But Interest in Market Grows
Nine months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, residents are still in the midst of recovery, and real estate prices continue on a downward trend.
According to a new Point2Homes report, property values saw a 15 percent decrease since the hurricane hit, currently at nearly half of what they were eight years ago during the recession.
The storm impacted 470,000 homes, with nearly one-fifth completely destroyed and the remaining sustaining severe damage. Of the estimated $90 billion in hurricane damages across the island, the housing sector represents about $37 billion.
While Puerto Rico has been suffering from an ongoing economic recession—spanning 10 years now—the hurricane only exaggerated declining property values. According to the report, the median home sale price on the island prior to the hurricane was around $136,500, 15 percent higher than the current value. The Humacao and Aguadilla markets have seen the largest drop in price values thus far, depreciating 74 percent since 2010.
Interest in Puerto Rico real estate, however, has not dwindled since Hurricane Maria hit. Using data from Google Trends and its own analytics platform, Point2Homes has seen an increased interest in the island’s real estate market; in fact, interest in island property peaked during the storm. Out of the surveyed 435 homebuyers that searched the website’s Puerto Rico section—97 percent of which were U.S. mainland residents—60 percent showed interest in purchasing a Puerto Rican property.
What are these buyers looking for? Sixty-three percent of surveyed users are interested in buying a house, while 26 percent want a condo in Puerto Rico and 11 percent want to purchase land. Of these potential buyers, 29 percent are looking to buy within six months, while 28 percent have a seven- to twelve-month timeframe. The majority are looking to purchase homes under $500,000, with 26 percent looking for properties between $51,000-$100,000, 34 percent looking between $101,000-$200,000, and 22 percent searching between $201,000-$500,000.
What’s the overall market sentiment? Local real estate agents remain hopeful about the recovery of the real estate business in Puerto Rico. Of the 48 agents surveyed, 49 percent are “optimistic,” 28 percent are “very optimistic,” and only 11 percent and 5 percent are “neutral” and “pessimistic,” respectively.
Tourism will continue to be a beacon of hope for the island, as the upcoming cruise season will bring in an estimated $250 million in revenue, according to the report. With over 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s 155 hotels back online since the devastating storm, the influx of cash from tourism could help rehabilitate the island and continue to boost real estate interest.