Top Bahamas Realtor Neil Aberle Living the Hope Town Lifestyle
Would you choose a hairdresser with a bad haircut? Would you buy a car from a guy who only rides mopeds? Would you trust a dietician that only eats pancakes? Would you trust a Bahamas Realtor who is not living the island lifestyle?
Blogging away from the new HG Christie office in Old Fort Bay Town Centre, Nassau, I come into contact with many agents. And I’m noticing a trend… They are happy, inspired, energized. Whether they’re living in the buzzing capital of Nassau, or the comparative serenity of the Out Islands, they are living the Bahamas Lifestyle. We’ve got sailors, painters, musicians, fishermen and farmers on the squad – Bahamas lovers for whom sharing the island dream with clients comes naturally.
So let me introduce you to some of the HG Christie Team… In the first of a series of Agents In The Spotlight, I speak with Neil Aberle from the Hope Town Office, living the life on beautiful Elbow Cay, Abaco:
How did you get into Real Estate with HG Christie? What’s your background?
Well…I’m Bahamian born but went to school in the UK to Eton and Oxford, worked in London for a Management Consultant (Bain & Company) for a year and a half or so before moving back to The Bahamas. Here, I started my own publishing company called Aberland Publications and launched a monthly tabloid style newspaper called What’s On, which is a where-to-go, what-to-do, where-to-eat tabloid style newspaper.
After 10 years, I felt that it was time to sell my share in the publishing company (which still exists to this day) and moved onto to something new. So in 2002 I moved to Eleuthera with my wife Rachael to establish an adventure tour company called Bahamas Out Island Adventures. We offered day and overnight adventure tours, taking people kayaking, snorkelling, surfing, exploring caves and beaches with great picnic luncheons, barbecues and bonfires.
We managed Bahamas Out-Island Adventures for three years and it was during that time, actually living in Harbour Island that we were approached by HG Christie who was looking to establish a presence on the island. It was a pretty good fit because we were already meeting a lot of visitors through the adventure tour company, so I got my license that year and set up the first HG Christie Office on Harbour Island.
In 2005, our children were getting a bit older so we decided to make the move to Hope Town, Abaco, which is a similarly picturesque island with a really great school and where we also had family. So I sold Bahamas Out-Island Adventures (which is still doing well to this day) and became a full time Real Estate Agent in Hope Town.
Do you work all over Abaco or just in Hope Town?
I work all over the cays and the mainland, from North to South, representing properties all over the Abacos. I commute across to Marsh Harbour four or five times a week to go to the main office, and I also keep a hand in real estate in Eleuthera.
How much do you feel that your passion for island life influences your success as a realtor?
I think it’s very contagious particularly when I’m working with buyers. I guess our typical buyer in this market is a second homeowner from North America or the UK. They are attracted by the island lifestyle, so when I’m with them and showing a property, I can guide them on what’s fun, where’s good to eat, all the ins and outs of island life… You know, we love it here so I think it definitely rubs off on the people we’re with.
Why buy in Abaco over the other Out Islands?
Of all the Out Islands, Abaco is certainly the most developed, so you’ve got first world infrastructure combined with island living. We’ve got a brand-new airport terminal, pleasantly paved roads, probably one of the best grocery stores in the whole country called Maxwells, hardware stores, banks…and yet you’re surrounded by water and you can jump in a boat, sail out to the cays.
And of course, Abaco is very safe, the local people are very friendly, there’s great snorkelling, diving, fishing, surfing – it’s very much an outdoor lifestyle. It’s not inexpensive so it definitely attracts a well-heeled buyer, but that’s not a bad thing as it keeps the standards up!
I see that you have a “new” company – Om Grown Greens – can you tell us about that?
Yes, my wife and I started Om Grown Greens in 2011. My wife is very much a yogi – she’s a yoga instructor and a massage therapist. We enjoy a healthy lifestyle so we started growing organic sprouts and micro-greens for ourselves and passing them around, giving them to our friends. Everybody loved them so we said, “let’s make a go of it” and started growing them on a larger scale. Since then we’ve been very successful – we do a full range of products from wheatgrass to sunflower greens to micro-sprouts, all sorts… and now aside from supplying local restaurants, grocery stores and individuals, we also ship to other islands like Nassau and Harbour Island.
How do you feel about the current real estate climate in Abaco?
I think that since the US started to come out of the downturn in about 2010, we have seen a slow but steady improvement if you look at number of sales and dollar value of sales. Over the past three or four years the trend is definitely up. I would say that we are still in a buyer’s market, although that’s getting almost back to an even keel between a buyer’s and a seller’s market.
There are still some reasonably good deals in terms of properties to be bought but people are discovering and realizing that Abaco really is quite a unique place, not just in the Bahamas but on the planet. We’ve got this beautiful, safe, warm island lifestyle and it’s just a short hop from the States – there’s nowhere else quite like it!