House Hunting in Turks and Caicos: A Villa on the Beach for $795,000

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This three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house reaches into the turquoise waters of Chalk Sound on the southern side of Providenciales, the most developed island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. Known as Owl’s Nest, the half-acre property is about 10 miles west of Grace Bay, a popular resort and beach area.

Built in 1992 and renovated two years ago, the two-story, 3,538-square-foot, cedar-frame house has hurricane-rated windows and doors, as well as a 100-foot-long boardwalk that leads to a dock and sun deck.

The house enjoys “benefits from the reduced setbacks that have been grandfathered in,” said Sean O’Neill, managing director of Caribbean development and operations for the Agency, which has the listing. “As a result, the property sits right on the Sound.”

A paved driveway weaves from Chalk Sound Drive past a small beach to the house at the water’s edge. Stairs lead up to a second-story wraparound deck and glass-door entry. Inside, the open-plan living area has cypress tongue-and-groove paneling and ceilings. Ceramic tile planks resembling wood cover the floors throughout. To the rear, two sets of sliding-glass doors open to the deck, with views of Chalk Sound National Park.

A spiral staircase divides the upstairs living and sleeping areas. The living room has a vaulted ceiling and several doors out to the deck. At the other end is the master bedroom, also with doors leading outside. A step-up tub with an aqua-mosaic-tile surround and an adjoining shower are open to the bedroom, with a separate commode and vanity.

The second bedroom is also en suite. The third bedroom, a converted den, has twin bunk beds. The house is being sold furnished.

Each room has a ceiling fan. “The house was built and designed to make the most of the natural air,” Mr. O’Neill said, with prevailing winds from the southeast cooling the interiors.

Downstairs, the fully equipped eat-in kitchen has a wood-laminate center island with a double sink and breakfast bar. There is also a powder room, a laundry room and storage. Two sets of sliding doors open from the kitchen to a covered travertine patio.

The boardwalk leads from the patio to the sun deck, where a ladder reaches down into about three feet of water.

The house is across the road from Sapodilla Bay Beach and a half-mile from the shallow waters of Taylor Bay Beach. Close by, Las Brisas Restaurant offers boat tours of Chalk Sound National Park, snorkeling adventures and sunset cruises. Providenciales International Airport is six miles away.

The market is booming in Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory in the Atlantic Ocean with about 50,000 residents.

The archipelago has become “a strong region for investment in second and third homes over the last few years,” Mr. O’Neill said. “Building codes, convenient air-travel options from the United States and Canada, and use of the U.S. dollar have proven key to our recent success.”

Listing prices across the islands range from $140,000 for an acre of ocean-view land to $18.8 million for a single-family house, he said, while condos range from about $155,000 to $5.5 million.

Although the number of sales slipped from 359 in 2018 to 344 in 2019, gross sales prices rose from $250 million to $334 million year over year, according to data from the Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association and Multiple Listing Service. The average sales price of $970,429 in 2019 was a 34 percent jump from the average of $722,039 in 2018.

Joe Zahm, the president of Turks and Caicos Sotheby’s International Realty, said 2019 was “a record-shattering year” for prices.

“It has been a steady trend upward, especially in new developments that closed,” Mr. Zahm said, noting that sales of a few trophy listings, including Bruce Willis’s estate for $27 million and Prince’s former estate for $10.8 million, affected 2019 totals.

Turks and Caicos has “captured the imagination of a well-heeled customer,” said Mark Durliat, a founder and the chief executive of Grace Bay Resorts, adding that many luxury buyers are attracted to the islands’ two fixed-base operators for private jets. “We are seeing some very substantial activity we didn’t have before.”

In some ways, the islands’ status as “a real global luxury brand” was “accelerated by Irma,” the 2017 hurricane that caused extensive damage, Mr. Zahm said, because the islands recovered faster than some of their Caribbean neighbors.

Thanks to building codes that include modern technologies, hurricane-proof windows and solid concrete buildings, “90 percent of our real estate survived, most of it unscathed,” said Robert Greenwood, a partner at Regency-Christie’s International Real Estate and a former president of Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association. “That also goes toward people’s increasing desire for the Turks.”

Stronger dollar-wise than it was before 2008, the Turks and Caicos market has also been helped by a robust United States economy. Still, the average time a home spends on the market is a little more than a year, with properties priced over $1 million lingering more than two years.

“Because a lot of the properties for sale are also income-generating rental properties, the motivation to sell is not really there,” Mr. O’Neill said. “They are willing to entertain offers if the right number comes along.”

He added: “With the advent of VRBO and Airbnb, the day of the holiday home is gone.”

While single-family homes have traditionally dominated the market, inroads are being made by resort-linked villas and villa clusters, gated enclaves with handfuls of homes that share amenities like gyms, beach service and a management company that facilitates rentals.

At the Villas at Turquoise Banks, a new cluster community of homes priced under $5 million on Long Bay Beach, the three- and four-bedrooms come with solar panels, power walls and a Model 3 Tesla. “Condos remain hot, but there is an evolution of baby boomers,” Mr. Greenwood said. “They want more villas. Privacy is the new luxury.”

At the 14-acre Rock House resort, on the northern coast, prices range from $700,000 for a studio to $1.9 million for a 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse, Mr. Durliat said. Amenities include a spa and beach club, plus ferry service to Grace Bay Club’s main resort.

Most buyers are from eastern North America, mainly Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, the Carolinas, Atlanta and Florida, agents said. The number of buyers from Houston and Chicago spiked with new air service. Flights from London Gatwick connect twice a week in Antigua.

“Because of private planes, buyer demographics are broader than our feeder markets,” Mr. Zahm said. “Texas has discovered us in summer to beat the heat. We do surprising business from California and western and eastern Canada.”

Sales to Europeans also tend to be “pretty significant,” he added, and more South American investors are coming to Turks and Caicos from Miami.

There is no restriction on foreign individuals buying property in Turks and Caicos. And while foreign corporations can’t buy property directly, they can own a local corporation that buys the land.

Most buyers hire a lawyer; legal fees are 1 percent of the sale price. Commissions, paid by the seller, are 6 percent on developed parcels and 10 percent on vacant land, Mr. O’Neill said.

Mortgages are difficult to obtain. “Generally, you can’t borrow more than 55 percent,” Mr. Zahm said.

English; American dollar

There are no annual property taxes, luxury taxes, inheritance taxes or capital-gains taxes on property sales or real estate ownership. A 10 percent stamp duty is charged when title is transferred on properties over $500,000; the duty is 8 percent on properties from $250,000 to $500,000.

Sean O’Neill, the Agency, 649-232-1316; theagencyre.com

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