Property in Barbados

Let’s start with an overview of the island for people who are interested in property near a beach, supermarket, and filling or charging stations. First thing to bear in mind is that the beaches on the East and South Coasts have been plagued by Sargassum since 2015 – not great for swimming – or for that matter flying fish which are unable to jump through the seaweed. Also there have been sewage issues on the South Coast and some beaches were closed last year. A new sewage outlet has since been built reaching some way out to sea.

This leaves the West Coast in a favourable position, as there is usually no seaweed to speak of, and sewage is through septic tanks or wells. There are some good beaches on the West Coast, and the most modern supermarket on the island is Massy in Holetown. So location on the West Coast is best, but a word of advice – the presenters on overseas property programmes like “A Place in The Sun” do the not know what they are talking about .

People with property for sale may put a “for sale by owner” sign up, but most likely use an agent whose commission is around 5% of the selling price plus 17.5% VAT, so about 5.875% in all. The reason I mention this is that a lot of additional fixed costs also fall on the seller – transfer tax 2.5%, stamp duty 1%, land surveyors fees if necessary. Then there are also the legal fees paid by both parties – which are on a fixed sliding scale and not cheap. Buyers just pay legal fees – I suppose you could have a survey or inspection done if you want to pay additional fees – there may be a termite warranty if the place was regularly treated – and if there are signs of ground movement like cracking it is best not to buy.

The land is mostly unregistered, which means that you get a pile of deeds to keep – suggest you photograph everything and keep the originals in a safe deposit box. There is a Land Registry, but progress towards registration of all land has been painfully slow – no surprise as the fixed lawyers fees for registered land are much cheaper.

Earlier I mentioned TV presenters – I think they must collect a few properties to show from an agent who stands to get the full commission on the sale without splitting. Also these programmes like to encourage participants to put in offers just below the asking price – in Barbados the right price to pay might be 60 to 70% of the asking price for a house,maybe less !

So bearing in mind selling expenses, it is sensible to try to be right first time when buying in Barbados

When I have a bit of time I will also talk about bringing stuff – cars, appliances, etc. to Barbados.

The February 2019 update

So let us start with the big technology ideas. Roku has been the star performer, moving up from 44.58 to 65.31. This was driven by the latest quarterly numbers and outlook. Nvidia has not done much and lost a bit at 154.52. My new purchase a few days ago was Microsoft which now stands me in at a small profit at 111.57.

Tobaccos are still in the doldrums but showing signs that they have bottomed, so the next move should be up. I used a bit of cash building up from dividends in my ISA to add 100 BAT at a low price.

The 5G stocks have moved down – Verizon is at 56.47 down from 60.21 and Ceragon is down from 4.24 to 3.80. 5G should still be a good theme, and Verizon looks a buy on weakness. The big screen phones are designed for streaming or downloading across 5G networks – quickly download and watch on the train. That brings me to my small company buy, a U.K. company called Bango, which will benefit from the monetisation of 5G – see the short videos on their investor relations site – and seems a timely buy right now at 94p

Moving on to the funds side, I sold out of Neil Woodford’s U.K. equity income funds and his Patient Capital investment trust. Too much risk from Brexit to smaller U.K. companies. Also added a holding in Smithson Investment Trust, as I like Terry Smith’s investment philosophy but his open-ended growth fund is too big and in this case the close-ended looks better to me