One steady news note from the luxury real estate market, in and around Toronto anyway, over the course of the past year has been the squeeze on vacation property inventory for sale, and the increase in prices for people looking for ways to escape the city when they need to.
We’ve covered it on these pages. Home offices are a must-have now, as working from home for more people is going to be a permanent thing coming out the pandemic. You need space, and you need technology, to do your job from home. And that includes vacation property. You need fast reliable WiFi, for example, if you’re going to operate from a vacation property somewhere.
A “wall of wealth”
Canadians are very savvy when it comes to real estate investment. One look at the number of cranes and work sites in the downtown core of Toronto should tell you that. And as a luxury developer told us the other day, the upper level, money class in Toronto is much larger than you think, and they often own two-three homes. There’s a ton of money at play up here as well – the Financial Post calls it a “wall of wealth”, with the average Canadian household now sitting at an average of $1 million in assets.
And with that squeeze on inventory, vacation real estate investment opportunities come up elsewhere. Many Canadians are shopping Florida, Texas and Arizona. For those in that upper tier wealth category – like the individual who just paid $24.5 million for the penthouse in the new 89 Avenue project in Yorkville – a focus is also more on the exotic.
Looking to Grenada real estate as an investment opportunity
Grenada real estate is an interesting opportunity. Silversands Villas located on the Caribbean island of Grenada is a luxurious collection of private homes available for purchase. There are just eight Beachfront and Seaview homes, starting at 22,292 square feet, located on the silky soft white sand of Grand Anse Beach in the southwestern part of the island. The two-mile-long beach is world famous and a true showcase for the country.
Private pools and access to the boutique hotel’s 5-star amenities
There are three- and four-bedroom options, and each home comes with a suite of private pools (1,636 square foot private pool and two 38.7 square foot heated plunge pools). Residents have full access to the hotel’s amenities, services and restaurants. The hotel is quaint and boutique in size – just 43 rooms, with a 100-metre infinity pool.
All the homes include a 2,215 square foot outdoor deck which offers direct access to the beach and is furnished with custom Kettal and Gloster pieces. Staffing, services and amenities are truly five-star, white glove.
Modern design meets rustic beach-front living
The interiors of Silversands Villas are designed by renowned Paris-based firm AW2, and incorporate striking minimalist and modern design moments that provide an ideal backdrop for Grenada’s enthralling landscape. Led by Reda Amalou and Stéphanie Ledoux, the award-winning firm has worked on designs for Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam, ÁNI Private Resort Dikwella in Sri Lanka and Kasiiya Papagayo in Costa Rica.
Homes feature open living and dining plans and bespoke furnishings by Molteni&C, Artespazio, Bruno Moinard, B&B Italia. Kitchens are equipped with Poggenpohl cabinetry and professional-grade appliances by Gaggenau and Miel.
A cool feature: A portion of proceeds from every home sale goes to West Indies School of Hospitality Foundation, which offers 6,000 free-of-charge hospitality courses for Grenadians every year. And Silversands Villa buyers also get Grenadian citizenship by taking part in the Citizenship by Investment program.
Prices for this piece of vacation real estate start at $12,750,000 for a Beachfront Villa and $7 million for a Seaview Villa.
The objective for many people now is to bridge what in the past was a warm, idyllic, luxurious beach front holiday into more of a longer-term lifestyle. We’re digging down a little deeper on this one, catching up with Kandace Douglas, Real Estate Sales Director at Silversands.
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What are some of the ways the property accommodates people who want to get away, but can’t get away completely? For example, people that still need to work, and stay connected, but they have the flexibility to do this on the island. Something as basic as reliable, speedy WiFi access. What are some of the amenities that accommodate this? Because that’s the balance now with a lot of people?
Silversands Villas are perfect for buyers who want to work from home, stay connected, yet also live like they’re on vacation but long term. The pandemic has forced us all out of our comfort zones; to look inward and truly ask: “What work/life balance scenario is the best fit for me?”. There’s been a worldwide shift towards greater acceptance of remote working and technological innovations like Zoom have made it possible to work from anywhere.
So location is a key starting point, and from there, other important factors for vacation real estate need to be considered. What home can give me an array of activities and options, support staff to take care of a wide range of needs, and ease and convenience to travel to their primary residence? Silversands Villas allows people to tick off all of the boxes they never thought they could get in a vacation home.
Regular vacation homes allow you to live in a beautiful location, but you’re still saddled with the same responsibilities of homeownership that make it feel far from a vacation when you factor in maintenance and upkeep. With Silversands Villas, a branded residence, everything is taken care of and you are supported by a best-in-class vacation real estate, thoroughly trained staff that gives owners the added luxury of choice.
Silversands Villas residents can wake up and head to the spa, take a stroll on the beach, work out at the gym or have a chef-catered breakfast. Everything residents would normally do at a hotel, they can do from the privacy of their own home.
What are buyers telling you, about the need to escape urban life, and is this a direct result of the pandemic? Interested to hear first-person feedback from buyers. What are some of the reasons they are buying there?
Given our new virtual reality brought on by the pandemic, buyers are reimagining and redefining what their lives look and feel like. That’s the beautiful thing about uncertainty, when nothing is certain anything is possible. And for many, that means slowing things down and making their island living dreams a reality. If you have the option and the means to make paradise a bigger part of your reality, take it.
Vacation real estate: Are Canadians buying? Where are you seeing the bulk of your buyer interest?
I was surprised to see how much of the villas interest has come from Canada, the Toronto area in particular – roughly 40%. This could have a lot to do with a long winter season which was also coupled with heavy pandemic restrictions this year. Maybe one of your readers will be the first to “pull the trigger.”
Do you find you have to educate people on Grenada? On its safety, infrastructure like medical, schools, restaurants, activities, luxury lifestyle in general?
Yes, I spend a lot of time educating people on Grenada because it’s still a relatively undiscovered gem. But, that is what makes the island so amazing – its authenticity, the people, its raw and inspiring beauty. Fun facts: Grenada is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and the St. Georges Medical School, widely recognized as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, is the number 1 medical school in the Caribbean and the number 1 international source of US doctors.
How many homes in the development have sold?
We just launched the sales of this limited collection of 8 villas in April. These are trophy properties so, due to price point, the sales cycle is a bit longer. But I anticipate having at least 2 in contract before the end of the year.
Are international buyers able to access mortgage financing there for buys? Or is it all-cash? Or, it’s not even a factor, considering the market?
Given the price point, financing is not usually a factor.
In addition, Silversands Villas offers the Citizenship by Investment program. The process is really quite simple – buyers and their families can apply for citizenship after making a minimum investment of USD $220,000. Once approved after a thorough vetting and diligence check process, they’ll be able to receive Grenadian citizenship and a passport which grants them visa-free access to 140 countries. Grenada also has a very attractive tax regime with no taxes of foreign income, estates, gifts or capital gains.