July 1, 2022

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House Hunting in Grenada: A Better ‘Beach Shack’ on the Caribbean Coast

5 min read

This two-bedroom farm-style house offers Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea views from a bluff above a white sandy beach on the southeast coast of Carriacou, an island in Grenada.

Built from greenheart wood and stone in 2014, the 1,178-square-foot off-white home has a sheet-metal roof, solar panels and hurricane battens, as well as a dock and jetty into the water. The 1.5-acre property is lush with tropical trees, including coconut, banana, lime, tamarind, mango, avocado and passion fruit, as well as old cedars and an organic vegetable garden.

“I love this property, because it’s reminiscent of a beach shack, though so much nicer,” said Paula La Touche-Keller, the owner-broker of Century 21 Grenada Grenadines, which has the listing. “It’s what people dream about when they dream of living on an island.”

A barn-style door opens to a rustic open-plan living area with a kitchen and bathroom. Tall doors fold back to reveal a 10-foot-wide veranda with sweeping views of the Grenadine islands. Floors are pine. The kitchen has an island and cabinets of aqua-painted greenheart and pine. Countertops are cedar and tumbled marble tiles. A spiral wooden staircase with a nautical-themed rope railing ascends to the 18-by-13-foot bedroom loft with greenheart floors and a vaulted ceiling.

A self-contained open-plan apartment on the house’s lower level has a kitchenette, laundry and bathroom with indoor and outdoor shower. Tall doors fold open toward the sea. Steps away, under a bougainvillea-draped pergola, is an outdoor kitchen with an ornate stone-and-cement hand basin, wood-fired pizza oven and barbecue. Beyond is a dock with a thatched roof set up for dining, and a mooring for a boat.

A 560-foot long driveway illuminated by flood lights leads to the fenced property, which has a detached two-car garage. Solar panels provide electricity and hot water, along with a backup generator, and there are security cameras throughout.

Carriacou, one of three primary islands that make up the nation of Grenada, is home to about 10,000 residents. It is known for its relaxed lifestyle, with boating, diving, snorkeling, sailing and kite-surfing among its popular activities, said Ms. La Touche-Keller, who noted that Caribbean traditions with African roots are still a strong influence on the island. About a five-minute drive from the house is the community of Tyrell Bay, which has a ferry terminal, marina, supermarket, restaurants and guesthouses. There are public beaches nearby, such as Paradise and Cassada Bay, and many residents take boat trips to nearby islands in the Grenadines. The international airport is on the main island of Grenada. From there, domestic flights to Carriacou take about 20 minutes and ferry trips to Tyrell Bay take about two hours.

Home prices in Grenada, the southern Caribbean nation with about 111,000 residents located 100 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, had been on the rise in the years leading up to the pandemic, said Victoria Williams, the broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Grenada. But the ensuing absence of tourists caused a huge shift in the market.

“We were basically closed for business with no flights into the island from March 2020, when the airport closed, to a gradual reopening in late October 2020,” she said. “But no visitors until the St. George’s University reopening in August 2021, and even then there was no tourism. There has been no tourism for almost two years.”

Sales transactions fell 6 percent in 2021, with 772 sales totaling about $80.5 million, said Ms. La Touche-Keller, who previously served as president of the National Realtors Association of Grenada. About 88 percent of those sales were to Grenadians.

“The foreign market could not come to see the properties,” she said. “So while we had a lot of interest from the foreign market, and there were a handful of sales, most were not interested in purchasing a property unseen.”

With travel restrictions loosening in Grenada, foreign interest has begun to return in the past month or so, Ms. La Touche-Keller said.

Grenada has a Citizenship by Investment program requiring an outlay of either $150,000 as a donation or $220,000 in a government-approved real estate project, but most of the projects under that initiative are sold out, Ms. Williams said. Other factors affecting the residential market are low inventory of midpriced homes and properties priced higher than comparable ones in the United States, she said.

“Presently, we don’t have a range of apartment-type or condos available to second-home or vacation buyers,” she said.

Homes in Grenada, which sits on the southern edge of the Atlantic hurricane belt, tend to be somewhat more expensive than those on other Caribbean islands, brokers said. Islands with comparable home prices are St. Lucia and Antigua, Ms. La Touche-Keller said.

About half the homes on Grenada are in the $50,000 to $200,000 range; 40 percent are between $200,000 and $350,000, and the rest range from $350,000 up to $5 million, Ms. La Touche-Keller said.

While the greatest number of foreign home buyers choose to live on Grenada, the country’s most populated island, which offers more convenience and amenities, many foreigners are attracted by the unspoiled nature of Carriacou, she said: “About half of Carriacou’s housing stock is in the $200,000 to $350,000 range. It’s the main island where people have money. Over the years, Carriacou has seen a lot of nice homes built by returning Grenadians or the expat market.”

At one time, there were many British buyers in Grenada, which was granted independence from Britain in 1974, Ms. La Touche-Keller said. When the British pound slumped about six years ago, those buyers were overtaken by American and Canadian buyers, she said.

There are also many native Grenadians buying homes: “We’re seeing more returning nationals since the island’s return to a semblance of normalcy post-Covid,” Ms. Williams said.

There are smaller numbers of buyers from European countries like Germany and Italy, as well as countries in Asia and Africa, brokers said.

On Carriacou, North Americans tend to be the dominant buyers, Ms. La Touche-Keller said.

Foreign home buyers must meet certain financial and personal requirements to obtain an alien landholding license, which costs 10 percent of a home’s purchase price, said Leslie-Ann Seon, an attorney and notary public at Seon & Associates.

“On the sale of the real property by a noncitizen, the transfer tax is 15 percent of the sale price,” she said.

Most foreign buyers hire a local lawyer to assist in the transaction, at a typical fee of between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of the sale price, Ms. Williams said.

Stamp duty is about 1 percent of the sale price, and there are other nominal recording and registration fees, along with courier and bank charges, Ms. Seon said.

“Mortgages are available to foreign home buyers,” she said. “Interest rates may range from 5 percent to 8 percent. “Most buyers do pay in cash.”

English; East Caribbean dollar (1 East Caribbean dollar = $0.37)

The annual property tax on this villa is $275, Ms. LaTouche-Keller said.

Paula LaTouche, Century 21 Grenada, 1 (473) 440-5227, century21global.com

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Alison Gregor

2022-04-13 09:00:37

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