Lighthouse Realty, a full service real estate agency located in Oyster Pond and related to the well-known Oyster Bay Beach Resort, has been operational since just a few days after the passing of Hurricane Irma. In charge of the operations is Marja Beentjes, a long-time resident with over 28 years on the island.
Beentjes shared that her business felt their responsibilities deeply. “Checking properties of foreign-based owners and making sure these are secured and avoid further damage, were among our first priorities. The foreign-based property owners – a large and important but also overlooked group of people, who fell in love with Sint Maarten and invested in this beautiful paradise –are people who care for their properties, for their investment and their concerns; and this adds to a positive investment climate for many sectors of our economy.”
These investors return to the island multiple times each year, bringing with them family, friends and business associates. They rent cars, spend a lot of money in restaurants, on activities, in hardware- and jewellery-stores and supermarkets, but also have employed household, gardening and maintenance staff, whether full-time or part-time. They contribute significantly to the economy of Sint Maarten. Beentjes stressed that with the temporary loss of so many hotel rooms, it is important that these owners, their family, friends and guests return as soon as possible. In fact, she noted that these privately-owned properties, like the smaller hotels, will now become the backbone of our stayover tourism in the coming season.
A heart for the island
Foreign-based owners have a heart for the island and its people. Amazing stories are coming across of fundraisers organized by these owners in their home towns, to assist the island and its people. They will also be the first mouth-to-mouth promoters to tell the world that Sint Maarten is rising up again.
Some have felt a permanent loss of value of their investment, due to the negative media information abroad about the devastation of the island, but despite a few individual cases, property value will remain at pre-Irma level or, at worst, will recover their value in no time.
The realtor sees some similar patterns after the devastation in 1995 and now. “There will be ‘opportunists’ on the road to picking up a few good deals, but my advice is not to sell too quickly and ask an experienced broker for an opinion. Having been through Hurricane Luis in 1995 as well, I notice a lot of things repeating themselves and the outcome is almost predictable. For some people, however, it is enough. The feel it is not the paradise anymore that they used to know.”
“Indeed things have changed and will change, a number of people and businesses will never come back, changing the Sint Maarten tourism landscape forever. But with this, new people will come, and start building their memories by spending their holidays on The Friendly Island again.”
Beentjes says if this is the case, her goal at Lighthouse Realty is to facilitate the transition of ownership of properties from those who leave and those who come. “This must be done in a fair way, so that those who leave can also close their book of Sint Maarten in a positive way.”
Want more information on investment properties? Contact Marja Beentjes at 421-580-6653 or [email protected]