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Thinking of selling your condo? Whether you live in the condo or own it as an investment property, if you're ready to sell your home, it's time to talk to a qualified real estate agent. By evaluating several criteria, including the regional market, time of year, features of your condo unit, as well as your specific needs as the seller, he or she can create a customized marketing plan for your condo. Here are five important topics to discuss with your real estate agent if you want to sell your home: 

1) Best Time of Year to Sell Your Condo 
The specifics of your area do more to determine the best time to put your home on the market than whether you're selling a condo or a house. While the conventional wisdom is that spring is the best time for selling a home, this belief simply doesn't ring true in every locale. In recent years the historic patterns have eased, and in some cases, totally disappeared. Still, different parts of the country have periods when sellers can be more aggressive with their pricing. And your real estate agent will suggest a distinct timing strategy for condominium sales. 

2) Open House Strategy and How to De-Clutter 
A condo that shows well will sell faster and bring a higher price. Small cosmetic touch-ups can make a big difference. Buyers often suspect that more serious problems may exist if they notice the need for minor repairs. If you want to sell your home, it's important to make sure your condo is clean, tidy and free of personal clutter. Clear sinks and counters of dishes and toiletries. Neatly stack office supplies and organize storage areas. Replace dim light bulbs and clean windows. Even though your garden area may be commonly owned, do your best to create curb appeal by cleaning front steps and porches, and clearing lawns of toys or equipment. 

3) Features to Accentuate 
One of the best features to accentuate when selling a condo is the lifestyle of ease that comes with condominium ownership. Many buyers are looking for the hassle-free living experience that they can't find with a single-family detached house. Another important attribute of any condo is the amenities of the association, which can include a hot tub, fitness center, owner's lounge, covered parking and even concierge services. If you're considering selling your condo, take the time to walk through it methodically with your real estate agent. Together you can point out which features of the actual condo unit should be accentuated. Does your unit have a wonderful view? Perhaps the location of your condominium is unique and desirable. Your real estate agent can help accentuate these features in sales and marketing materials. 

4) Desired Price and Bottom Line Price 
When setting the home price for your condo, it's important to identify your desired price and your bottom line price. By assessing recent condo sale and listing statistics in your area, your real estate agent and a licensed appraiser can estimate your house value and recommend an appropriate target price range. Working with your agent, you can set an initial asking price, as well the absolute lowest home price you would comfortably accept. One advantage of selling a condo is that by assessing the prices of other units in your association that have recently sold or are currently listed, your real estate agent and the appraiser can determine a very accurate house value. 

5) Disclosures 
When selling your condo, you are obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property's value or desirability, as well as HOA minutes and costs of common insurance and utilities. In most states, it is illegal to fraudulently conceal major physical defects in your property, such as a water heater that leaks severely. And many states now require sellers to take a proactive role by making written disclosures on the condition of the condo unit. Ask your real estate agent for the particular laws on your island. 

In 1863, the British parliament officially made the Cayman Islands a dependency of Jamaica. When Jamaica achieved independence in 1962, the Islands opted to remain under the British Crown, and an administrator (in 1971 the title became Governor) appointed from London assumed the responsibilities previously held by the governor of Jamaica. 

Often referred to as "the islands time forgot," Cayman Islanders have evolved into hardy, independent souls who have always been involved with the sea. Many earned a living as fishermen, or crew members on foreign-owned ships, or migrated to Central America and areas in Florida - specifically Tampa and Port Arthur. GoCayman states, "In 1906 more than a fifth of the population of 5,000 was estimated to be at sea, and even as late as the 1950s the government annual report said that the main "export" was seamen whose remittances were the mainstay of the economy." 

After a devastating hurricane hit in 1932, few homes were left standing on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and many lost at sea. From this low point in Cayman history, a remarkably successful small island economy grew. After WWII and up to the early 1980s, the majority of Caymanian men, renowned for their seamanship, found work in the shipping industry, working on the large cargo ships and tankers criss-crossing the world. 

"Since those days the economy has grown in remarkable fashion, to be a model envied in other parts of the region. Over the last 30 years, governments have pursued policies aimed at developing the infrastructure, education, health and social services of the Islands, fostering the stability which is an important factor in the continued growth of Cayman's two main industries, tourism and financial services," according to Go Cayman. 

In 1950, an Englishman built the first hotel on Seven Mile Beach. Cruise ships came in the late 1960's, and by the 1990's, the cruise industry became a major contributor to the Islands' economy. 

By remaining a Crown Colony, the Islands obtained political stability and a foundation for offshore financial services. In 1966, the Cayman Legislative Assembly passed the Banks and Trust Companies Law. Much of the initial success of its financial services sector is attributable to Vassel G. Johnson, since knighted by Queen Elizabeth. 

Many thanks to Cayman.Com for help with this post. 

If you're looking for home-buying information, you've come to the right place. One of the first questions in deciding to buy a home is house or condo? If you're leaning toward a condo, read on. Here are five important topics to discuss with your real estate agent before beginning your home buying search: 

1) What You Can't Live Without 
If your version of the American Dream doesn't include mowing the lawn, a condo might be a great choice. If you can't live without your own backyard, a big garage, or plenty of space between you and your neighbors, your needs may be better suited to a detached single-family residence. However, if the idea of a condo sounds right, talk to your real estate agent about other important aspects of your future home. For example, a gourmet cook might seek out a well-designed kitchen. Someone who works from home might need dedicated space for a home office. Additionally, there are decisions specific to condo living which you will need to think about. What types of association amenities are you looking for? These can include pools, covered parking, clubhouses, and 24-hour security. Do you have a pet? Some condo associations have restrictions regarding pet ownership or even such things as having outdoor barbecues. Be sure to include all aspects of your home buying requirements in the information you provide to your real estate agent. 

2) Schools and Family Needs 
The quality of school systems has long been important information for home-buying families. If you have children or are thinking about having children in your new condo, you'll want to discuss school information and statistics with your real estate agent. Not only is it important to consider the location of your condo relative to area schools, but you'll also want to think about the quality and diversity of local school offerings. Your real estate agent can provide both public and private school information for all the neighborhoods in which you're considering buying a condo. 

3) Commuting 
For many condo-owners, commuting from home to work and back is a necessary evil. Some people feel that a long commute can detract from their quality of life and the time they get to spend at home.. And today, this phenomenon can apply even on our laid-back islands. If having little or no commute to work is important to you, convey this to your real estate agent. 

4) Community Details 
Whether you hope to buy a condo in a vibrant urban neighborhood or a charming rural town, the demographics, details and community statistics of a particular area are almost as important a consideration when buying a home as the details of the house itself. Even more significant in a condo-living situation is information about your condominium's own community. Are most of the residents retirees? Young single people? The community information and statistics of both your condominium and the town or city in which it is located are crucial factors in your home-buying decision. 


5) Budget and Condo Fees 
For some, the decision to purchase a condo is based primarily on the convenience a condo lifestyle offers. For most people however, the most rigid constraint of home-buying and the central reason for choosing a condo is the buyer's budget. While condos are generally less expensive than houses, a buyer should be aware of additional costs, like HOA dues. Be sure to research the condo associations dues and exactly what those dues include. It's a good idea to check out a one-year utility history for the unit you're interested in, as well. These costs- both the maintenance fees and utility costs can be quite high in our Caribbean Island condo complexes.

 
Rare Ground Floor Oceanfront Condo, Christopher Columbus #3. See it here. 

Description 

300 ft of pure white sandy beach on the quiet Northern end of Seven Mile Beach. Walk out from this ground floor 3 bed, 2 bath unit to pool & beach. Active rental program. These units rarely come on the market, so hurry. 

Highlights 

3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1252 sq. ft. 
Ground floor corner unit 
300 Ft of stunning beach 
Northern end of Seven Mile Beach 
Great Rental Unit 
List price $1,195,000 

A thorough search of the links for history of the Caymans turned up no mention of any activity prior to Columbus sighting the islands in 1503. Finally Cayman.com.ky explained the mystery. "With no archeological evidence that Amerindians ever inhabited the Cayman Islands, it is believed that the first people to actually land here were sailors from Sir Francis Drake's 1585-6 expedition to the West Indies." 
 
But back to Columbus. Apparently he was off course when he sighted the islands, naming them "Las Tortugas" for the large number of turtles swimming nearby. By 1530 the islands were known as the Caymanus, a name that may have derived from confusion between the iguana, which is found on the islands, and the alligator ("cayman" in Spanish). 

Although the Cayman Islands celebrated their 500th birthday  "its Quincentennial Year" in 2003, marking the first sighting of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman by Columbus, it was only about three hundred years ago that people began to settle permanently on these islands. 

Ships of various nations stopped at the Caymans to get food, mainly turtles. The islands sheltered pirates who attacked Spanish ships from Cuba and the Dominican Republic (then Hispaniola). The islands are surrounded by treacherous fringing reefs with large salt water crocodiles - the Caimans, from which the islands are named, and did not offer the safer havens of other islands. The earliest European settlers, who came about 1700, were a mixture of buccaneers, shipwrecked sailors, and debtors. They brought with them slavery, which lasted until emancipation in 1835. 

From WorkMall.com, "Spain held early control over the Caymans, but the islands were ceded by Spain to the English crown in 1670 under the terms of the Treaty of Madrid. The first English settlement took place in 1734 after the first land grant. After 1734 most of the colonists came from Jamaica, and the Caymans became a dependency of Jamaica. The islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were settled in 1833 by several families from Grand Cayman, but no administrative connection existed until a justice of the peace arrived on Cayman Brac in 1877." Mahogany became a mainstay of the economy, highly prized in Europe for the furniture industry. 

The Cayman Islanders became well known as expert mariners and boat builders. As the populations of turtles began to dwindle, the bigger ships crafted by the locals carried small boats and their two- or three-man crews to new turtling grounds. 

Tune in next Monday to read the next post on the history of the Cayman Islands. 

Many thanks to Cayman.com.ky for help with the post.