One love, two homes: Investing in Jamaica

Jamaican real estate opportunities are not an in the same investment as, say, a 20-suite apartment building in Hamilton. You may hope for appreciation, but don't hold your breath, as cash flow is highly unlikely.

The reality is that "ego is the core reason for many who purchase international property," says Philip McKernan, international real estate investor and author of two books on buying U.S. real estate.

McKernan, who admits to making that mistake earlier in his investing career, says that if you're thinking of purchasing an international property, it's imperative to "get very clear whether the property is a lifestyle property or an investment property."

A purchase of Jamaican real estate can enrich your lifestyle, and there are essentially three viable options: purchasing a condo, purchasing an existing villa or building your own villa.

Condo developments

In the past, these types of properties have been plagued by "poor management" says Andrew Issa, broker with Coldwell Banker Jamaica.

However, Issa notes that it is now an up-and-coming property type with renowned players developing in this market. These newer developments are characterized by new developments that have a hotel-modelled approach to the guest experience.

The properties come built within a management system so if you choose to rent out your unit while you're not there, you can rest assured that your guests are being cared for as well as your property maintained.

These are also more affordable than villa-style arrangements, with beachside apartment-style condos selling from around $300,000 and up.

Issa notes that if you'd like to purchase such a property it is important to do your research and enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent who will help walk you through the process and ensure you're buying in an area and property type that suits your needs.

Existing villas

For some who crave individualism, space, luxury and extra style, the better bet might be the villa-style property.

It's striking to drive around Jamaica and see the plethora of huge homes with stunning ocean views. As you drive along the coastal highway, the hillsides are littered with 3,000-plus square foot homes.

Being that most of the coastline fades into hills and tropical mountains, this provides a remarkable fa‡ade for ocean views and tropical luxury. Many are stunningly landscaped and equipped with lovely amenities such as swimming pools, and, of course, feature those amazing Caribbean views.

The price and attractiveness of villas in Jamaica varies drastically depending upon the age, location, amenities and maintenance history. As with the purchase of a condo, it is imperative that you do your research, see the property yourself and enlist the help of professionals.

Spend plenty of time in your subject neighbourhood, and source many different properties. The variety in Jamaica is great, with a small villa measuring roughly 3,000 square feet with typically three bedrooms. The larger ones can be 8,000-10,000 square feet with eight to 10 bedrooms.

Prices start from the $300,000s depending upon all the above factors. Higher-end villas go well into the millions, with many being placed in prestigious locations such as the Tryall or Round Hill gold club at Montego Bay, or at Goldeneye, just down the road from Ocho Rios.

For the rest of this article pick up a copy of our Forecast issue, on newsstands now.

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