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Notes 
2014 was unique for us as we produced our usual Mid-Year Report, but then did a Fall follow-up due to some subsequent data that was not available for our mid year report. That is rare, but when it does happen we restrict the length to 1 page, publish the update locally in the Cayman Compass Journal, and post it on our website to avoid the cost and time lag associated with another printed report. This could happen again in the near future if the market moves as quickly as it might. Therefore it is good to have at least a quarterly look at our website to check for any updates. 

Review 
In our last Mid-Year Report and Fall update, we mentioned the sales momentum which had built-up earlier in 2014 because of an increase in sales activity. We expected this momentum to continue with a further increase in sales activity. However, we cautioned that the prices hadn't really risen much yet and although we expected sales activity to increase, we did not expect to see prices rising much before early 2015. 

General Outlook 
The data bears out our projections for the last half of 2014. The total volume of sales YTD over 2013 is up a whopping 52%! Much of that increase occurred within the last Winter season although November 2014 was also very strong. The number of active listings is down 5% over last year but there are more and more listings coming on lately. Perhaps it is the prospects of higher prices, or maybe those who have been struggling with their payments have finally run up the white flag. Certainly the number of forced sale properties is increasing. It is likely a combination of the two. 

While we think the 'tide is turning' to favour the Seller finally after 7 years of a Buyers Market, this will be the first season where that is the case. So while we do expect to see more properties listed at increasingly higher prices (and that is already happening), we don't expect the buyers to step up and swallow huge increases with all the worldwide financial uncertainty. However, we will no doubt start to see sales at higher levels. 

Condos 
There has been a 24% increase in the # of units sold but in this case we are also seeing a similar increase in the average sales price for condos over last year. Currently condo inventory is down 20% and the average listing price is 4% higher YTD. The drop in inventory is a good sign for potential rising prices. Three times as many multi-family properties were sold this year than last which indicates a considerable demand for income properties. 

The Watercolours is now completed and they have sold 43 of the 57 units. This property achieves a new level of luxury for Cayman both in terms of design as well as amenities. This project can hold its own with any which have been produced anywhere. Call us for full details and unit availability. 

Residential 
The detached homes sector has seen a 41% increase in the number of sales. However, the average price achieved is off by 25%. The largest increase in number of sales is in the larger homes bracket which indicates prices for luxury homes did not rise in 2014. The figures for existing listings show a 5% increase in listing price, and 4% in number of listings. 

Coldwell Banker will be listing an extraordinary recently built beachfront residence on 1.83 acres in Frank Sound. It is called 'Oceanus' and is an 11,000 sq. ft. contemporary structure on 4 levels. The 70+ pilings in the foundation and 12in poured concrete walls allow for a wide open floor plan and 23in ceilings. An amazing array of unique fruit trees and flowering plants make this property a horticultural delight. The land on the inland side of the road provides further development options. Call us for full details. 

Land 
The number of land listings is currently 11% down and the average listing price is down 7%. That may be related to the fact that the land sales are up 14% and the average selling price is up 6% YTD. The Sister Islands land sales data is up 100%, however, the starting point was very low, so it is still relatively slow going there. One of the more interesting land parcels on the market is the waterfront 1.25 acre parcel adjacent to the Grand Old House. There are 5 buildings on the property which generate rental income. However, it's best use would be as a redevelopment parcel using its Beach Resort Zoning which would allow condos, apartments, a small hotel, and even some Commercial applications. The location is excellent, the views are spectacular, the price is negotiable and the owners may be willing to do some owner financing. Call us for full details. 

Commercial 
The Commercial Market for Grand Cayman remained steady for most of 2014. The demand for Office and Retail space increased but was met with excess space held by many tenants at their current location. Many office suites were backfilled by new hires filling spaces that had been vacated during the recession. Improving numbers in cruise and air traffic helped the Retail Sector but not enough yet to lead to additional space demands to justify new construction. For these two reasons, in addition to excessive office relocation costs (improvement costs, moving costs, and extended construction periods) for tenants, Cayman experienced limited movement in the market this past year. Forecasted continued long term growth in Grand Cayman and improved traffic from tourism should help to improve demand in these areas leading more activity for 2015. 

Commercial Lending remains tight for the smaller individual business owners and investors which has kept small business expansion flat throughout the year. 
The Investment Market remains cautious as those affected by FATCA adjust to new transparency laws in Grand Cayman and elsewhere. While many good opportunities remain offering returns of 8% or better with no local taxation on rental income, investor activity was slow with available lending options limiting opportunities to some smaller investors. 2015 should bring continued improving conditions to Grand Cayman which typically follows behind the larger economies of its neighbors. The Hard Rock Caf� is back open on the waterfront under new ownership after a long term lease was negotiated for the Property owner by Tracy and Cody Moore of Coldwell Banker. 
For further information on market vacancy rates, availabilities, and investment opportunities contact Todd Younghans in our office, the only SIOR and CCIM qualified Commercial Specialist in Cayman. 

Sister Islands 
Cayman Brac - Contributed by Irene Scott-Thornton our resident Cayman Brac Agent - Properties available in Cayman Brac remain in good supply. Ocean front lots and homes are at very good value with several prices lowered in the past four months. The closing of The Alexander Hotel resulted in 35 fewer overnight accommodations, with the trickle down effect of visitors choosing rental homes as a viable alternative. A high end beach front condominium development is scheduled to break ground in 2015. Currently, beach front homes are available in the $850K to $985K price range, with one to two bedrooms beach front condominiums priced between US$145K to US$210K. Ocean front properties for single housing range from US$175K to US$325K. With no crime, no crowds, no traffic, and pristine reefs for diving, Cayman Brac remains an island that is secluded and peaceful, with all the benefits of being in the Cayman Islands. 

Little Cayman - Contributed by Wes Dangerfield our resident Little Cayman Agent - Although 2014 was not a record breaking year as far as sales of property goes, there was continued growth in new building. At any given time, new houses were and are under construction, but not so many to change the small island feel that those who live here have come to love. There are properties available for those who want raw land as an investment or to build, houses in different price ranges, and condos (which are becoming more and more difficult to find on the market). 

Development 
The construction of Dart's Kimpton Hotel continues at a rapid pace. The recent acquisition of the Kimpton Chain by the UK based International Hotels Group may lead to more British and European visitors. From 2012 on, Dart has invested more than $62 million of the $240 million Kimpton construction project. Five levels of the hotel structure are complete, taking it to the halfway mark and the condo building is well underway. Preliminary estimates indicate that the Kimpton project will have a total economic impact of more than US$284 million during the construction phase, and once operational will have annual total economic impact of more than US $45 million. Dart has also spent $7 Million over last two years (2012-2014) on the Cayman Islands Yacht Club Renovation. 

There are a number of projects on the books at Planning however, there are not a lot of other large projects which are actually under construction. As we begin to find our way out of this recession which has dogged us for nearly 7 years, has anyone considered what our economy might have been like had Dart not been developing in Cayman? Dart's Investment in Camana Bay through the end of 2010 had a local impact of $826 million. Construction of Camana Bay generated more than 60% of the Islands' construction activity from 2006 - 2008. The economic impact in 2011-2012 was approx. $100 million per year, plus another $30M investment for the most recent commercial building. Surely that was a significant % of our overall GDP. And you will note the Kimpton is being built in accordance with the agreement between Dart and the previous Government, but that agreement still has not been finalized or renegotiated by the current Government. 

Immigration 
Mr. Joseph Hew, Councillor for Tourism and Transport, reported recently that a number of changes to the immigration regulations have been made which are expected to make life easier for visitors, business people and property owners coming to the Cayman Islands. Policy directives that were recently approved by Cabinet will allow business travelers to remain in the country for up to 10 working days without the need to obtain a work permit. It will also allow those who own property in the Cayman Islands and can demonstrate their wealth, to stay for up to six months without having to visit the Immigration Department for visa extensions. This directive was announced in October and was published in the Government's Gazette in December. Both are very welcome and long overdue changes to Immigration Policy and will be implemented shortly. 

Tourism 
You can feel the difference this year. It felt like we have had more tourists on the island and the figures bear that out. Our Air Arrivals have been up this year every single month over last year. We are expecting about a 20% YTD increase once the yearly figures are tallied. And we expect a similar increase (and possibly larger) in the cruise ship YTD arrivals. This is, of course, very good news for our retail businesses and our economy in general. The USA still accounts for 76% of all our Tourism. 

Medical Tourism 
Health City has become more and more active, attracting patients from other jurisdictions (and even locals) for their Cardiac care and Orthopedic departments. And the Perseus PCI Cancer Facility is also finishing up its first year of treatments in Cayman. For those who are not aware of this facility, Perseus is running clinical trials on immunotherapy for solid tumors and is located in the Professional Centre on Smith Road (the Parent Company is Orbis out of Carolina). Perseus takes cells from a patients tumor and develops a serum which is re-injected into the patient and delivered to the T cells which then fight the cancer from within using the body's own immune system. Immunotherapy is recognized as the new direction of cancer treatment because it is less invasive and has virtually no side effects. The unique delivery system developed by Dr. Tom Wagner of the Perseus Group sets itself above the other immunotherapy systems in existence. Their results have been extraordinary in that over time they are experiencing about a 27% success (10 year cure) rate with stage 4 Melanoma cancer patients. Patients come here from all over and their needs are catered to while they are in Cayman. Having a state of the art facility, welcoming friendly staff and a pleasing environment to relax in, make the treatment that much more attractive (see perseuspci.com on the web for further info). 

Infrastructure 
During the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan and during the recession a large number of people left the island. That eventuality added to our economic problems. Subsequently, it was postulated that an influx of about 10,000 people would have a needed positive effect on the Balance Sheet. While we do not doubt that is true, has anyone noticed how bad the traffic has gotten lately? The islands road system as it is, would have grave difficulty being able to handle a large influx of drivers/cars, not to mention exacerbating the unemployment situation. Adding more population will be a good thing, only if our infrastructure can handle it. 

Forecast 
Our Market had an increase in sales activity in early 2014 for the first time in years. That slowed during our summer, which is more in line with historical norms than recessionary times. November and December were good months and prices are rising. We expect our Winter Season to continue the sales momentums demonstrated last Winter. Limited supply in some sectors will likely lead to multiple bidder situations on some properties and prices should continue to rise. But we will see some stalemates in cases which Sellers expectations have out-paced the market. Therefore we expect mostly sunny skies this Winter with occasional clouds. 

We at Coldwell Banker Cayman wish all our readers a Happy and Healthy New Year. 

 
This article originally appeared on International Man please click here to read on the original website. 

Pop quiz: can you name this free-market jurisdiction in the Western hemisphere? 

Here are some of its attributes: 

Personal income tax: NONE 

Corporate income tax: NONE 

Capital gains tax: NONE 

Taxation of dividends: NONE 

Taxation of interest: NONE 

Withholding taxes: NONE 

Payroll tax: NONE 

Social Security tax: NONE 

Wealth tax: NONE 

Inheritance/estate tax: NONE 

Property taxes: NONE 

Compared to the levels of taxation in the US, Canada, and Europe, to say the above is a breath of fresh air would be a major understatement. 

Now, there are only three jurisdictions in the Western hemisphere that do not levy property taxes, so that should narrow the field. The mere existence of property taxes is a ridiculous notion that should offend anyone with a respect of property rights. I have already covered this topic here in case you're interested. 

Those three jurisdictions are the Cayman IslandsDominica, and Turks and Caicos Islands

All three are worthy of discussion, but as I just returned from a speaking engagement at the Grand Cayman Liberty Forum, I want to focus on Cayman today. 

(By the way, locals pronounce it like cay-man, not cay-men. It sort of rhymes with the way you would say 'hey man.')

There is one absolutely crucial feature that distinguishes the Cayman Islands from other low-tax jurisdictions: a culture and history that is vehemently opposed to direct taxation -which has never existed in Cayman. 

Over the years, every proposal that has had even a whiff of a possibility that it might lead to direct taxation has been driven out of town, along with the foolish politicians who sponsored it. It's proven to be a great deterrent. 

This dynamic has been fostered by the fact that Cayman is a small place where everybody including the politicians know each other. The political system in that sense remains very personal. The legislators go to the same restaurants and live in the same neighborhoods as their constituents they cannot easily hide. This sort of personal accountability is impossible in large countries. It helps keep Caymanian politicians in check. 

Give an Inch and They�ll Take a Mile



The aversion to even the concept of direct taxation in Cayman is extremely important. Because once the principle is conceded and you give politicians an inch it's only a matter of time before they'll take a mile. 

You'll recall that when the federal income tax was introduced in the US 1913, those making up to $20,000 (equivalent to around $475,000 today) were only taxed at 1% that's ONE PERCENT

The top bracket kicked in at $500,000 (equivalent to around $12 million today), and the tax rate for it was only 7%. 

Of course, once the principle was conceded in 1913, the politicians naturally couldn't resist ramping it up until we have the monstrosity that exists today in the US tax code, which most Americans passively accept as 'normal.' 

In my view, it's Cayman's unique culture and history that's opposed to the very principle of direct taxation, which is the best guarantor it will continue to be a beacon of light well into the future. 

Judge Me by My Enemies


But not everyone is as thrilled about the Caymanians love for low taxes as I am. 

Spendthrift politicians the world over have long despised Cayman something that should be taken as a badge of honor, as far as I'm concerned. 

This is because productive people and companies gravitate to places where they're treated best. And it's hard to find a place where you'll be treated better with respect to taxation than in Cayman. This dynamic is called tax competition

Naturally, politicians in countries with uncompetitive tax policies don't like this because it means fewer productive people to fleece, which helps puts a limit on their wasteful spending. 

Consequently, Cayman has long been pressured. A prominent Caymanian professional told me about how the US government used to fax over laws to the Cayman government and demand that they adopt them. Imagine a situation where China arrogantly faxed over a new law to the US Congress and demanded they adopt it and you'll know how the Caymanians felt. 

Fortunately, these methods were never really that successful. In fact, they've made Cayman stronger. Now the jurisdiction is battle-hardened and knows how to handle the pressure. 

Another way Cayman has been pressured is through demonization in the media and popular culture as some sort of shady money-laundering center. Never mind the fact that unlike murder, robbery, and rape, money laundering is a victimless make-believe crime invented by politicians. 

Here's what Lew Rockwell said in a post titled The Totalitarian Notion of 'Money Laundering'

Normal people " are outraged and astounded to know that using your own cash, honestly gained and (dishonestly) taxed, can be a major-league federal felony. Spending $10,000 or more of your own cash without filling out a federal form is a crime. But get this: spending smaller amounts can be a crime too, if they add up to more than $10,000. We are told that this police-state measure is necessary to fight terrorism. But when the evil Reagan administration pushed all these laws through, the excuse was to fight the drug war. Of course, neither is true. Such surveillance is part of the federal effort to tax and control every dime you have and spend. Need I mention that only one public official, then and now, fights for our privacy and property rights in this area? Ron Paul battled Reagan, Bush I, Clinton I, and Bush II on the victimless crime of money laundering." As Ron says, freedom means governmental transparency and private opacity, not the reverse. 

But let's set that argument aside and assume that money laundering is indeed a real crime. The people who demonize Cayman never mention that New York and London are some of the largest money laundering centers in the world. Cayman is squeaky clean in comparison with tight 'know your customer' and other banking controls. 

Here's what the New York Times has said:  

A study last year by the Colombian economists Alejandro Gaviria and Daniel Mejia concluded that the vast majority of profits from drug trafficking in Colombia were reaped by criminal syndicates in rich countries and laundered by banks in global financial centers like New York and London. 

What this all means is that the popular (mis)conception about Cayman being some sort of unique and illicit jurisdiction is nothing but propaganda from proponents of big government. 

The reality is that Cayman is a highly sophisticated and professional financial center that stands out because of its unique history and culture opposed to direct taxation. For people looking to make the most of their personal freedom and financial opportunity, Cayman checks a lot of boxes. 

If we judge Cayman by its enemies, I'd say it's a wonderful place. 

Before I sign off, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the latest issue of Crisis Speculator. In it, I have an in-depth discussion with the legendary Jim Rogers on investing in productive farmland in a crisis market that both he and I are very excited about. It's a region that happens to contain some of the most fertile soil in the entire world. Jim recently became a director of a company that operates in the area. 

Crucially, I have found a way for US investors to easily access this opportunity with a retail brokerage account. If you're interested in scooping up productive agricultural real estate in arguably the most fertile area of the world at crisis-driven bargains and with the ease of buying a stock in your US brokerage account I'd suggest you check out the investment pick in the latest issue of Crisis Speculator.

 
Derek Haines and the Six4Hospice project are well on their way to raising the $1 million dollars needed to build Cayman HospiceCare a new centre with much needed in-patient care facilities. 
The fundraising efforts have just received a large boost with a generous $100,000 donation from the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association (CIREBA). 
After successfully completing his third marathon in Pamplona, Derek is now half-way through an incredible journey of six marathons around the world in just eight months. His Paris and London races were completed in April and now Pamplona is crossed off the list too. The remaining races take place in San Francisco in July, Dublin in October and finally finishing in the Cayman Islands in December, where Derek's home crowd will be cheering him over finish line. 
James Butterworth, Broker, Coldwell Banker Cayman Islands Realty said "I'm delighted that we, together with our friends in CIREBA could help Derek Haines and the Six4Hospice project with their remarkable fundraising efforts. It's an amazing challenge that Derek is undertaking and one that's going to make such a difference for Cayman Hospice Care, their patients and so many people within our community for years to come. We all wish him the best of luck with his three remaining races."

Every dollar raised for this appeal goes directly towards the Cayman HospiceCare building project. For more information or make a donation please visit www.six4hospice.com 

 
Our new Mid Year Market Report has just been printed (about a month behind schedule) and is now on our website www.coldwellbankercayman.com. But that delay, plus the lead time to do the research and get it written and printed, means the figures used are now at least 90 days old.  

Normally this would not be significant, but this year it is. There is no doubt in my mind that the mood of the market has improved over that period, as has the frequency of showings.  

The conclusions and projections of the report are positive and accurate. However, the data collected since then further supports, and strongly emphasizes, those conclusions. 

Looking at the CIREBA MLS figures, over the past 90 days alone, 127 properties have closed (sold) and another 150 or more are newly under contract with a 'Sale Pending' or 'Pending Conditional' designation. 

That's 277 properties either under contract or sold within the last 90 days when a total of 442 were sold in all of 2013. If we extended the time to close all of these properties to be as much as 180 days in total, that would still be an increase of 25 percent over 2013. 

Meanwhile, although the total inventory on the market continues to increase in value (now at roughly $1.75 billion), if we look at individual sectors, the supply is getting very thin. For example, on Seven Mile Beach, there are no condos for sale from US$1 million to US$1.3 million. There are other sectors, like forced sales on inland properties, which are adding to the supply. 

If you are a fisherman or boater or diver, you know what a 'slack tide' is. It is the brief period between the changing of the tides when the water is no longer falling but hasn't yet started rising. You can't really tell what is happening unless you are in the water, and even then it is hard to tell until the water actually begins to move the other way.  

In applying this tidal analogy to real estate, there are two terms to consider: sales activity and pricing. In moving from a down/buyers market, which we have been in since about 2009, we must first have increased sales activity. In terms of sales activity, 'slack tide' ended and the tide began to rise around last October when a noticeable shift in sales activity began. That is what we were referring to above. The tide is certainly now rising in relation to sales activity. 

With regard to pricing, the data above tells me that we are just coming out of 'slack tide' and the tide is starting to rise. The CIREBA MLS figures will not demonstrate this for another couple of months, but it is already apparent to those of us on the ground. 

Sellers are becoming more reluctant to sell for what the last few comparable properties sold for, but the historical data does not support higher prices yet. So we have gaps in the supply between the sold prices and listed prices.  

It is only a matter of time until those gaps are filled with sales that represent a compromise between the two - which amounts to a rise in prices. 

How soon, and how emphatic the shift will be, nobody really knows. But speaking as somebody on the ground, the compromise sales should be in evidence anytime now. And how dramatic the move will be is dependent upon the amount of demand in each market area. Buyers are unlikely to pay silly prices again after being burned so recently by the recession.  

Notice that above I said 'compromise' deals. At this point in the market cycle, it is imperative that sellers are not too stubborn about getting back to previous highs immediately. That's not how it works. The upward movement of prices is a process that happens as buyer confidence grows and purchases continue to be made at slightly higher but ever increasing levels. But keep in mind, real estate values were discounted 20 percent to 30 percent from previous highs in Cayman during the recession, so purchases made before that discount disappears will be good buys. 

On the heels of the information above, the next question is probably, Why is this happening now? The short answer is that a lot of people have been holding on to their money for a number of years, but there are no traditionally safe investments giving any return. Banks and bonds are hardly worth the trouble, and stocks get riskier every day, it seems. Staying in U.S. dollars is also scary. 

The lone safe haven of precious metals is probably due for another move higher soon. And yet, you can own it, but you can't spend or enjoy it easily. Real estate has become the new darling of investors, more by default than anything else - although the lower prices have certainly also made real estate more attractive. 

Many individuals from foreign countries are looking to geographically diversify their assets. A beneficiary has been the commercial sector, with global investments totaling around US$1.1 trillion, making it the most active year since 2007. Some commercial and residential properties in Cayman are offered with a 6 percent to 8 percent cap rate.  

And even those at 4.5 percent yield much higher returns than banks. In fact, in Cayman, many condos will pay all your expenses with rental income and still allow you to use them as well. 

We believe that this winter we will see a continuation of the trend already begun, and the tide of prices will indeed rise. 

 
JC Calhoun, Broker and Owner of Coldwell Banker Cayman Islands Realty researches, writes and publishes his well known and much awaited Market Report bi-annually. 

In his latest report JC notes a "freshening in the market" and a "definite increase in activity". As realtors and brokers, staying on top of global real estate trends is a vital part of what we do. As we peruse reports we find that, in tandem with JC's predictions and thoughts, investors from the United States, Europe, and Canada have started seeing real buying opportunities and are showing renewed confidence in the Caribbean Market.  

UK, USA and Canadian buyers still represent the largest component of foreign demand across the Caribbean and higher disposable incomes from the mid market are looking at the $2.5 to $4.5 million dollar properties. 

The weak USD has also caused European investor interest in the Caribbean with an increase of enquires from Sweden, France and Eastern European countries. For example, a European investor looking at purchasing a $2 million property in Barbados would have paid $1.53 million in 2010. In 2013, due to currency rates and price movements, the same property would cost the buyer closer to $1.26 million. 

Prime prices softened on Grand Cayman in 2013 but, in tandem with JC's report, activity is rising, which is an indication of renewed confidence and limited new supply. Sales in 2013 were focused on Seven Mile Beach, South Sound and the Eastern Districts. 

It is estimated that prime prices slipped by around 5% on Grand Cayman in 2013 but it is also predicted that price growth will remain fixed in 2014. Sales have been particularly strong in the $1 million to $5 million price bracket with interest from US, Canadian and British buyers as previously noted. 

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