Airbnb Market Crash, Lack of Tourism and Unemployment add to Property Market Woes
As the rise of new Covid 19 infections takes set in Grand Cayman, a mass exodus of foreign work permit holders has meant that prices of rental properties is going down significantly.
Over half of the Island’s population is comprised by expatriate workers; many of whom were employed in the tourism industry, However, with no cruise ships calling to port and no stay-over guests arriving by air, a large portion of the nearly 10,000 workers in that particular industry have left the Island or are in the process of doing so.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said on 2nd April that he was expecting the Island to remain closed for the foreseeable future and suggested several months as a basis for forecasting what businesses and foreign nationals living in Grand Cayman should expect.
A quick glance at Ecaytrade, the Island’s most popular rental property sourcing platform online, will reveal the stark reality many property owners are facing after recently experiencing one of the most favorable ‘Bull’ markets for property in the Island’s history.
Just weeks ago it was nearly impossible for renters to get their hands on quality properties at a reasonable rate; with one and two bedroom apartments going at a premium.
The situation is starkly different today however and those same properties are being offered below market value.
“It’s a great time to rent or buy if you have some cash laying around and their will be some winners out of this whole downturn. However, only those who were prepared prior to markets falling and recent events will stand the best chance to make good on the opportunities,” noted one property expert who represents beachside apartments and villas on the Seven Mile Beach.
“An unfortunate reality is that those who already had a massive financial advantage will consolidate that position and it will only become more difficult for those less fortunate to make up the vast chasm that already exists globally between the rich and poor,” he added.
Another casualty of the standstill in business activity and cease in tourism is the Airbnb sector, which was growing at an enormous rate in Cayman - exploding by a whopping 30 percent during the last few years, causing rental property prices to skyrocket as a result of there being less such properties, while the resident population ballooned.
Many Caymanians had been banking on the Airbnb sector as a means to supplement their incomes and it was quickly gaining popularity among enterprising local entrepreneurs.
The owners of these properties are now left stuck with mortgages that have no way of being re-paid because transient tenants and tourists are now non-existent in Grand Cayman’s present reality and there are very few laborers/workers to pay rent and fill the void.
With the outflow of expatriate workers there has been an influx of Caymanians, with roughly 4,000 locals returning from various jurisdictions around the globe. However, many of these persons may not be seeking to rent properties and it is not clear how many of them will have gainful employment to do so.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the property market in Grand Cayman. However those with land on Cayman Brac may fare, far better as time goes on, as persons seek refuge from the hustle of Grand Cayman to a more natural and insulated way of life after the crisis.
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