Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Investment Property/Retirement/Holiday Home Part 2

It is a simple fact that the price of realty depends mainly on where the property is situated – so a property of the exact same size and dimension, situated on the exact same lot size, produced from the exact same architectural plan can be valued at millions of dollars apart simply because of the difference in locations.

Even the construction costs of building may vary widely depending on the geographic location and neighbourhood where the building is to be erected.

It is the old economic rule of supply and demand which dictate that a higher demand for a certain location, against the reality of a naturally limited supply, will keep prices inflated. The more desirable the location – the more sought after such realty will be, with the consequential effect being to enable the vendor to demand a comparably higher sales price.

Location – When considering appropriate locations to buy undeveloped land or purchase property, one should take into account factors which include the immediate neighbours you will have as well the characteristic of the wider surrounding neighbourhood. Consider too the proximity of local amenities, shops, schools and the availability of public transportation serving the area, should it be needed. The conditions of the access roads and rain water drainage systems serving the community will also be of relevance. It may not be raining when you view a prospective property, but you should be interested to know what happens when there is heavy rainfall. It is not usually part of the course of purchasing property in Jamaica, but making appropriate inquiries about pending Parish Council building plans may be time well spent before committing to an unknown area.

For returning residents there is often an inclination to occupy property within a community or parish where there is already family connection. This approach is perfectly understandable, and sometimes brought about not as a matter of choice but because family land is situated or inherited in a particular location. In the circumstances the returnee may feel compelled to occupy the land in the place where it is provided.

However, an alternative approach for many returnees has been to head for established communities in particular parishes such as Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Portland, where returnees have concentrated in their substantial numbers. These communities have done well for the sense of First World ideals, ambition and expectations that the returnees have brought to the level of Parish Council administration.

Where land or property is acquired by descent, location is a foregone conclusion. This issue would then not be open to choice. In the case of land, however, two matters may remain for contemplation, namely; whether to commit to the expenditure of building at that particular location or, in the alternative, opt for choosing a location of your own choice. Sometimes this situation may mean having to purchase land where there would otherwise be family land available, but if one is going to make a substantial financial commitment to construct a property, in the light of the considerations discussed above, you should feel unconstrained as to your choices for achieving the best affordable location.

Auctioned Properties – public auctions are a source for purchasing properties that is deserving of brief comment in this article. If purchasing a property at auction, the location of the property is a major factor affecting the anticipated sales price. There is a popular misconception that properties sold at auction will present bargain prices. However this is not necessarily so, since each property at auction has a reserve price below which it will not be sold.

If you are intending to purchase property at auction always endeavour to first take the time to physically view the property yourself or have a trusted agent do so on your behalf. When we bear in mind that identical types of properties may fetch substantially different prices just based on their respective locations alone, it is always advisable not to purchase property based solely on a third-hand relayed description of the property.

When undertaking a preliminary inspection of a potential property, start from the perspective of the journey to the property and the impression of the surrounding communities which would be part of your regular experience if you acquired this property – go on to look at the conditions of the access roads before paying attention to the state of the property itself.

Buy and fix-up – for the opportunity of a one off property purchase or for a small property developer with the benefit of ready finances and a skilled construction crew who can repair and redecorate a repossessed or incomplete house, there is scope to take advantage or make a profit in certain circumstances. However even in these circumstances, especially for overseas based investors/purchasers, care must be taken to make thorough preliminary inquires about the Title and legal boundaries of the property before committing to the acquisition of it.

There are some idyllic locations in Jamaica, where the greatest asset of the location is the local community spirit. That alluring feeling of being ‘at home’ which continues to attract returnee residents back to Jamaica year after year, and the internal tranquillity one gets from just sitting on a balcony or veranda and perusing the tropical outdoor scene is a very private and Jamaican thing… This though is not the image of Jamaica popularly promoted by international media. Instead it is an image based on sensational headlines suggesting that Jamaica is overrun by drug dons, violent crime and corruption. In our intolerance of such human deficiencies, as a society we are forever relentless to correct any such shortfalls. Nevertheless, the fact remains, as all Jamaicans know – in Jamaica we have a geographical paradise on earth.

Hamilton Daley is a practising Attorney-at-Law in Jamaica [tel. (876) 967 0224], Solicitor Advocate in England and Managing Director of T.R.A.D.E. Ltd. Entrepreneurial Diasporians Jamaica calls you to duty. TRADE exists to facilitate trading bridges between Jamaica and the rest of the world.

About the author

Hamilton Daley