By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The total value of New Providence real estate sales on the Bahamas Multiple Listing System (BMLS) dropped 45 per cent quarter-over-quarter in the three months to end-September, the industry yesterday unveiling its initiative to boost'market transparency' and real time data access.
With 80-90 per cent of Bahamian real estate brokers, and about one-third of total members, now using the BMLS, Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) executives said activity had reached the point where it felt confident to launch its Quarterly Real Estate Activity Report. Gino Maycock, the Colonial Realty broker who chairs BREA's BMLS committee, told Tribune Business that by producing the data every three months, the Association hoped to provide all participants with up-to-date, accurate information on the market's performance. He said buyers and sellers, and their realtors, could then use the date to determine strategies and property prices, the ultimate goal being to drive Bahamian real estate sales.
Data provided to Tribune Business for the 2012 second and third quarters shows that on New Providence, the total value of home and condo sales through the BMLS dropped 45 per cent quarter-over-quarter, falling from around $24 million to below $15 million. While units sold via the BMLS also dropped 17 per cent over that same period, down from around 24 to 20, a brighter spot was the 50 per cent quarter-over-quarter increase in New Providence vacant land sales. And new BMLS listings on New Providence also increased by 12 per cent in the 2012 third quarter, with expired listings - listings that have not sold within the contracted listing period - were flat.
On Grand Bahama and the Family Islands, the total value of home/condo sales via the BMLS rose 59 per cent quarter-over-quarter, rising from over $7 million to just under $12 million. Vacant land sales through the BMLS also rose 56 per cent in three months to end-September, compared to the quarter before, although the number of units sold and new listings dropped by 40 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively. Expired listings on the BMLS were also up 5 per cent over the same period in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.
Explaining why BREA had decided to launch the value-added BMLS feature, Mr Maycock told Tribune Business: "We've come to a place where we feel the activity and participation of members on the BMLS is to a point where it's valid enough that we can launch it. The market, the consumers, the brokers and agents, can all use this data. It's a little bit closer to real time data than the Central Bank would report. It gives you a better picture, a snapshot of the housing sector, market activity via the BMLS. It's a very important piece of information."
Mr Maycock said some 189 licensed BREA members, out of a total of around 600, were actively using the BMLS. This was almost one-third of the total membership, while broker (firm) usage levels were around 80-90 per cent. Franon Wilson, BREA's president, said the Association had wanted to ensure the BMLS was fully functional, and all members understood how to use it, before launching its data capabilities. Praising Mr Maycock and immediate past BREA president, Patty Birch, for 'leading the charge',
Mr Wilson told Tribune Business: "This is the first time BREA is saying we feel confident in these numbers. "In the Bahamas, it's very difficult to get accurate numbers, and in real estate it's even harder. This will lead to more transparency in the marketplace, more real data so that realtors and brokers have the ability to go out with more significant facts rather than impressions they may have.
And Mr Maycock added: "Ultimately, with the data,we are looking for an increase in sales for both the market and individuals. And in terms of pricing property correctly. I do see that there's hope that even the banking sector might come on board and provide some data on interest rates, loans and mortgages - the amount of mortgages extended. âWho knows what opportunities, networking relationships could be formed with the release of this information? It's just to assist the market and industry"
Mr Wilson said that eventually the BMLS would provide more in-depth data and comparisons, such as year-over-year figures. The data will be made available to the public via both the BMLS and BREA website.
BMLS 2012 Third Quarter Stats Report