Barbados is one place that’s always in fashion, beloved by celebs with a penchant for the Caribbean good life. But as we reveal, you needn’t be Mr or Ms Moneybags to bag your own slice of the paradise island…
Many long-haul destinations have fallen off the radar for British property-hunters in the current climate. The combination of airport stress, rising flight prices and a fear that heading further afield means higher risk has steered house-buyers to look within a few hours’ flight time of the UK.
One exception though is Barbados, an island that continues to see packed plane-loads of British decamp there in winter and where the vast majority of overseas property buyers are British. Just the mention of Barbados suggests luxury and glamour.
This is where Mr and Mrs Gary Lineker spends their holidays on the beach, Simon Cowell is a regular and Coleen Rooney nips off to when she gets bored with Cheshire. But if you take your average flight from London – sociably timed for mid-morning, so you can be swimming in turquoise seas by late-afternoon – you’ll see a similar crowd of holidaymaker to that on a flight to Spain. There will be the wealthy retired set who have been going there for decades, the self-made 30/40-somethings jetting off for a quick dose of sun and golf, and young families wanting to go no further than the beach.
The profile of property-buyer in Barbados isn’t vastly different from your typical buyer in Spain either. Celebrities including Andrew Lloyd-Webber own homes in both destinations. But so, too, do people who don’t have telephone number fortunes, as while Barbados has some of the most opulent mansions in the Caribbean, it also has plenty of options for people with less than £500,000 to spend.
Property hotspots in Barbados
Most property buyers in Barbados want to be on, or near, the west coast. It’s here that you find the quintessentially Caribbean beaches, lined with palms and pines and dotted with the curious combination of multi-million pound houses and the traditionally small, wooden “chattel houses”. The west coast is also home to the island’s main towns (after the capital Bridgetown), so you are never far from shops, bars or restaurants.
Uber-luxurious Sandy Lane will still be the top choice of those for whom money is no barrier. Slightly cheaper and still with a sea view is Royal Westmoreland. Until recently it was purely the preserve of those who could afford to spend a couple of million pounds on buying a plot and building a villa, like fellow Westmorelanders the Rooneys and Joe Calzaghe. But the resort now has apartments for sale from $429,000.
They will always be successful rental properties, earning a 6-8 per cent yield, due to the five-star facilities, including a Robert Trent Jones Jr championship golf course, spa, gym, tennis and a beach club at Mullins Beach.
Buyers with a £500,000 budget could just stretch to a small house at Royal Westmoreland.
There are several popular developments in and around Holetown, with Weston St James being a particular success in recent years, Ixora, a few streets inland from the beach, Heron Court and Beach View in Paynes Bay.
The south coast has a very different feel. If the west’s so-called “Platinum Coast” is where the old money and celebrities are, where property owners are more likely to spend their evenings dining in the five-star beachfront restaurants such as Fish Pot or Lone Star, the south coast is for the young, fun, party crowd.
Here, you will find lively bars, windsurf shops and a procession of ‘reggae’ buses heading to Oistins on Friday night for the fish fry, where the town is taken over by stalls selling fried fish to the crowds, accompanied by pounding live reggae.
As property in the south is cheaper than in the west, but rental demand is still high, your return on investment is potentially higher too – particularly in the Christ Church parish, the most popular parish on the south side with overseas visitors, expats and some returning nationals. You can find detached three-bedroom houses with a pool and garden in Christ Church for around $650,000.
The wild, protected east coast, with its crashing Atlantic waves and long, empty beaches more akin to Cornwall or New Zealand, has offered little in the way of property for holiday homebuyers. But it could be one to watch. It’s proving to be the next up-and-coming area with some high end developments in the south-east and the refurbishment of at least two hotels on the east coast. Fractional properties are available here, allowing buyers on a low budget to get their foot on the Barbados ladder.
As buyers are proving with their wallets, some places are worth flying those extra few hours for.
The process of buying property in Barbados
It is possible to find affordable properties in prime areas, but you'll need quick access to funds and be able to complete a deal quickly as the sub-$1m is extremely competitive. Hence it is worth finding a Barbadian lawyer before you start searching for property. Once you have found the right property, your lawyer will receive an Agreement for Sale from the seller's attorney. If this is in order, you'll pay a 10 per cent deposit into an escrow account and sign a binding contract. After your lawyer has conducted all necessary searches, generally taking around three months, title is transferred by the Conveyance, the balance of the money is paid and the property is yours. There is no need for you to be in Barbados during the sale process.
Buyers should also bear in mind that annual community fees can be high in Barbados. At Battaley Mews, for example, you’ll pay around $5,300 a year. Also factor in buying costs, which are around 1.5-2 per cent of your legal fees. When you come to sell, costs amount to around 10 per cent of the sales price, including a 5 per cent estate agent’s commission, transfer tax of 2.5 per cent, 1 per cent stamp duty and 1.5 per cent legal fees.
As a non-resident you must apply for permission from the Central Bank of Barbados to purchase property in Barbados. This is generally a formality, however, and something you can expect your lawyer to do on your behalf. As a foreign buyer you need to register foreign currency brought into Barbados, or when you sell you won't be able to take it out!