Engel & Völkers Licence Partner Regional Office Belgium > Blog > Working under the Caribbean sun: Interview with Silvina Andrews from Engel & Völkers Bahamas

Working under the Caribbean sun: Interview with Silvina Andrews from Engel & Völkers Bahamas

If you look at Silvina Andrews' workplace, you could almost become envious: The real estate agent has been marketing properties in the Bahamas for Engel & Völkers since 2018. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year and average temperatures of over 26°C, one could easily overlook the fact that the profession of real estate agent is hard work even in a paradisiacal climate. In the interview, Silvina Andrews reveals how she approaches this challenge, what makes the Bahamas real estate market unique and what role social media plays in her daily work:

- Working where others go on holiday: In an interview, real estate agent Silvina Andrews from Engel & Völkers Bahamas reports on her work in the Caribbean.

Hello Mrs Andrews, when and why did you decide to work at Engel & Völkers? 

S.A.: E&V chose me. One of my partners, Ana Wassitsch and I were a team at another firm in Nassau. At that time, real estate agent teams were not common and through our promotions and social media we quickly became well known. E&V America approached me to discuss opening a shop in the Bahamas, not realising that the Bahamas already had one. Ana and I have known the owner of E&V Nassau for many years, so he approached us about joining as a team. It took us a year to make the decision to move to E&V as we were well established as a team with our own brand. We made the decision to re-brand ourselves and that gave us the opportunity to invite our colleague, Phillip Kemp, to join us as well.

What challenges do you like most about your work? 

S.A.: E&V has a very different culture from other real estate firms. This is both challenging and exciting. The marketing tools are endless and very easy to learn. In the Bahamas, our largest client base is international and the E&V name is very well known globally. This is very helpful.

Do you use Social Media for your work or do you have a business account? 

S.A.: Yes, we have a Facebook business page, and we use Instagram. Each of us also has our personal LinkedIn account.

How did you come up with the idea of using social media for business? 

S.A.: When Ana and I established our partnership at our previous firm, we immediately turned to social media to expose our brand and share our message. This proved to be very effective and we received a lot of positive feedback. Our team loves to create and follow marketing trends. We incorporate our listings and lifestyle posts into a consistent campaign.

What are your plans for the account?  

S.A.: We are constantly putting ideas in "drafts" and we discuss content.  Sometimes there is a planned strategy and other times each of us posts spontaneously.  

What do you think makes the real estate market in the Bahamas so special? 

S.A.: The Bahamas is unique in that real estate is very diverse. We have many different islands offering different types of lifestyle choices and property values. Buyers are attracted to a lifestyle which offers a safe and relaxed environment regardless of the property type. Our listings include luxury homes and condominiums in private communities, waterfront estates and private islands.

How do you think the market in the Bahamas will develop in the near future?  

S.A.: The market is once again taking an upward turn. There is a lot of new development throughout the country and we work very closely with their sales departments. In recent years, the Bahamas has become a very popular destination for Airbnb so that has attracted another level of clientele. 

Being a real estate agent consumes a lot of time – how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

S.A.: I am usually a very organised person and have daily plans. My plans usually fit well within my private life. As our clients tend to come from other countries, showing the property is usually done during regular working hours. This allows me to have a schedule that coordinates with family and friends that are not in the real estate industry. I am very serious about exercise and make a point to take 30-60 minutes out of my day for that. I find that the tools that are provided by E&V allow me to perform very efficiently. I work mostly from my home office so I don't have to account for travel time very often. When I am on the road, I take advantage of the time to make phone calls. I love Bluetooth!

Would you like to learn more about the fascinating work of Silvina Andrews? Then take a look at the Engel & Völkers Bahamas website or visit Mrs Andrews and her team directly in the local shop. We look forward to hearing from you! 

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Engel & Völkers - Your real estate agency

Real estate has long been a popular long-term investment option, and despite the brief contraction of the home market in the early 21st century, investing in properties continues to be a great way to ensure your financial future. The value of properties is still higher than it was 40 years ago, and the real estate market around the world has steadily grown since the first decade of the century-and will continue to do so. Working with real estate agents to buy properties that are for sale not only secures your living situation; real estate also gives you an additional source of income should you choose to rent out your home. Moreover, mortgage rates for properties are currently lower than they were a decade ago, which increases the attractiveness of buying real estate now. For those looking to buy a new home or to invest in houses or apartments they intend to rent, several countries with buoyant rental markets come to mind where purchasing property is an excellent investment. Real estate agents can help you find quality homes and apartments for sale at bargain rates on every populated continent, making it much easier to acquire real estate in a country that suits your individual needs. Our real estate agents also help you look at factors such as education, health care and employment opportunities, thereby increasing your ability to make an informed decision regarding your new home or apartment. Though certain aspects will vary based on the country and city in which you buy property, one thing remains the same: investing in real estate ensures your financial future, and acquiring property now at today’s low mortgage rates increases the profitability of your decision to buy a home or apartment.

Engel & Völkers - A real estate agent who listens to your needs

No matter where you go, we are always at your side. This is the ambition of the real estate network. With 40 years of know-how, this German company has acquired a leading position in the high-end real estate market. In addition, it can now boast an international reputation with a presence in more than 30 countries on 4 continents. The reason for such success: quality services to meet the needs of the most demanding customers. Whatever your projects, our real estate agents are at your disposal to advise you. Their rigorous professionalism, expertise and interpersonal skills will satisfy all your expectations. Whether you want to sell or buy a villa, apartment, mansion, land,... our real estate agents offer you tailor-made services. Feel free to visit our website. Frequently updated which lists many properties available on the real estate market. Wherever you are, you will have direct access to our online offer. Our 24 branches are also at your disposal in Belgium. We will be pleased to welcome you and offer you personalized advice for your real estate projects.

General analysis of the Belgian real estate market

In 2017, the construction sector was expecting a 2% increase in sales volume. In 2018, this increase was 3%. The most expensive municipality (among the 589), in terms of real estate, is Uccle. To this list of the most expensive municipalities according to the territorial distribution are then ranked Knokke-Heist, which is the most expensive municipality with a median price of €568,000. The municipality of Sint-Martens-Latem follows closely behind, reaching 514,250€, as does the municipality of Kraainem, where the median price is 490,000€. It is also important to take into account the performance of Wezembeek-Oppem, with €479,550, and Schilde, with €475,000. On the housing side, Wallonia is considered to have the most expensive apartments, particularly in Walloon Brabant, in Lasne, with an average price of 525,000 euros. The second most expensive region in this category is Brussels-Capital, with the municipalities of Uccle, €590,000, Woluwe-St-Pierre, €570,000; Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, €525,000; Boitsfort, €479,500; Ixelles, €442,500;... Flanders is facing a strong trend towards larger housing. There is a gradual pressure for private dwellings that need to be heavily renovated. The apartment segment is leading to an increase in quality new construction. With increasingly stringent government standards, it is less obvious to estimate the cost of renovations. The balance sheet tends to get worse. Private investors looking for so-called safe properties are increasingly turning to new housing that does not require any renovation. By favouring this type of property, they seek to avoid unexpected renovation costs that are difficult to estimate, but essentially also time wasted. Another trend to watch out for is larger assets. Socio-demographic statistics indicate that citizens' lifestyles tend to run counter to the ownership of large residences, such as large villas. This may be explained by the fact that many homeowners have aged and are no longer able to manage the maintenance of large properties.

Are real estate prices stable?

In Belgium, real estate agents have noticed a price evolution, attributable to an increase in the selling prices of real estate. This is the first increase in house prices in the past five years. These observations take inflation into account. The first 9 months of 2018 saw an increase of 1.3% compared to the same period in 2017. The best results were recorded in Wallonia, with a 6.5% increase in the number of transactions. However, Brussels experienced a 3.1% decline in real estate activity in 2018. A slowdown was also observed in Flanders in the last months of 2018. The Notaries' Barometer highlighted a deficit of 0.7% compared to 2017. For houses with 2-3 facades, the median Belgian price amounted to 205,000 euros in 2018 (3rd quarter). The cost of houses with 4 facades reached 290,000 euros. The cheapest region is Wallonia, with an average price of 142,000 euros (houses 2-3 facades) and 235,000 euros (4 facades). Following these results closely, the Flemish region has an average price of 234,000 euros (2-3 facades) and 320,000 euros (4 facades). The Brussels-Capital Region is the most expensive housing region, in all types of housing. Thus, houses with 2-3 facades reached a median price of €394,000, while those with 4 facades approached €1 million, with €987,500. These homes are not cheap, and experts do not expect this trend to reverse. As for the national median price, a house in Belgium with 2-3 facades cost 205,000 euros in 2018 (3rd quarter). As for the average price of a house with 4 facades, it amounted to 290,000 euros. This represents a difference of 85,000 euros to obtain a house with 4 facades. The average price of the apartments was 185,000 euros. In a context of a softening economic environment, national selling prices are the real fuel of a market. As for real estate, they should not decline. The experts even speculate that prices would increase slightly further. But it is possible that this growth may also slow down somewhat. An interesting point to keep in mind is that the expected price increases for all real estate in Belgium are essentially the same in each of the three regions.