China is busy acquiring and developing Bahamas real estate, according to Kevin Dickenson of Prudential Florida Realty. The islands of the Bahamas are an increasingly popular destination for Floridians because you can jump in your yacht on Palm Beach at sunrise and tie up at West End for lunch or take a plane if you want to land in paradise within the hour. The islands are famous for miles of secluded pink sand beaches that entice fisherman, mega yacht owners, sunbathers, scuba divers and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models alike.
At the end of 2011, China announced that it would lend $6.3 billion to
Caribbean governments. As a reward for breaking ties with Taiwan in 1997, the
Chinese government gave the Bahamas a new $35 million stadium that opened a few
months ago. In addition, a Chinese state bank agreed to put up $41M for a new
port, a bridge and a new Chinese Embassy in downtown Nassau.
For comparison, buyers from China and Hong Kong accounted for $9 billion of
U.S. homes sales in 2011, up 89% from 2010, making them the second largest group
of foreign buyers in the U.S. behind Canadians, according to data from the
National Association of Realtors. To attract foreign investors, the U.S.
government established the EB-5 Visa
program that provides a green card in return for a $500,000 investment.
In 2008, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., pulled out of the Baha Mar Resort in
Nassau, and in 2011, the Chinese struck a deal to finance and build the project.
The $3.5 billion resort, financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, is
currently the largest project under development in the Western Hemisphere and
includes a hotel, casino and resort. The ground breaking ceremony was February
21, 2011, and the project should be completed by late 2014.
According to the Hurun Wealth Report 2012, China has 1.02 million individuals
with personal wealth of $1.5 million dollars and 63,500 individuals with
personal wealth of $15 million dollars. More than 60% have already emigrated or
have plans to do so in the near future, and the most favored destinations are
the U.S. and Canada. They invest mainly in overseas real estate and 30% plan to
purchase in the next three years.
China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan said bilateral trade between China and The
Bahamas increased almost 50 percent from 2010 to 2011, reaching $630 million.
Several analysts in the Caribbean believe that China will eventually emerge as a
political force in the region.
U.S. developers are also extremely active in the Bahamas. On Cat Island, PGA Village and the Cat Island Golf and Beach
Resort are scheduled to open at the end of 2014. This 1,906-acre oceanfront
resort is the first of its kind outside of the United States. According to a
story in USA Today, the plans include two 18-hole championship golf courses, The
PGA Clubhouse, a full-service beach club, single-family residential home sites,
village townhomes, an apartment complex and a boutique five-star hotel &