How to Sell an Island: Chris Krolow

Illustration by Neal Fox

Let’s say you have an island you want to sell. The market is very different depending on where it is. Island regions close to bigger cities will have local markets; people in those cities might buy them for vacation homes. In the Bahamas, it’s almost always an international buyer. You’re going to get a lot of inquiries from people who aren’t serious. They’ll make themselves out to be very wealthy—I don’t know why they do it. We call them tire-kickers. Or you’ll get people who are looking to start their own countries. You have to tell them they can’t do it. Some want to form cults. But you have to be careful: Sometimes you’ll get a one-line e-mail from an older man and he will just write in all caps, “I AM LOOKING FOR AN ISLAND. I HAVE $5 MILLION,” and he’ll be telling the truth. When a buyer books a flight to go see the property, that’s when you know they’re serious.
A lot of people who own islands want to market them privately so that the public can’t easily find out about them. About 20 percent of available islands aren’t advertised anywhere. We have a private database that we can’t advertise, but if people call us we can look through it and talk to the seller. We call it our black book. But it’s much harder to sell something this way; you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The most common criteria for a desirable island is tropical with a beautiful beach, good elevation, and deep-water access—for yachts. Those are the islands everybody wants. — As told to Claire Suddath 

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