Bahamas, May 12, 2017 – Nassau – The recently elected president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association yesterday called for greater cooperation, consultation and participation with the newly elected government, declaring “together, we can help drive one of the most important engines of the Bahamian economy.”
Christine Wallace-Whitfield, president of the 500+-member strong association of property professionals, offered congratulations to the incoming government, adding she hoped the organization and government could strengthen ties to promote, oversee and grow the multi-billion dollar industry.
“BREA has a laundry list of issues to deal with and we look forward to working on those together with the new government,” said Wallace-Whitfield, a broker with Island Living Real Estate.
Chief among those issues, Wallace-Whitfield said, is establishment of a land registry.
“We are one of the last countries in the world that still does not have a land registry. Although the increased use of the Multiple Listing Service is helping greatly in this regard, having a registry will help to elevate the industry to the next level. We are all but using paper and pen in a digital age and the lack of a registry prevents us from providing basic information that is available in other places, including comparable prices, length of time property in a certain area remains on the market and other basics that today’s buyer needs to know. With most property searches starting online, the prospective buyer expects to see this information and we simply have no way to provide it absent a registry.”
Wallace-Whitfield said BREA also wants to see a Real Estate Advisory Board, a concept introduced by another leading broker, Mario Carey, and discussed with the previous administration. The proposed board would advise on key issues ranging from short-term rentals to minimum investment for accelerated consideration of residency, from stamp tax matters to ease of refinancing-related requirements, from Crown land to generation property issues, the latter two among the most important issues for the new BREA board. For Wallace-Whitfield, industry ethics tops her personal agenda.
“We have excellent cooperation with the Attorney-General’s office on ethics matters when they reach a certain level,” she said. “I want to focus our attention on ethics before they reach that point. The success of our industry and the confidence people place in Bahamas real estate is tied to perceptions about honesty and integrity.”
Wallace-Whitfield said BREA would consider ways to step up broker responsibility for new agents, both in knowledge and in standards of conduct. “One new agent I know of, for instance, showed so much promise, passing her real estate exam with flying colours and being greeted with open arms by the firm she joined because she had all the right attributes, enthusiasm, personality, intelligence. And then she went out on her first few visits to take a listing or show a property based on a call that came in to the office and she felt so lost. Eventually, she just gave up and moved on to something else,” said Wallace-Whitfield. “She was a real loss and it should not have happened to her after all her commitment. But we have no way to ensure proper post-exam training in the field and other agents often don’t want to impart or share what they have learned. To keep any industry vibrant and vital, you need fresh ideas.”