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Guardian Life discounting luxury Cambridge homes to entice buyers

Guardian Life is shaving $2 million off the unit prices of The Cambridge, a luxury real estate development launched four years ago that has failed to excite the market.

The life insurance company, which diversified into real estate as a way to grow revenue, isn’t saying how many units have been sold, but, back in 2021, it said half of the complex had secured buyers.

It’s the second of three developments undertaken by the company over the past five years, but the lagging demand for The Cambridge starkly contrasts with the rush for units in its first development, The Hampshire, which reportedly had all 66 units sold within weeks of breaking ground on construction.

The Cambridge, which was launched in March 2019, spans 10 floors on two towers that have been dubbed Edge and Elite. The development is made up of 176-units comprising super-studios, one-bedroom units, and eight penthouses.

Prices start at US$260,429 or $40.5 million in local currency, but in an advert posted mid-July, Guardian Life has thrown in a discount of $2 million to entice takers for the unsold units.

The discount is being offered on all remaining units and will run till September 30, Vice-president of Corporate Resources, Debby Livingstone, said via email to the Financial Gleaner.

“The initial response to the offer has been positive,” she said.

Guardian Life isn’t the only real estate developer experiencing difficulty in the hitherto lucrative luxury market segment. Last year, Terra Nova Hotel owners reversed course on plans to sell luxury condos on a high-rise complex called The Residences at Terra Nova that they were developing, opting instead to transform them into hotel suites. It was the first tangible sign that the luxury market had lost steam.

More recently, First Rock Real Estate Investments Limited decided to hold back some of the residences it developed at The Hambani in Liguanea, Kingston, whose units were priced up to US$2 million, that is, around $300-plus million in local currency. The company said it would wait to determine the best time to seek buyers for five of 12 residences in the luxury complex.

Guardian Life has not disclosed the turnover nor returns from the residential developments, which includes The Cambridge at Musgrave Avenue in New Kingston; The Hampshire, completed in 2019 just across the road; and Camden, being built at Millsborough Avenue, in upper St Andrew since January 2020.

At the end of last year, its properties for development and sale were estimated at US$14.2 million, down from US$15 million reported in 2021 and US$17.3 million in 2020.

Properties for sale or under construction that are intended for sale are classified as properties for development and sale, the company has said, and the balances are carried at the lower of cost and net realisable values. It includes offices, retail shops and residential units.

Guardian Life says it continues to explore opportunities for more developments. However, it has made no final decision on future projects.

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