CARIBBEAN WEALTH &
INVESTMENT REPORT 2015
WEALTH-X INSTITUTE CUSTOM RESEARCH
A2CARIBBEAN WEALTH & INVESTMENT REPORT 2015 | WEALTH-X INSTITUTE CUSTOM RESEARCH BiCARIBBEAN WEALTH & INVESTMENT REPORT 2015 | WEALTH-X INSTITUTE CUSTOM RESEARCH
CHAPTER TITLE CHAPTER TITLE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION .............................................................................. 1
UHNW POPULATION &
LUXURY REAL ESTATE ...............................................................4
WHY THEY BUY ............................................................................. 8
CARIBBEAN VALUE PROPOSITION......................................12
TODAY AND TOMORROW.......................................................16
The world’s ultra high net worth (UHNW)
population, which currently totals 211,275
individuals and holds $29.7 trillion in
wealth*, is making a growing investment in
real estate. Real estate holdings make up
over 11% of the average UHNW individual’s
portfolio. Over the past year, these holdings
performed extremely well. Wealth-X’s
Luxury Residential Real Estate Index was up
8% in 2014, outperforming the general real
These trends are being driven by several
underlying factors. The rise of inherited
wealth, which is disproportionately invested
in real estate, will only continue to drive
these markets. The growth of real estate
demand in new UHNW populations,
including Russia and China, is also fueling a
globally diverse range of markets.
The Caribbean has attracted a growing
UHNW population, in part because its
real estate markets present a unique value
opportunity to global UHNW investors.
Luxury real estate properties are still
selling below their 2008 highs, but have
grown in value over the past year, and look
set to continue rising for the foreseeable
future. Growth in the Caribbean economy,
significant new government incentives to
relocate to the region, rising tourism, and
growing demand for luxury residential real
estate all point to a bright future for the
Within the Caribbean,Barbados in particular
offers an excellent investment opportunity.
As detailed in this report, property costs
for luxury residences in Barbados compare
favorably to other popular exclusive resort
destinations around the world. It has also
seen several stunning new developments,
from the recently completed Port Ferdinand
Marina & Luxury Residences and the
eagerly awaited Palazzate. Palazzate brings a
new sense of luxury to the island - and with
that, a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the
Owning a home in Barbados provides a truly
comprehensive luxury experience. It brings
a connection to an exclusive social network
of ultra wealthy residents and business
interests. Excellent tax and regulatory
structures allow for responsible oversight of
personal and business wealth. Additionally
the island offers world class recreational
activities, fine dining and a culture that is
admired all over the world.
* Wealth-X data
1CARIBBEAN WEALTH & INVESTMENT REPORT 2015 | WEALTH-X INSTITUTE CUSTOM RESEARCH
The Caribbean is an exciting and dynamic region that provides an attractive
investment opportunity for ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals. The
region has long been a central hub of luxury living, and looking to the future the
opportunities for investment are promising. The Caribbean luxury real estate
market, and Barbados in particular, presents an excellent investment opportunity
for the global UHNW population.
UHNW real estate demand is rising globally, as shown by the 7% increase in the
UHNW Luxury Residential Real Estate Index over the past 12 months. The rise
in luxury real estate values is outpacing even the rise in the value of general real
estate, which grew only 6% last year according to the Case-Shiller Index. Luxury
residential properties in resort markets outside of global urban UHNW hubs
have been particularly attractive properties, with sales in these markets rising
17% in 2014.
Several factors are driving this demand, and will continue to do so over the next
decade. First, the global UHNW population is aging, and will transfer over
US$4.1 trillion to the next generation in the next ten years. This will lead to
an increase in wealth from inheritance, which is disproportionately invested in
real estate. Those UHNW individuals whose wealth is inherited hold 17.2% of
their net worth in real estate, a higher total than any other UHNW subgroup.
An aging UHNW population will also create a need for new wealth preservation
strategies, as these ultra affluent individuals seek to protect wealth to be passed
on to the next generation. Real estate investments in nations with favourable tax
climates and residency or citizenship programs will figure prominently in these
efforts. Finally, new and growing UHNW populations in China and other East
Asian countries are displaying a desire for luxury real estate in resort markets,
especially in globally diverse regions.
While demand for luxury real estate and particularly for homes in resort
destinations is rising, this demand is directed toward properties that offer
comprehensive value. Truly attractive properties must be able to combine
opportunities for luxurious living, privacy, and recreation, together with strong
potential for investment growth and wealth preservation, as well as access to
international business networks and family connections.
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stability and sustainable growth, well-developed infrastructure and legal
institutions, deep cultural integration with the cultures of UHNW individuals
from North America and Europe, a wide range of recreational opportunities, and
a favourable tax climate.
The Caribbean also offers distinct investment value – luxury resort home prices
in the Caribbean remain below their 2008 highs, but have climbed 9% in the past
year, and are forecast to continue rising. As we detail in the report, the Caribbean
currently provides better investment value than many other global resort
destinations. It also offers unique means of wealth preservation for aging UHNW
individuals, which can make it an even more appealing investment destination.
Barbados, long known as the gem of the Caribbean, is an excellent example of this
comprehensive value. The island has a stable and growing economy, low crime
rates, access to excellent health and education services, and boasts world-class
recreational opportunities including yachting, scuba diving, aviation, and fine
dining. The island provides a range of investment opportunities that meet the
unique needs of the global UHNW population.
Our report analyses in greater detail the value of owning prime real estate in the
Caribbean, and Barbados in particular, for the global UHNW population. We
look in depth at the key drivers of demand for luxury real estate, and the primary
needs of the ultra affluent population when purchasing luxury real estate, and
then address the ways in which Caribbean residency can meet these needs. We
then review the chief concerns for UHNW buyers to keep in mind as they look
to invest in real estate in the region.
n The world’s UHNW population is larger and wealthier than ever before:
In 2014, the global UHNW population grew 6% to 211,275 individuals,
and global UHNW wealth increased by 7% to US$29.7 trillion.1
n Real estate is one of the largest holdings for UHNW individuals: US$2.9
trillion, or 9.8%, of total UHNW wealth is held in real estate.2
n Luxury home value is rising: UHNW-owned residences increased in
value by 8% in 2014, according to the UHNW Residential Real Estate
n Resort destination homes led global demand for luxury real estate, with
sales of homes over US$1 million located outside of major metro hubs
increasing by more than 11% in 2014.
n Over US$4.1 trillion in UHNW wealth is expected to be transferred to
the next generation in the coming decade. As UHNW individuals age
and look to pass on their wealth, their need for wealth preservation will
grow, increasing demand for residency in favourable tax climates.
n UHNW populations in China and Russia, while younger and more likely
to have self-made wealth, are turning their attention to buying luxury
real estate for second homes, favouring economically and politically
n There are currently 1,155 UHNW individuals living in the Caribbean, more
than 67% of whom have relocated from another country (primarily the
US, UK and Canada).
n Though Caribbean luxury real estate values remain 10-15% below their
2008 highs, prime sales have increased more than 10% in 2013 and
n The Caribbean economy is performing strongly: It grew at 3.6% in 2014
and is forecast to grow at 4.5% throughout the rest of 2015, and annually
at over 4.0% for the next three years.3
n Several Caribbean nations have begun offering programs incentivizing
property buying, offering residency permits and citizenship. For
example, Barbados introduced a special entry and reside permit in
2014, allowing foreign nationals who invest US$2 million into Barbados
real estate to establish residency.
1 Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
2 Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
3 World Bank Report 2015.
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The world’s UHNW population currently totals 211,275 individuals. These
individuals have a combined net worth of US$29.7 trillion, marking a 7% rise
in total UHNW wealth since 2013, and the average UHNW individual has a
net worth of US$141 million. Looking forward, we forecast that the UHNW
population will grow to over 265,000 individuals and net UHNW wealth will rise
to over US$39 trillion by 2020.
Real estate is a key component of the UHNW wealth portfolio. US$2.9 trillion of
the world’s UHNW net assets are held in owner-occupied residential real estate.
These holdings are divided between primary residences and resort homes, with
members of the UHNW population each owning, on average, 2.7 properties.
79% of the world’s UHNW individuals own two or more properties and just over
half of them own three or more residences. Typically, UHNW individuals hold
their primary properties for 15 years and their secondary properties for 10 years4
indicating that these are long-term assets, and not bought to be shortly “flipped”.
Travel and the rise of global citizenship have increasingly shaped the lives of
UHNW individuals and their approach to property ownership. Over 6% of the
world’s UHNW individuals have relocated to a different country and no longer
reside in the country where they were born. Along with this relocation trend,
globally diversified home-ownership is on the rise, and UHNW individuals are
buying more properties outside their home countries.
Within the broader UHNW population, there are two subgroups whose real
estate holdings stand out. Real estate ownership comprises a particularly large
share of total assets for those who inherited their wealth – 17.2% – a larger total
than any other source of wealth. Female UHNW individuals also hold a larger
than average share of their net wealth in real estate, holding 16%, while male
UHNW individuals hold 10% on average5
UHNW POPULATION &
LUXURY REAL ESTATE
GLOBAL UHNW POPULATION OVERVIEW
4 Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
5 Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
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UHNW POPULATION & LUXURY REAL ESTATE UHNW POPULATION & LUXURY REAL ESTATE
GLOBAL UHNW TRENDS
UHNW LUXURY RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE INDEX 6
The global UHNW population has seen the rise of four particularly important
trends that will shape luxury real estate markets well into the future:
GLOBAL DEMAND FOR LUXURY REAL ESTATE IS RISING
Over the past twelve months, the UHNW Luxury Residential Real Estate Index (shown below), which
measures the value of homes worth over US$1 million, rose 7%, outpacing broader real estate market
indicators like the Case-Shiller Index by 2%. This demand has been driven by a number of general factors
including rising UHNW wealth, the need for a safe means of wealth preservation, and the increasing
globalization of the UHNW lifestyle.
RISE OF NEW UHNW LUXURY RESIDENCE BUYERS
While demand for real estate is typically highest among UHNW individuals who are older and who have
inherited their wealth, several nations’ UHNW populations buck this trend – notably Russia and China.
In those countries, younger and self-made UHNW individuals have displayed a marked appetite for
vacation homes, often in far-flung locales, and particularly in Western nations, which have the appeal
of a rich and novel cultural tradition. As the number of these buyers continues to increase, demand for
Western resort residences will as well.
RISING NEED FOR WEALTH PRESERVATION
At the same time, because the global UHNW population is aging, wealth transfers are expected to
increase, reaching US$4.1 trillion over the next decade, and leading to a rise in inherited wealth. Those
with inherited wealth have a larger share – 17.2% – of their holdings in real estate than any other UHNW
. Real estate will continue to present an attractive investment opportunity for those with
inherited wealth, and we forecast that demand from this UHNW subgroup will continue to drive growth
in luxury real estate markets over the next decade.
While demand for luxury real estate and particularly for homes in resort destinations is rising, this is
primarily directed toward estates that offer comprehensive value. High value properties must be able to
offer the complete package, providing opportunities for luxurious living and recreation, strong potential
for investment growth and wealth preservation, and access to international business networks and family
6 Wealth-X and Sotheby's International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
7 Wealth-X and Sotheby's International Realty Global Luxury Residential Real Estate Report 2015.
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If we dig deeper, we discover several core motivations that underlie the global
trends discussed in the previous section. UHNW individuals choose to invest in
luxury real estate on the basis of business value, practical value, and emotional
value. Gaining a greater understanding of these motivations will help to pinpoint
BUSINESS VALUE (e.g. Financial center; Industry cluster)
UHNW individuals’ real estate decisions are often driven by
business considerations, which can involve tax structures, business
networks, and other market forces. High-end real estate investors
also consider the broader economic outlook for the region, the
stability of legal structures, and the region’s record of long-term
real estate value appreciation. As suggested by the rising luxury
residential real estate index, many UHNW individuals looking
to purchase real estate find ultra high-end luxury properties a
promising investment opportunity.
Buyers of luxury properties are also interested in finding favourable
tax structures. 61% of the global UHNW population’s primary
businesses are privately held. UHNW individuals with private
wealth can stand to gain further from having some or all of their
assets registered in locations with favourable regulatory climates,
but they can also benefit significantly from being in a country where
services, and particularly, financial services account for a large share
of labour force and GDP.
WHY THEY BUY
PRACTICAL VALUE (Proximity to social networks, institutional framework)
Practical considerations also drive luxury real estate purchasing decisions.
While UHNW individuals often make close proximity to business interests a
priority when buying a luxury real estate, they also consider the proximity of the
property to family members. Home buying can also be motivated by proximity
to a primary residence or to a network hub of other UHNW individuals. Having
easy access to regular flights to urban hubs and family residences is often a key
factor in UHNW residential purchases.
Proximity to family is increasingly playing a role in property selection. Many
East Asian UHNW individuals are looking for residences in North America and
Europe because their children are going to study in those locations. 6% of the
world’s UHNW individuals have relocated to a new country for business, and
these individuals often purchase residences in their home country to maintain
ties to extended family members. Residential real estate, while it is known as
a safe long-term investment, is almost always purchased because of a specific
connection between a UHNW individual and a particular place.
In addition to these practical considerations, aging UHNW individuals are
increasingly turning to luxury real estate as a vehicle for wealth protection,
especially when the property is located in a region of the world offering tax
structures that compare favourably with those of their country of origin. A
advantage of citizenship through investment programs that many governments
are offering to wealthy individuals. Purchasing real estate is often a mandatory
requirement of such programs. Nations offering such programs are in a position
to meet a key and growing need within the global UHNW population.
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CHAPTER TITLEWHY THEY BUY
EMOTIONAL VALUE (e.g. Lifestyle compatibility, Legacy preservation)
Emotional value is often a crucial motivating factor in real estate purchases. The
is a key driver in luxury real estate purchases. For example, outdoor and sporting
activities are both hobbies shared by over 25% of the UHNW population, and
properties that offer opportunities to engage in such activities may be appealing
to these individuals. For many ultra wealthy individuals, owning an exclusive
residential property provides the pinnacle of private luxury.
As the global UHNW population ages, luxury homes in resort locations are
ideally positioned to provide ideal retirement destinations. To do so, these
residences must offer UHNW individuals unique recreational opportunities
while enabling them to maintain connections to a variety of business and social
The experiences offered by these exclusive residential properties are key
attractions for ultra affluent buyers. With the growing popularity of experiential
luxury as opposed to mere material acquisition, location in a place that offers
a range of unique and authentic opportunities is a crucial factor in choosing a
luxury property. As well as finding a place that offers an all-encompassing and
unique experience, the emotional value of a home that will be available to the
family members to enjoy as a legacy is often a motivating factor in luxury home
UHNW individuals pursuing investment in ultra high end real estate want to target
properties that combine all of these assets: homes must offer extraordinary personal
luxury as well as practical convenience, and they must also be excellent investment
vehicles with business and tax benefits to provide ultimate appeal.
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Looking at members of the UHNW population who currently have a primary business
address in the Caribbean provides insight into the value of owning luxury real estate in the
region. There are over 1,150 UHNW individuals with a primary business address located in
The Caribbean’s UHNW population is large and growing, rooted in native
wealth as well as streams of UHNW immigration from other countries. In fact,
over two thirds of the region’s UHNW population was born outside the country
in which they now have a primary business residence, and outside of the region
itself. Individuals from the United States and the United Kingdom are the most
common foreign-born nationals who have moved to the region. Foreign-born
UHNW individuals from over 31 countries have relocated to the Caribbean.
The fact that the UHNW population in the Caribbean has continued to grow,
while attracting new residents and homeowners from a globally diverse range of
home countries, underscores the attraction the region holds for many UHNW
This appeal is rooted in the fact that both the Caribbean generally and Barbados
in particular are extremely well positioned to provide value for UHNW
individuals looking to invest in luxury real estate. The region presents a unique
opportunity to satisfy the desire for comprehensive value sought by UHNW
investors. It offers unique business opportunities together with an unsurpassed
recreational lifestyle, all with easy access to global UHNW social and business
From an investment perspective, luxury real estate in the Caribbean offers an
attractive opportunity. Though Caribbean luxury properties remain below their
2008 highs, they rose in value in 2014. Along with other prime resort locations
globally, Caribbean luxury property values are forecast to rise over the next
decade, and currently present a great opportunity to buy below market highs.
Caribbean properties – and Barbados properties in particular – offer greater
value than other popular UHNW resort destinations. Average luxury residence
cost per square foot in Barbados is US$875, while in St. Tropez it is US$925, in
Honolulu it is US$933, and in St. Barts it is US$950. Bal Harbor is US$1,400,
and Aspen is US$1,900.
8 Others include Antigua & Barbuda, St. KItts & Nevis, Dominica, St. Barthelemy, Guadeloupe, Anguilla, Netherlands Antilles,
Jamaica, Curacao, Martinique, Turk & Caicos, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Marteen, Mont Serrat and
Trinidad & Tobago.
2014 2013 2014-2013
CARIBBEAN 1,155 190 1,140 186 2.1% 2.2%
265 30 250 30 6.0% 0.0%
PUERTO RICO 110 16 105 15 5.0% 7.1%
BERMUDA 102 31 100 30 1.5% 1.3%
BARBADOS 66 15 65 15 2.4% 2.0%
BAHAMAS 45 10 45 10 1.3% 1.5%
46 9 45 9 1.0% 0.3%
CAYMAN ISLAND 41 10 40 10 -3.4% 0.0%
ARUBA 41 7 40 8 -0.5% -0.4%
OTHERS8 449 32 439 31 2.1% 2.2%
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CHAPTER TITLECARIBBEAN VALUE PROPOSITION
Adding to the Caribbean’s attractiveness for UHNW investors is the positive forecast for the
broader economy in the region. The overall Caribbean economy grew at 3.6% in 2014 and is
forecast to grow at 3.5% throughout the rest 2015, and annually at over 3.0% for the next three
In addition to these market considerations, many Caribbean islands are known for their
favourable tax regulations. Barbados offers competitive tax rates, and also has beneficial dual
tax treaties with countries such as Canada and the UK, as well as with new emerging market
countries such as Singapore, Ghana, and China. These treaties make Barbados an attractive
and convenient relocation destination for individuals who do not want to re-register their
business in the Caribbean, but still want to benefit from favourable tax conditions. Since 2014,
Barbados has offered a special residency permit available for high net worth individuals (those
with US$5 million or more in net assets), who are willing to invest US$2 million in the country
in real estate or certain government bonds. The real estate aspect has attracted many UHNW
individuals who are looking to invest in luxury property in the region.
Barbados’ proximity to the rest of the Caribbean, the United States and Latin America makes
it an ideal resort getaway destination. It is also well within range of a wide network of global
business and social hubs. The island is only a five-hour flight away from nearly 40% of the
global UHNW population.
9 According to a 2015 World Bank report on the region.
Barbados Turks and
St. Barts Honolulu Bal
St. Tropez Aspen
CURRENT PRICES FOR UHNW RESORT DESTINATIONS (price per square foot)
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As with any real estate acquisition, prospective investors need to understand the institutional
framework for their purchase. When buying real estate within the Caribbean, it is important
to consider the social, political and economic context of making such a purchase.
As noted above, the Caribbean economy grew at a rate of 3.6% in 2014 and Barbados is forecast
to maintain close to 4% growth rates over the next several years. These rates will closely track
those of the region’s main trading partners. Along with the global economy, the Caribbean
economy continued its steady recovery in 2014 and Q1 of 2015, and seems poised to continue
growing over the next several years. Real GDP growth, the inflation rate, unemployment rate,
and the Commodity Price Index all moved in a positive direction in 2014 for the Caribbean
as a whole. Growth continued to accelerate in tourism-dependent economies (the economies
of St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos grew at just over 4% on the year, and nearly all
others grew between 1 and 3%). This tourism growth was reflected by increases in overnight
arrivals and cruise passenger arrivals in nearly every Caribbean nation in 2014.
Visitor growth will continue to have a positive impact on tourism and real estate-related
construction. The long-term economic trend line in regional property values has been positive,
and will continue to be so.
BUYING IN THE CARIBBEAN
When making a decision to invest in Caribbean luxury real estate, potential buyers should
keep a variety of best practices in mind. As with any investment, the long-term planning needs
scenario is different and each should consult with attorneys, accountants, and tax authorities,
to ensure the needs and goals of the property purchaser are protected.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
First, buyers should consider the tax implications – both in terms of the purchasing process and longer-
term impact on personal and business tax rates. Rates vary across the region, and should be compared to
country of origin as well as other possible residence locations.
Savvy buyers should also plan for the estate and inheritance tax implications of a purchase. While concern
about these taxes is common in the United States and the United Kingdom, such taxation exists in
one form or another in over 77 countries around the globe. With proper planning, investors can avoid
significant intergenerational tax liabilities that may lead to loss of the property.
- Taxes Global Wealth for those Domiciled in Canada
- Deemed Disposition = As high as 43%; 50% of gain
- Deemed Disposition Deduction = CAD $400,000
- Taxes Global Wealth
- Estate Tax Rate = 40%
- Estate Tax Exemption = USD$ 5,430,000
- Taxes Global Wealth for those Domiciled in UK
- Inheritance Tax Rate = 40%
- Nil-band Rate = £325,000
- Taxes the Beneﬁciary of Property Received
- Tax Rate: 5 to 45% depending on relationship
- Rebate of up to €100,000 for each child
10 2014 Worldwide Estate and Inheritance Tax Guide, Ernst & Young.
11 Taxation and Investment in United Kingdom 2014, Deloitte.
12 Managing Your Personal Taxes 2013-14, Ernst & Young.
13 Taxation and Investment in France 2014, Deloitte.
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CHAPTER TITLETODAY AND TOMORROW
Potential investors should also explore what citizenship or immigration options
are available and get an understanding of what steps are required to gain
citizenship or resident status. The minimum net worth and minimum local
investment requirements vary by country and should each be taken into account
when evaluating the overall impact of a significant real estate investment.
Buyers should also consider how they will access their property and keep it
and many of these airports are being remodeled or rebuilt. Boating and marina
options should also be considered. The legal and security climate of the desired
location should also be taken into account when considering the purchase of a
To ensure a smooth transition to owning their own piece of paradise, buyers
Potential buyers should thoroughly research and scout each potential island to
find the most suitable location for them. Finding ideal locations on a given island
is often best done with the assistance of a local real estate agent.
In planning for the purchase of foreign property, it’s important to consider not
just the property itself, but to evaluate and determine the most meaningful and
economic way to plan for long-term ownership and the legacy implications for
the next generation. Working with an experienced team of advisors is paramount
to ensuring that plans to achieve the future goals of one’s estate are put in place.
Following these best practices will enable potential investors to find a residence
that will provide a secure financial investment, easy access to a world-renowned
range of recreational activities, a treasured home away from home, and a legacy
for future generations to enjoy.
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