The Wonder of the Jamaica Property Market

Daisy Ratnasari

Jamaica is a beautiful island. It is the third largest island in the Caribbean with a warm and sunny tropical climate. It has had over 40 years independence since 1962, and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II who officially uses the title Queen of Jamaica when she visits the country.

Jamaica’s heritage and culture is surprisingly diverse. Jamaicans’ heritage includes African, Indian, British, Chinese, German and Irish. There is an increase in immigration from Latin America and China.

Jamaica is a popular holiday destination, especially for British tourists. It has a culture that is relaxed and an abundance of tourist attractions around the island. You can visit Montego Bay, with its aqua seawater and white sand, climb up Dunns River, a six hundred feet waterfall in Ocho Rios. You can also dive at the 7 miles of beach on the western coastline in Negril, which is home to many prestigious resorts. Inland, Kingston and Spanish Town are vibrant and interesting cities, bustling and full of life and character. The Jamaican cuisine is second to none, and you can feast on delicious dishes such as goat curries, jerk chicken and pork, yams, rice and peas, ackee and saltfish and Jamaican patties.

Home to global reggae stars, such as Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, tourists flock to visit Bob Marley’s former home and studio in Hope Road, which is now a museum and a place of pilgrimage for Bob Marley fans and reggae-lovers alike.

As well as attracting tourists, the island also attracts buyers looking for Jamaica property, although it is not as popular as other Caribbean islands such as Barbados or St. Kitts. This is largely because of negative perception and media publicity which has had a knock on affect on tourists and buyers for Jamaica property. Reports of crime have also deterred people who would potentially buy properties in Jamaica, although Jamaica is a friendly island to live in.

Many retired Jamaicans who were born in Jamaica live, work and bring up their families overseas and then return to Jamaica to retire. With the proceeds from selling their overseas home, they can often buy larger and higher quality properties in Jamaica with a large plot of land, as well as securing an income for their retirement. Some families have a plot of land that has been bought historically by the family, and they build their own property in Jamaica to retire to.

There is a noticeable lack of supply of prestigious and high-end properties in Jamaica which doesn’t attract people with money or potential investors to the island. The lack of supply filters down to the tourist and hotel markets, which would also attract affluent tourists to spend money. So, high end Jamaica property should be a focus, as if the supply of luxury Jamaica property is not there, an argument can be made that demand won’t be stimulated with overseas buyers.

There is a whole range of properties for sale in Jamaica, from apartments and two bedroom houses to large, executive properties on three floors. Jamaica property can be located by the beach, inland upon hillsides and hilltops, in major towns and in more rural, remote areas. Detached Jamaican property often has large plots of land attached to it, and a majority have pools. There is also a range of new condominium and townhouse developments with resort style layouts and leisure facilities available for the residents to enjoy. Gated properties in Jamaica are also popular, with security a concern for residents and investors. Peace of mind is offered with security features such as steel-based windows, roofs and door grilles.

An added bonus for the Jamaica property market is that during this fiscal year, the Government is further reducing the Stamp Duty and Transfer tax primarily to stimulate the market and to help kick-start buying of the many properties for sale in Jamaica. Stamp Duty will be reduced from 4.5% to 3% and Transfer Tax from 5% to 4% effective from January 2010, so this will give investors an incentive to invest in Jamaican property and snap up some good deals.

In Jamaica, property prices have largely stayed static for the last two years, so the Jamaica property market is a buyers market, which is great news for investors who are liquid and in a good financial situation. They can make the market conditions work for them and negotiate some bargain prices on property for sale. There are also, unfortunately, many buyers who bought Jamaican property such as prestigious town houses for rental at the higher-end of the market at the peak, and now cannot rent them out and meet their financial commitments on the property. So these sellers will need to sell their properties urgently and will readily negotiate on price for quick sale.

The Jamaican property market has also not been helped by the global economic downturn, which has negatively affected attracting overseas investors, although the Jamaica property market is attractive to investors from overseas as the Jamaican dollar has decreased in value.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, as looking ahead into next year, the recession in Jamaica may end earlier than expected. When this starts to happen and the economy is kick-started again, combined with the generous tax incentives given by the Government, the Jamaica property market will inevitably start to revitalize and house prices and demand increase and escalate to previous positive levels, which is good news for investors and people wishing to live and retire in Jamaica.

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