House Hunting in Aruba: Three Bedrooms and a Pool for $1.1 Million
A Three-Bedroom Villa in Northern Aruba
$1.15 MILLION (2.05 MILLION ARUBAN FLORINS)
This contemporary-style villa overlooks an 18-hole golf course in the gated Tierra del Sol community, on the northwest coast of Aruba.
Built in the late 2000s in the Noord area, the three-bedroom, four-bath home has a terra-cotta tiled roof, a large covered deck and a 700-square-foot swimming pool on a landscaped lot of nearly a quarter of an acre. The 3,197-square-foot single-story house has stylish modern furniture that is included in the asking price, said Edwin Hekman, a broker and owner of Keller Williams Aruba, which has the listing.
A flagstone path through a pebbled yard with palm trees leads to arched wooden doors opening to the villa’s tiled entrance courtyard, decorated with vases and sculpture. Double wood doors open into a foyer connecting to a sunny open-plan living area with lofty ceilings. Floor-to-ceiling glass pocket doors open from the living area to the ample covered deck and pool.
The main living area has a white chef’s-style kitchen with stainless-steel countertops and appliances, including a Thermidor refrigerator. An island with a breakfast bar has seating for four. The kitchen has a pantry and a hallway accessing a guest bathroom.
Off the main living space is a sizable primary suite with a sitting area, spacious walk-in closet and tall double doors opening to the pool deck. Floors are bamboo. The bathroom has a double vanity and a glass-walled rainfall shower with a picture window looking out onto a small private courtyard with sculpture.
Off the foyer are two more bedrooms with bamboo floors, large closets and en suite bathrooms with glass-walled showers. The home has a laundry room and pump room.
The pool deck includes a pergola with an outdoor kitchen and barbecue for al fresco dining, along with a hot tub and outdoor shower. There is off-street parking for two cars.
Situated on almost 600 acres in the upscale Malmok neighborhood, Tierra del Sol Resort & Golf offers a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, a restaurant, bars, a spa, a fitness center and tennis courts. Boca Catalina and Arashi beaches, popular with snorkelers, are nearby. The Palm Beach area, with supermarkets, restaurants, a shopping mall and high-rise hotels, is a 12-minute drive away, Mr. Hekman said. The Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix, just outside of Aruba’s capital of Oranjestad, is about 30 minutes away by car, he said.
The pandemic has helped stimulate the housing market in Aruba, the 69-square-mile island territory of the Netherlands, in large part because it sits outside of the hurricane belt in the southern Caribbean Sea, and has a relatively arid climate.
While Aruba doesn’t publish official price statistics, the housing market had achieved some stability before the pandemic’s onset in March 2020, following several years of stagnation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, said Muna Habash, a broker and the owner of MPG Aruba Real Estate. (In mid-2019, the median price for a house in Aruba was about 580,000 Aruban florins, or about $321,000, according to the Central Bank van Aruba.)
“It was holding steady, but after the pandemic began, it started to rise, and properties were sold very quickly and mostly at the asking price,” she said.
Edith Coupland, a broker and owner of RES Realty Development and Decor, said that when Aruba emerged from Covid lockdowns after the first few months of the pandemic, her brokerage went into overdrive, ultimately selling more houses in 2020 than in any previous year. That fast-paced market continued into January of 2022, leading to an estimated year-over-year increase in home prices of about 4 percent.
“Many properties are sold in a day, which is very unusual for the Aruba market. In the past, it was common for homes to sit for a year or more,” Ms. Coupland said.
Mr. Hekman said he believes that in the Noord area, the most popular part of the island with foreign home buyers, home prices may have grown by more than 10 percent as supply has tightened.
“Especially for homes priced between $400,000 and $500,000, three-bedroom with a pool, a lot of Americans and Canadians have bought them in the past year,” he said. “In that price range, it’s a little difficult at the moment to get a decent house.”
Ms. Habash said that a three-bedroom, two-bath house close to hotels and a beach area can now sell for $500,000 to $750,000 in Aruba. Among Caribbean nations, the island has comparatively few properties on the beach, so they demand a premium, brokers said.
“As for beachfront properties, the last one in Arashi was sold for $6.5 million and needs a total renovation,” Ms. Habash said.
That relative dearth of beachfront and hilltop properties has contributed to Aruba’s reputation as a cheaper alternative among Caribbean luxury destinations, but recent weather patterns may be a factor in changing that, Mr. Hekman said.
“The last few years, after the big hurricane in Saint Martin, a lot of people sold their houses there and bought something here, or the nearby islands of Curaçao or Bonaire, so prices on Saint Martin are not as high as here,” he said.
Who Buys in Aruba
North Americans dominate among foreign home buyers in Aruba, though the island does see plenty of buyers from European countries, including Germany, Russia, France and Italy, brokers said. Aruba is one of three Caribbean islands belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with Curaçao and Saint Martin, so Dutch buyers are also prevalent.
Aruba is only about 18 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, but the large number of Venezuelan investors once active in the real estate market have largely disappeared in recent years, in part because of the economic situation there. “We hardly get Venezuelans — it’s mostly sellers if anything,” said Charlotte Bochardt, a team leader at Keller Williams Aruba. “It has not caused any problems for us in the market. Canadians have essentially replaced them as many more of them have become buyers here.”
As many as 90 percent of the privately owned homes in Aruba are on land leased from the government, agents said. The leases last 60 years, with an annual leasing fee of $1 per square meter ($0.09 a square foot) of land, Ms. Coupland said. They are typically renewed at expiration.
There are no restrictions on foreign home buyers in Aruba. Notaries handle all property sales, charging about 2 percent of the home’s sale price, brokers said. Transfer tax is 6 percent on higher-priced homes, Ms. Habash said.
The broker commission, usually about 5 percent, is paid by the seller, Mr. Hekman said.
While most clients during the pandemic have been paying in cash, mortgages are available to international buyers. Banks in Aruba are currently lending to nonresidents with 40 percent down and an interest rate of 6.5 to 7 percent, Ms. Coupland said.
Languages and Currency
Dutch, Papiamento (Aruban Creole); Aruban florin (1 florin = $0.56)
Taxes and Fees
The annual long-lease fee for this home is about 2,000 florins ($1,110). Annual property taxes equate to roughly 0.6 percent of the home’s value, Mr. Hekman said.
Edwin Hekman, Keller Williams Aruba, 011-297-592-2506, kw-aruba.com