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House Hunting on Anguilla: An Oceanfront Retreat for $985,000

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This three-bedroom, two-bath beachfront home sits on the east coast of Anguilla, the British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean Sea.

The 1,300-square-foot house is anchored by a terra-cotta-tiled great room beneath a cathedral ceiling. Bright and airy, the room’s open plan includes a living area, dining space and kitchen. Three arched doorways open to a 1,200-square-foot veranda overlooking the beach. A strategically positioned sofa provides ocean views from the living room.

“We watch whales from January through April,” said the seller, Preston Dalglish, who commissioned the house with his wife, Terry, in 2005. “We’ll see pelicans, sea turtles and the occasional dolphin.”

At the home’s front door, sightlines stretch through the house to the Caribbean Sea and islands beyond. “That’s a wow factor,” said Elaine Hearn of Properties in Paradise, the listing agent. “You can see St. Martin in the distance, and St. Bart’s on a clear day.” An infinity-edge swimming pool separates the house from the beach, which is accessible by stairs from a pool deck.

Postcard ocean views continue from the master bedroom, set to the left of the great room. On the opposite side of the house, two guest bedrooms share a small bathroom. A wood door leads from one of the bedrooms to the pool deck.

In the kitchen, solid maple cabinets complement stainless-steel GE Profile gas appliances installed in 2018, after Hurricane Irma. “GE’s the only brand that sells and services on the island, so it’s in most homes,” Ms. Hearn said.

Doors and window frames are made of South American red cedar, with louvers in place of glass. “They’re heavily constructed, but let in air,” Ms. Hearn said. “The home’s withstood four hurricanes with virtually no structural damage because it was built for this climate, which is not always the case.” During hurricane season, the owners also attach metal shutters to the home’s exterior.

After researching 18th-century Caribbean homes, the Dalglishes opted for Anguilla stone with traditional gingerbread trim along the home’s exterior edges. They also planted lush indigenous flora throughout the grounds, including hibiscus, bougainvillea, banana plants, cactuses and coconut palms. A hand-laid stone wall surrounds the half-acre property. “The gardens, stone and gingerbread add charm,” Ms Hearn said. ”Most houses here are concrete-based.”

The house is solar-powered, a rarity on Anguilla, according to Mr. Dalglish. “Maybe a dozen homes on the island have solar,” he said, noting that electricity costs are “drastically below” what most islanders pay. “When we’re not here in summer, the bills are $10 per month, the minimum the utility requires to stay active,” he said. A 40,000-gallon concrete cistern collects rainwater for daily use. The home’s graywater, or wastewater, fertilizes the gardens.

The property is in Anguilla’s Seafeathers district, which “is unusual in that it’s mostly residential,” said Ms. Hearn. “There’s no real zoning in Anguilla, so you often have a residential property next to a commercial development.”

With a wine store, gas station and supermarket within two miles, the neighborhood “is very well-connected,” said Adrian Kobbe, founder of property brokers Gum/Ko International. Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport is about four miles away.

The island of Anguilla has a population of about 14,000, making its real estate market “tiny,” said Mr. Kobbe, who is also president of the Anguilla Real Estate Association. “If we sell one dozen properties, it’s a good year. If we sell two dozen, it’s a great year.”

Anguilla’s tourist economy and property market have gradually recovered since Hurricane Irma battered the island in 2017, with limited inventory keeping prices moving. “There are only 70 properties for sale on the island right now,” Mr. Kobbe said.

Walter Zephirin, managing director of London-based 7th Heaven Properties, said the top end of the market is gaining most. “We’re seeing growth in luxury villas, where people can self-isolate if needed,” he said. Anguilla’s real estate association doesn’t collect pricing or sales data, but Mr. Zephirin said that the average price for properties in the 7th Heaven database, mostly on the high end, is $765 a square foot. “You can find a condo for about $650,000 on the beach, a three-bedroom home in the hills for about $850,000, and beachfront villas all the way up to $20 million,” he said.

But top-end properties often “stay on the market for years” and inflate asking-price averages, said Scott Hauser, director of ProRealty Anguilla. “Your bread-and-butter zone is between $600,000 and $1.6 million,” he said. “Properties above that are few and far between.”

Ms. Hearn, the listing agent, agreed, noting that the high averages may reflect what’s on the market, “but what actually sells is more like $1.5 million.”

Last July, to help finance public-sector projects, Anguilla launched a Residency by Investment program, which grants residency to those who invest at least $400,000 in real estate on the island and pay an annual $75,000 lump-sum tax. Aimed at attracting high-net-worth buyers, the program “has had zero value,” Mr. Hauser said. “You don’t get a passport. You just get the right to reside.” Ms. Hearn said the program has had “no impact” on her sales.

Historically, Anguilla buyers have been “75 percent people who fall in love with the island and 25 percent investors,” said Ms. Hearn, the listing agent. “Lately, I’m seeing more people who realize they can work at home from paradise and want that lifestyle.” About 80 percent of foreign buyers on Anguilla come from the U.S., she estimated, with the rest coming from Canada, and “one or two” European buyers each year.

The island’s laid-back pace and low-key ethos draw wealthy buyers who value “old-fashionedness” over glitz, Mr. Kobbe said. “If you need a lot of hoopla, it’s not the island for you.”

Foreign buyers can buy land parcels up to a half-acre, and must build homes of 2,000 square feet or larger. The Alien Land Holding License also grants the applicant residency, renewable every 11 months.

Foreign buyers on Anguilla must use a lawyer, and nearly all pay in cash, Ms. Fontaine said, since financing from local banks can add months to the process. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted.

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