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Eden Island, a 375-hectare reclaimed coral reef island, sprung alive in the late 1990s, making up for scarce development land in the Seychelles, a chain of 115 islands in the Indian ocean. Today, the project is lived in and nearing completion. The traffic-free gated community has 450 completed homes, comprising apartments, maisons and villas, and amenities include a central car park, a clubhouse with gym, pools and tennis court. All owners also get their own golf carts, which they use to travel around the island commuity.
''When we first started out in 2005 we had a green island and nothing else,'' says Peter Smith, one of the directors of the Eden Island Development Company, a consortium of South African investors and an Austrian partner.
Thanks to a sound financial plan, at first backed by Barclays and later the East African Development Bank (EADB) and Nova Bank, a Standard Chartered subsidiary in the Seychelles, the infrastructure, including the bridge to the capital Mahé was built.
''You could just stay and not leave, as you have everything you need there, but you would probably want to go island hopping. Many of the smaller islands are just 15 minutes fromwhere we are,'' says Smith. ''You can paddle to some of them.'' This is made easier with each villa having its own boat mooring right off the porch.
Benefits of buying
The development is part of freehold property, with around 70 per cent of development in the main land bring leasehold. There are also other projects nearby, including Pangia Beach, an apartment community under development with a similar price range.
Purchasing a unit is free of any transfer fees, stamp duty or taxes. Mortgages of up to 60 per cent of the purchase price over a 15-year term are also available.
''However, if you resell the unit buyers have to pay stamp duty and a sanction fee of 6.5 per cent,'' says Smith. ''The government has to approve every person who buys property. They try to weed out all the money launderers, asking for proof of a clean police record and source of funds.''
Currently around 30 to 40 units are available for resale and it has proven to be lucrative. ''We have achieved really good capital growth. For example, we launched a onebedroom unit for $245,000 [Dh899,921] back in 2005, its now selling for close to half a million today, that's a compound annual growth rate of 7.62 per cent,'' says Smith.
What's on offer?
The new one-bedders start at $455,000, two bedroom apartments sell between $630,000 and $700,000, and the three bedders from $850,000-$900,000. The maison-style three-and four-bedroom duplex town houses go for between $1.3 million and $1.8 million, while the four- to six-bedroom villas come in at $2.7 million-$5.3 million.
Smith says the master plan comprises 569 homes. ''We built around 450 homes and sold 500. [We] are in the process of constructing another 60-odd at the moment and then we have the balance still to build and 69 left to sell,'' says Smith.
All outstanding projects are expected to be completed by mid next year.
The design of the homes adapts to the local architecture in different colour themes. Buyers can choose the interior theme, including sand, rock and coral, and the furnishings.
For off-plan purchases, 40 per cent is paid upon registering the contract and the rest based on construction: 10 per cent on reaching floor level, 30 per cent at roof height and 20 per cent on completion.
''Then we retain $10,000 for an apartment and $100,000 for a villa to sort out defects within 60 days,'' says Smith, who vouches for the quality workmanship of the contractor, Vijay Construction.
Early in the year the developer promoted the project in the UAE. ''We have already sold 13 per cent in terms of value of our properties, around 45 mansions, to UAE buyers over the years. You can go to the Seychelles almost incognito. It's natural and not pretentious.''
Currency fluctuation has been a big motivator for many foreign buyers, who come from around 40 countries, including the UK, Czech Republic, France, Italy.
Around 25 per cent of properties were sold as pure investments. ''Some investors bought 10-12 properties. They buy for the lifestyle as the first reason, then they often buy another unit to let.''
The developer operates a holiday home rental pool, where owners can rent their units short term. There is also a long-term rental pool, which currently has around 120 units.
''They are all full. The UN and other government agencies need long-term accommodation for their families. We actually offer a two-year rental guarantee to buyers,'' says Smith.
The developer still has a piece of land across the bridge, where it plans to create a Cape Town-style waterfront, restaurant promenade with apartments on top, a guest lodge, training facility, storage units, and a boat yard and fuelling facility.
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Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly