Closing Costs

Closing Costs

Sunday, March 31, 2019

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Realtor Kaili McDonnough Scott has brought a fresh, New York style kick-ass approach to real estate. She has, in street parlance, 'shook' up the market and the Style Observer is loving it...


By her own account Kaili McDonnough Scott's fascination with real estate commenced as a student in London. “I was on a study abroad programme and one of the first things that all students had to do, post-orientation, was venture out into London's busy streets to find housing, with pre-selected 'estate agents' (realtors). All of the students had the same budget and we pounded the pavement in groups for a few days until we found a place to live,” she recalls. “I remember seeing some of the craziest flats, including one with a bed in the kitchen, and thinking to myself, “Am I ever going to find a suitable apartment?”, but I enjoyed the challenge of the hunt and eventually my roommates and I found a decent two-bedroom on Great Portland Street; an apartment that, thankfully, had beds in the bedrooms. I still remember the realtor who found this place for us. He was tall, well-built and had white hair, and what I liked about him was that he was honest and didn't try to encourage us to take the wrong apartment just to make the sale, but rather 'stick it out until we found the right place'.”

Those words “stick it out until [you] find the right place” resonated long after and would include a stint in journalism. Indeed, few can boast her nose for news which was honed in the Big Apple.

She admits to having stumbled into the job of editor-in-chief of KÚYA magazine, Coldwell Banker's real estate and lifestyle publication. “My broker, Andrew Issa, was looking for someone to bring his vision of a glossy publication of the best of Jamaican real estate to life and I was looking for a job. After three years, I thought to myself that I could combine my journalism skills with my creative skills to become a realtor.” It was the right decision. Seven-and-a-half years later she's still at it and loving every moment.

Most realtors remember their first sale. Not McDonnogh Scott. But then again, she's not your typical agent. “I can't remember my first sale,” she states in her only-Kaili-can, matter-of-fact way. But she does recall her very first “big” listing! “It was a house on Dewsbury Avenue in Kingston 6,” she recalls. “My colleague Rebecca Tulloch managed to score the listing and she co-listed the property with me, as she was heading on maternity leave. We were 18 months into our lives as realtors and these clients took a leap of faith by engaging us to work for them.”

There's more. “That listing marked our entry into the world of using digital media as a platform for selling,” she adds. “I remember filming Rebecca showcasing the house with her pregnant belly and very swollen feet and then uploading this video to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. When the sale was finally coming to a head, I remember being away on vacation and negotiating the terms of the offer over many phone calls. I realised then that real estate doesn't stop and that being on vacation didn't matter (nor did having a baby). I had to close this sale and, fortunately, in the nick of time. Rebecca gave birth a few days later.

“A great realtor has to know the market, be curious, know how to research, have good people skills, be quick on his/her feet, compassionate and also be extremely driven. Today's realtor has to have all of those skills, plus have a great handle on social media and digital media marketing. The generation of buyers has expanded and the client base is younger, so today's realtor has to know how to connect with these clients,” she adds. Relationship-building is imperative, the game is even more competitive and McDonnough Scott is not ready to relinquish her crown.

Her face lights up as she speaks to the current demands. “Townhouses are as precious as gold these days.” Her pause is long enough to further pique the imagination. “Although the sale of stand-alone homes is gaining a lot of strength, generally Jamaicans just love townhouses as they provide an ease of maintenance (compared with a house on a large lot of land with a pool) and security. If a Kingston 6 or 8 townhouse with three to four bedrooms comes on the market and is fairly priced, it can sell within a matter of days, right now... The landscape for housing is changing as apartments are also increasing in popularity, which is evident from all the buildings you see popping up all over Kingston and Montego Bay, including 20 South, The Hampshire, The Pordoi, The R, the soon-to-be Cambridge The Soleil, plus several more.

“Most people are looking to purchase property, she says, the result of interest rates falling and the new changes to taxes on real estate. Jamaicans are diehard believers in owning their own properties. Generally, many people may not understand other investment strategies like owning a stock or bond, but they do understand real estate.”

SO reckons Minister Nigel Clarke understands this only too well! “The budget announcements regarding the tax cuts in the real estate sector are a win/win for all Jamaicans in the housing market,” enthuses McDonnough-Scott. “A seller is now saving 7% on fees that for years were just unnecessary fees that didn't facilitate a market of trading. Bringing transfer tax down from 5% to 2% will make the world of a difference for anyone selling a property, and abolishing stamp duty is an additional savings for sellers and buyers. Previously, buyers had to split the 4% stamp duty with a seller, so now, buyers are saving themselves 2% which maybe they can now use towards improving the home or furnishing it, or just simply keeping the money in their pockets to pay for expenses such as homeowner's insurance or property taxes.”

So in which parish do we cast our net? “Kingston is certainly the hottest market for real estate right now,” she insists, “especially anywhere in Kingston 5, 6, 8 or 10, both for commercial and residential listings. But there are other parts of the island that are also in demand. Ocho Rios is hot right now because of the accessibility from Kingston that the highway has brought, so many Kingstonians are buying second homes and investment properties for rental as the close distance makes the management easy. The second city of Montego Bay is growing and more businesses are setting up shop there, and so employees need places to live and businesses need places to operate. Freeport is especially in demand as that is where everyone seems to want to live. Treasure Beach is another location that I find is of interest to both locals and foreigners, as beachfront land there is still affordable. On the commercial scale, any beachfront land in Falmouth or Negril is also quite hot for hoteliers.”

When asked to oblige SO with a peek into her real estate Fabergé egg, without missing a beat she shares, “One thing is for sure, the Kingston skyline will look remarkably different in 10 years' time and Montego Bay may need to change its nickname from the Second City!”

McDonnough Scott's response to our question on the right time to show a house ends the interview on a perfect note... “The right time is the time that the client wants to see the property! You better get a move on before the client finds another agent!”

She's damn right... the owner of this absolute gem of a house (pictured above) is merely testing the waters. He very well might be... and you can bet your bottom dollar that he ain't calling no ghost buster!


Contact: Kaili McDonnough Scott

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