As real estate elsewhere has dropped, the Caribbean nation has seen records broken despite the global pandemic, according to Mauricio Umansky, founder and CEO of real estate firm The Agency.
"We have definitely seen some extraordinary prices," he told FOX Business.
Sales volume of single-family homes in Turks and Caicos during the first quarter of 2020 outpaced the same period of 2019, and condo sales outpaced the two previous years to date, according to a Sotheby's International Realty report.
Turks and Caicos is conveniently close to the U.S. and boasts some of the world's best beaches, according to Umansky. The country also uses the U.S. dollar and has no property, income or capital gains taxes. The real estate market was already seeing big growth there last year, and it benefited from publicity around the sales of luxury homes that had belonged to Prince and Bruce Willis.
Wealthy Americans looking to vacation in Turks and Caicos were more likely to rent before the pandemic, so they could spend a summer there and then jet off to another luxury locale the next year, according to Umansky. But he said the pandemic has made the rich realize they want to own a second home outside crowded cities so they have someplace comfortable to stay in the event of a similar event.
"So there's a big trend, they want to have a place to sequester and to have that second home if this happens again, and to have a home where the whole family can go, not just a little apartment that they don't all fit in," he said.
Turks and Caicos officials did close its borders in March as a result of the pandemic. The country has remained relatively unscathed by COVID-19, with just 12 cases and one death among the popular of 39,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. As of June 15, officials said there were no active cases of the illness in the country.
The Turks and Caicos government also incentivized real estate purchases during the pandemic by offering a 50 percent cut in stamp duty, waiving custom duties on construction materials and cutting planning fees by half, the Caribbean Journal reported.
Now the border is set to reopen on July 22 when Providenciales Airport reopens. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is also scheduled to reopen on Aug. 31.
With real estate outpacing the market in 2019 even during the pandemic, Umansky said he's expecting even more growth once visitors can return.
"It's back on and we're selling," he said. "It's pretty incredible."
Of course, Turks and Caicos isn’t the only vacation spot to see a boost in interest among wealthy homebuyers amid the pandemic. The Bahamas have also seen a "very solid rise in their real estate sales," according to Umansky. He also spoke to FOX Business about the rise in popularity of ski towns like Aspen, Colorado and Park City, Utah as year-round getaways. And a run on vacation homes in traditional escapes for the rich and famous like the Hamptons has been well-documented.
Real estate in general is also recovering and getting closer to catching up with last year's pre-coronavirus market, Umansky said.
"That gap is narrowing on a daily basis," he said.