Article in The Citizen Magazine by Kal Kennard, Managing Partner, Citizens International.
A ‘pied-a-terre’ is a small home kept for occasional use and literally means ‘foot on the ground’ when translated from French. It’s a well-known concept that has been popular for many generations in the luxury real estate market, whether it’s a stylish petite pad for busy business people to crash in during the week, or a weekend escape in the country.
The idea of having a foot on the ground and a bolthole property is one I and many other champions of the Caribbean region continually promote, having personal experience of the benefits.
A pied-a-terre in the Caribbean isn’t the most common marketing angle however, since we’re more accustomed to selling luxury second homes often enjoyed multiple times a year to the traditional ‘lifestyle’ markets of Europe and North America.
In 2020 we saw clear evidence of a pandemic-driven urban exodus to lake and mountain country in particular within a few hours of large cities New York and Toronto, but there is also a growing desire to look further afield to offshore, tax friendly, lifestyle-rich shores like Antigua & Barbuda.
It appears to us that the continued growth in ‘lifestyle’ clients from North America and Europe is having a perceptible knock-on effect on the citizenship market, and by that I generally mean clients in all the other regions of the world.
The truth is a property in the Caribbean perfectly dovetails with a second passport as a ‘Plan B’ combination package, and I am delighted that appreciation for what I call ‘the luxury Caribbean’ has grown in the citizenship markets over time – with Antigua & Barbuda at the top of that list.
Although international visa-free travel remains a primary motivator, a ‘Plan B’ destination for your family is now also front-of-mind and we can partially thank 2020 for that with international border closures in many countries limiting many people’s options to ‘escape’ – unless they had a second passport or residency.
Today, when we speak to clients in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico, or as far as Tasmania, about property in Antigua & Barbuda, the idea is not one they immediately shy away from. Let’s not forget that in great part, CIP clients don’t grow up as we did in London or New York or Toronto with a solid perception of the Caribbean being the ultimate in beautiful destinations and playground of the elite. But the good news is the message that the Caribbean is a seriously interesting place to create a personal and financial foothold is definitely getting through to the citizenship market.
What is the ideal property for a buyer whose primary goal is citizenship versus a vacation home? These buyers are generally most interested in an income-producing bolthole they will seldom, if ever, use.
For some years now I have been an advocate of shares in luxury villas. For three main reasons:
- Clients can invest in the highest end of the market, but at the minimum investment level required under the program
- The exit is to the traditional second home market as the villa can be sold as a whole after 5 years
- Short stays by shareholders are usually included in the package and perfectly suited to the majority of CIP buyers.
In addition, the higher end of the property market in any country is often the most fruitful and resilient, and de-risking the exit by ensuring you can resell to the ‘lifestyle’ market is a good safety valve in case there is no CIP in five years-time.
Moreover, we are vocal ambassadors for many years now of residential tourism and believe increased residential tourism infrastructure will greatly benefit Antigua & Barbuda spurring more foreign direct investment and economic growth via the attraction of private wealth.
Hence, we are keen for our CIP clients to spend time in and engage with Antigua & Barbuda throughout their lives. Many have a lot to offer as citizens, and Antigua & Barbuda has much to offer them in return. Safe to say a pied-a-terre is an ideal toe-in-the-water for clients to begin their lifelong relationship with the country.
Here are my top recommendations to our citizenship clients when assessing pied-a-terre options:
- Location – it’s still the #1 consideration!
- Developer – who are they and what is their experience?
- Quality assurance – this relates to the developer too and seeing perhaps via video existing buildings, or coming to visit before you buy.
- Operations – what’s the deal? Do you get to use the property every year for a period? Is the rental formula fair and well thought out? Does the operator have any experience in the Caribbean specifically?
- Exit – will this property appeal to a traditional vacationer when you come to resell?
- What level of commission is your agent being paid? Don’t be afraid to ask.
Overall my best recommendation if you are considering applying for citizenship in 2021 is to either buy a share of a higher end villa (make sure you also enquire as to the total number of shares to assess value), or a smaller one- or two-bedroom condo, however please satisfy yourself that it is a property that will appeal to vacationers from the markets that have the easiest air access.
Given the benefits to both country and citizen, I am hopeful we will see many more ‘pied-a-terres’ purchased by new citizens in 2021 and beyond.
Kal Kennard is the Managing Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean. Based between the Caribbean and North America for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.
Book a video consultation to discuss your options here.