Cayman Islands the latest expat destination to see unaffordable housing

Published:  14 Nov at 6 PM
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The Cayman Islands is the latest expat destination to fall foul of the unaffordable local housing trap as luxury developments become the norm.

Developers in the Caymans are now concentrating on luxury condominium construction aimed at the seriously wealthy and leaving locals and the large number of supporting expat workers struggling to find somewhere to live. It’s not just buyers who are being forced out of the property market, as rentals are also soaring, making them especially unaffordable for younger working families.

It seems the local government is well aware of the worsening situation, especially for first-time buyers, as the islands’ PM Alden McLaughlin is up to date on the issue, saying that home ownership is a justifiable ambition now unable to be fulfilled. At the same time, existing home owners are more than pleased at their capital appreciation, even although there’s no longer a market for first-time buyers.

Government attempts to stem the increases now include continuing with stamp duty concessions for new buyers, as well as the possibility of increasing the concession in the near future. Other programmes designed to help lower-waged residents include the government-guaranteed Assisted Mortgage Programme, a unique ‘Build Your Own Property’ initiative and funding for the National Housing Development Trust’s affordable developments in George Town, East End and West Bay.

Most importantly, the government is intending to work with developers by encouraging them to produce affordable properties. What form this ‘encouragement’ might take wasn’t specified, but developers of high-end properties might not be thrilled by the intervention. The government is also gearing up to work with landlords to hold back the rise in rental charges.

Landlords will need to study supply versus demand, and housing trusts will be encouraged to renovate a number of government-owned properties suitable for the rental market. This last should help expat arrivals with work permits to find somewhere to live, as wages in the Caymans are not generous. All in all, the housing crisis as described by the PM is part of growing inflationary pressure in the Caymans, the which needs to be controlled before it affects both tourism and the economy in general.
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