The COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Havoc and Presents Opportunities
According to Roatan’s multiple listing service (MLS) records the home and land sales in the Bay Islands have declined 82% since the March COVID-19 lockdown. “The first two-and-a-half months were especially bad,” says Steve Hasz, owner of Roatan Life Real Estate. “It’s been catastrophic.” While the Roatan MLS showed 122 closings between March 21 and September 9 of 2019, in the same period in 2020 only 22 properties were closed.
To reach out to potential clients stranded in the US and Canada Roatan Life invested in virtual tour system that helps in convincing the buyers to invest in Roatan. “We are doing this by using state of the art 3D virtual tour software for virtual walkthroughs and by doing live stream open houses,” says Hasz.
There are some now type of people interested in moving to Roatan as Hasz is starting to see buyers fleeing the US political climate and COVID-19 restrictions. Hasz is not alone in seeing improved sales on the horizon. “Buyers are rethinking their lifestyle choices, core values. Since working from somewhere specific is no longer needed we can expect to see massive moves to lifestyle destinations to live and work remotely,” said Anna Moskowitz, owner of Lux Roatan Real Estate who believes that Roatan is in line to benefit from an influx of American home buyers. “Face time virtual tours we are using for a more personal approach is working. We have had unprecedented sight-unseen sales that are continuing.”
The home and land sales in the Bay Islands have declined 82% since the March COVID-19 lockdown.
The COVID-19 travel restrictions have prevented many potential buyers from coming to the island. While it was almost impossible to travel to Roatan from April till August things are now getting easier.
American Airlines is offering a weekly connection with US via Miami and other airlines are not far behind. United Airlines pushes back its comeback to Roatan from October to early November and Avianca plans on coming back its flight from San Salvador on October 25. Delta has cancelled coming back too Roatan until 2021. “We do need flights to be back in full swing to get our sales numbers up though,” said Hasz.
In 2019 local business community working through Bay islands Tourism Bureau and with Roatan Municipalities hired Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, a Washington DC lobbyist that helped Belize securing a flight on Southwest Airline. “We spent $44,000 and the money will pay itself back in the local economy many times over,” said Hasz. Two budget airlines have put Roatan on their schedules: Canada’s West Jet in 2019 and Sun Country plans connecting its Minneapolis hub with Roatan in 2020.