A FIVE-BEDROOM VILLA ON A CANAL
This four-year-old house on Grand Cayman Island, in the 52-acre gated development of Vista del Mar, is on a canal leading into the North Sound. It is about a 15-minute walk from crescent-shaped Seven Mile Beach and adjacent to the Cayman Islands Yacht Club, said Malin Ratcliffe, the owner-broker of West Indies Brokers Real Estate, which has the listing. The two-story white concrete home, about 9,000 square feet on a 0.58-acre lot, has a Caribbean-style limestone finish halfway up the lower level and a red tile roof. There are five bedrooms and five and a half baths, and furnishings are included in the asking price.
A grand staircase with a limestone facade leads up from the front lawn and turns at a landing toward a covered porch and a 12-foot-high arched mahogany front door.
With the main living areas on the second floor, the house enjoys canal and North Sound views, year-round breezes and “very advantageous additional protection” during hurricane season, Ms. Ratcliffe said.
A small foyer opens onto a grand hall with a coffered ceiling. This room and the dining room to its left have white Egyptian stone floors inlaid with hardwood. The rest of the house also has Egyptian stone floors. Beyond the dining room is the kitchen, a breakfast nook with a love seat and a 48-inch round mahogany table, a family room and two bedrooms with en-suite baths. A white wood bar is to one side of the grand hall.
The kitchen has twin center islands topped with Carrara marble, two Viking refrigerators with freezer drawers, a Viking gas range, a pot filler, an electric oven, a warming drawer, a microwave, a dishwasher and a ceramic double sink.
Open to the kitchen, the family room has a coffered ceiling, turquoise walls and accordion glass doors leading to a covered porch overlooking an inground pool, a large gazebo that serves as an outdoor living room and cocktail lounge, the canal and North Sound.
“You can really take the inside out and the outside in when you open those doors,” Ms. Ratcliffe said.
A study, a guest bath and the master suite are to the right of the grand hall. The master bedroom has a four-poster bed and a coffered ceiling. A door leads to the porch.
The master bath is tiled with Carrara marble and has a whirlpool tub and a separate walk-in shower. A double vanity has a Carrara marble countertop.
Downstairs, a three-car garage leads to the first-floor foyer, an elevator, a powder room, a laundry room and a staircase with a wrought iron railing to the second floor. The open layout downstairs incorporates a media room, a playroom, a billiards room and a game room opening to a covered patio with a heated whirlpool tub.
Two downstairs bedrooms share a bath. All the bedrooms have ceiling fans; the house has five air-conditioning zones.
Mature redwood, almond, mango and royal palm trees dot the lawn.
Behind the gazebo, a slip on the canal accommodates a 20-foot boat.
A dedicated slip for a 65-foot boat is at the Vista del Mar marina next door. There is also a tennis court in the development, which has about 27 homes. Restaurants, beach bars, shopping, resorts, hotels and spas are within walking distance on the nearby Seven Mile Beach corridor. Golf courses are also nearby. Owen Roberts International Airport is a 20-minute drive.
With about 58,000 residents, Grand Cayman, at 76 square miles, is the biggest of the three Cayman Islands, which are a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean.
The island’s economy lags two to three years behind that of the United States, said Sheena Conolly, the broker-owner of Cayman Island Sotheby’s. Accordingly, 2011 and 2012 were “tough years for the Cayman Islands.”
The turnaround began in 2013. During the last nine months, the market has been “extremely buoyant,” Ms. Ratcliffe said. “We are seeing a definite uptick.” With inventory falling, the buyer’s market of the last few years is giving way to a seller’s market.
Rentals and tourism are also up. “The volume of transactions has gone up 90 percent in the last 12 months,” Ms. Conolly said. “Price points are shifting up.”
The biggest increase was on Seven Mile Beach, where prices for condominiums range from $500,000 to “many millions,” Ms. Conolly said. In other beachfront areas, prices start at $350,000. Prices for canalfront, beachfront or oceanfront single-family homes begin at around $2 million, she said.
Along Seven Mile Beach, condominiums in buildings ranging from three to 10 stories are often bought for investment and rented out. Canalfront single-family homes are typically primary residences for executives from nearby George Town’s financial center, or vacation homes for buyers with a penchant for deep-sea fishing or sailing.
WHO BUYS ON GRAND CAYMAN
“People from 130 countries live and work here,” Ms. Conolly said. “It’s very diverse and dynamic.”
At least 75 percent of buyers come from the United States and Canada, Ms. Ratcliffe said, in addition to a smaller number from Europe and South America. Snowbirds living near cities in the United States with direct flights are prevalent among home buyers.
Foreigners are welcome to buy real estate in the Cayman Islands, as long as they “provide satisfactory due-diligence paperwork to comply with our money laundering legislation,” said Ian Jamieson, a lawyer based on Grand Cayman. Potential buyers need to supply proof of identity along with references from a bank or similar financial institution plus references from a professional like a lawyer or an accountant.
Financing of up to 90 percent of the purchase price is available to qualified buyers.
“There is no title insurance here in Cayman, so it is advisable to have an attorney represent a buyer in a transaction from the outset, not just at closing,” Mr. Jamieson said. Lawyers review and investigate the title, handle the closing and register the transaction and buyer information with the government’s Lands and Survey Department.
Official tourism site: visitcaymanislands.com
Real estate portal: cireba.com
Vista del Mar: vistadelmarcayman.com
LANGUAGE AND CURRENCY
English; Cayman Islands dollar (1 dollar = $1.22)
TAXES AND FEES
Quarterly dues for the Vista del Mar homeowners association are $950.
There are no property taxes in the Cayman Islands.
There is a stamp duty of 7.5 percent of the property’s value on real estate purchases, and an additional 1 percent to 1.5 percent on the amount being financed. Legal fees range from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the purchase price, Mr. Jamieson said.
Real estate commission, paid by the seller, varies from 5 percent to 7 percent, depending on the sales price. The commission on sales of more than $1 million is 5 percent; on sales from about half a million to a million dollars, the commission is 6 percent.
Malin Ratcliffe, West Indies Brokers Real Estate, (345) 943-9400; westindiesbrokers.com