How hurricanes affect the real estate market

I received a call from a reporter a few days before Hurricane Irma was due to hit The Bahamas asking,”How the storm and hurricanes, in general, would affect the real estate market?” He assumed, I think, that I would give a negative response.

It is undeniably a blessing that the monster storm largely steered clear of our main population centres, allowing us to carry on with business as usual. Ragged Island was hardest hit, followed by Mayaguana, Crooked Island, Acklins and Inagua. We are thankful there was no loss of life in The Bahamas.

However, my 24 years of experience as a realtor has taught me that hurricanes tend to affect the real estate market in a positive way.

This is what happens when a storm hits:

  1. A lot of fear is generated beforehand, followed by relief as people realize they survived and that things are not as bad as predicted.
  2. Even when a lot of damage is sustained, communities pull together to help each other out and rebuild. This sense of community and camaraderie is cathartic.
  3. Most homes in upscale and resort communities have hurricane insurance, and when the insurance money kicks in it propels the rebuilding of roofs, docks, awnings and even entire homes in some cases.
  4. This injection of new money triggers a massive rejuvenation through the entire community, creating fresh, well-kept, updated neighbourhoods which previously may have been somewhat tired.
The Beautiful Elbow Cay managed a successful recovery after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. (Photo Credit: Dmadeo, Wikipedia – Elbow Cay article)

A prime example of this would be Elbow Cay after Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.  The island was devastated and many feared it would never be the same. But the community banded together to rebuild the damaged homes and businesses in a concerted effort to make the island even better than before, which they achieved a year or so later.  This rejuvenation led in part to Elbow Cay’s real estate boom in the 2000s. Likewise, Hurricane Matthew destroyed many of the docks at Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island in 2016, but a few months later every one of them had been replaced and in the months that followed, the Ocean Club saw a surge in sales that it had not experienced in many years.

So, what to expect in the next month or two if you are a seller (or buyer) in The Bahamas? Generally, the initial weeks after a hurricane will be slower due to the publicity. Having said that, I’m of the firm opinion that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Take Barbuda, for instance. Many people may not have considered it as a holiday destination before Irma, but now that it has been front and centre of the news cycle, some of those people may be curious enough to follow its rebuilding and possibly decide to visit once it is back in shape.

Ocean Club estates remains one of the Bahamas' most luxurious spots.
Ocean Club Estates luxury development on Paradise Island. (Photo Credit: H.G. Christie)

So although the market may well remain slow for a while, apart from a few buyers that try to take advantage of the disruption caused by the storm, in Autumn something happens up north that is a true blessing to the Caribbean Islands – the COLD! When that first frost hits any thought of hurricanes become a distant memory and all people think about are palm trees, beautiful beaches and the turquoise seas. The Bahamas and the Caribbean are back in business!

To summarize, although hurricanes can be disruptive and fearsome, the long term effects historically tend to be positive.

Investing in Private Islands - John Christie
John Christie, Managing Broker of H.G. Christie Ltd.


If you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to email me at  or call or WhatsApp me on 242-357-7572 or reach me at the office at  242 322-1041.



Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 − sixteen =