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House Hunting in … Nevis

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With new luxury developments and older homes coming on the market, the small Caribbean island has seen supply soar, but prices are holding steady.

A Two-Bedroom House on the Island of Nevis

$1.95 MILLION

This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home, on the small Caribbean island of Nevis, in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, was converted from a 17th-century sugar mill that ceased production in the early 1900s. The property, which was turned into a residence in the 1960s and renovated between 2007 and 2010, includes a mill house, a large swimming pool, a guest cottage and a two-car garage.

The property, known as Dunbar Mill, dates to the 1680s, said Martin Dalgleish, who owns it with his wife, Jackie. Traces of its history are visible in the volcanic stone walls, underground staircase, remnants of the sugar factory and an antique outdoor privy with ocean views. Thanks to its elevation, approximately 1,000 feet above sea level, it has views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west.

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The master suite is attached to the central mill tower, whose stone exterior protrudes into the room. CreditTina Thuell

The house has three sections: A three-story tower, formerly a windmill, occupies the center of the structure. Each of the tower’s first two floors has a sitting room, measuring 18 feet in diameter; on the third floor is an office. On either side of the tower is a modern wing, added by the owners during the renovation. The northern wing contains an open kitchen-and-dining area, with a breakfast counter, open shelving and vaulted, wood-paneled ceilings. The spacious room has been used for cooking classes, said Suzanne Gordon, owner of Sugar Mill Real Estate, in Nevis, which has the listing. Off the dining room, a covered outdoor eating area has a built-in barbecue.

On the other side of the tower, the southern wing has an en suite guest bedroom and half bathroom on the ground floor and an en suite master bedroom upstairs with a veranda overlooking the water.

The 1,800-square-foot guest cottage, built in the 1980s, has two one-bedroom apartments, connected by an exterior staircase, with an outdoor covered patio.

A 47-foot saltwater pool is integrated into the property’s stone ruins, with a deck overlooking the Caribbean Sea, and is surrounded by gardens and an orchard where mangoes, avocados, citrus fruit, coffee beans and pomegranates are grown.

The house uses purified rainwater gathered on the roof. It does not have air-conditioning, but Mr. Dalgleish said it is efficiently cooled by an air-venting system.

At 36 square miles, Nevis is the smaller of the two islands that make up the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Dunbar Mill is in a semirural residential neighborhood in the Saint George Gingerland parish (one of five administrative parishes on the island), with lots carved from two former sugar estates, Mr. Dalgleish said. Activities include scuba diving and hiking. Vance W. Amory International Airport, in Newcastle, is a 10-mile drive. Charlestown, the island’s capital and the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, is a 15-minute drive.

Market Overview

Once a major sugar producer, Nevis is now a low-key destination for wealthy travelers. Agents said the island’s luxury housing stock includes older single-family homes, both renovated and unrenovated, and newer villas and condominiums in resort communities.

The luxury real estate market on Nevis is stable, agents said. Sales prices and the yearly volume of sales have remained steady for the past two years, Ms. Gordon said. What has changed, over the past decade, is the supply, at all price points: There are now about 180 properties for sale on Nevis, compared to 60 a decade ago, she estimated, with about 25 sales a year.

The gap between supply and demand is the result of an increase in new stock and a demographic shift, as owners have retired and aged out of their properties.

The 47-foot saltwater pool faces the Caribbean Sea to the west and Mount Nevis to the north.CreditTina Thuell

“The children of many owners are not able or willing to take over their parents’ homes, so they go on the market as people get way past retirement age,” Ms. Gorden said, adding that more would-be buyers are deciding just to rent during the “escape-the-cold winter months.”

Eric Johnson, the director of sales and marketing at Four Seasons Resort Estates Nevis, said sales of the resort’s residential villas, some of which are custom-built, have picked up this year. The resort is being remodeled, he added, so people are buying “before an expected increase in prices driven by more demand.”

Land in the Four Seasons development sells for about $1 million an acre, he said. At the high end, work was recently completed on a $30 million, 10-bedroom compound. About 80 villas have been built, he said, with about 30 spaces left.

Luxury properties outside resorts start at $1 million and go up to about $3 million, Ms. Gordon said, with prices per square foot ranging from $400 to $800. While most properties sell for their asking price, she added, those in need of “major updating” may be discounted by as much as 30 percent.

Prices on St. Kitts are similar to those on Nevis, said Brian Kassab, the owner of Brian Kassab and Associates Real Estate Services, which specializes in St. Kitts property. But on St. Kitts, supply and demand are more balanced. Christophe Harbour St. Kitts, a 2,500-acre luxury development that involves several phases, will be a “game changer,” Mr. Kassab said, because of its new marina, which caters to super-yachts; vacant lots there start at $1 million, and construction costs for high-end villas range from $600 to $850 a square foot.

Who Buys on Nevis

Almost all luxury buyers on the island of Nevis are foreign, Ms. Gordon said — most of them from the United States, Britain and Canada. People who buy fractional ownership of properties as a path to citizenship come from Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, she said.

Over the past year, most of the buyers at the Four Seasons Resort Estates Nevis were from the United States, Britain, Russia and Australia, Mr. Johnson said.

The veranda off the master bedroom overlooks southwest Nevis and the Caribbean Sea. CreditTina Thuell

Buying Basics

To buy real estate in St. Kitts and Nevis, foreigners need an Alien Land Holding License, which requires an application fee of around $370 and usually takes four to six weeks to process, said Dahlia Joseph Rowe, the managing partner of Joseph Rowe, a law firm on Nevis. Most foreign buyers, including those from the United States, must pay an Alien Land Holding stamp duty of 10 percent of the government-assessed value of a property (often the sales price), although this is waived for buyers in certain developments.

Closing costs paid by the buyer also include a lawyer’s fee of 1 to 2 percent of the sales price, a 0.2 percent Assurance Fund fee based on the government-assessed value of the property and a surveyor’s fee of $300 to $500.

The country’s Citizenship by Investment program has a real estate component that allows for full or fractional ownership as a pathway to citizenship, Ms. Joseph Rowe said. The most affordable option is to pay $200,000 for partial ownership of a shared property.

Websites

Languages and Currency

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

Taxes and Fees

The annual property tax on this home is $550, Ms. Gordon said.

Contact

Suzanne Gordon, Sugar Mill Real Estate, Nevis, 869-663-8910; nevishouses.com

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