Curb Appeal for Jamaican Homes

The most popular front yard fixture in Jamaica is a fence…used mainly to keep things in (what we do in our yards is our own business!) and to keep things out…strangers, stray dogs, mango thieves, etc. When I was a child most fences were made of hibiscus plants, known locally as Shoeblock. They were very effective, almost impossible to walk through or climb over, and they added beautiful curb appeal in the form of hedging (which is why we still use them). A Fence whether natural or man-made is one way of increasing the attractiveness of your home.  Perfectly manicured lawns and well-kept gardens add a finishing touch. But if you’re looking for more ways of sprucing up your front yard, as well increasing your property value, try these tricks:

Create a Walkway

If you don’t have a driveway, a walkway will instantly improve how your home looks from the street. A stone (or faux stone) walkway will certainly make a good first impression, just make sure it’s neatly done.

Build an Arbor

Arbors, garden gates and decorative fencing will enhance your entryway, increase the value of your home and definitely add curb appeal. Some are sold pre-fab so you can simply assemble the pieces and paint or stain them in a colour that is already on your house. You can add plants at the base, hang them on it, or plant vines and allow them to grow on it. I really love this one!

Add Built-In Seating

Adding built-in seating is a great way to boost your curb appeal. You can put built-in seating outside in the yard, around a tree trunk or attached to the garden wall. Seating is easy to make and can be added to existing features. You can add seating all the way around the porch for entertaining large groups or simply make an attached bench in one corner. I particularly like this simple wooden one, but you can add cushions for extra comfort and luxury. Better yet, create an outdoor living space!

Add Soft Lighting

Lighting can instantly increase your curb appeal and add safety and security. Get creative with the lighting:  hang lights on trees, install solar lights to illuminate your walkway or driveway, use lamp posts, or even candles on the porch! Ensure electric lighting is installed by a professional and candles are in secure glass containers.

Painting

We all know this but it’s worth repeating. A coat of paint will do wonders, try different colours that complement each other. It is the easiest way to update your home and its one of the most noticeable things about your house from the street. Paint your front door in a bold colour for a more modern look, or paint your trimmings in an unusual colour such as black or dark grey! Paint a concrete walkway or steps to look like brick!

The Pros and Cons of Homeowners Associations

Overseas residents looking to buy property in Jamaica are usually keen to ask about the existence of Homeowners Associations (HOA). HOAs are not very common in Jamaica, although they are sometimes confused with Citizens Associations. According to Wikipedia, A Citizens Association is a group of residents who advocate for, or organize activities within a neighborhood. Its official goal is to improve neighborhoods through volunteerism, and membership is voluntary. A Homeowners Association on the other hand, is a group of property owners with the legal authority to enforce regulations that focus on safety issues, reducing nuisances and maintaining property values. Membership is mandatory.

Community organizations in Jamaica are more representative of citizens associations rather than HOAs. Some HOAs do exist, but mostly for apartment complexes in Kingston, and newer developments in self-contained communities such as the award winning Richmond Estate in St. Ann or it’s neighbour, Hartland Estate. HOAs are increasing in popularity as more residents gravitate towards more secure, gated communities. Prospective buyers however, tend to be polarized in their opinions of whether or not HOAs are desirable when looking for homes. There are both positive and negative aspects of Homeowners Associations:

Pros:

  • Community Appearance – HOAs usually try to maintain certain standards of appearance, by establishing rules regarding building styles, paint colours, uses of the property, and property upkeep, etc.HOAs will vary on what type of rules they establish based on the preferences of the members or the management committee.
  • Less responsibilities for the home owner – Some HOAs undertake the responsibility of lawn maintenance, trash removal and security services, as well as maintenance of common areas.
  • Recreational Amenities – Communities with HOAs usually have amenities such as pools, gyms, sports courts, manned security gates, and playgrounds.Richmond Estate in St. Ann features a spa, day care facility, and a church, among other amenities.
  • Association Management – You can usually ask the management to handle certain issues for you instead of getting into arguments with neighbours. In addition, they usually take care of general issues affecting the community.

Cons:

  • You may have to give up certain freedoms – Association regulations are usually designed to protect property values, but they can also be very restrictive. They can significantly limit how you express your personal style and how you use your property. According to the Community Associations Institute,prospective buyers should look into rules about pets, flags, outside antennas, clotheslines, satellite dishes, fences, patios and home businesses before you buy.
  • Restrictions on income earners – They can limit whether or not you may rent your home, and if rental is allowed there may be restrictions as to the terms.
  • Fees – Some HOAs may have significant fees, although fees vary from one to another. In some countries, your HOA can foreclose on your home if you have outstanding fees. Since fees also increase the total cost of home ownership, it is important to compare fees and see if they fit into your budget.

Top five Jamaican Real Estate Destinations

Most real estate transactions occur in the Parishes of Kingston & St. Andrew. The reason for this is Kingston & St. Andrew have the highest population numbers on the island. Jamaica has approximately 3 million people and more than a half of the population resides in these two parishes. Because of the high population there are significantly more transactions than other parts of the island.

St. Catherine is home to the community of Portmore. This parish has a very densely populated community situated on several small parcels of land. This is a feeder parish to the Kingston metropolitan area. Properties tend to sell very quickly in the Portmore area because of its affordability and proximity to Kingston.

St. James is regarded as the tourism capital of Jamaica and surrounds the second city Montego Bay. St. James is home to many wealthy individuals and has one of the leading international airports in the region. The parish has had its challenges in recent years with infrastructure because of its rapid growth. However, tourist continue to flock this parish.

St. Ann & Ocho Rios are known for its many rivers and attractions. Ocho Rios and St. Ann have one of the lowest crime rates in the country. This makes it very attractive for residential investment. The Dunns River Falls has been regarded as the Caribbean’s leading attraction. The new South to North highway will allow ease of travel between Kingston and Ocho Rios.

St. Mary has the rich history of agriculture. Since the exportation of Bananas have dwindled the main attraction to St. Mary is the low crime rate and affordable land. Members of the diaspora are particularly attracted to the cool climate of St. Mary. In recent years there has been an increase in demand for property in St. Mary.