Caribbean Golf Buys

High-end golf development projects in the Caribbean, for example, could be a good recession-hedging investment worth your attention right now.

“Golf property aimed at more affluent property investors in the Caribbean is expected to weather the global economic downturn and continue to attract investment,” report our editor friends at PropertyWire.

“On several islands, major golf projects are under construction, and, despite the fact that tourism numbers are expected to fall this year, the industry is confident that the luxury end of the market is less risky.

“‘Golf is a big part of island life now. There is a local market and an international market and that along with big names will mean people will still want to invest,’ says Mari Jo Laborde, deputy executive director of marketing for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

“In its 2009 campaign, the company is emphasizing that there is more to the Caribbean than beaches. The fact that internationally known names are involved in developments, including Donald Trump, St Regis, and Mandarin Oriental, helps.

“Indeed, Trump International’s 500 villa golf club and residence project is understood to be selling well, and the first residences are due to open in March. Investors include actress Jennifer López. The project is aimed at the luxury market with marble floors and granite fittings.

“Golf is one of three niche markets (along with water sports and food) that the tourism authority expects to do well in coming years.

“But it is a risky one, too, as the tourism chiefs admit they expect a 3% to 5% decline in visitors in the near future. They are pinning their hopes on it being budget tourists on package tours and cruises that will fall off and that the affluent visitors are less vulnerable to the current credit crunch.

“‘Golf is an investment in the future. It can take years and, in some cases, decades for these courses to open. These golf courses are major undertakings across hundreds and hundreds of acres,’ explains Peter Finch, senior editor of Golf Digest magazine.

“On the other hand, by the time some of these luxury developments open, the world economic downturn could be over. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Regent Hotels & Resorts new luxury hotels are not due to open until 2011.”

Kathleen Peddicord



“Everywhere we stopped, someone asked if we were on our way to Mariato,” reported Lief this morning, back from an overnight trip to Panama’s Veraguas province, where, in fact, his intended destination (Los Islotes) was just outside Mariato town.

“Word is getting out. And at the hotel in Santiago? More gringos than ever…”

This western coast of the Azuero Peninsula is almost no longer the Next Big Thing in this country. It’s very nearly the Current Big Thing.

We’ll be detailing the opportunities, which Lief has been scouting for the past two years, during our May 14-16 Live & Invest in Panama Conference in Panama City. This is your last chance to get your name on the list for Pre-registration Discounts. We’re finalizing the program details and will begin taking registrations next week. After that time, the Pre-registration window will be closed.

Get your name on the list for the special conference discounts here now:


“Regarding the Philippines…I’m also in Davao City and can attest that the Philippines is a great retirement choice.

“A new studio condo on a golf course/outdoor complex an hour south of Manila in a somewhat cooler climate just closed for 1 million pesos (about US$21,500). Amenities include a swimming pool, bike paths, a fitness center, and free golf club membership.

“I live in a studio apartment in a gated subdivision in Davao City, which costs me US$420 per month and includes maid service daily, all utilities/aircon, swimming pool, and free high-speed wireless Internet. I could find cheaper, but I’m here temporarily and I like the apartment complex.

“Taxis are very cheap here in Davao City, and drivers must use their meters.

“A permanent retirement visa can be obtained without a lawyer for a fee of US$1,400 from the Philippine Retirement Authority. Certain very reasonable restrictions apply.

“Anyway, keep the letters coming…”

— Gregory, The Philippines


“Kathleen, my husband and I have a stable income of around US$100K a year. In addition, we recently inherited a trust that pays well over 2.5 times our current incomes.

“We are free spirits and empty-nesters, and we are self-employed (I am a private investigator, and my husband has decided to try his hand at artistic pursuits). We are also relatively young; I am 40, and he is 43. We have worked hard, raised two boys, now grown and on their own, and this past year we were victims of the ARM debacle and ended up going through foreclosure.

“We are serious about making the most of the rest of our lives. We are healthy, well educated, and, we realize, beyond fortunate in many ways. But how do we overcome the credit situation when looking to invest overseas?

“I have looked at opportunities in Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Panama. We lived in Jamaica for a short time and loved it. Having the helper, fresh fruit trees, and living like the natives was exceptionally affordable, but not ‘it’ for us. Still too American to give up a good a steak, I guess.

“I have a real estate background and am comfortable reviewing the opportunities we find, but I am skittish about how our past credit will affect our ability to take advantage of the right opportunity.

“Thank you, by the way, for the impressive and no-nonsense information in your newsletter. We love it!”

— Jennifer S., United States

It depends where you’re interested in investing, dear reader, but, in fact, moving to a new country and trying to borrow to buy, you could leave your credit history behind. In Europe, for example, where foreign financing is common, banks are interested in income. In our experience (in Ireland, the UK, Spain, and France), a lender is going to ask about your past and your current income. He may want to see past tax returns and proof of current income. But he won’t run a U.S. credit check.

In the Americas, foreign financing is not common. You aren’t going to find a local bank to lend you money to buy real estate in Argentina, Paraguay, or Nicaragua, for example. These are cash markets…with exceptions. In Nicaragua, for example, developer financing is sometimes possible (at Gran Pacifica, for example). If it isn’t offered formally…ask. In the current climate, developers in this part of the world are more flexible and open to terms than ever.

Foreigners can borrow locally in Panama; however, here, banks will run a U.S. credit check for a would-be American buyer. Again, though, developer financing can be an option. It never hurts to ask.

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