This plantation-style canalfront house is in the gated development of Old Fort Bay, on the northwest coast of New Providence, the Bahamas’ most populous island. The four-bedroom four-and-a-half-bath, 6,700-square-foot house has a pool and a 1,700-square-foot two-story guest cottage with one bedroom and one bath.
Past the double front doors is a foyer with a mosaic-accented floor. To the left are the living room and the formal dining room. The living room has doors that lead to the back yard. The floors in both rooms are travertine, and the ceilings are made of narrow wooden beams painted white, in typical Caribbean style, said Samira Coleby, an agent with Old Fort Bay Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing. The house is being sold furnished.
On the right side of the house are the kitchen, the family room and the laundry room. The kitchen has a wine cooler, stainless-steel appliances, a double oven and recessed lights.
On the same level are a half-bath next to the front door and a full bath, with a shower, next to the laundry.
A veranda cooled by ceiling fans is reached from both the living room and the kitchen, Ms. Coleby said.
Upstairs are four bedrooms, of which two have en-suite baths. The other two bedrooms share a bath. The master bedroom, painted blue, has bamboo floors and two closets, including a spacious walk-in closet. The property has central air-conditioning.
A wraparound balcony is accessible from three of the bedrooms. It has views of the canal and surrounding homes and treetops, Ms. Coleby said.
Besides the pool, the 0.6-acre grounds have a two-car carport, lush landscaping, a private dock and 160 feet of waterfront.
The home is in the gated development of Old Fort Bay, which has 270 homes and a private club with a private beach, a pool, a spa, tennis and a restaurant. The development encompasses around 45 acres. Nearby are more restaurants, tennis courts and beaches, as well as golf, snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, schools, banks, and stores. Lynden Pindling International Airport and a private airport are about a 15-minute drive.
The island of New Providence, with a population of around 250,000, is home to Nassau, the Bahamas’ capital. Downtown Nassau is about a 25-minute drive from the house.
The Bahamas’ luxury real estate market is segmented, with different islands, neighborhoods and developments all fetching very different prices, agents said. In general, however, it is performing well this year, they said.
John Christie, the managing broker of H.G. Christie, a real estate agency that has its main offices in Nassau and on Grand Bahama, said the luxury market was not greatly affected by the global economic downturn. Sales slowed down but home prices did not drop, he said, adding that since 2013, prices have risen 5 percent to 10 percent a year, though not across the board. Homes are also selling faster this year.
There are bargains at the lower end of the market, because of foreclosures, he added.
Prices for luxury single-family residences range from $500 to $1,500 per square foot, Mr. Christie said. The lower threshold for luxury home prices is $1 million, while around $3 million can purchase a “very nice home,” meaning one in an optimal location, within a gated development, with high ceilings and quality finishes, such as travertine or hardwood.
The most expensive homes are listed at around $30 million, and there have been a handful of record sales this year and last, he said.
Heather Lightbourn Peterson, a broker with Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty, an agency with its headquarters in Nassau and offices throughout the country, said luxury homes in certain Bahamian islands, such as parts of the Abaco Islands, Eleuthera and the Exumas, can be more affordable, with prices starting at $1 million. On New Providence and on Harbour Island, luxury home prices start at around $2 million, she said.
For luxury property values per square foot, she gave a ballpark figure of $750 to more than $1,000, based on appraisals of recent sales. Ms. Lightbourn Peterson said buyers are typically offering 10 percent or so off the asking price, but that negotiations depend on the list price, the property’s location and comparable sales. Tight inventory and more realistic pricing has led to homes selling for closer to asking than in previous years, in some locations.
WHO BUYS IN THE BAHAMAS
The vast majority of luxury properties go to foreign buyers, agents said. They are drawn to the island nation, a British colony until 1973, because of its low taxes; permanent residents do not pay income or estate taxes.
There has been a decrease recently in the number of British buyers because of a weakened pound, Ms. Lightbourn Peterson said; there has also been a slight drop in the number of buyers from Canada, also because of its currency. On the other hand, the numbers of buyers from the United States, Asia and South America have grown, she said.
Any foreigner who buys a home valued at more than $500,000 is eligible to apply for permanent residency. Buyers of homes that cost more than $1.5 million qualify for an expedited application, Ms. Lightbourn Peterson said.
Buyers and sellers should each retain their own lawyers, said Nerissa A. Greene, a partner with Halsbury Chambers, a law firm based in Nassau.
The Bahamas has a stamp duty of 2.5 percent on all real estate transactions and a 7.5 percent Value Added Tax on transactions of more than $100,000. Taxes are generally shared by the buyer and the seller, agents said.
Closing costs paid by the buyer typically include the agent’s commission, the buyer’s legal fee, and Value Added Tax of 7.5 percent on those services, Ms. Greene said. Sometimes the buyer also pays the seller’s legal fee, she added.
Foreigners can own property without restriction, and generally have access to mortgages. Transactions are done in Bahamian or United States dollars, she said.
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism: bahamas.com
Nassau and Paradise Island tourism: nassauparadiseisland.com
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
English: Bahamian dollar (1 Bahamian dollar = $1)
TAXES AND FEES
Membership in the homeownership association costs $12,000 per year, which covers security and maintenance of common areas. The Old Fort Bay Club charges annual dues of $6,000; membership is optional. Insurance, which includes hurricane coverage, costs around $12,000 per year, Ms. Coleby said. Annual property taxes are $16,000.
(The New York Times)