's no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes in any season, but when selling in the summer, many buyers are considering how they can use the space to entertain. Providing an attractive place to do that just may be the difference that gets your home sold. If you don't have a backsplash, it is a quick and inexpensive way to add a finishing touch. Clean your cupboards and replace worn or tarnished hardware for modern appeal. Clear the counter of clutter, and leave only those small appliances that highlight the function of your kitchen. 

When it comes to summer staging it's all about bringing the inside-out and the outside-in. A whole-home approach will help buyers feel at home from the moment they pull up to the curb and will ensure that the great summer weather works for you. 

Reposted from www.coldwellbanker.com 
http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/5-essential-tips-for-staging-your-home-in-the-summer/

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