A short flight from Miami, Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of 40 coral islands with sugary beaches and crystal-clear waters. The picture-perfect setting makes the islands a popular place not only to vacation but also to invest.
In the early 2000s, investment was high in the small island chain as buyers sought stable, quality leisure properties that offered much more per dollar than many other Caribbean destinations. In 2008, the country succumbed to the worldwide recession as interest and prices took a nosedive. It took the better part of four years for the real estate recovery to begin. “In 2012, the recession was still there,” says Ian Hurdle, managing partner of the Agency’s Turks and Caicos office. “Tourism didn’t really start coming up until 2013.”
Then, on September 7, 2017, the Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. While devastation and chaos reigned across the region from the Category 5 storm, it was a different scene in the Turks and Caicos. “What we found in the days and weeks that passed is a resilience and community spirit that represents the backbone of these islands,” the Agency’s 2017 Market Report read.
Near misses from storms in the late 1980s plus the nearby aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 prompted the Islands to enforce strict building codes that required all new construction to be capable of withstanding Category 5 conditions. This new standard was put to the test during Irma.
Most of this new construction survived relatively intact. Within a week of the storm passing, much of the country was up and running. The market, though, was not. “September through November were dead,” Hurdle says.
However, early 2018 brought signs of life. More than $60 million in sales have been recorded in the first quarter of the new year with an average sale price of $908,707. (Although a British territory, the nation trades on the US dollar.)
Bernadette Hunt, a broker at Turks and Caicos Property, says that’s due to much more than the quick recovery. “Our government is very stable and we have one of the lowest levels of crime in the Caribbean,” she says. It also doesn’t hurt that the array of properties at the higher end of the market are nothing short of spectacular.
The recently completed Villa 5102 at Gansevoort Turks and Caicos is a gorgeous example of high design. Built into the cresting hillside, the two-story villa offers expansive turquoise waters at your doorstep. Spread across 8,260 square feet, the residence has four bedrooms, a private courtyard, and an overwater deck made for lounging. At $4.15 million, it provides more value compared to options in St. Barts or other high-profile destinations in the region. (Only two out of the five villas are still available.)
On the other side of Providenciales (affectionately known as “Provo”), the recently completed Long Bay Beach Club is similarly styled, but with more of a communal, entertainment-focused twist. Each villa offers over 6,000 square feet of open-air living with private pools and outdoor dining areas. Two of the homes are set right on the shoreline, with the middle residence recessed from the water. For now, Long Bay Beach Club villas are available as rentals, but the property managers are working on fractional and outright ownership models down the road. If and when that happens, it would be an attractive proposition for a discerning buyer who wants the option to entertain in relative seclusion.
Situated on a 14-acre oceanfront site, Rock House offers hillside homes and cottages with private plunge pools. Walls of glass frame the peaceful turquoise waters beyond, and plant-flanked terraces and outdoor rain showers add a distinctly tropical feel. (Two-bedroom hilltop condos are priced from $1.195 million.)
Those who prefer a private estate can bid on Prince’s Turtle Tail Estate, which is going to auction without reserve in July. Situated on over five acres, the approximately 10,000-square-foot property has six bedrooms, two private beaches, a 200-foot dock, and a tennis court. Fittingly, a purple driveway leads to the estate.
While serenity and privacy are key to attracting celebrities (including Rihanna and the Kardashians) to the Islands, that air of peace and quiet will soon reach a larger audience with the construction of the country’s tallest building: the 12-story Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences at Grace Bay.
The resort marks a milestone in luxury development on the Islands. The condos will offer access to all the hotel amenities enveloped into the Ritz-Carlton standard. “A lot of developers are waiting to see how that comes up,” Hurdle says. “It’s a statement of intent for the Islands.”
In the meantime, the existing market is thriving.
As of press time, Hunt noted there were 29 pending sales priced between $1.975 million and $8.75 million (not including contracts at the Ritz-Carlton). The Agency’s 2018 Q1 Report was also positive, noting $36 million in sales above $500,000 (not including condos and vacant land). The trend is starting to catch on, and buyers looking for something different in the Caribbean are taking notice.
“I don’t see a saturation point,” Hurdle says, “because we’re still early on in our development.”