House Hunting in … Antigua and Barbuda

The New York Times
Jul 31, 2019

The small Caribbean country has survived hurricanes and global financial downturns thanks to its abundant beachfront real estate.

A Complex Overlooking the Caribbean on Antigua

This three-and-a-half-acre property sits on an 80-foot bluff overlooking Nonsuch Bay, on the east coast of the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The property includes a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa; a one-bedroom, two-bathroom guest cottage; a swimming pool; a garden; and a private boat dock.

The 3,500-square-foot main house was built about 30 years ago on a peninsula that once was part of an 84-acre plantation, said Hilton Ramseyer, an owner of the property. Now part of the gated Emerald Cove development, the house was constructed of solid concrete, which helps it weather storms.

From a roadside gate, a walking path of Antiguan stone winds past flowering hibiscus to a vaulted portico with exposed beams shading the front entrance. Beyond the arched doorway is a large living room with a vaulted ceiling and exposed beams. Windows have a mirrored treatment, to deflect heat. Floors throughout are handmade white-ceramic tiles from Sardinia.

Topped by louvers that lock in a storm, broad mahogany sliding doors on two sides of the living room open to a covered, wraparound terrace with a terra-cotta floor and panoramic views of the bay. One side has an area for dining and a covered barbecue porch; an outdoor lounge overlooks the pool on the other side.


The house is constructed of solid concrete, with a white-coral stone deck surrounding a kidney-shaped pool to one side. Randy Thomas for The New York Times

The kitchen, off the entrance hall, was redone about a decade ago with two large refrigerators, a pantry, mahogany cabinets, a wine rack, a white Corian countertop and a white-tile backsplash scattered with colorful ceramic fish. A tinted, arched window above the cooktop filters the sun, and a door opens to a terrace.

Outside, steps lead to three rooms beneath the house, including a laundry room and a tool room large enough to hold two beds.

An archway to one side of the living room leads to two bedrooms, each with a beamed, vaulted ceiling and a sliding door to its own covered terrace, which means “you have privacy,” Mr. Ramseyer said. “You can sit and read a book.”

The master bedroom and second bedroom have en suite tiled bathrooms with tubs. A third, smaller bedroom is off a private hallway with a pink-tiled bathroom. All the bedrooms are air-conditioned and have ceiling fans.

The recently completed guest cottage has a porcelain-tile floor, a large bedroom with a view of the bay, an en suite bathroom and a walk-in storage area. A separate entrance door connects to a cabana bath.

The terrace leads to a deck with white-coral stone tiles surrounding a kidney-shaped pool. A path from the pool deck continues down a slope to the L-shaped dock. More than 30 coconut palms dot the landscape.


The master suite has a covered terrace at one end and a window opening to the main dining terrace on the side. Randy Thomas for The New York Times

The house has a standby generator and a half-walled carport with room for two cars.

The West Indian nation of Antigua and Barbuda is about 250 miles east of Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean Sea. This property is a 25-minute drive from restaurants, shopping and the public market in St. John’s, the capital and main port of Antigua and Barbuda. Smaller shops and restaurants in English Harbour, on the south coast, are about 20 minutes away. V.C. Bird International Airport, on the northern coast, is a 35-minute drive.

Market Overview

Prices have recovered about 90 percent of their value after an approximate 40 percent decline caused by the 2008 global downturn, said Bradley Esty, the chief executive of Stanley’s Estate Agents, in Antigua.

In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria barely affected Antigua, but Barbuda, its sister island 28 miles away, was hit hard.

“In the media, it was always ‘Antigua and Barbuda,’ and we suffered a lot because of that perception,” said Sam Dyson, the chief executive of Luxury Locations Estate Agents, which has the listing for this property. “That limited the foreign investment coming into Antigua.”

Prices “were not overly adversely affected” by the hurricanes, Mr. Esty said. “But demand softened and transaction velocity declined about 10 percent.”

During the past year, he added, “Brexit uncertainties” and the decline of the British pound have caused prices to fall about 5 to 10 percent.


The living room has a vaulted, beamed ceiling and wide mahogany sliding doors that open to a covered terrace. Randy Thomas for The New York Times

This summer, however, the market has begun to pick up. “Waterfront property is going up,” Mr. Dyson said, attributing the uptick to a strong American economy. “We are getting more sales.”

Sales of waterfront properties to people with boats to dock are also on the upswing. Buyers include investors who are flipping homes and those interested in vacation homes they can rent when they’re not in residence.

With some 365 beaches, Antigua has abundant beachfront real estate. The market offers “a very wide range of property for sale, from affordable condos up to ultraluxury beach houses,” said Robert Cooper, the director of 7th Heaven Properties, a London-based luxury real estate agency specializing in the Caribbean. Prices range from about $250,000 for a two-bedroom townhouse-style villa in Jolly Harbour, on the west coast, to $10 million to $25 million to buy a lot and build a beachfront home in nearby Pearns Point.

Plans for new luxury resorts with residential components include the Rosewood Half Moon Bay Antigua, expected to open in 2021, and the Waldorf Astoria Antigua, scheduled for a 2023 debut.

“We would expect the launch of these new luxury brands to provide a halo effect for the market as a whole,” Mr. Cooper said.

Who Buys in Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1981, and the country has traditionally been popular with British buyers, Mr. Esty said. But as the British pound has declined in value, those buyers have diminished in number. At the same time, the island has become more popular with American buyers because of an increase in available flights.

Recently, Mr. Esty said, he has been seeing buyers from Sweden, Austria, Belgium and Ireland. Antigua and Barbuda is also popular with buyers from Canada, France, Italy and Germany, Mr. Dyson said.


A private boat dock extends from the garden, across a sandy beach, into Nonsuch Bay. Randy Thomas for The New York Times

The country’s Citizenship by Investment Program has attracted investors from many other parts of the world as well, Mr. Cooper said, including China, Russia and the Middle East.

Buying Basics

To buy property in Antigua and Barbuda, foreigners need a Non-Citizens Land Holding license; the cost is 5 percent of a property’s sale price. Government transfer fees are 2.5 percent, and legal fees add another 1 to 2 percent to the total price.

For some high-end buyers, particularly those interested in homes priced over $2 million, “citizenship fees, with a passport to boot, is a better deal, costing about $100,000,” Mr. Dyson said. (Antigua and Barbuda permits dual citizenship.)

The seller is responsible for paying the real estate commission, which is typically 5 percent of the sale price, Mr. Dyson said.

Because the real estate market in Antigua and Barbuda is unregulated and unlicensed, buyers are encouraged to seek assistance from a professional real estate agency, Mr. Esty said. Typically, the seller negotiates with the real estate agent, and lawyers prepare documents needed for the property transfer.


Antigua and Barbuda government:

Antigua and Barbuda tourism:

Citizenship by Investment Program:

Languages and Currency

English; East Caribbean dollar (1 East Caribbean dollar = $0.37)

Taxes and Fees

The annual property tax on this home is about $2,000, Mr. Ramseyer said.


Sam Dyson, Luxury Locations Estate Agents, 011-268-764-5874;