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Altman: Catch right investors

Marlon Madden

Altman: Catch right investors

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There is too much talk and very little action when it comes to real estate development across Barbados, a leading realtor has told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
If the local economy is to experience real growth, greater focus should be placed on high net worth investors both locally and internationally, Paul Altman, managing director of Altman Real Estate, said.
He added that Barbados should capitalize on “a new wave of investment interest”, especially in the tourism sector, that he has seen.
“Barbados is a small country, it only needs a few significant thrusts to change what we have, and I believe that one or two key players could enter the market and make a significant change,” he said.
“My sense is that there are always new interests hanging around. It is a question of us trying to capture them and put them into action. There are always a lot of discussion and a lot of decisions but [we need] execution,” Altman said.
The local real estate mogul, who is the principal behind the luxury Limegrove Lifestyle Centre on the West Coast, said while people tended to get “a little disillusioned” when the economy was depressed, he believed 2013 could be “a pivotal year in terms of a renewed commitment to execute projects that are sitting around”.
Real economic growth for the island during 2013 is projected at 0.7 per cent by the Central Bank. The 2012 report noted that activity in the construction sector decreased by an estimated three per cent in 2012, a reflection of declines in the import of building materials and employment in the sector of six per cent and 7.7 per cent, respectively.
Altman said that Government had already taken steps to attract new investment.
Describing the real estate industry as consisting of several smaller sectors, Altman acknowledged that a few current projects were “meeting some tough times”.
However, he contended: “The significant projects that we see for foreign investment here are the themed projects; the golf projects [and] marina projects.  
“You have to do things that are more creative, like offering special packages for people to come in. You can throw in membership with a purchase, for example. It has to be done very cleverly and at the highest level.
“We sense that people that have the highest incomes and wealth, they seem to be immune to the prevailing economic climate and I believe that we have a lot to gain by attracting these high net worth people. I am not saying that we disregard people who can’t afford it, but we are looking now at ways to keep employment up and stimulate our economy so you’ve got to look for where the real money is; big business and high net worth people. Those are the two things.”