Well, what a strange year it’s been… as news of coronavirus swept the globe it finally put the brakes on St. Barths a few days before the annual St. Barths Bucket regatta. The ensuing lock-down put an end to what had been a great season for the real estate market.
So, what’s happened since? And what does the future look like?
Let’s start with the broad picture. The lockdown in St Barts ended on May 11, and the island officially welcomed visitors starting on June 22. I cannot think of a more effective reopening strategy to protect the full-time residents and visitors alike of our lovely island than that which the Collectivity put in place. Not to sound like a full-time cheerleader for the local government of St Barts but, boy have they been hitting it out of the park when it came to the response to Hurricane Irma and now the response to COVID-19.
Tradewind Pilatus landing in St. Barths
The intimate and inclusive nature of St. Barts, which makes us all feel like a member “of the club”, has continued as the island has reopened. The testing policy put in place means that you have to get tested before you go, pass the test, and show proof when you land…and only then can you enter “the club”. Imagine if whole countries could do this!
Once you are on island this summer, it will still feel very special. Client after client is raving about restaurants, the beach clubs (Nikki, Shellona, Pearl Beach, Lil Rock etc.), and being welcomed back by the community at large. Thus, from a business and safety standpoint, you couldn’t get much better than where the island is currently positioned.
On the real estate front, the lockdown had a similar effect as Irma did, where a group of opportunistic investors contacted us to hunt for bargains. As is usually the case with St. Barts real estate, they ended up pretty much empty-handed. On the other hand, investors who have done well are the ones who didn’t get too precious on having it all but instead remained open-minded. The old adage “pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered” seems to be appropriate.
Those who lucked out were willing to make offers without having seen the property in person. Many have the mentality of “As soon as I get back down there I’m going to buy it”, which means they won’t be able to take advantage of a temporary dip on a few properties unless they hustle back this summer or fall. The name of the game here is to make offers for properties that will work for you and be prepared to act quickly.
As for the long term health of the St. Barts real estate market, as mentioned before, the Collectivity could not be managing this whole thing much better. They are trying to pull back on the development juggernaut while investing in local infrastructure to improve the quality of life on the island and protect against future hurricanes. Moreover, they’re demonstrating a deep understanding that tourism is the lifeblood of the island, but not to the detriment of the local community. They realize that keeping St. Barts as St. Barts is the only manageable long-term strategy for survival and thank goodness for that!
So, if I sound exceptionally bullish, I am. Not that properties are flying off the shelf, but I do see our utopian hideout as only strengthening from the current situation. What a strange year indeed…
If you would like to talk about the state of the market, or about the villas we have listed for sale, please feel free to contact me .
Director of International Real Estate, WIMCO Villas
See real estate listings in St Barts – https://www.wimco.com/villas/villasalessearch.aspx
How to buy a villa in St Barts – https://www.wimco.com/sales/howto.aspx
Contact a St Barts real estate broker – https://www.wimco.com/sales/contactus.aspx
Related Articles on St Barts Real Estate
St Barts Carte D’Urbanism (Zoning Map) – January, 2021
St Barts Real Estate News – December 2020