The recreational, climatic, and cultural fundamentals which make Fiji an enduring holiday destination continue to underpin the waterfront property market in the tropical Pacific Islands.

Waterfront magazine editor, Jody Robb, spoke with Bayleys Real Estate (Fiji) Limited director,
Philip Toogood about the evolution of the waterfront market over the last two decades.

With Fiji property now a key part of Bayleys’ Waterfront magazine offerings, it is interesting to note that in the first ever Waterfront portfolio 21 years ago, there were no Pacific Island properties marketed for sale.

The first significant Fiji campaign that Bayleys was involved with was the sell down of the Sheraton Denarau Villas in 1996. This was Fiji’s first strata-tilted development with 82 apartments of varying sizes which opened mid-1999.

Today, that development continues to find favour, with travellers and villa guests having full access to the facilities at the adjacent Sheraton Fiji Resort, The Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa, and Denarau Golf and Racquet Club.

Toogood says in terms of the waterfront property market, Fiji has come a long way in the last 21 years.

“Back in the early 1990s, there were a few individual property sales but very little in the way of development projects,” he says.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, the only significant subdivision developments were Pacific Harbour – an hour’s drive from the capital Suva, and Taveuni Estates on Taveuni Island, the third largest island in Fiji.

“Denarau – which is attached to the main island Viti Levu via a short causeway – had not then hit its straps.”

Toogood says that over the years, the Fiji market has, by and large, followed international patterns of property cycle highs and lows.

“Political events in 2000 and 2006 effectively stalled property sales and development activity between 2000 and 2003 and then again, from 2006-2007,” says Toogood.

“Between 2003 and late 2006, Denarau Island led the advance in the market with 300 percent growth in waterfront land values.

“Momi Bay Resort was also a major development launched during that boom time with 220 lots sold by the end of 2006 in a very successful marketing campaign.

“However, the New Zealand-funded development entity behind the Momi project collapsed which saw the venture cease, and the 220 deposits refunded to purchasers.”

Toogood says the greatest impact on Fiji’s development market came in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in the late 2000s.

“Fiji witnessed something of a mini boom in the period mid-2007 to mid-2008, and then the brakes came on,” he explains.

“From 2008 through until 2012/2013, offshore investment in waterfront property really came to a grinding halt.

“What was interesting, however, was that local Fiji investors were very active, while offshore markets licked their wounds.

“There was little debt in Fiji at the time, and local buyers saw the opportunity to snap up those properties which came on the market.

“International developers stayed away from Fiji as their individual home markets became vulnerable and this, in turn, led to a shortage of new product coming onto the market.”

The exception, according to Toogood, was Naisoso Island Resort residential lots close to Nadi International Airport which were marketed throughout the GFC downturn period with some success.

Offshore buyers drifted back into the Fiji property market from 2013, however, Toogood says it is only now, following the democratic elections in September 2014 and a lift in the New Zealand economy, that Bayleys Fiji is seeing the market rally.

“We are receiving significant enquiry and activity from New Zealand – and to a lesser extent Australia – and seeing local developers start to offer new product to the market,” notes Toogood.

“From where we stand, 2016 and 2017 look promising for Fiji property buyers with a number of new waterfront developments on offer."

Bayleys Real Estate (Fiji) Limited director,
 Philip Toogood

“These include The Denarau Moorings Apartments, Nanuku Residential Estates, a new residential land subdivision on Denarau Island, and significant Wailoaloa Beach residential lots and resort apartments about to be launched.”

Toogood says Chinese-domiciled investors have started to enter the Fiji property market and are focusing on waterfront property development opportunities.

“Foreigners are able to purchase freehold, Crown lease and native lease property in Fiji,” says Toogood.

“However, restrictions on freehold and Crown land purchases have been imposed on land within town boundaries.

“This will have little impact on foreign investor activity as much of the waterfront property stock is outside of these boundaries – and it is the waterfront sector that has most appeal for foreigners.”

Toogood maintains that lifestyle is the driving factor for offshore waterfront investment in Fiji.

“It goes without saying that Fiji has much to offer tourists who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.

“Those relaxation benefits also appeal to investors who can see the advantage of combining a managed property asset that offers a return, with holiday accommodation that they can use themselves.

“Waterfront property values are increasing, so there is an opportunity for capital growth as well.”

Toogood says conserving the pristine coastal environment is at the heart of all development in Fiji.

“All new developments require environmental impact analysis and developers need to show sensitivity to the environment in all they do,” he says.

“Mangrove protection is a high priority along with water pollution protection from excavation and good waste management. Lifting land levels higher above sea level is also common practice.”

Toogood says current developments underway tend to be following the tried and true formula of previous proven success stories.

“What we are seeing are canal-style residential and managed apartments like the Radisson Blu, Sheraton Denarau Villas and Hilton Fiji.”

Marina point

Marina Point, Denarau: Freehold 1,400m² site with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, home theatre room, and private pontoon sold for FJ$4,300,000. (Dick Kirk, Bayleys Fiji)

The Terraces, Denarau: Apartment in a small, boutique resort block sold for FJ$500,000. (Dick Kirk, Bayleys Fiji)

Denarau Moorings, Denarau Road: New development comprising 56 apartments with marina berths available to apartment owners on a first come, first served basis and a hotel/commercial buildings planned. Five apartments sold for between FJ$910,434 and FJ$1,685,296. (Dick Kirk, Sanjeet Kumar, Bayleys Fiji)

Denarau Moorings, Denarau: Luxury waterfront three bedroom, two bathroom 257m² penthouse, sold for FJ$1,685,296.
(Dick Kirk, Bayleys Fiji)

Naisoso Island: Two vacant lifestyle blocks sold for FJ$750,000 and FJ$835,000.  (Dick Kirk, Philip Toogood, Bayleys Fiji)

The Peninsula, Denarau: Five vacant blocks in a gated precinct close to Port Denarau Marina sold individually for between FJ$650,000 and FJ$1,600,000 per site.  (Philip Toogood, Bayleys Fiji)

The Cove, Denarau: Vacant freehold prime waterfront 1,664m² home site with provision for a deep water private pontoon to adjoin the property sold for FJ$1,500,000. (Philip Toogood, Bayleys Fiji)

Radisson Apartment, Denarau Island: 127m² managed apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms sold for FJ$875,000. (Sapna Vithal, Bayleys Fiji)

Radisson apartment

Daveta Beachfront Estate

Daveta Beachfront Estate, Coral Coast: Freehold 8.09ha private beachfront estate with spectacular views sold for FJ$1,195,987. (Sapna Vithal, Dick Kirk Bayleys Fiji)

Sovereign Quays, Denarau: Six bedroom home with sheltered outside area, a bure built out over a portion of the pool, and a boat ramp (no pontoon) sold for FJ$2,350,000. (Dick Kirk, Bayleys Fiji)

Hilton Villas, Denarau: Three villas in the Hilton complex sold for between FJ$550,000 and FJ$640,000. (Philip Toogood, Bayleys Fiji)

Wailoaloa Beach, Nadi: 17.5ha freehold development land with around 390 metres of beachfront, two long road frontages and subdivision approval in place sold for FJ$12,400,000. (Philip Toogood, Bayleys Fiji)

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