Intro to Home-ownership: Navigating the Bahamian Market
Okay - I know that this blog is supposed to focus on my building process, but to be honest, it’s gotten pretty frustrating. Between waiting around a month for my water connection, another month and a half for my foundation inspection, and now waiting for the final touches on my foundation, I needed a break from talking about it (and well… I didn’t really have a choice considering there isn’t much going on right now).
In the meantime, I’ve had questions from a few people asking about the actual process of buying property. Given the Prime Minister’s recent announcement regarding plans to sell cheap lots in a development geared specifically towards young Bahamian professionals, I imagine that many young people have the same questions, but don’t know where to ask them. Since the first step in my building journey was to actually purchase my property, I decided to start a sister blog series here focusing on buying your first property in The Bahamas - specifically as a younger adult.
If you didn’t grow up around people actively involved in real estate, it can be one of those things that you always hear of but don’t really know much about. Similarly, home-ownership, it’s something that many people anticipate in the future, but don’t have an idea of where to start to get there. Unfortunately, a lot of Gen Z-ers and Millennials also see it as something completely out of our reach within our lifetime, which is understandable given our historically high costs of living, underpaid salaries, and the virus in the room: the risk of instability given the current pandemic.
The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be that way. It isn’t easy though, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, according to a survey by Homes.com, 40% of Americans said that buying a home is the most stressful event in modern life (so we can imagine the stress level in The Bahamas, where things can be twice as expensive and take three times as long!). However, it can be a lot less daunting when you know what you’re heading towards. It took me 2-3 years, from the day I started casually browsing real estate websites until the day I signed the conveyance papers for my property, so I had a pretty good idea of how to get where I was going. This unfortunately still didn’t protect me from the roadblocks I encountered along the way, which looking back, may have been avoided if I had insight from a real estate expert.
After going through it myself at such a young age, I want to give others encouragement that they’ll be able to achieve one of the toughest yet most fulfilling and worthwhile investments someone can make - even if it’s a few years down the line when Covid-19 may not be such a looming threat to the economy. Throughout my next few blog posts, I’ll be covering the following stages in more detail:
Navigating the local real estate market
Finding an agent and viewing properties
Making mortgage arrangements
Choosing a lawyer
Mortgage approval and sale closure
The first step is to familiarize yourself with the local real estate market, which 1OAK Expert Matt Sweeting discussed in his guide to buying real estate in 2021. As with any buying decision, research is important to make sure that you’re getting a good deal and not stepping blindly into a bad one or getting swing. This stage was pretty simple and exciting for me because, as you may have noticed, I enjoy real estate. I would browse local real estate websites daily like a social media feed and subscribed to a few websites to keep up with price changes and new listings on the market.
If you’re going in with no idea of what you’re looking at, at all, then it may be somewhat intimidating. This is where a real estate expert can help - speaking to an agent first can give you a clearer idea of price ranges for certain areas and amenities. Agents can also give you an idea of what’s realistic for your budget and ideal for your lifestyle. I’d recommend spending at least a few months in this stage so that by the next stage you’re feeling confident that you’re headed in the best direction for you.
When put into a condensed, 6-point list, the property-purchase process may not seem so daunting, however, it can be a very time-consuming and stressful experience if you’re not prepared. Going into it having a clear vision of exactly what to expect can be a great help for making it as smooth and stress-free as possible. Even if you have no plans to or don’t think you’re able to buy real estate in the immediate future, it’s good to visualize how the process will go when you do get there and help to give you the motivation to achieve it. Start browsing real estate listings and speak with one of the Real Estate Experts here at 1 OAK to put your dreams in motion and start planning for your future.