Luxury Residential Offerings: an Overview
Real Estate activities, in particular those falling under the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS), the Real Estate Scheme (RES) and the Invest Hotel Scheme (IHS) have been major sources of foreign direct investment for the Mauritian economy. IRS and RES have been subsequently merged into a single scheme in 2015, namely the Property Development Scheme (PDS) and the sale of PDS residential units is well under way.
In essence, these schemes allow non-citizens to acquire upscale residential properties in approved projects built to international standards with high-end amenities and facilities conceived for a very luxurious lifestyle. A non-citizen investing in a property worth at least USD 500,000 in an IRS/RES/PDS development project is eligible to a residence permit for himself and for his dependents.
As at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2016, there were 13 approved IRS projects, 82 approved RES projects and 16 approved PDS projects with a total of 1,966 buyers. The chart hereunder shows the evolution of the sale of properties under the IRS and RES schemes, respectively. Cumulative sales up to the end of 2015 show that total revenue on IRS and RES units amounted to MUR 49,551 million.
Seventy-two percent of the buyers come from France, South Africa and Britain. The remaining foreign acquirers are mostly Belgian, Swiss, Indians, Russians, Americans, Dutch and Italians.
An analysis shows that luxurious residential properties in the northern part of the country are more popular among French nationals while South Africans are more likely to acquire properties on the west coast.
The real estate market, unlike other traditional asset classes, is influenced by inherently local factors. Other than the structural characteristics and architectural aspects of a building, the proximity and access to relevant facilities and amenities, the availability of transport and other public goods carry a significant weight in the attractiveness of a specific location. In fact, they determine the prices of real estate products.
The price range is far broader for IRS offerings which may reach in excess of USD 3,000,000. The highest prices have been recorded for the IRS projects in the eastern and southern parts of the island. In contrast, the real estate prices for IRS and RES projects located in the northern part of the country fall in a lower range, between USD 500,000 and USD 1,000,000.
Around 72% of buyers acquired their property in their own name and about 19% made the acquisition through a company. Approximately 7% used other investment vehicles like Société and Trust entities. Some 80% of those who registered their property through Sociétés were French nationals, while 70% of those who bought their property through Trust entities were South Africans.
IRS, RES and PDS projects channel non-negligible inflows of foreign currency into various sectors of the national economy along with significant spill-over effects. On the one hand, these projects have a strongly positive and immediate impact on the construction sector. On the other hand, the banking and financial services industry including wealth management and private equity funds and the legal sector, among others, tap into the opportunities that these residential schemes unlock and reap in a sizeable financial harvest.