Bahamas Realty Celebrates 70 Years

We at Bahamas Realty are lighting a whole lot of candles on our anniversary cake this year – 70 of them – and we could not be prouder.

Looking back over our history, we realized that the lessons we learned from helping to grow The Bahamas helped us to grow as a company. We could stop and take pride in the fact that we were the first to recognize the power of the internet, the first real estate firm in The Bahamas to have a website, the first to post listings so potential buyers thousands of miles away could peek before they arrived to seek their dream home or property in The Bahamas.

But what we are most proud of is the ethical leadership for which Bahamas Realty stands. Our recently semi-retired chairman Larry Roberts, twice-elected president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association, along with the highly respected president and senior appraiser, Robin Brownrigg, fought hard to bring the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to Bahamian real estate. They and others in the firm helped to make BREA a legislated entity with real teeth and authority, ensuring rigid regulations and standards and building trust in a foreign market for international buyers.

70 years is a long time and the journey is just beginning. Under the leadership of CEO, Donald Martinborough, longtime partner and Commercial Director, Bahamas Realty is continuing to pave the way in Bahamian Real Estate.

Bert L. Roberts Real Estate office. The original home of what would eventually become Bahamas Realty Ltd.
Corner of Bank Lane & Bay Street (1951).

Along the way

So while we were researching highlights, we came across lots of fun facts. Here’s one we want to share with you. A very long time ago when warehouses lined the wharf, sponging was still big business near Bay Street and the largest occasional cruise ship that called on Nassau held hundreds, not thousands, of passengers, there was a piece of land near a store called the Men’s Shop Limited not far from the old British Colonial Hotel (now BC Hilton).

The precursor to Bahamas Realty, Caribbean Management, negotiated a land lease for an ambitious project that would transform that end of the most famous street in The Bahamas. The 120-year lease was with Sir Cyril Black, MP Knight & Co. and the lessee would build a multi-story building and an arcade, a total of up to 75,000 square feet available for rent. The best-laid plans, as they say, sometimes take longer to germinate…The arcade, ahead of its time, was not the success developers hoped and the first floor of Beaumont remained unoccupied though the 2nd and 3rd floors were rented. Years passed and then in 2001, exactly one week before the horrific events of 9/11, the Straw Market next to Beaumont went up in flames. The fire was massive and made international headlines. A new Straw Market was built, Beaumont House was rebuilt and today, it is one of the most desirable office and retail locations in the capital.

As for Sir Cyril, well, that’s another story altogether and an interesting part of a Bahamian and British past.

Larry Roberts stands next to a Caribbean Management property listing sign. Under the leadership of Larry Roberts and Robin Brownrigg, Caribbean Management and Bert L. Roberts Real Estate would merge to become Bahamas Realty Ltd.

Lessons from the past guide the future

If you are a buyer, consider this. There are a whole lot of folks who will reap some reward from your investment. From the lawyer to the insurance company, the bank or other lender, moving company, firms that will make any repairs or renovations will all hear a little more ca-ching in their cash registers because of your decision. So while you always want to show respect, don’t let shopping for a new home or an investment intimidate you. You are the star and the best relationship between buyer and agent is one where both feel comfortable in each other’s company. Try to establish common ground and the process of searching will be less stressful and more fun.   

And the 2nd piece of advice – once invested, don’t panic if the market appears to be turning downward. Values fluctuate but real estate in The Bahamas has been the best form of investment long term as long as the country has been in existence. At Bahamas Realty, we remember when large lots in Lyford Cay sold for $25,000. Today, that same lot in the exclusive enclave on New Providence’s western coast would sell for well north of a million and even higher.

Homes in the luxury, world-renowned community of Lyford Cay. Lots here once sold for $25,000.

We’ll be sharing more of our story as we look back to look forward this year in celebration of our 70th Anniversary. Stay tuned! 

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