Private Islands Inc., a Toronto-based island marketing firm, lists about 500 islands worldwide from less than $50,000 to more than $100 million, Chief Executive Chris Krolow said.
U.S., Canadian and British buyers make up about 80% of the market; far-flung locales such as the Caribbean have a more international buyer base, he said. The Bahamas and Belize are hot, as is Panama. In the Mediterranean, Greek islands are popular.
“Before the recession, a lot of islands were priced by owners who had what we call Coke-bottle glasses,” Krolow said. “They put crazy price tags on their islands.”
Price drops in areas such as the Bahamas and a sense that values have bottomed out have brought increased interest in island ownership.
“It has opened the door to people looking,” Krolow said. “They are more comfortable now.”
Ego, extravagance and identity play roles in some high-profile trophy purchases, experts say, but others are motivated by privacy and security.
“These types of people are looking to create something for themselves, to put up a flag and say, ‘This is my own little country,’” Krolow said. “They all tend to be very entrepreneurial. Not just the wealthy, but those who are determined to do something different.”