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OCTOBER caribbean, west indies, real estate, property, land, retiring, moving, relocating, living, working, expats, international living, overseas, abroad, caribbean property magazine, caribpro 2 0 0 8
Issue 21
An online magazine about investing, living, working and relocating to the Caribbean.
EDITORIAL
Ramblings, thoughts and occasional sense from the Eastern Caribbean >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Events and news from around the region >>
SUSTAINABLE LIVING
Sharing resources and best practices >>
TOURISM TREATS
Updates on Caribbean tourism, conferences>>
DID YOU KNOW?
Interesting stuff, websites, facts and more >>
Funding and finance for large developments
SPECIAL FEATURES

Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Journey To Belize
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Costa Rica : A Home Buyer's Guide
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working An American In Havana
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Hidden Gems : Caribbean Caves
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Nicaragua: A Majestic Paradise Part 2
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working St Lucia : Colonial Creole Country

COUNTRY FOCUS : DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working The Dazzling Dominican Republic
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Dominican Republic : Business is Booming
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Dominican Republic : Real Estate Haven
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Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Mortgage Matters  Good advice on mortgaging your Caribbean dream and retirement home >>
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working
Investors and Funding  Insider knowledge on funding for your developments >>>
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Passports to Offshore Security  Economic citizenship, 2nd passports, protecting assets >>

PROPERTY PAGESS

Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Caribbean Investor And Owner Notes News and opportunities from CaribProperty Club Notes>>
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working The Rich Report Offshore insights from a Manhattan realty guru>>
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Off-Plan Pre-Development Offers Our recommended deals from the best developers >>
Caribbean Property Magazine, Real Estate, jobs, relocation, living and working Pick of the Month Editor's choice of interesting business and real estate opportunities >>

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P R O P E R T Y caribbean, west indies, real estate, property, land, retiring, moving, relocating, living, working, expats, international living, overseas, abroad, caribbean property magazine, caribpro P A G E S  caribbean, west indies, real estate, property, land, retiring, moving, relocating, living, working, expats, international living, overseas, abroad, caribbean property magazine, caribpro

THE RICH REPORT
By Howard Rich

Introducing the Rich Report Index

The question I’m most frequently asked about offshore opportunities – particularly in Latin America – is:

How do you know which countries offer the soundest investments?

The real thrust of that question, of course, has little or nothing to do with where one might find the best return on a particular piece of property. Just as it is stateside, that’s primarily determined by what the individual investor is looking for, in terms of long-term vs short-term yield, property appreciation, initial outlay, availability of financing – and more.

All of which are a matter of due diligence. And none of which answers the real question.

The real question the inquirer wants answered, but is reluctant to ask is (in real-world, non-PC terms): "How do I know some Marxist dictator is not going to swoop in, swipe up my property, and destroy the entire economy while he’s at it?” And you know what? With Chavez in Venezuela and, to a far lesser extent, Ortega in Nicaragua, that’s not an entirely unreasonable question.

The answer, in general, is that many of those most deeply concerned with such matters as property confiscation, dictatorial capriciousness, and even crime for that matter are, quite understandably, trapped something of a media time warp. Most countries in Latin America have been constitutional democracies for decades. And many have stringent private property protections. After all it wasn’t the Supreme Court of Panama, Colombia, or even Nicaragua that issued the Kelo decision.

That said, concerns about the sagacity and security of your investments are entirely legitimate. The past can, indeed, be prologue. And that’s why I have come up with I call the “Rich Report Index.” It’s not foolproof, and you’re not likely soon to find it in your more sophisticated economics tomes. But, “tis enough, twill serve” for those who want a quick, birds-eye view of why a country generally may, or may not, offer sufficient economic incentives to warrant a large-scale investment.

The Rich Report Index focuses on four criteria:
(1) Economic Freedom,
(2) Democratic Safeguards,
(3) the S-Curve, and
(4) what I call Market Movers. 

I assign the countries analyzed under each criterion a value of 1 to 25, with 100 being a perfect, albeit unattainable, score. Now, let me say right from the start what the Rich Report Index is and is not.

First, what it is: The Rich Report Index is a tool that can be used to evaluate the overall investment environment in a country and help predict the general direction of the country’s economic growth.

Second, what it is not: The Rich Report Index is not a substitute for due diligence, and it does not even pretend to predict the potentially catastrophic effects of such errant events as wars, natural disasters, or unnatural disasters akin to the wholesale government interdiction of free market economies. 

That being said, and time being short, let’s take just one example to demonstrate how the Rich Report Index works. We’ll use Panama, a country with which most Americans are somewhat familiar. And should you wish, you can then apply the criteria throughout the region.

As a ready reference point, let me say that the United States scores in the neighborhood of 83 on the Rich Report Index.

While Democratic Safeguards remain high, Economic Freedom continues to diminish. With a determinative election in the offing, the Market Movers are wavering in the mid-teens. And, of course, with the current housing slump, the ROI S-Curve barely dents the single digits.

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 Now, let’s turn our attention to Panama.
(1)    Economic Freedom: 20 – Panama has a viable free market system. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom for 2008 ranks the Panama’s economy as 64% free, and places it twelfth out of 29 countries in the Americas.

What’s really significant is that in the vitally important area of “Fiscal Freedom,” Panama receives an 84.5%, compared 68.3% for the United States. Why? Well, for starters, Panama’s top income tax rate is just 27%. In the U.S., it’s nearly 10% higher. Overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is only 8.7 percent in Panama, as opposed to 26.8% in the U.S.

The country’s Investment Stability Law guarantees all foreign and national investors equal rights in terms of investments and business practices. And on top of that, Panama is a 100% Tax Haven: International Business Corporations (IBC's) and Private Interest Foundations do not pay tax on any of their income derived from abroad, nor do they have any reporting requirements on income derived abroad to the Panamanian government.

According to the IMF, Panama’s real GDP has grown at a stunning rate of better than 8% for the past three years running. And, in fact, the CIA Factbook predicts it will be more than 11% for 2008. Only entrenched economic freedom can produce such sustained economic growth.
(2)  Democratic Safeguards: 21 – Panama is a thriving democracy and has been since George H.W. Bush engaged in the “regime change” that removed Manuel Noriega from power in 1990.

According to Freedom House’s 2008 report, “Freedom of religion is respected, and academic freedom is generally honored. Freedom of assembly is recognized, and nongovernmental organizations are free to operate … All of the country’s media outlets are privately owned with the exception of the state-owned television network and a network operated by the Roman Catholic Church.”

Significantly, more than 80 banks have full service branches in Panama, including such international giants as HSBC, Citibank, Scotiabank, Dresdner, BNP/Paribas. Now, while to some that might seem like more of an Economic Freedom than a Democratic Safeguards issue, serious investors know that major banks don’t put branches where political stability doesn’t have roots.

Equally significant, in October 1994, Panama's Legislative Assembly approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a standing military force  -- and allowing only the temporary establishment of special police units strictly to counter acts of "external aggression."

The country’s failure to enforce its own transparency laws and problems within the judiciary system drag the Safeguard score down.
(3)    The ROI S-Curve: 15 – Everett Rogers in his seminal 1962 book, Diffusion of Innovations, theorized that innovations would spread through society in an S Curve, as the early adopters select the technology first, followed by the majority, until a technology or innovation is common.

I would like to posit that the S-Curve applies with equal fervor to offshore investment yields. And I would further like to suggest that for those who wish to maximize their returns, the earlier you enter the S-Curve, the more certain you can be of a considerable financial windfall. Which is why Panama ranks only a score of 15 on the Rich Report Index.

If one considers the S-Curve passing through the three stages of Innovation, Growth, and Maturity, Panama, for the most part, is very likely at the very incipience of the Growth stage. Substantial bargains may now be found. But, the bargain basement Innovation days are long-since past.

Land that only a few short years ago was being sold for $1,000 per square meter is now selling at up to $3,000 per square meter. According to the construction association in Panama, building costs rose 35-40% in 2007 alone. And according to veteran international investment writer Carter Clews, “Prices in Panama City and along the country’s coastlines are skyrocketing. Some good deals might still be found in the mountain regions and on some of the undeveloped islands. But, anyone who wants to make a cash killing better get in quick.”

Let’s put it this way: when Donald Trump invests $220 million to build a luxury oceanfront hotel-condo complex in Panama City, you know the investment environment is well beyond the Innovation stage – and, in fact, may be even further into the Growth stage than I envision.
(4)    Market Movers: 18 – The Market Movers are a variety of random variables that, when taken together, provide serious investors a clear indication of the direction in which a country is headed. Let me make it clear: both in nature and weight, they comprise a judgment call. So, consider them in that light.

In the case of Panama, the first positive variable is population growth. As Strauss and Howe posit in their work, Generations, population growth -- in a free market economy (and please note: that is a vital factor) -- is invariably of indice of continued economic ascension.

Panama, with a population growth rate of 1.54% - as compared, for example, to the U.S.’s 0.88 and France’s 0.57 – is a country that is continuing to produce a growing confluence of producers and consumers. When you add in the fact that a full 30% of Panama’s population is under 14 years of age – as compared to only 19% for France and 20% for the U.S. – there is every indication that Panama’s economic growth will continue for years to come.

The state of a country’s technology provides another strong Market Mover indice. Panama now has nearly the same cell phone to population ratio as the U.S. That’s a very healthy sign. But, with just an 8% Internet penetration, it ranks only fourth among Central American countries, lowering its technologies score
Panama City skyline
The final Intangible is the expansion of the Panama Canal. In October, 2006, a full 78% of the Panamanian people voted to spend more than $5.25 billion to open a third lane and widen existing locks. In so doing, they launched an effort that, in the words of Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, will “act as a spur to economic growth throughout Panama, and lay the foundation for enhanced prosperity for many generations to come.” For serious investors, that is money in the bank.

So, there you have it.
On the Rich Report Index, Panama scores a handsome 74 out of 100 possible points.
Which isn’t bad  when measured against an 83 for the U.S. It’s strongest showing is in Democratic Safeguards; it’s weakest in the ROI S-Curve. But, keep in mind, the relatively low S-Curve rating is not a sign of a weak investment environment; it is, one could argue, the result of too strong an environment reducing the velocity and volume of the ROI.

Now, here’s your assignment: Pick out your own Latin America country, apply the same criteria, and see where it lands on the Rich Report Index. Or, if you have better things to do with your time (one would hope), just wait a few fortnights, and I’ll give you my next Rich Report Index report, likely going far afield and focusing on Uruguay.

See you next month!
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BAHAMAS - $115,000
Bahamas
Two adjacent waterfront lots with scenic views of the Caribbean Sea and amazing sunsets. Lots are 90 x 150 with electricity available to the lots. Priced at $115,000 each negotiable. Access to Surfers Beach on the Atlantic Ocean and 2 nearby airports with international flights and customs and immigration.
ARUBA - $225,000
Aruba
This wonderful family 3 bedroom, 2 bath home was completed in May, 2008. The lot (Private Property land), located in an up-scale residential neighborhood of Aruba, Wajaca Residence # 343, measures 616 Sq. Meters (6630 Sq. ft.) with over 145 Sq. Meters (1560 Sq. ft.) of covered living space. The house counts a master bedroom with it`s private full bath room, two guest/ kids rooms with an additional full bath room and laundry.
TURKS AND CAICOS - $190,000
Turks and Caicos
Your own affordable fully furnished hideaway on beautiful Grand Turk; a quiet, undiscovered, tax free Caribbean island and a popular scuba diving destination, well off the beaten track, but only 90 minutes from Miami and enjoying one of the nicest climates in the Caribbean and the U.S. Dollar as the official currency. Tastefully furnished three bedroom, two bath home a stone’s throw from the beach - presently rented for US$1,600.00 per month. Recently renovated and complete with new electric stove, microwave, refrigerator, washer, dryer, two queen beds and two twin beds.
BAY ISLANDS - $165,500
Bay Islands
This stunning lot is, without a doubt, located on the most beautiful beach on Utila, one of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. The lot is .476 acres with 100 feet (30.3m) of beach front and 219 feet (66.73m) deep. Because of it's size the covenants allow for the construction of one main home and two two bedroom, two bath guest cottages. In its July/August issue, Islands Magazine named Utila as one of the top 20 islands upon which to live. This impressive property has a beautiful coral reef right off shore for your snorkeling and diving pleasure.
NICARAGUA ISLAND - $125,000
Nicaragua Rare & Affordable Only 15 Miles South of Bluefields Port; 2 Miles Off of Mainland; Concrete Wall Work is Still in Place Existing Helicopter Pad Fresh Water Present Uniquely Protected "Marina Type" Bay; Mountainous Rock Terrain (great for use in concrete construction along w/free sand on mainland) World Class Fishing Area; Easy to Propagate Tropical Fruit.
GRENADA - $220,000
Grenada

Mahogany Run is a little Village Mediterranean style, typically located in a way to allow Buildings at different levels and providing for such unique design. The condominiums complex gently slopes to the beach in seven different levels, they have different designs, some built in 2 floors, and some have private gardens. It was built using the finest grade materials with all the furniture and building material directly imported from Italy. The condos are self contained with Bedrooms, living room, kitchen fully equipped, A/C, a terrace and/or garden.
PANAMA ISLAND - $165,000
Bocas Del Torro
• Live in an island paradise complete with lush green jungle ambience.
• Acreage includes two private docks with private cove.
• 25 minutes by boat to Bocas Town.
• Less than 5 minutes from grocery stores and famous Crawl Key restaurants.
• Beautiful coral reefs in your own front yard for snorkeling and diving.
• Sportfishing less than 10 minutes away.
• Famous Zapatilla Islands less than a ten minutes boat ride.
• Share your land with tropical birds, monkeys and sloths.
Property includes pineapple and coconut trees and a variety of other fauna.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS - $110,000
United States Virgin Islands
Seller of the two acres listed in the rainforest on St. Croix is motivated to sell! This property is listed at $110,000 - but $90,000 will take it! Gorgeous, gently rolling hills, lovely knoll top for building, wonderful mature trees, including fruit trees, make this a stellar purchase. Only 10 minutes from the best beaches in St. Croix, 15 minutes to the airport, and 5 minutes to one of St. Croix's best and most famous bars - The Domino Club. This is a nice, lush area with wonderful neighbors and huge appreciation potential.
DOMINICA - $ 42,000
Dominica
A great property nestled in the valley of Despor. This land has fabulous mystical views of the Morne Trois Pitons. If you want to build in the country but have all the utilities at you fingertips this is the piece of property for you. It is very fertile, there are bananas, pineapples and coffee growing in abundance. Also, there is a prominent plateau that is elevated where one could build a dwelling house. The price of this listing is considered attractive. .87 ACRES
DOMINICA - US$ 75,000
Dominica Property For Sale
This property is in a really pretty area on the Atlantic side of the coast. Set off the main road, it is elevated with great views of the ocean, in tandem also with the mountains. There is always a breeze that keeps you as cool as the proverbial cucumber. This could be a good site for a home; the land is very fertile and anyone who chooses to live here could live a self sufficient life as there is a stream on the land plus all the utilities from the road. 3 ACRES
DOMINICA - $ 199,750
Dominica
The ideal property for the adventurer. Great land next to the most lovely river. This is definitely for the eco minded person as it is very much a private location. Pure nature. Hydro power for the electricity would probably be the way to go. 18.75 ACRES
MONTSERRAT - $270,000

Move in ready, two bedroom, two bath villa with both mountain and sea views situated on property to take advantage of trade winds and beautiful sunsets over the sea. In addition to the two bedrooms, the villa has a dining/living area, a library, large gallery surrounding the 23'x14' tiled pool on the first floor, downstairs has a laundry room with additional toilet , and a studio or workshop area. All have ceramic tile floors. The roof was re-shingled two years ago and all windows have new screens. The villa has much storage and closet space including additional storage area in the "pool room" under the pool. The property consists of three lots, together making up 1.07 acres.
MARGARITA ISLAND - $450,000
Magarita
This property of some 12,800 m/2 (approx 5 acres) size, at present contains a simple, but charming typical 3 bedroom RANCHO (local style architecture) 240m/2 of construction, on 2 levels, in the centre of the park. There is a Spa with 2 rock pools to enjoy our therapeutic mountain spring water, - also 2 Bathrooms, 3 Toilets, a Therapy or aux. Bedroom w. Shower, an outdoor Shower, & 2 Gazebo for tropical bird observation & wonderful ocean views. Also an 80,000 litre water-tank, filled from the same spring source, and a solar power installation of approx. 1kw/h. The 600W wind generator will be replaced.
MEXICAN ISLAND - $185,000
Mexico
Explore island nature in your own back yard on one of these spacious 10-acre lots. Cozumel Island Estates is a gated community only a mile away from the beach and 15 min from the town. The exotic privacy of these Island get-away lots is just the place for your family vacation home.
DOM REPUBLIC - $175,000
Dominican republic
Most people only dream of owning a beachfront property but here you can make it happen - 227 comfortable and stylish condominiums on 16 floors overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the spectacular beach in Juan Dolio, just minutes from the international airport. This location is ideal for water sports, championship golf and tennis. Residents also enjoy membership at the Metro Country Club.
September 2008
For the nation’s 78 million Baby Boomers, now retiring at a rate of better than 350 per hour, the E&Y analysis reveals the almost unthinkable, yet imminent, danger of a large proportion of them having to live out their remaining years in stark deprivation. The bottom line on the E&Y report notes that three out of five middle-class new retirees can expect to outlive their financial assets or substantially reduce their standard of living by a whopping 37%. The vast majority of E&Y’s “new” and “near” retirees may barely be able to afford to survive, even at a subsistence level. So, what’s the alternative to bread and water for the once pampered “Me Generation”? In just two words: move offshore. ---> Read More
 
 
August 2008
The Rich Report August 2008 ---> Read More
 
 
July 2008
In government programs, there is what my good friend Bill Wilson, the executive editor of the award-winning publication The Daily Editorialist, calls a -Ratchet Effect-. In short, government programs only go in one direction from smaller to larger, from minutely invasive to totally pervasive. And that is the single greatest danger of the HEART Act. If President Bush signs it into law (and the reason the -exit tax- was buried in non-german legislation to help veterans was to force him to do so) and if it does not produce a maelstrom of protest from the investment community it is a significant escalation of the unbridled assault on -high net-worth individuals- who invest their money offshore. ---> Read More
 
 
June 2008
I`m going to start off this month`s column by saying something that may sound almost heretical to a lot of serious investors (that`s right, the very folks I write it for): Investing in offshore properties is something akin to a beauty contest. Now, before you take umbrage and turn away in indignation, allow me to add a corollary, if I may: Which is something equity investors do every time we pick a stock. And some do quite well, I might add. ---> Read More
 
 
May 2008
My good friend Harry is not the altruistic type. So, when he asked me to meet him for lunch to discuss my first Rich Report, I knew who was paying. I suggested Hanratty’s, a modest uptown establishment. He countered with The Tavern on the Green. Hence, I soon found myself staring out across the grand expanse of Central Park and, of course, picking up the check. ---> Read More
 
 
April 2008
This is my first column for Caribpro.com, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Howard Rich. My friends call me Howie, and I hope that in the months ahead, you will come to do the same. I am a commercial real estate investor and have been for almost 40 years. Most of my success has been in Manhattan, though in recent years I have spread my investments throughout the U.S. ---> Read More
 
 
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