A prominent real estate firm in Abaco announced this week it has hit $100 million in listings with properties ranging from a modest Marsh Harbour home to an historic Hope Town cottage and a $14 million estate that looks like a movie set on 17 acres of sought after Man-o-War Cay.
The firm, Abaco Cays Realty, also this week unveiled its new website, AbacoCays Realty.com.
“Less than two weeks into 2015, there’s a lot of buzz in Abaco. After several years of investors being wary because of worldwide economic uncertainty, we are beginning to see more activity, leading us to be cautiously optimistic as we look to the future,” explained Paul Thompson, a former top level hospitality executive and Cacique winner who turned to real estate development in 2006, the same year Abaco Cays Realty was founded.
Like others in the firm – each of whom specializes in one of the islands of the Abacos, though all are flexible enough to handle any Abaco offering– Thompson’s listings are primarily on the island where he lives, Hope Town where his wife’s family was among its original settlers some 229 years ago.
Abaco Cays Realty co-founder Chris Plummer, who traces his real estate foundation back three generations to the original first family of real estate in The Bahamas, the Christies, focuses on Green Turtle Cay where he makes his primary home.
“What’s interesting about the offerings in Green Turtle,” says Plummer, “is how unique each listing and each property is. The island is only three miles long by a half mile wide yet the variety of homes and properties is a constant surprise to people experiencing Green Turtle for the first time. With the interesting architecture and all the history packed into such a friendly island with access to the water almost everywhere you turn, this little treasure has its own appeal.”
Plummer attributes the distinctiveness of offerings to individual owners who created them.
“No developer came in and subdivided the island, putting in roads and cookie cutter homes,” says Plummer, who also handles Guana Cay. “Every property was built by someone who had a feel for what Green Cay is and wanted to be part of that. Many properties were expanded over the years so you have the interesting phenomenon of a home that may have started out as a little getaway cottage but with enough land that today it has grown into a mini-estate with guest cottages and more.”
He points to listings like Coco Bay Cottages Estate, Serenity Bluff and Sands Point, the latter at a little under $2 million, evolving over the years to what is now 6,000 square feet of home and sprawling decks, a 174’ dock, workshop, fitness centre, golf cart garage and includes many other features on its nearly 2.4 acres.
In Marsh Harbour, Silbert Mills, a popular pastor, radio and TV host and CEO of Bahamas Christian Network, has listings that range from a residential lot to a well-maintained 2-bedroom home that occupies less than one tenth of the property it sits on and is priced to sell at $685,000.
“Marsh Harbour is the business hub of the Abacos,” explains Mills. “Insurance companies, banks, hardware and grocery stores, marinas and restaurants flourish here so there is a steady demand for attractive residential property. With the larger hotel and meeting space adding to Marsh Harbour’s position as the central Abaco magnet, listings generally don’t stay on the market for very long.”
And Abaconian Faron Sawyer, who combines skills as a commercial pilot with a Customs brokerage business, now specializes in real estate in Marsh Harbour and Scotland Cay, a private island with its own marina and 3,000 foot runway long ago built for convenience of residents and their guests.
But it was listings on Man-O-War Cay that put Abaco Cays Realty over the $100 million mark. Among them are Landfall, a yachtsman’s dream property overlooking the entrance channel into Man-o-War harbor, Cay Haven, a 1.6 acre property running from the Sea of Abaco to the Atlantic Ocean with main house and a guest house and Sea Glass Found Estate. That estate, offered at $14 million, commands the entire north end of Man-O-War where its 17 acres has been shared by two families for more than half a century.
“The Sea Glass Found Estate is like a world unto itself,” says James Pleydell-Bouverie, who specializes in Man-O-War. “Connected to the mainland, but with its own main dwellings, guest cottages, outdoor kitchen and entertainment pavilion, 3-cart garage, workshops, water toy equipment building, staff housing, standby generator, 1.234 acre deeded private harbour capable of docking multiple vessels with up to 8 foot draft and four private beaches, the property lacks for nothing. It’s final act, four private beaches, makes it like a living, and highly livable movie set.”
Plummer, who is a broker, and Thompson agree that the future of Abaco is promising in part because of its proximity to South Florida, a 50-minute flight from West Palm Beach, and an easy boat trip with waters slightly easier to navigate than the Exumas because of their more forgiving depth. But mostly, they say, it’s the people.
“There’s a sense of history and purpose, a pioneering spirit that continues to live on,” says Thompson. “The Abacos have emerged over the centuries as a surprisingly tight-knit yet welcoming community to visit, work or play just so long as you are happy getting wherever you want to go by boat.” In fact, Abaco Cays Realty’s agents do just that – attending weekly meetings, each agent zipping across by boat to whatever island the meeting is on that week, tying up at a dock and walking to an agent’s home where there’s likely to be fresh banana bread or conch chowder waiting.
“Practicing real estate in Abaco is very special,” says Plummer. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. You have to work hard, but it’s a whole different kind of working.”