economy

Five Unique Ways That Small Businesses Have Pivoted in The Bahamas

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken an economic toll around the globe, and The Bahamas is no exception. In these difficult times, it's inspiring to see how businesses acted quickly and innovatively to diversify their business models to help the country in new ways.

1. Virtual Tours

Although virtual tours have been used in real estate as a form of convenience for years as a way for prospective clients to get an idea of a property and its features, the safety measures that have been put in place as a result of the Covid pandemic to avoid social gathering have made virtual tours a necessity for the real estate industry. 


The versatility of virtual tours is what sets it apart from in-person tours. With virtual tours, prospective clients no longer have to physically be in contact with agents when choosing their homes; they can view these properties from the comfort of their own homes and conduct their own process of elimination that way, saving both parties valuable time.

Whether it's a large commercial office space, or a contemporary condo development, Bahamas Realty agents can offer their clients virtual viewings, personally “walking” their clients through a property. And for many of our listings, we offer 3D virtual tours using state-of-the-art Matterport technology. [View some of our tours here]

 

2. Masks

Mask wearing in public has become a part of our daily life - at least for the foreseeable future. Medical-grade masks are reserved for health professionals, so many local businesses and even individual entrepreneurs are getting creative, producing masks & face shields creating a new product in an in-demand market.

A few businesses that have found new industry in mask production:

  • Bahamas Hand Prints is known for its beautifully handprinted fabrics and uniquely Bahamian-inspired designs and like other small businesses, they have taken advantage of the need for masks. Bahamas Hand Prints has combined its passion for creating wonderful designs and taken it up a notch by creating fashionable masks with signature fabrics, making them recognizable and setting them apart from regular disposable masks. The masks are “available in assorted prints and colors” and are also machine washable.
    Woman wearing face mask
     
  • Signarama Bahamas, known primarily for their signage (like Bahamas Realty's custom property signs), window clings, and vehicle wraps, have added custom face shields to their product offering which can even be personalized or branded with company logos.

 

 

3. Hand Sanitizer

John Watling’s Distillery located in Nassau, Bahamas decided to shift its business to accommodate the Bahamian people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acknowledging that the business has an inventory of Ethyl alcohol, co-founder, Jose Portuondo told Eyewitness News that the distillery decided to shift its “business to meet the needs of [the] community and those on the front line.” The distillery still produces its famous rums and vodkas, but hand sanitizers are an additional priority. The distillery has also donated many bottles of the sanitizer to local food distribution centers such as Hands for Hunger and The Bahamas Feeding Network to help ensure the health of all Bahamians.

4. Remote Fitness

Some fitness facilities have understood that in-person group classes are not conducive to limiting social gathering, so as a way to stay in business and still motivate people to stay on track with their exercise routines, fitness facilities are hosting virtual fitness classes via Zoom. Both parties benefit from this.

An example of the shift in fitness is Bowflex Barbie Fitness, a fitness company specializing in personal and group training. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, this company hosted in-person one on one and group classes but after seeing the demand for at-home fitness programs, Bowflex Barbie Fitness now provides virtual group fitness classes.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Team Bowflex Barbie Fitness (@team.bowflexbarbiefitness) on

 

5. Online Ordering & Delivery Services

Online ordering app

Delivery service is not a new concept to many, but The Bahamas has been slow to embrace the convenience service; however, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses have decided to offer delivery and curbside pickup options to properly abide by the guidelines set in place by the government of The Bahamas. Businesses like Bahamas Office and School Supplies (BOSS) which offer business, school, and art supplies (essential for virtual learning!), and Ports International, which sells medical supplies and equipment, have built new websites with online inventory and convenient ordering. Other food and grocery businesses like Discount Distributors, Kraven and Bahama Eats have developed mobile apps in recognition of the need for online ordering and delivery services.

The owner of Discount Distributers, Ryan Turnquest, told Eyewitness news that before the pandemic their app “averaged maybe 10 orders a day, now [they] are averaging 100.” People are satisfied with utilizing services that do not require them to leave their homes.

 

Tips for Buying in the Post-Pandemic Seller's Market of 2021

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It’s been one year since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the housing market. It was a year of extremes for the global real estate market. It started out looking bright but was soon derailed by the pandemic which caused world economies to falter. Going into the latter part of 2020, the rebound was sharp with demand for residential real estate surging. The housing market is expected to continue its winning streak in 2021 as a strong seller’s market.  

A seller’s market is when there are more people buying houses than houses for sale. In the Bahamas, a strong demand for housing from both local and foreign buyers has led to a shortage in inventory that reflects the global home price growth. This news should have sellers smiling. But what does the booming 2021 housing market mean for buyers?  

Buying in a Sellers Market 

The rule of thumb in real estate is that the best time to buy is when you are ready. Demand is up right now for many reasons - buyer's who delayed purchasing during the unpredictable past year are ready to buy, people are looking for larger homes to accommodate working from home, a move away from cities is shifting demand, and Millennials - the largest generation - are jumping into the housing market as the fastest-growing group of buyers.

Whatever your reason for buying, here are some tips to help make the process work in your favour in a seller’s market. 

  1. Know what homes are selling for in your desired area 

Listing prices are not always an accurate reflection of what the property will sell for. Some properties may be listed underprice in hopes of generating a bidding war, while others may be priced in the seller’s hope of taking advantage of the low inventory market, rather than value. An experienced agent can tell you what similar properties have sold for, and what features are driving value.  
 

  1. Expand your search 

Prices are always higher in the most popular neighbourhoods. Don’t limit your search to just a few of your top locations. Newer developments and condo communities are springing up with better amenities and square footage for less money. Similarly, homes and condos in established communities are coming back on the market as Baby Boomers reach retirement age. These older homes often offer more bang for your buck and require little investment to modernize.  

Start with our list of Featured Communities and Condo Developments
 

The newly constructed Coconut Cove residences offer modern amenities in a small gated community in Western New Providence at affordable prices. Photo: Brian Austin, Bahamas Realty Agent & Broker

  1. Get prequalified 

If you require financing, being prequalified shows true intent and gives the seller confidence that the deal will go through. Taking the time to meet with your bank/ mortgage lender before you begin your home search will give you a better chance of getting the home you want before someone else snaps it up. Similarly, cash offers indicate faster closing times and eliminate the risk of a mortgage not being approved - a big incentive for the seller to accept an offer. 
 

  1. Re-evaluate your wish list 

With inventory low and demand high, you may need to re-evaluate your priorities. Perhaps a slightly longer work commute is made up for by a shorter school run. New construction and a spa-like master suite might make up for the lack of ocean views. Fewer bedrooms might be a sacrifice easily made up for by a dock for your boat in the backyard.  
 
It can be helpful to make a list of your priorities before starting your search, but be flexible. Once you have toured a few listings, re-evaluate the list and rank the places you’ve seen in terms of the features that you loved, and those that are less important. 
 

  1. Don’t shop at the top of your budget 

Shopping at the top of your budget can lead to disappointment. Closing costs can be high and it is important to prepare for those as well as any unexpected costs. Mortgages are often contingent on the appraised value of the home, and if you bid too high and your mortgage comes in below the offer price, you may need to self-finance more than you had initially planned for. 

There can be benefits to shopping below budget. You can save money on the upfront cost of the home and use any extra funds to customize it to your liking and even add value for a future sale. 
 

Opportunities exist if you know where to look. This unique villa is one of just 6 in a small community on famous Paradise Island. Recently renovated, and priced to sell, a few tweaks will make this the perfect island retreat. Listed with Broker/ Director  Andrea Brownrigg.

  1. Start now 

The sooner you begin the process of your home search, the better. You should start by taking the time to familiarize yourself with the various communities on the island, what closing costs you will have, and how the real estate process works in The Bahamas. The more prepared you are when your dream home hits the market, the better your chances are of sealing the deal. 

The luxury second-home market is also booming and predicted to continue through 2021. While new developments are under construction, availability is limited. According to a recent report compiled by Luxury Portfolio International, the demand from affluent buyers and investors is also far outpacing inventory, with the best properties moving faster than ever. Despite the low inventory 50% of affluent people surveyed believe this is a good time to buy.

 

Contact a Bahamas Realty estate agent today to learn more about the home buying process.