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Finding your EDEN.


Seychelles, a group of 115 islands 1500 miles off Africa's east coast, may have the smallest population of any independent African nation, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its reputation as a paradise on earth. One of those islands takes the name from another famous paradise--Eden Island.

Since 2006, Eden Island has been one of the key destinations for investors looking for their own island sanctuary, either to enjoy, to rent for healthy return, or both.

"Four degrees south of the equator, Eden Island is a reclaimed island just off the main island of Mahe," said Peter Smith, Head of Marketing for Eden Island. "In the late 1990s, about 400 hectares of land were reclaimed off the east coast of Mahe. Eden Island was one of those reclaimed islands, developed as a residential marina resort. It consists of 570- odd homes, and a commercial precinct and super yacht marina."

"We've been going for about 10 years now--we launched it in 2006 in the UK, South Africa and France, and we did really well in our first launch, and have continued to sell at a rate of about five properties per month. We now sit at 500 sales and have the last 70 to go and are in the final phase of development as can be seen in the picture above," said Smith.

Sales have been global, including to discerning investors in the GCC. "We've sold to 40 countries around the world. We've done really well in France, the UK, and the UAE. Thirteen per cent of the value of properties sold on Eden Island were sold to UAE citizens. But we think there is still some room for growth in this market.

The UAE, in particular, is a perfect fit for a second home in Seychelles. "It's four and a half hours away, there are two flights daily from Dubai, there is a flight a day from Abu Dhabi. It's a sought-after destination from the UAE.

Sheikh Khalifa owns property there and has done a lot of investment in the Seychelles into a lot of social projects.

One of the key selling points for investors is how the investment is titled. "Importantly, we sell property there on a freehold title. Eden Island is essentially the only place foreigners can buy on a freehold title. The deal we did with the Seychelles Government gave many favourable terms of purchase."

As a result, many of the normal real estate investment headaches are washed away. "There are no transfer fees, there is no stamp duty, and when you buy a property there, there are no rates and taxes, and no capital gains tax. It's an attractive investment for someone who wants it as either a holiday home or an investment for rental returns."

But it's key attraction is still its beauty. "The main selling point is the whole environment, from a holiday perspective. A lot of people that come to Eden Island on holiday end up buying. We have a rental pool there and we use that as an opportunity for speaking to people about investing. It's a great environment to come and stay in. A beautiful holiday destination. Two of the top ten beaches in the world are in Seychelles. The deep sea fishing, the snorkelling, the scuba diving, the sailing are all superb. It's very safe. there are no hurricanes or cyclones in the Seychelles. The climate all year round is stable. There is high humidity at certain times, but it's 27-29 degrees Celsius. There is nothing ostentatious in the Seychelles--it's just a pretty nice place to go and relax. And you can do that in some really magnificent resorts and hotels," said Smith.

Rather than standing out, the developers of Eden Island went to great efforts to make it fit in with the architectural style of the area. "The designers took 2000 photographs of creole style homes when we started the project, and when you drive around the towns you'll see elements from those houses in our architecture," said Smith.

Amenities are also a selling point, for both their convenience, quality, and quiet. "there is a clubhouse, gymnasium, tennis court, and four private beaches on the island. If you go to those beaches on a Sunday, you'll will often only see one person at the most. there are good hiking trails and sailing between the islands--or island hopping, as they call it. You'll travel to another small island only 20 minutes away that will make you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere," said Smith.

Yacht-enthusiasts will find it an ideal destination, as have the many who have already found their way to Eden Island. "You get a spot in the marina as part of your purchase price, and about 50 to 60 per cent of people have boats. Some people bring boats, leave boats there, and have them looked after in Eden Island.

At times we have had up tp six superyachts in our marina in one month. Sailing around on catamaran is the most comfortable way when you're island hopping," said Smith.

Investors do not have to choose between renting it out and keeping it for oneself. In fact, many do both. "A lot of people live for eight to 10 weeks of the year, and the rest of the year, they put it in the rental pool and rent it out. The villas are generally kept by the buyers for themselves, but there are a lot of villa buyers that bought apartments as second and third investments. Twenty five per cent of the people who bought in Eden Island have bought more than one property. This is quite unusual for a destination like that, but supply and demand says there is little else comparable in the Seychelles, so if you're going to invest in property, you might as well invest in Eden Island."

Reselling has found investors a healthy return. "We've had about 60 properties resold. We've managed to achieve up to eight per cent annual compound growth in prices since launch in 2006. Somebody who bought a one-bedroom apartment in 2006 for $235,000 is getting $500,000 today for that same unit. And since it's dollar based and the dollar is strong, that increases your purchasing power elsewhere."

Renting, too, is attractive from an investment perspective. "The rental pool also gives you a yield. We have a formalised rental pool that has about 160 properties in it, some of which are long term. There is a big demand for accommodation for expats who work in the Seychelles. Of those properties in long term rental pool are let on an ongoing basis. We're actually looking for more. And investors that rent their properties can expect up to four per cent net return in terms of yield. We can offer a two year guarantee on rentals, but beyond that we're still confident that there will be a take up of rentals."

Investors interested in Eden Island should take note--the project is almost complete, and once that development is finished, there is not much more that will be built. "We're in our final phase. We're planing on building another small marina close by, and we really want to finish selling and building the last 70 units. We're also turning our attention to finishing our commercial area, of which much has already been developed but there is also another area that has potential for more commercial offerings and residential. The last 15 per cent of homes left for sale really offer very exciting investment opportunities. Eden Island may be nearly complete, but the years of enjoyment that the project will surely engender is just beginning.

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Geographic Code:6SEYC
Date:Sep 30, 2016
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