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Jamaica grabs attention as top option for second home in real estate rankings

Published:Wednesday | June 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Edwin Wint, president of the Realtors Association of Jamaica.
Carlene Sinclair, managing director of Property Solutions Limited.

Jamaica grabs attention as top option for second home in real estate rankings

Jamaica has edged out Italy as the most popular real estate search outside of the United States (US), says President of the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ), Edwin Wint.

The development coincides with Jamaica's addition to the US-based National Association of Realtors (NAR) database last year. Since then, local realtors say, interest in the destination from persons searching for second homes and returning residents has escalated.

Through the formal relationship with NAR, local properties are added to listings viewed on Realtor.com, which displays information in 12 languages and reaches some 80 countries.

The latest rankings show Jamaica at number one of countries most searched outside of the US, followed by Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica, The Bahamas, France, Spain, Canada, the Dominican Republic and Switzerland to round out the top. The site quoted data from a research arm, which made its report in April.

Wint says RAJ's Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is shown on the NAR's portal and that Jamaica has been the most searched destination outside of the US for the past five months.

"Previous to that we were second to Italy," he said.

Howard Johnson of Johnson Benjamin & Associates and chairman of the RAJ Multiple Listing Service credited the searches to the listing service.

"My opinion is that we have one of the most developed, successful and organised MLSes in the region; it syndicates many attractive listings to the large real estate portal. In addition, Jamaica is a popular destination for second homes," said Johnson.

"Obviously, our weather and beaches play a major role in why Jamaica is such an attraction. Many persons have now come to know Jamaica because of our success in sports, our music and the effort by the Government's initiatives through JAMPRO and the Ministry of Tourism. Many have become repeat visitors and have opted to purchase condos/apartments and/or town houses as either investments or second homes."

Debra Cumming, CEO of Century 21 Heave-Ho Properties Jamaica, adds that levels of overseas interest in Jamaica are at an all-time high.

Century 21 is currently closing sales of Moon Dance Villas and Moon Dance Cliff in Negril. Moon Dance Cliff, said Cumming, is being bought by overseas investors, while Moon Dance Villas is being acquired by local hotelier Lee Issa. Both properties had attracted overseas interest.

Carlene Sinclair, immediate past president of the RAJ and managing director of Property Solutions Limited, says most of the queries on property through her website are from overseas buyers.

Sinclair spoke with Wednesday Business just as she was heading out to Port Antonia to assess property that a returning couple were interested in acquiring.

The enquiry was made though Realtor.com international.

"The people are returning residents who will be in the island in August. They are coming back to live in Jamaica. They left here more than 30 years ago. They want me to take some pictures of the inside of the house. That's what I am going to do," she said.

As to how many of the leads that come through the online portal result in sales, Sinclair said the database does not fully capture information, while Wint said that information would have to asked of individual brokers.

"We are selling, but I can't tell you the percentage," said Sinclair, adding that her company receives around 15-20 enquiries each week.

"It does not mean that those 20 people are buying now, but they are engaging you for information. In other words, we are getting a lot of leads. It's up to us to convert these leads into sales," she said.

The MLS supports a network of 400 local real estate brokers.