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Bermuda's apartments, condominiums, fractional units and homes for lease or rent or sale

Legal fees, purchase costs and property taxes are the highest in the world for non-Bermudians

line drawing

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

Bermuda luxury homes

Some lovely Bermuda homes. Bermuda Tourism photo


Buying a single-family home or condominium or fractional unit in Bermuda, with its only 13,000 acres in total and an average of 3,400 people per square mile is far more costly for Bermudians and especially non-Bermudians than buying one in, say, the USA (where,  according to the National Association of Realtors, the median price is currently $166,100) or anywhere in the rest of the world. The cost of living is also far higher. Nothing is cheap in Bermuda; not fuel (petrol, gas); not electricity; not automobiles or other transport; not property taxes; not alcohol, not anything. But for those who can afford it, the rewards can be many. Bermuda is in a unique mid Atlantic setting of green foliage, pink coral beaches and golf courses, less than two hours away by air from North America and seven from Europe. A Bermuda attorney (lawyer) and real estate professional will need to be consulted. An attorney will charge very expensive fees for conveyancing compared to the UK, USA, Canada and Europe. (Legal fees generally for buying and/or selling a Bermuda-based property to non-Bermudians (international buyers or sellers) are the highest in the world). Bermuda Real Estate Agents/Realtors can be found in Bermuda Employers.

Land in Bermuda is widely defined to include land and any building erected on land and any estate, interest, right or easement in, over or under any land or building. Such extends to all residential homes and buildings, including condominiums, as well as to commercial buildings and other structures. Typically, licences are granted to an individual, an individual and spouse, or to members of an immediate family. Licences are rarely issued to trusts or to special purpose companies. The application fee for a Licence (shown below) is refunded if the application is not successful. If the Licence is granted, the full fee anticipated is from 12.5 per cent of market value for a home, or six to 8 per cent for a condo, and must be paid prior to property acquisition. For Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders, the anticipated fee for condos may be less. Further, PRC holders (subject to obtaining a Licence and paying the relevant percentage fee) may purchase a home or condo with a single ARV of more than $63,600. Thus, PRC holders have a wider choice than other non-Bermudians. Overall, unlike non-Bermudians limited to the top 5%, almost a quarter of the presently available real estate market is available to holders of Permanent Resident Certificates. In the non-Bermudian market, houses start at $3,500,000 with condos from $560,000. A selling realtor agent’s particulars will always advise when a specific property is available to non-Bermudians. Property ownership does not automatically allow residence in Bermuda, however several options ensure that residence is permitted. PRC holders may reside in their acquired Bermuda home on that basis and no further permits or consents are required. Holders of a work permit may reside in their acquired Bermuda home during the currency of the work permit and no further permits or consents are required. Other purchasers may apply for a multiple re-entry permit (“Permit”), allowing re-entry on a single ticket basis on any number of occasions during its validity and with ability to remain for up to 90 days after arriving (in each case). A Permit is valid for one year.  Technically, the Permit is only available after property acquisition is registered at the Office of the Registrar-General. However, the Bermuda Department of Immigration recognizes registration delays and may, at its discretion, grant the Permit on proof of purchase. If Immigration ceases to exercise discretion, a non-Bermudian purchaser may still enter Bermuda under usual tourist or visitor pre-conditions such as return air ticket etc.  Plus, there are heavy Bermuda Government stamp duty charged on sale or re-sale of all homes owned by non-Bermudians; legal fees involved; and recurring real estate or property taxes, referred to as Land Taxes.  

Almost uniquely in Bermuda, Land Taxes do not include Water or Waste Water/Sewage. Neither are piped in or out via a central system.  Costs of water and disposal of waste water and sewage from cesspits is the separate responsibility of the home or condominium owner or tenant or both. 

Available for sale to buyers by category

1. For sale to International Purchasers (non-citizens (not Bermudian) and not Permanent Residence Certificate Holders. 

International/non-Bermudian buyers in both categories 1 and 2 below may not buy investment property such as land, commercial real estate or property intended mainly to earn rental income. They cannot subdivide the property. They may be granted permission to rent their property by the Immigration Department but this rarely extends to periods of more than a year and includes a tax of from 7.25 percent. They cannot purchase other properties with the same or different ARVs. They cannot lease or rent the property they have acquired without official Bermuda Government Ministerial consent and on payment of a fee or tax. They cannot use the property as a business address, even after paying so much for them, in order to recoup some of their investment, unless they get special permission. In the USA, Canada, Europe, etc it has long been accepted and even approved by their tax authorities that working from home, using computers and the internet or in other ways, is not a privilege but a right.  In the USA alone, millions of employees work solely from home and at least 63 million employees do so occasionally. But not in Bermuda. Here, it is regarded legally as a privilege, not a right. Unlike in the USA, Europe and elsewhere there is no equivalent Bermuda legislation that encompasses flexible or home-working. The term “home-worker” (or similar) is not defined in Bermuda's Employment Act 2000 (“the Act”). Because of this, home working is a privilege rather than a right. Potential non-Bermudian homeowners of Bermuda property should, in their own interests, expect to be allowed to work and to have their employees do the same if they wish, from their very expensive homes without any restraint. They are advised not to seek to evade these laws by "fronting" via local or overseas law firm or attorney or Bermudian living in Bermuda or abroad. If they ignore this advice the property will be forfeited to the Bermuda Government.  If a non-Bermudian owner is fully retired from all business interests, does not have more than two dependent children and wishes habitual residence in Bermuda, a residential certificate may be granted. Only in Bermuda are there so many restrictions and exclusions in what non-Bermudian can and cannot do. In contrast, in all the other tax havens - such as the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, throughout the rest of the Caribbean, etc - and international business centers, there are no such restrictions. Otherwise, what they can buy:

2. For Sale to Permanent Residence Certificate Holders who are not Bermudian, from June 2015

3. For Sale to Bermudians, if they can afford them

All types of properties available for sale or rent.

Available subject to a licence obtained by the non-Bermudian applicant

This applies to all sale and purchase agreements entered into by non-Bermudian purchasers. They must apply and pay for and obtain a license to acquire the property in which they are interested and for which they are qualified to own by ARV status.  The regulatory agency concerned of the Bermuda Government is the Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs (Department of Immigration). The purchaser applies on the prescribed form, submitted by the purchaser's Bermuda-based and Bermudian law firm. The approval process can take anywhere from two to nine months.

 There are no regulations limiting non-Bermudians who retire or work here to what type of property they may lease or rent. However, they will be required to pay a tax or stamp duty on their leases or rentals.

Available via any licensed Bermudian Real Estate Broker (REB)

Administration of Estates Act 1974

The legislation when a Bermuda property owner dies, and the procedure, formalities, executor, executrix, objections, etc. See Executors or  Bermuda Laws.

Annual Rental Value (ARV)

Instead of being assessed purely on present market value of a Bermuda property including its boundary and land or market value on a certain date throughout Bermuda,  as most non-British overseas jurisdictions now do to help achieve fairness for comparison purposes, every residence in Bermuda is assigned an 'ARV'  (see below) for the purpose of calculating the Bermuda Government's annual land tax. The ARV is not the land tax, nor is it necessarily reflective of the annual value a given home might expect to achieve on the full-time or monthly or periodic rental market. It was that once (see below), but in recent years the Government was made aware, particularly by non-Bermudian homeowners and realtors, that rents if any were no longer anywhere near the ARVs. In 2016 the cash-strapped Bermuda Government, despite rental values that fell significantly from 2009, decided to hike Land Taxes anyway, most significantly affecting those who it seemed could most afford them based on the ARV of their Bermuda homes.

A property's ARV, not the sale price, triggers the methodology employed by the Bermuda Government to determine its real estate tax (in UK, the equivalent of Council Tax). Most countries have long ago dropped the ARV system and gone for the more equitable market value of home and boundary or land system.

However, Bermuda properties are still always valued for tax purposes using their unique ARV. This ARV was defined in the Land Valuation Tax Act 1967 as "the rent at which a valuation unit might reasonably be expected to let from year to year if the tenant undertook to bear the cost of internal repairs, and the landlord to bear all other reasonable expenses necessary to maintain the valuation unit in a state to command that rent." In simple terms, the ARV is the amount of rent your property would attract in the open market on a yearly basis. The property's ARV is set by the Department of Land Valuation of the Bermuda Government. Once the ARV of the property is set, tax is levied on that ARV at marginal rates, which increase as the property's ARV increases. Generally speaking, the higher the ARV, the higher the sum levied in tax. The Land Valuation Tax Act 1967 required the Department to conduct a revaluation of all ARVs on the Island every five years, the last most recently. This revaluation was very significant given that rents property owners could hope to charge have declined considerably in the past few years. It was hoped that with this decline there would have been a proportionate decrease in the ARV of the vast majority of more expensive properties on the Island. Instead, needing significantly more funding to finance the expensive lifestyle of the Bermuda government and its 36 legislators in only 21 square miles, the highest ratio of legislators per square mile anywhere in the world by a huge margin, ARVs for all Bermuda's most expensive properties specifically including those purchased by non-Bermudians, have increased significantly. There has to be a good basis for challenging the ARV, an extremely costly legal process.

Former Property tax, based on ARV of each property band, payable twice a year, and how they have been increased:

Up – US$11,000 from 0.60% to 0.8%
US$11,001 – US$22,000 from 1.20% to 1.8%
US$22,001 – US$33,000 from 2.40% to 3,5%
US$33,001 – S$44,000 from 4.80% to 6.5%
US$44,001 – US90,000 from 9.60% to 12%
US$ 90,000-$120,000 new rate, 25%
Over US$120,000 was 18.23% now 47%

Apartment and single-family home hunting in Bermuda

Buying. There is a wide choice for Bermudians who can buy any property if they can afford it. Prudence and caution are recommended. Non-Bermudians should note they are limited to the top 5%. Leasing and Renting. Providing the units have their own assessment numbers, there are no differences between what Bermudians and non-Bermudians can lease or rent.

2018. July 12. People will be able to apply for a new category of dwelling unit from Monday. The new units will have an assessment number but will be restricted from having a private car registered to the address. The change means homeowners with smaller properties will be able to get rental income, fulfilling a pledge from the Progressive Labour Party’s Throne Speech. Previously, there was no way to issue an assessment number to an address that would not automatically include the ability to register a car against the unit. That limited the creation of dwelling units to those properties that were able to provide the required car parking on their site. Home affairs minister Walton Brown said: “Many homeowners have space to create an additional unit, but are unable to create additional parking spaces. This provides a new opportunity for homeowners, who would otherwise not be able to build additional units because of parking constraints, to maximize their potential for rental income.”

Appraisal fees

Local banks use independent appraisers to establish the value of a property for mortgage, valuation and other purposes. If done at the request of a bank for a mortgage on an average Bermuda home valued at $500,000 the fee will generally be from $300-$500.

Applicable to all non-Bermudians buying land and or homes

For non-Bermudians/restricted persons, once a property has been selected, an application for a license to purchase is made to the Bermuda Government's Ministry of Home Affairs and Public Safety. Your realtor will assist in this. An "Acquisition of Land" advertisement issued in the Official Gazette of Bermuda will say that "Notice is hereby given that (the full name of the applicant), a citizen of (whichever applies) is applying to the Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety for sanction to acquire a leasehold interest in or the freehold of a particular property (by name, acreage if relevant, unit number and Parish) - and if relevant, in joint tenancy with a Bermudian parent or sibling or spouse.

Agapanthus for sale Chelston for sale

Agapanthus for sale for $19.5 million, left, and Chelston for sale for $45 million

For all non-Bermudians, also referred to as restricted persons - some Bermuda realtors refer to them as international buyers - a License from the Bermuda Government  is required to acquire land in Bermuda unless you are on the Register of Bermudians or are a local company with Government approval to do so. They must first apply to the Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety for a "License to Acquire" a property. Note that non-Bermudians are severely limited in what freehold properties - homes with land - in Bermuda they may buy, only the 5% top end of the market. They may select only Bermuda's 200 or so most expensive single family properties - luxury homes with an Annual Rentable Value (ARV, see below) of US$177,000 a year or more - from among the more than 20,000 residences, or from an expensive condominium - with an ARV of US$32,500 or more (Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Designation of Eligible Condominium Units) Regulations 2007). Or,  instead of  freehold buying a Bermuda property such as a house on land or a condominium, a practical solution for some may be to purchase a fractional unit, of which there is now a wide variety. There is a fee for the first-time sale of such a unit, more than 10 per cent. The fee for sale of a fractional unit is more than 18 per cent on the second disposition of such units. For hotel residences condos or hotel units with individual land valuation assessment numbers if they are placed on the hotel inventory it will cost a minimum of 18 percent, or a minimum of 25 percent if the property is kept for private use. 

Non-Bermudians considering buying a home - whether a single family or condominium - in Bermuda should be aware that virtually all properties in Bermuda do not have a central water supply or central waste water (sewage) system, unlike in most places in Britain, Canada, Europe and USA, where these central facilities are usually included in their property taxes especially in towns or cities . Also, Bermuda charges the highest initial Government licences, buying and legal fees and annual property taxes (here, Land Taxes) in the world, by a huge margin. For example, in central London, England, where an up to $900 million home with central water and waste water pays less then $3,000 a year in property (there, described as Council) taxes), Bermuda's annual Land Tax alone could cost well over $350,000 a year for a $90 million home. Potential buyers of Bermuda homes should make a point of asking their Bermuda-based realtor for the present Land Tax of any home in which they may have an interest. Presently, no realtor does so routinely.

Architecture, cesspits, sewage and water supply

See under Architecture.  Architects in Bermuda must be registered under the Architects Registration Act 1969. In March 2004, more than 70 architects were registered. 

Assessment Numbers of houses and apartments 

And their impact on parking of motor vehicles

Waterside Bermuda home

Each single family home and/or apartment has a 9-digit number, after the owner has received a Certificate of Use and Occupancy Permit (Completion Certificate). The owner of each valuation unit - a self-contained (with its own entrance, electricity meters, permit to own a car, etc) apartment or unit in the same building and/or any other building - will also have a (separate) number. Each 9-digit number is unique, no two are the same. The digits are, in this order, Parish number (2 digits); sequential number (4 digits); Split Digit (1 digit); Re-use Digit (1 digit); Check Digit (1 digit).

Persons who do not own but rent apartments in someone's house should always be given and make a point of knowing the separate assessment number of the apartment. This is for their own protection. If it does not have its own assessment number, the person or persons renting will not be able to own a car or have a separate electricity account and may also encounter further difficulties. For example, when the owner or owners of apartments who have not bothered to arrange to have their apartments given their own assessment number, but allow their tenant or tenants to have a car anyway, both they and their tenants are breaking the law and can be prosecuted, also with the likelihood that the car will be impounded or have to be sold. All responsible home owners, owners of apartments and real estate agents know this. There are also other potential problems. For example, when an adjacent or neighboring house - which may or may not be owned by a relative or friend - is used, with permission of the homeowner, for parking of any car used illegally or moped or scooter or all of them, that person too becomes contingently liable, plus also liable themselves or via their insurance companies for any damage caused by any means whatsoever to the car or moped or scooter while parked on the property. It is not right anyway for any tenant to have to park any vehicle in an adjacent or neighboring property because the owner of the property where the tenant is living does not have space in his or her own garage or driveway for the tenant's car and/or moped or scooter. Whenever a tenant parks regularly in any adjacent or neighboring property, he or she or they should always offer in writing to indemnify the property owner fully against all damage to the vehicle or vehicle or property caused by the vehicle or vehicles. Failure to so by a quality tenant could render withdrawal of parking permission or worse.

Available to International Purchasers

Meaning that non-Bermudians (as well as Bermudians) can buy the property mentioned. It generally means that the property, which may be a condominium or a family home is in the top 5% of both Annual Rental Value (ARV) and Land Tax. Estate agents (realtors) state this on the properties they sell. However, it can also be a property within a Bermuda Government approved-for-sale fractional ownership complex.

Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2007

Provisions include clamping down on the practice of "fronting", where a Bermudian illegally fronts a trust to buy and hold land on behalf of non-Bermudians.

Bermudian or Bermuda-based and non-Bermudian first-time buyers of a Bermuda real estate property or those trading up

Bermuda Residential Building Code

Both a guide and specification document for contractors and home owners alike on all matters concerning traditional residential construction. Rigidly enforced, partially to ensure homes can withstand major storms. Individuals and entities wishing to bring new building products into Bermuda must first contact the Senior Building Inspector of the Department of Planning of the Bermuda Government to determine if the product meets local standards.  Recently, innovative construction alternatives have included faux roof slate - imported - to replace or repair Bermuda slate and known as Dura Slate - steel frame dwellings and faux lumber (PVC) to replace or improve or with a better price than the local product.

Boundaries and surveys

Boundary Survey. If you are buying or selling a single family home, make sure the boundaries are staked and the stakes can be identified. If they are not staked, a surveyor should be consulted to do so. The vendor should either be asked or should volunteer to re-stake the property to confirm there are no encroachments on the property.

Structural Survey. While not yet common in Bermuda, the requirement for a structural survey is a prudent step in older properties that have not been rewired or re-plumbed for many years, and/or where termite damage is evident and/or or where the site may be steeply sloped.


The Bermuda Police Service issues reminders to the public to be sure to lock their homes before they leave for any length of time. There are numerous reports of break-ins at homes after they are left unlocked. Police tell the public to secure all windows and doors before leaving to prevent being victims of burglary. Thieves needing to fuel their drug habits are some of the nastiest and often the most violent or destructive burglars.

Buying and Operating a Bermuda home compared to in the USA and UK

This applies only to Bermudians and means a home, irrespective of area, that is not in the top 5% of purchase price and land valuation and so may not be sold to any non-Bermudian, only to Bermudians. Some mid-priced Bermudian homes, like this desirable one off the South Road in Paget shown below, are in lovely areas and have nice sea views, close to the hospital and near the city of Hamilton.

Bermudian home

Bermudian home. July 2009 Photo by author exclusively for Bermuda Online. Has "location, location, location."

Bermudian home 1

Bermudian home. July 2009 Photo by author exclusively for Bermuda Online. Has "location, location, location."

Same Bermudian home showing Bermuda cedar work and sea views. July 2009 Photo by author exclusively for Bermuda Online

Based upon April 2016 market rates the cost of building a home with traditional residential Bermuda construction is over $410 per square foot. This excludes the cost of the land. The standard Bermuda price now for real estate is now a standard $1.5 million an acre, for undeveloped or re-developed land, without a house or utilities. For Bermudians, the average price of a single family detached home without water views is now over $1.2 million, of average size 0.25 acre. In Bermuda, condominiums now have about 62% of the total 2013 housing market. The average price of a condo in August 2013 was about $800,000. In comparison, in the USA in April 2013 the median price of an existing single-family home is $185,300. 

Housing is on average about four hundred percent more than in the USA, and Canada, 220% more than in the UK.

Compared to, in USA and UK


See Bermuda Immigration and Protection Acts. Some non-Bermudian residents with unblemished continuous residence have been in Bermuda for periods exceeding 20 and 30 years yet have not been given citizenship. It means they are not not allowed to vote, or to register to vote, in any election after they become 18 years old,  even when they have been model residents for years. Those in this category are mostly from the USA, Britain, Canada,  Caribbean and Europe, but some are from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and elsewhere. Without citizenship, persons also cannot buy any real estate as Bermudians can if they can afford it; are limited to the top 5 percent of property in assessed value and a particular kind and type of property only and must pay a substantial purchase tax on top of other taxes; cannot obtain any local scholarships from any organization; if of employable age are not allowed to take any employment but are limited to the kind of employment on a Work Permit approved by the Immigration authority of the Bermuda Government; and may not under any circumstances be an executor or executrix of any Bermudian-owned property not in the top 5% of Annual Rental Value.  Their attorneys are required to tell them this and would-be executors are expected to know this. They should also check with the Bermuda Government to see if it is permitted or not for them to benefit in any way financially from any Bermudian-held estate. They may only be executors of Bermuda property which is presently in non-Bermudian hands and as such is in the top 5% in Annual Rental Value. Nor are they - or any other non-Bermudian - allowed to be sole owners of a business in the local marketplace. They are limited to a maximum 40% holding in shares and management and are prohibited from employing any ruse that will enable them to overcome this restriction.

City Living in apartments and condominiums

Condominiums located within the City of Hamilton are the easiest and quickest to buy and sell. Rental agents do not keep them on their books very long. They are in high demand and often come inclusive of high-quality, tasteful furnishings. They have all modern conveniences including full-size appliances, washers and dryers and basement storage units; some even come with such amenities as a roof terrace, pool or gym. Always in demand by renters, they are also popular with buyers and most are available to permanent resident certificate holders (PRCs) and overseas buyers. In April 2018, one-bedroom units in the city are listed for sale at between $525,000 and $675,000 and two bedrooms are asking $575,000 to $695,000. Rents for a one-bedroom start at about $2,900 per month; the price goes up to $4,500 for a two-bedroom. City units have held their value in the sales market much better than condominiums located outside of the city, and are likely to be a good investment for many years to come; because they tend to attract high-caliber young professionals or companies, rent is almost guaranteed. Most people find it easier to use a rental agent as they often have a list of people wanting to rent these type of units on their books already. They also know the real estate laws and have legally approved leases already made up at no additional cost to the landlord and are able to do credit checks on potential tenants. With city units, there is not necessarily the need for a car, although some do offer parking facilities. The units are on one level, with elevator access. They are safe, as security is often monitored with CCTV throughout the complex. None allow pets, the condominium owners’ association does not allow Airbnb rentals, and rentals should be for six months or longer. City complexes are convenient to almost everything within the city. Most have a full-time management company to take care of painting and other maintenance items, but with upkeep of the interior of the unit the responsibility of the leaseholder or tenant.

Closing Costs

They include a Stamp Duty charged on a sliding scale. It is is usually payable by the Vendor and the Purchaser in equal shares.

Stamp Duties (tax) for property conveyance and transfer. From up to $100,000 in property value, 2%; $100,000-$500,000, 3%; $500,000 to $1 million, 4%; $1 million to $1,500 million 6%; over $1.5 million 7%.

For non-Bermudians, the length of time will be determined by how long it takes the Department of Immigration to process an application for a License to Acquire Property. This can range from 6 weeks to nine months. Sales contracts usually specify that the closing take place within a set time from the date of the grant of the License. A License to Acquire Property is required for non-Bermudians wishing to buy a home in Bermuda. The government charges a fee of 22% of the price of a house (or 15% if you are buying a condo) for this license, if it is granted. The review process is designed to determine that you are financially independent and  not an 'undesirable.'  Personal and financial references are required and will involve some research. Your local lawyer will guide you.

Commercial real estate

Generally - with some major exceptions - this cannot be acquired by non Bermudians. They have to lease.  However, they are welcomed as investors in leasehold new hotels of more than 50 beds, or as minority owners of real-estate holding companies.


Some are available to overseas nationals, others are not.

Condos, Convict Bay Population density shows in closeness of housing

Left, Condos, Convict Bay

Condos in Flatts, Hamilton Parish

Condominium ownership in Bermuda has become increasingly popular over the last 15 years partly because it requires a lower initial cash outlay and presents fewer responsibilities than for a traditional householder. Generally, a condominium owner is only responsible for the interior. External repairs, redecoration, grounds maintenance and insurance are shifted away from each owner, to condominium management. However, some homework is required before purchasing a condominium. Prospective buyers should determine to their satisfaction, by visiting each unit in which they may be interested, how much privacy and freedom there is, compared to and generally less than a traditional house. Rules and regulations written into condominium terms and conditions can seem restrictive. However, they can encourage good standards, for the benefit of all condominium owners. For example, noise can be reduced by requiring condominium owners to fit carpets and comply with auditory restrictions during defined night hours. 

Often, businesses and trades are prohibited from operating from a condominium. On-going contributions towards maintenance expenses can seem burdensome, especially as development buildings age and require more upkeep. However, the owner of a traditional house is solely responsible for the costs of upkeep, whereas condominium owners share responsibility for costs and can together accumulate a specific reserve over time. Such an accumulated reserve is known as a “sinking fund”, which spreads out payment for expenses over time and between all owners in a development. If a development is extravagantly maintained, ongoing fees may be too high; but if poorly maintained, the development may be a less desirable place to live. 

An acceptable balance is required. Watch for expensive upcoming costs, for example with the elevator, roof and other structural repairs as owners must contribute toward those costs unless an adequate sinking fund has accumulated. In this regard, a professional buildings survey may assist you to determine what any upcoming costs may be. Investigate the condominium company’s accounts for the last three years for a sinking fund, for any non-contributions and for financial health generally. Missing contributions may indicate vacant units, or discord among existing owners and such could affect the desirability of the development. Non-contributions may have to be made good by those that do contribute; this is unfair, but may be the only practical solution for essential works. If owners have a shareholding (and so a say) in the management company, expenses may be kept to an acceptable level. 

Understand how and when maintenance charges can be increased, and determine the percentage contribution to ensure that the charges for the chosen condominium are fair. Check that the buildings insurance is at a reasonable premium, for an adequate sum, and covers the unit — and be aware of any unreasonable exclusions. In case of a catastrophe, management should be obliged to reinstate the development (and so each condominium), within a reasonable period of time, using insurance proceeds.  

Most condominiums are leasehold. A monthly condo fee will apply. A leasehold property is a depreciating asset, however many leaseholds are for around 999 years. Leases with fewer than 70 years left are unlikely to prove a good investment. Finance is unlikely to be available for a short-term lease, and the property itself represents less value to pass on to children. In 2011 the Bermuda Government announced that more than 500 condominiums across the Island, including The Waterfront in town and Mizzentop in Warwick, can now be sold to non-Bermudians (restricted persons). Earlier, non-Bermudians could only buy condominiums with an ARV of $32,400 or higher. Government amended a section of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Regulations Act and added 521 condominiums to the list of units that can be bought by expatriates. These amendments were made through a notice in the Official Gazette. Forty-three of the units are on former tourist properties. The Government notice stated the following condominium units are eligible to be held or acquired by restricted persons, namely non-Bermudians.

The list includes:

Conveyance, re-conveyance

A conveyance deed is a document, with considerable stamp duties involved, that in Bermuda conveys legal title to the owner, if mortgage-free, or if with a mortgage, to the lender with whom the deed is lodged and with the mortgage recorded in the Book of Mortgages at the Registrar General's Office. When a mortgage is repaid, a re-conveyance deed certifies that the property is no longer encumbered, with the bank asking the owner for the name of his or her attorney. The re-conveyance makes it clear that the debt is repaid. The legal cost of a re-conveyance is less than the cost of a conveyance, with stamp duty payable by the owner based on the original mortgage loan amount. The attorney will also arrange for the mortgage to be marked as satisfied in the Registrar Genera's Office. Those who do not get a re-conveyance risk having major problems when they decide to sell.

Stamp Duties (tax) for property conveyance and transfer. From up to $100,000 in property value, 2%; $100,000-$500,000, 3%; $500,000 to $1 million, 4%; $1 million to $1,500 million 6%; over $1.5 million 7%.

Development potential

There are strict development guidelines and rules. Development & Planning changes must be publicized before approval or otherwise. Bermuda's Department of Planning ultimately determines what can and cannot be done by way of development. Guidelines and specifications are set out in written form. Permission is routinely denied for anything which falls within these specifications and with the right guidance may well be permitted to do certain projects which fall beyond that scope, if in the public interest to make such exceptions. Those considering any development should consult an architect experienced and successful in dealing with the Planning Department.

All additions, alterations, conversions, conversions, extensions, improvements, etc, must be made to the Bermuda Government's Department of Planning, 3rd Floor, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton.  The applied-for changes will be advertised in the Official Gazette by Parish with the full name and address of the applicant in each Parish and the changes sought, with a Plan Reference number. Any person wishing to object must do so within 14 days of the date of publication of the relevant notice. Objections must be written, in letter format, stating any interest which the objector may have, with names and full addresses and with a concise statement of the grounds of the objection. For further details,  see the Development and Planning (Applications Procedure) Rules 1997.


Everything depends on the reliability of this. When outages occur from gale force winds because only relatively few homes and streets have underground electricity, electric water pumps do not work and consumers cannot access the water. Some homes have - and many more need - portable generators (see separate heading). A serious disadvantage is if the property needs major electrical work. It could involve months of stress and strain in high humidity. All this is at a very high local cost compared to North America and Britain.

Executors of Bermudian estates

Expatriate land registry coming

At least 37% of Bermuda's homes are believed to be beneficially owned by non-Bermudians (non-nationals, foreigners). In February 2010 the Bermuda Government announced the compilation of a register of non-Bermudian land ownership and granted non-Bermudian landowners in Bermuda (foreigners) a provision to ensure they complied with a Bermuda anti-fronting law. Expatriates who own homes and other real estate  here under a licence granted before August 2007 had until June 22, 2110, under the terms of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2007 and 2010, to get that licence validated by Government or face having to sell their property and probably be fined heavily as well. The latest legislation was a law designed to outlaw the practice of fronting, where non-Bermudians gain an unlawful interest in land here by using a Bermudian "front." The Act requires non-Bermudians who contribute towards mortgage payments or benefit from rent on a property to be licensed even if they are not named on the title deeds. One of the aims of the 2007 Act was to allow Government to gain an accurate picture of the acreage of land owned by non-Bermudians. It is supposed to be no more than 400 acres per parish, but is believed to be more. The true scale of foreign land ownership had yet to be determined exactly. Bermuda has just 13,000 acres of land, with 6,000 of those for residential use. That may prove to be the highest percentage of land owned by non-citizens of any country in the world.

Foreshore License/Lease

Applies when boat-friendly or any other relevant water front property in any Bermuda parish is acquired by anyone, Bermudian or non-Bermudian. it will have to have a foreshore lease or licence. Most such places need one, especially those with their own dock. Why? It is a peculiarly British requirement. The Bermuda Government in this British Overseas Territory has freehold title to all of the foreshore and seabed from the mean high water mark and extending 12 nautical miles off shore (known as the Queen’s Bottom). When waterfront landowners construct docks or jetties (whether concrete or wooden) from their properties to gain access to the water and parts of that dock or jetty that project beyond their lot line and over the foreshore, it is classified as an encroachment. The Ministry of Works and Engineering, on behalf of the Bermuda Government,  rectifies or regularizes these encroachments by issuing a foreshore lease for a term of 21 years. If, however, the dock has been in existence and unchanged for a period of over 60 years, which must be proven with affidavits, official plans etc, then it is deemed to be “regularised” and exempt from a lease. Most reliable sales agents will guide their sellers who have waterfront property through this process when securing the listing as it can take some time and it makes for a cleaner sale if this paperwork has been sorted out before the property goes on to the market. Sellers of applicable Bermuda property may wish to consult an attorney.

Fractional Ownership

Fairly new, within private membership property developments and hotels. Now a popular form of property ownership in Bermuda by non-Bermudians. Fractional ownership offers the purchaser a deeded real estate interest in a Bermuda residence but they do not confer any permanent residency or work permit rights (they have to be applied for separately and are based on merit or appropriate employment opportunities, in both cases needing approval from the Bermuda Government.  But for regular visitors who do not seek permanent residence or to work in Bermuda, these developments offer many amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, golf course/club, beach clubs etc. The purchase licensing fee is a percentage of the purchase price. Some are being sold by hotels, others by realtors.

Garbage Collection Days

2018 Garbage collection days, according to the Bermuda Government are: 

Garages at homes or condos or apartments

And alternatives if you don't have one.

Whether buying or renting, an apartment of any size or house with a garage is essential for a car (only one per household is allowed) or moped or scooter. Those without one should be avoided because vehicles not stored in them just do not stand up to Bermuda's salt-laden air, constant winter gales and periodic hurricanes. Do not leave your vehicle outside at night without being securely garaged (in a garage with four solid walls, not a flimsy carport). Even rust-proofing is only partly effective for garaged vehicles. Be aware that Bermuda can often have hurricanes or storms or gales and plenty of rain. 

Left out in the driveway or under a flimsy car port, many vehicles in Bermuda could suffer damage. In the aftermath of recent hurricanes many people returned to their vehicles only to find them damaged or destroyed as a result of flooding and fallen debris. If you cannot garage your car, park in a public car park such as Bull’s Head, Hamilton. The cement structure may keep your vehicle safe in a severe storm. Or park away from land which is liable to flooding and try to locate a lee, such as a wall or a rock face for your vehicle to keep it safe from high winds. Don't park near trees or electricity poles. Casuarinas are shallow-rooted trees, which can be easily uprooted during a storm. Norfolk Pines have branches that can break easily and can damage your vehicle. If your car is exposed to wind and rain, try to park the car with its rear-end to the wind. This prevents salt, sand and debris from getting under the hood and into your engine.


For home owners who do not wish to do this themselves, they can employ a gardener or gardening contractor..


Especially after hurricane scares when virtually all Bermuda homes can be without electricity for periods ranging from days to three weeks, portable generators are an absolute "must" for all who own homes and many who rent apartments. There is a very high Bermuda Government Customs Duty rate on them, exceeding 30%. If bought locally, they can retail for over $2,000. If bought and imported privately, from places such as Home Depot in Florida or New York, they will still cost more than $950 after transportation delivery and Customs duty. As most homes in Bermuda are of limited acreage (one third or less) and are close together, the noise of a generator can be very stressful, so should be plugged in only during the day. 

Granting permission to reside in Bermuda

But not be employed, for which a separate Work Permit is required by any non-Bermudian.

Hedges, Lawns & Trees

If living close to a neighbor, hedges and trees are often a nice screen and help maintain privacy. If you decide to cut your side of the hedge between you and your neighbor you are entitled to cut any branches or roots that cross over the property boundary onto your land. You can also trim parts of your neighbor’s tree that may hang over your property line. However, the branches and roots still technically belong to your neighbor, so you should speak to him or her first to see if they would prefer to trim it themselves or if they want to keep the branches. You cannot go on the tree owner’s property without their permission, unless a branch poses immediate potential harm. You may be liable for costs if you cause the structural integrity of the tree to be harmed. You should also check that that particular tree is not subject to a preservation order with the Department of Agriculture. You are responsible for maintaining any trees growing on your own property. Regular hedge and  tree maintenance is the best way to avoid problems. Trees that do not receive regular pruning may become weak, and are more vulnerable to high winds and other extreme weather events. Removing dead or diseased limbs seasonally is beneficial because high winds can rip trees out of the ground. Because this is referred to as an act of God, tree owners are not responsible for damage caused to neighboring properties unless it has previously been reported that the tree is unsafe and requests to correct the problem have been ignored by the applicable parties. A fallen tree in your yard, whether it is yours or not, is your responsibility to remove; your neighbour may be willing to help out. If you are on friendly terms it may be possible to split the cost of having a downed tree removed, however if you and your neighbour are on poor terms it may be difficult. If a tree from your neighbor’s yard damages your home or garage, will your homeowner’s insurance pay for the structural repairs? Or will your neighbor? If the tree damages your car, your comprehensive coverage should offer to pay for repairs. The growth habit of trees can create complications between neighbors. The canopy of a tree may extend over the adjacent lot and if a young tree is planted near the boundary, the trunk may grow large enough to cross the property line. A tree usually belongs to the property where its trunk stands however when the tree trunk overlaps the property line, it can become unclear who owns it. Maintenance of a boundary tree is up to the affected property owner, but both owners must agree to any work that affects the whole tree. The owner of the tree, or part thereof, has a legal responsibility to prevent it from causing harm to any other property. That may include cutting back branches or roots if they have the potential to cause injury or damage or if the tree is shown to have harmed the adjacent property. If a tree or tree limb falls and damages the property, the tree owner may be liable for damages if it can be proved that the damage was caused due to the owner’s neglect of the tree’s maintenance. Hedge and boundary issues can be very emotive and in all cases, communication with your neighbour is important and can help alleviate contentious situations.

Homes with their own lawns will keep their homeowners or renters busy. In drought conditions, which can be frequent in the summer months, it is not advisable to use chemicals to control weeds or even pest and diseases unless the plants are well irrigated and then only in the cool of the day. A "good" lawn should be virtually weed-free, of good colour with little or no thatch and of one grass type. Selecting the right grass type for the specific area will save future headaches with less maintenance problems to deal with. Mixed type lawns can be troublesome not only from a patchwork appearance but also with weed control as chemical control for one type of grass may adversely affect another type. Common Bermuda grass seed is sown at a rate of two to three pounds per thousand square feet, sow in two directions to obtain a more equal coverage. St. Augustine plugs are planted at four inches to six inches apart and are best installed in spring. As temperatures rise, they will, when maintained properly, in-fill quickly. Warm season grasses are St. Augustine and variety Floratem, a chinch bug resistant strain; Bermuda grasses and their hybrids and Zoysia. St. Augustine grass is not always advisable as it is subject to attack by chinch bug which will devastate a lawn in a short period of time given the right conditions. Many homeowners prefer to let landscaping companies handle their lawn mowing and maintenance.

Home insurance

All home insurance must by law be with a reputable local insurer. Insurance should always include hurricane and windstorm protection. In Bermuda, hurricane season officially starts on June 1 and ends October 31, but this is variable. Average home insurance costs, which are huge by UK standards are just for the building, not the real estate or contents which are extra. If in a valley or otherwise not elevated and near the coast, flood insurance is recommended. Every few years a local insurance company initiates raising the insured value of the house. The system in Bermuda seems to be quite different to home insurances in the UK or USA or Canada, etc. in several significant ways. Overseas, homeowners are encouraged to insure their properties for what they deem to be replacement or market value. In that area alone in Bermuda, a property may be close to or exceed 1M at present but the costs of rebuilding after a hurricane or fire may be much lower because the foundation, tank, cess pits and walls are likely still up. So from their perspective, a lower or medium-priced building with a market value of say $1.2 million  may be insured for only about 491K rebuilding cost indicated on the policy, to return the house to the same pre-catastrophe condition. Prospective non-Bermudian owners of Bermuda real estate should always check with their local insurers about home insurance and those from the UK must also be prepared to pay up to ten times in Bermuda what they pay in the UK. As an example of this, one Bermudian who lives in the UK can pay no more than about $300 a year for a $491,000 home, including $30,000 for contents. But his family in Bermuda can easily pay $2,340 a year for a similarly detached stand-alone Bermuda property also insured for $491,000 with contents of $30,000.  The above relate to buildings and contents insurance. Most working non-Bermudian professional newcomers won't own their Bermuda homes but rent them so may need only contents insurance. The cost of this should be compared with their costs back home. 

Hurricane preparations to minimize damage

Home owners have accountability and responsibility when facing and after hurricanes. They must address the curb appeal (ie fixing broken screen doors, clearing out clutter, freshening up paint, etc) and be sure the property is hurricane-ready. The checklist includes making sure shutters are intact and close securely; fixing cracks in the roof and loose tiles; securing pergolas and balconies; for those with boats, strengthening moorings; installing a generator or having one in the garage that could be included with a sale. Prospective purchasers definitely look more at features that will help protect homes and their investment in the event of storms. Even the neighborhood comes under scrutiny. Areas which have been diligent in burying cables underground and trimming large trees are advantaged. Minimizing homeowner responsibilities via good property maintenance is essential, especially for those who travel often or are elderly or have little time to attend to repairs and maintenance. They will benefit from owning a condominium in an established development. Condominium complexes have protocols and resources in place particularly for hurricane-preparedness which are invaluable for those off Island or unable to perform the work themselves. Property managers and on-site caretakers may assist or get help with closing shutters; cutting back foliage from power cables; inspecting loose debris; stowing garden furniture and outdoor items especially barbecues; turning off major appliances; plugging gutters; establishing contact information for neighbors. Property managers are also key to record damage assessments while the boards file collective insurance claims as per condominium policies. There are no guarantees that residents will have power throughout or immediately after a storm, but it helps to live in a community that is designed to reduce the exposure. Many modern condominium complexes have buried cables underground which provided for power continuity throughout the recent storms. For those who live in rented single family houses or duplexes or apartment blocks, expect the landlord to take all the necessary actions.

Illegal apartments

This is especially relevant for non-Bermudians working in Bermuda on Work Permits. These should be avoided like the plague as a potential source of trouble and expense. An illegal apartment is one that has not passed the tests of the Bermuda Plan 1992 Planning statement and has one or more of the following faults:

Joint tenants or tenants-in-common

When property - houses and/or condominiums and/or land - is passed on by a parent or parents to their children or relatives, they become owners and/or co-owners. There are two kinds of co-ownership, one known as "joint tenancy" and the other as "tenants in common." There are significant differences between the two. It's also a legal oddity that despite a person or persons concerned being owners or co-owners they are legally joint tenants or tenants in common as the case may be.

A house and land held in a joint tenancy results in each co-owner having an unascertained share. That share cannot be sold separately; if a co-owner dies, the deceased's share automatically goes to the other co-owners whether or not there is a will. A joint tenancy is usually most appropriate for a husband and wife, who remain married and wish the surviving partner to automatically own the marital home in full after the death of one spouse. For a joint tenancy, "four unities" must exist -  those of possession, interest, title and time. Unity of possession means that each co-owner is as much entitled to possession of any part of the land as the others; unity of interest means that the interest of each joint tenant is the same in extent, nature and duration; unity of title means that each joint tenant must claim their title to the land under the same act or document; and unity of time means that the interest of each tenant must vest at the same time. The four unities are often present in a tenancy or voluntary conveyance of land to two or more individuals, without any further reference regarding the kind of ownership. However, the four unities can be displaced by "words of severance", which if used indicate co-ownership by way of a tenancy in common. Additionally, the four unities can be displaced if there is evidence of an intention contrary to creation of a joint tenancy. For example, if business partners acquire land as co-owners, the established rule is that ownership automatically passing to the other co-owners has no place in business. Business partners usually, therefore, have a tenancy in common unless specific wording is found creating a joint tenancy. A joint tenancy can become a tenancy in common by a process known as "severance", which occurs by the action of one or more co-owners, or by a course of transactions, indicating a tenancy in common. After severance, each co-owner usually has an equal share in the newly created tenancy in common. 

In a tenancy in common, where each owner has a specific share, for example 25% each in a family of four children, or 50% each with two children, or by arrangement each co-owner can hold an agreed proportion of the property. This form of co-ownership also enables all the parties concerned  to transfer their shares during their lifetime if they wish, without any legal requirement to notify any other party beforehand and bequeath their shares entirely as they wish in their will, a process which will ensure their shares continue to be protected. This means that on the death of any of the co-owners in a tenancy-in-common, their shares do not pass to other co-owners (as it does in a joint tenancy) but to a spouse or another or others designated in a will.  One characteristic of a tenancy in common is that a co-owner can transfer his or her interest to a third party. However, such a transfer could result in a new and undesirable co-owner. To avoid such a possibility, co-owners may wish to enter into a scheme requiring a selling co-owner to give a right of first refusal to the other co-owners. If a co-owner of either a joint tenancy or tenancy in common desires to sell without the agreement of the other co-owners, the Partition Act 1855 provides a potential remedy. The co-owner desiring sale may apply to the Supreme Court for an order, which could result in a sale of the land, as directed. After sale, proceeds are allocated to the co-owners in accordance with the court order.

An attorney expert in the area can assist with:

When a will does not specify that co-ownership of a property goes to specific individuals in joint tenancy or as tenants in common, a lawyer may suggest a Declaration of Trust be signed, to record the respective shares. If the property is sold in the future the amount of equity distributed to each owner will reflect the terms of the Declaration of Trust. A lawyer should be consulted for more details, terms and conditions, changing from joint tenants to tenants in common, etc. and to inform clients of any problems.

Land Evaluation and Land Taxes (real estate or property taxes)

Bermuda Home 02Land taxes in Bermuda are property (or Council if in the UK) taxes elsewhere. Land taxes in Bermuda do not include access to a municipal or local water supply or sewage disposal. Land Taxes are a property tax charged on all developed land throughout Bermuda with some minor exceptions. Bermudian home owners over 65 qualify for exemption or a rebate (a) when the property is registered in their own names, not in the name(s) of their child(ren) and, since early 2012 (b) if the ARV is less than $50,000 The expression "land" is used in its broadest sense to include land, buildings and structures attached to land. Undeveloped land is not liable to tax, though developed land that is merely unoccupied is still liable. Each piece of property that is liable to tax is known as a "valuation unit" and details describing it and its assessed annual rental value (ARV) are entered in the Valuation List. This List is prepared and maintained by the Land Valuation Officer under the authority of the Land Valuation and Tax Act 1967 as amended. A printed copy of the Valuation List is available for public inspection at the Land Valuation Department. Note that The Land Valuation Department just deals with the property and its assessment. The Tax Commissioner's Land Tax Officer calculates the amount of land tax chargeable on all valuation units and demand notes are issued to taxpayers half-yearly. The amount of tax for each property is determined by multiplying the ARV by the appropriate tax rates. Bermuda's Land Valuation and Tax Act 1967 as amended requires all properties on the Island be revalued every five years, at the same time. See the Land Valuation website www.landvaluation.bm. Land taxes are payable to the Bermuda Government by all Bermudian and non-Bermudian property owners. It is based upon the Assessed Rental Value (ARV) for each private dwelling (apartments, condominiums and single-family detached homes) and commercial buildings with the ARV determined by the Bermuda Government's Land Valuation Officer.

By American and Canadian standards, Land Taxes, paid on homes and condominiums twice a year, are not too onerous for most middle-income Bermudians but for non-Bermudian owners of local properties are extraordinarily high, the highest in the world by far. They cannot be compared to Council Taxes in the UK because the Bermuda annual land taxes are hugely more than any UK council taxes. (For example, in 2016 in Westminster, London, $950+million Buckingham Palace and all other London millions-of-pounds properties pay less than £1500 a year in total Council Taxes (the equivalent of land taxes) but in Bermuda a much smaller $20 million property owned by a non-Bermudian, depending on its ARV, could easily cost the owner an outrageous more than $85,000 a year in annual Land Tax, for nothing more than periodic outdoor removal. Far more so than in any other country, Bermuda's land taxes on non-Bermudian owned property have been increased hugely in recent years.

Land Evaluation Appeals Tribunal. Those who complain about their taxes can try complaining to this Bermuda Government body, appointed under the Land Valuation & Tax Act 1967 and shown in alphabetical order in Bermuda Government Boards

Who pays Land Tax? Usually, the Land Tax on Private Dwellings on rented properties is paid by landlords, not tenants. But it is not uncommon for many local landlords to include the Land Tax in the sum they ask for rentals.

2019. July 12. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, updated MPs on the Department of Land Valuation this morning in the House of Assembly. Colonel Burch told MPs that the department had been one of the first to become a paperless office, and no longer maintains a physical filing system, which was completed in 2018. This feature also applies to documenting “pertinent verbal discussions”, he said, which proved valuable in legal matters, and there is now “zero risk” of losing files. The department’s filing cabinets have been removed and distributed elsewhere in government, freeing up 10 per cent of its office floor space. Four tonnes of paper were taken away. Colonel Burch said the 2020 valuation list, undertaken every five years, would cover 36,000 units. With property values declining overall, and some falling more than others, he said the exercise would “re-level the playing field”. The list is to be published on December 31, 2020. It will be the last valuation in which paper survey forms will be issued, the minister added.

2018. March 21. The Land Tax Amendment Act 2019, if passed by the Senate, will come into effect on July 1, 2019. This new legislation will see properties charged taxes based on the annual rental value. Properties are classified into seven groups, called bands, and taxed accordingly. All properties will be charged a base rate of $300. Units that are private dwellings with a valuation of over $22,000 will pay the base rate of $300 in addition to the yearly percentage tax for the band of property. All properties under $22,000 will pay only the base rate of $300. Wayne Furbert, the Junior Minister of Finance, said Bermudians who are 65 years and older who own and occupy a private dwelling are exempted from tax on the first $45,400 of the annual rental value. He added: “The reality is to maintain Government service at a reasonable level and to avoid financial failure, the Government needs to increase revenue.” The new legislation also included increased tax on commercial properties from 7 to 9.5 per cent and on tourist properties from 7 per cent to 8 per cent. Mr Furbert said: “The primary purpose of this Bill is to amend the land tax rates to ensure additional revenue to the Government so that Government can continue to do the work that the people elected us to do.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister, said although it was the Government’s responsibility to provide services, it was also duty-bound to cut costs. She added that cuts in spending could be made without putting people out of jobs. Ms Gordon-Pamplin warned that the cost increase on commercial owners could be passed on to tenants and the public. She added that some of the increased taxes and fees appeared small, but it all added up and could put extra pressure on struggling Bermudians. The Dental Practitioners Amendment Act 2019 was also passed on Monday. The Dental Practitioners Amendment Bill will require dentists to have indemnity insurance in order to register as a dental practitioner. It will also give the Bermuda Dental Board power to impose additional registration requirements for some procedures when it thought it was needed to protect the health of patients.

2019. March 2. Legislation implementing budgetary steps laid out by Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, has been tabled to go into effect later this year. 

2019 new land taxes

The Land Tax Amendment Bill 2019, tabled yesterday in the House, will come into effect on July 1, 2019 if approved. The Bill is aimed at tourist units such as hotels, cottage colonies and guesthouses, but excludes vacation rental units. On top of a base charge of $300, the Bill imposes charges based on the property’s annual rental value, with a special rate for properties inside Economic Empowerment Zones. The Financial Services Tax Amendment Act 2019 will impose an extra tax on banks and domestic insurers — although health insurance and the Government’s own insurance gets a pass. However, additional landholding charges that had been scheduled to take effect on March 31 this year have been deferred another two years, under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Landholding Charges) Amendments Regulations 2019. Also tabled was the amendment to hike the foreign currency purchase tax from 1 per cent to 1.25 per cent, and Bills extending customs duty relief to hotels and restaurants to 2024.

Former Property tax, based on ARV of each property band, payable twice a year, and how they have been increased:

Up – US$11,000 from 0.60% to 0.8%
US$11,001 – US$22,000 from 1.20% to 1.8%
US$22,001 – US$33,000 from 2.40% to 3,5%
US$33,001 – S$44,000 from 4.80% to 6.5%
US$44,001 – US90,000 from 9.60% to 12%
US$ 90,000-$120,000 new rate, 25%
Over US$120,000 was 18.23% now 47%

2015. December 16. The Bermuda Government raised land taxes to avert a potential $19.1 million loss in revenues brought about by the latest annual rental value figures. The ARV has fallen due to the recession and the resultant unemployment and a drop in real estate financing by banks, according to Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance. Land tax rates were thus raised, effective yesterday, after an amendment announced in Parliament. The Island’s property market peaked in 2008, Mr Richards said, with a subsequent “sharp decline in rental and capital values. In other words, there was a bubble in Bermuda property markets and the bubble has deflated,” he added. The Land Valuation Department conducted a revaluation of land, after which a 2015 Draft Valuation List was produced. “The Draft List confirms the widely held opinion that rental values in the open market have fallen between the valuation date of December 31, 2009, upon which the current 2009 Valuation List is based, and the July 1, 2014 valuation date, upon which the 2015 Draft Valuation List is based. The residential assessments were seeing annual rental values below their 2009 assessed levels of rental value. The sobering reality is that to maintain government services at a reasonable level and to avoid financial failure, the Government needs to increase land tax rates.” The rate for properties up to $11,000 ARV will rise from 0.6 to 1.8 per cent, while rates for properties of an ARV of $11,001 to $22,000 rise from 1.2 to 2.5 per cent. For properties of ARV $22,001 to $33,000, the rate will go from 2.4 to 4.4 per cent, and for the $33,001 to $44,000 bracket, from 4.8 to 6.8 per cent. For properties of ARV $44,001 to $90,000, it rises from 9.6 per cent to 11.6 per cent, and from $90,001 to $120,000, from 19.2 per cent to 21.2 per cent. Properties above $120,000 will rise from 23 to 25 per cent. For Bermudians over the age of 65 who are living in their own homes, the tax exemption will drop from ARVs of $50,000 to $29,000. To lessen the impact of the revaluation on the land tax revenue on commercial and tourist units, the tax rate will be hiked from 5.5 per cent to 7 per cent, which will keep the taxation at the same level as previously.

2015. June 20. The Land Valuation and Tax Amendment Act 2015 passed in the House of Assembly. Among its modifications to property law, the legislation allows for the Land Valuation Tribunal to consider a unit’s market rental value in assessing objections. Taxpayers will be able to challenge the draft valuation list using market rental evidence. It was brought before MPs by Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier, who noted that the rental value for the majority of homes had decreased, which would result in the Annual Rental Value (ARV) declining, as well as the amount of land tax owed. ARVs completed since 2009 indicate a slump in the market, which in turn meant that homeowners would see their assessment value go down. Mr Cannonier also addressed concerns raised about the department gaining access to residential homes by saying that this has always been allowed and was sanctioned under the Constitution  Responding to questions by MP Walton Brown as to what circumstances would necessitate this, Mr Cannonier said that entry would be gained to properties to ensure the assessment was done correctly. He said that in the event that there was a partition that could not be seen from the outside, which might hold a tank, for example, inspectors would want access so that the value of the property was not wrongly assessed. Mr Cannonier said having to gain access to a residential home for these reasons was “very, very rarely done.”

2013. March 15. It was announced that with effect from July 1, 2013 land tax will be increased for the Island’s most expensive homes, according to legislation approved in the House of Assembly. The Land Tax Amendment Act increases taxes for properties with an annual rental value of between $90,001 and $110,000 from 9.6 percent to 19.2 percent. Taxes on properties with an ARV of more than $120,001 rise from 19.2 percent to 23 percent. Land taxes on all other properties will remain unchanged. Finance Minister Bob Richards said the legislation would only affect a small percentage of homeowners and raise millions in revenue for the Government. “This is fair,” Mr Richards said. “Those who live in the most expensive homes should pay more land tax than others.” Shadow Finance Minister David Burt said he was pleasantly surprised, saying there were “a few more places” to look in order to find similarly progressive revenue sources.

How land taxes compare internationally:

Presently, when offering Bermuda Homes for sale of a type that may be sold to non-Bermudians, most Bermudian realtors do not list the land taxes relevant to each property. It is particularly recommended that before buying any Bermuda property, prospective owners ask their Bermuda realtor to ascertain what the ARV and annual land tax on that property will be.  

Land Title Registration

Land Title Registry Office, Milner Place, 32 Victoria Street, Hamilton HM11. Mailing Address: PO Box HM 2587, Hamilton HM KX. Tel: (441) 294 9260. Fax: (441) 296 1324. Email: landtitleregistryoffice@gov.bm. Web: www.ltro.gov.bm.


2018. October 15. A new electronic land registration system will make it harder for fraudsters to steal property, the Land Registrar has said. Debbie Reid added her office had fielded complaints from people who said they had lost land, but a new electronic registration system would make it “very difficult” for deception to take place in the future. Ms Reid said: “We have had complaints at our office regarding people losing their land. Obviously we don’t go into the details — we are just a records office. We always advise people to seek the advice of an attorney. But it’s going to be very difficult for that to happen on the land title registration system.” Ms Reid was speaking at the Hamilton Rotary Club on the island’s new land title registration regime, which came into effect on August 27. The online Norwood information system, named after Richard Norwood who surveyed Bermuda in 1616, has been worked on since 2007. Ms Reid said the Norwood system removed the need for paper deeds and documents and was accessible online to everyone. She added: “Once property has been registered, it can’t be adversely taken by squatters because behind it there’s transparency. You can’t go on to someone else’s land and say that you never knew who the owner was.” Adverse possession or squatter’s rights has been used in the past to gain ownership of properties claimed to be abandoned when the new occupant has maintained the land for 20 years or more without challenge. The new system, set up after Parliament approved the Land Title Registration Act this summer, was praised by Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works. Colonel Burch said the online registry would end the “deplorable” history of property owners getting cheated out of their land. Ms Reid said that her office had “a full appointment book” of people who wanted to register, with ten applications being processed at present. She added real estate agents had “embraced” the new register. Ms Reid said: “We’ve been working with attorneys over the last 11 years trying to come to some sort of agreement with them. We couldn’t introduce everything they wanted, but we have tried to work closely with them to get it right.” Ms Reid added that Bermuda was one of the last countries to adopt an electronic system of land title registration. She said that when a property is registered, deeds are kept online with all historical documents attached. Ms Reid explained that registration is only compulsory when a property is to be sold. But Ms Reid said there was scope for examining the fee base to encourage other people, such as seniors, to sign on.

2018. July 16. Land owners will be able to register their property without going through a lawyer after a change in legislation was passed in the House of Assembly. The Land Title Registration Amendment Act 2018 will allow members of the public to carry out voluntary registration, although initial or compulsory registration of deeds will still need to be handled by a lawyer. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told MPs on Friday that other changes to the principal 2011 Act would remove the need to advertise registration before it can take place and to give the land registrar the power to appoint an external adjudicator. He said: “The amendments will smooth the transition to registering title to land and open the door to allow the public to register their property voluntarily.” Colonel Burch explained: “Under voluntary registration, the applicant already owns their property and the likelihood is that they have owned it for many years. To protect their property interests, it would be safer to keep it on the land title register. This amendment will also allow Bermudians who do not have the financial means to pay lawyers’ fees to register their properties, thus the benefits of land title registration will be enjoyed by all land owners.” He said repealing the need for public notices in the Official Gazette was because “stakeholders inform that the procedure does not work and could further delay the conveyancing process”. Trevor Moniz, Shadow Attorney-General, said the moves gave less protection to a genuine owner if title deeds are falsely registered by someone else. He added: “What was required initially was that there would be a notice posted so that when you first register a piece of property, a notice is published, that notice will alert relatives of that person and neighbors of that person that something is being done with this piece of property and it may be that they have some real claim over the property, some interest in the property or a mortgage. None of these things are far-fetched, these are all things which I have seen in my time in the legal profession.” Michael Scott, Progressive Labour Party backbencher, supported the Bill. He said: “It’s an addition to what has been historically an honest transfer of land that is fairly routine.” Mr Scott added that the measures put forward were not new, having been used in the UK since 1925, and were drawn up to “remove the high cost of conveyancing, to have more open, blue skies accountability by just having an open register.” Colonel Burch also told the House: “I have been greatly encouraged by not only the competency of the registrar, who has been in this job for ten years and who has overseen the insertion into the land title registry of all of the Government’s estate. I’ve also been impressed by the recruitment of competent, committed, dedicated land title officers, four of them.” Colonel Burch said last month that property owners would “finally” be able to secure their real estate, and “the land that they worked so hard to obtain, their piece of the rock that they want their children and grandchildren to inherit and maintain after they are gone, their legacy, will for ever be safe”. He added: “It is unconscionable to this government that land owners would have to pay lawyers’ fees for this service, so we will amend the Act to remove the requirement for a lawyer to examine the deeds.”


2018. July 4. The real estate division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the implementation of the Land Title Registration Act. The Land Title and Registration Office is responsible for registering land and property ownership in Bermuda. Its duty is to record any legal right or interest affecting parcels of land and to provide an up-to-date report of the evidence of land ownership. Individuals, businesses or organisations who become land owners or own interests in land must apply to the LTRO to: register unregistered land, register a new owner of a registered property following a sale; and register an interest affecting registered land, such as a mortgage, lease or a right of way. Once the information is recorded, the LTRO will provide an accurate, accessible and comprehensive record about land and property ownership and any interests affecting land as well as provide land owners with a land title certificate/registered title. In a statement, the Chamber said: “For those carrying out property transactions, this new process will not only save time, but will also decrease legal costs.” It noted that Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works, said: “Once the land is guaranteed, the land/property cannot be lost or stolen.” In a message to the public, the Chamber’s real estate division said its real estate members hold themselves “to a high standard; they are guided by provisions set out in the Chamber Handbook for Real Estate as well as being fully compliant with the Real Estate Licensing Act. All agents have police clearance certificates and are committed to serve their customers and clients fairly”. Any member of the public with concerns about their dealings with members of the Chamber’s real estate division should contact the division’s chairperson at chamberrealestate@gmail.com.


2018. June 16. A new register of land ownership will crack down on people who try to cheat vulnerable owners out of their property, MPs heard yesterday. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the new land title registry would end a “sorry and deplorable” history of real estate agents and lawyers swindling clients. Colonel Burch explained: “This system will provide for the guarantee of legal ownership of land and the simplification of conveyancing transactions.” He added the register would become “the definitive record of title” and that any further transactions could be carried out quickly and at low cost. Further, once a title is registered, title to that land is guaranteed, and cannot be lost or stolen.” He said that land exchange on the island came with a “long and sad history”, in which many had been cheated by “unscrupulous professionals, and even at times by family members. Landowners who opt to register their deeds would obtain absolute title. Property owners would finally be able to secure their real estate, and the land that they worked so hard to obtain, their piece of the rock that they want their children and grandchildren to inherit and maintain after they are gone, their legacy, will for ever be safe. It is unconscionable to this Government that landowners would have to pay lawyers’ fees for this service, so we will amend the Act to remove the requirement for a lawyer to examine the deeds.” Staff at Government’s Land Title Registration Office will instead carry out searches and grant registered titles. The modernized system will come into force at the start of next month. Colonel Burch said the change will complete the move from a deeds-based registration system that dated back to 1999. Shady practices in the real estate market sparked a debate in the House of Assembly in 2014, when the Progressive Labour Party was in Opposition. A Commission of Inquiry was approved by Parliament, but it was never authorized by the Governor. Colonel Burch predicted “great interest” from the public and that voluntary registration would start by appointment only to allow the office to handle the workload.


2018. June 15. A new land title registry will protect vulnerable people from being swindled, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch told Parliament today. Colonel Burch, the public works minister, said a modernized system for land title registration will be in operation from July 2. He said that the launch would begin with voluntary registration by appointment. The public works minister said the new registry has been a work in progress since 1999. Among the benefits will be the elimination of land being “swindled” off vulnerable persons.


2017. December 13. Legislation to enable the creation of a central land title registry and make it easier to access information on property ownership was passed in the Senate today. Government senator Jason Hayward said of the Land Title Registration Amendment Act 2017: “This is huge, this is significant. This is momentous in Bermuda.” Mr Hayward said the change to the law was “a significant shift from how we were operating to how we are going to operate” in “one of the few developed countries in the world without a system of land title registration.” Mr Hayward added that the amendment would ensure proof of ownership and interests in land were held on one register. He said: “In Bermuda there have been historic property disputes within families. This particular system will ensure that everybody is clear on who is entitled to what pieces of property.” Public works minister David Burch had earlier told the House of Assembly that the registry was created by legislation passed in 2011 but had yet to be brought into operation. Lieutenant-Colonel Burch said: “In a word, this legislation provides safety and security for those who own land in this country.”


2017. November 27. Legislation to bring the Land Title Registry into effect was passed in the House of Assembly without objection. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the registry was created by legislation passed in 2011 but it had yet to be brought into operation. However with the passing of the new legislation, Colonel Burch said Friday’s move meant the regime come into force at the start of next April and make information about land ownership easily accessible to any interested party. Colonel Burch said: “Bermuda is one of the very few developed countries in the world without a system for land title registry. The current system of deeds-based conveyance needs to be modernized.” Colonel Burch said that deeds of title can be copied or forged but the registry would prevent such actions and help to settle property disputes. He added that all Government properties owned by deed have already been entered into the system which allowed staff at the registry to test check for problems. Colonel Burch said: “In a word, this legislation provides safety and security for those who own land in this country.” But Trevor Moniz, the Shadow Attorney-General, raised concerns about people attempting to register land that does not belong to them. He said: “We don’t want people to have the responsibility to go to the Land Title Registry every day to make sure no one registered something that they should not have registered.” He also questioned the decision to use an indicative boundary for the registry instead of more accurate surveyed boundaries. Mr Moniz said that because of the island’s small size disputes can arise over very small amounts of space. He added: “People fight about inches in Bermuda. Oftentimes their most valuable possession is the property that they own. Indicative borders are not the best way to proceed.” Colonel Burch said that the registry used indicative boundaries because surveys “don’t always work correctly in this country”. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, however said that as a lawyer she is aware that the existing system of deeds is problematic and expensive — especially when the deeds are lost or damaged. She added: “The cost associated with recreating a deed are huge. A system such as this will minimalism the burden.” Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said historical abuses of the deed system had also allowed people to steal land.

Leases and their Bermuda Government stamp duty

If you lease instead of own an apartment or condominium or home, you will not rent by the month but will lease for a specific, mutually-agreed time. Leases are legal and breakage of a lease should not be attempted without risk of a severe penalty. If an employer, not a professional newcomer employee, signs a lease, great care should be taken by the employee not to put the employer at risk. The employee will still be liable to the employer for payment of utilities, conduct and care and interior maintenance of the leased property.

There is a leasing stamp duty (tax), based on monthly rent. It will cost for rents up to $1,200 (most working non-Bermudians will pay far more) $75; up to $1500, $100; from £1,500 to $2500, $150; from $2500-$3,500, $200; from $3,500-$5,000, $300; and over $5,000, $400.

A lease is a contract requiring a landlord to provide accommodation and the tenant to pay a rent for use of the accommodation for a fixed time period. Normally, many other conditions are included in a lease, such as who is to pay the land tax etc. As the contract is for a fixed period, any party breaking early is in default and may be liable to compensate the non-defaulting party. Often, a lease is for a foreseeable time period, such that neither party requires the contractual ability to terminate early due to a change in circumstances. If a lease is for a longer period, a landlord and tenant may agree contractual circumstances when one or both may require early termination without liability for loss. As expatriates - newcomers from abroad - constitute a significant portion of the Bermuda residential lettings market, residential leases usually allow a tenant to terminate early in the event that a work permit is withdrawn or not renewed. In such circumstances, the tenant is able to serve notice and the landlord can look for an alternative tenant during the notice period. In the commercial market, landlords and tenants generally look for longer term arrangements but with some added flexibility. A landlord ideally requires a long lease period but a tenant often prefers a shorter period. Both can be accommodated by a longer lease period but with the tenant afforded the ability to surrender (also known as a break clause), for example, halfway through the period. Tenants are often also given an option to call for a new lease period, which is often known as renewal. A tenant that can pay the rent is likely to want to stay at the end of a lease period as moving out can lead to significant expense and business interruption costs. Consequently, landlords are often flexible when negotiating lease periods. Generally, there are three options for a tenant wanting to move out before the end of a lease period: surrendering, transferring, or subletting. Unless contractually available, surrender cannot be forced on a landlord. Logically, unless the landlord has a replacement tenant, at an equal or higher rent, a landlord might refuse to accept surrender. Ordinarily, after surrender, neither the landlord nor the tenant has any liability or obligation to the other. For this reason, the landlord should ensure that all the tenant’s obligations under the lease have been complied with and rents paid, before signing or accepting the surrender. If a landlord is unwilling to accept surrender, a tenant might next consider transferring also known as assigning the lease to a third party assignee. After such a transfer, the assignee “stands in the shoes of the tenant” and is liable to the landlord as the tenant would otherwise be. A disadvantage to transfer is that the tenant remains liable to the landlord for default by the assignee. A tenant may request a release after transfer but there may be no obligation for the landlord to give such a release. If either surrender or transfer is unavailable, a tenant should consider subletting. When a tenant sublets, the tenant remains liable to the landlord under the lease as before. A wise subletting tenant shall ensure, as far as possible, that all lease obligations are passed to the sub-tenant. However, even in those cases, the tenant can remain ultimately responsible to the landlord. A lease often states the circumstances under which a tenant may sublet. A landlord shall be interested to make sure that the sublet contains acceptable conditions because for practical reasons, the sub-tenant can become the landlord’s immediate tenant. This can happen, for example, if a tenant becomes bankrupt. Subletting or sharing by a non-Bermudian company may require a license from Government under section 123A of the Companies Act 1981. There is no such thing as a “standard lease” and so it is important to obtain legal advice and know the contractual conditions before signing a lease, whether landlord or tenant."

Littering of residential premises

The Waste and Litter Control Act 1987and its penalties may apply, but only if the litter from yours or another person's rented or leased or owned apartment or condominium or house is visible from a public place, for example, from a main road or estate road, park, etc. This type of litter should always be reported first to the Bermuda Government's Department of Works and Engineering for investigation.

Mortgages and mortgage rates

The Book of Mortgages at the Registrar General's Office will have details of all conveyances where mortgages are involved and all re-conveyances satisfying the mortgage. Bermuda banks are willing to lend approved buyers up to 80 percent of the appraised value of a house or property when the applicant has the appropriate means. With an average mortgage of 20 years, persons who are given a mortgage should expect to pay a variable rate from 7.25 percent plus fees.  A household would need to earn at least $7,000 a month to qualify. Organizations that provide mortgages include banks, savings and loan entities, possibly some local (Bermudian) insurance companies; some law firm's trust department. Some will lend to non-Bermudians. Terms range from 5-20 years.

Planning Applications

Bermuda largely follows the UK system, which has its flaws. Technically, a neighbor can object to an owner or new owner's application to Planning for amendments, upgrades, improvements and renovations. Anyone contemplating buying a house that has been noted or described by a realtor or neighbors as needing fixing up or extended or improved or in any modified in a way that needs Planning approval and wanting to make any such alterations now or in the future should make a special point of first asking the selling agent for details and also neighbours of that property if they are likely to object. In theory, if not in practice too, a house clearly in need of an extension or other modification should have had planning permission in principle granted, after an appropriate plan has been submitted. It may reduce the prospective value of a house if this has not been done. A potential seller should also compare the asking price with an competent and reasonably timely market-price evaluation by a qualified surveyor. You are advised not to buy the house if a planning application is likely to be rejected. It's been claimed, but this is arguable, that no purchaser is likely to pay to have plans drawn up and neither would he be able to submit them, until after he/she is the owner and the old owner has received his payment. Any objections a new owner may or may not make to plans a new owner of  a house may produce in the future would be the business of the neighbor or neighbors entirely, after considering whether there would be any point under the planning and zoning laws.

Property Taxes

See Real Estate Taxes

Real Estate Brokers

Are required to have a valid license for the current financial year, under the Real Estate Brokers’ Licensing Act.

Real Estate Brokers’ Licensing Act

Applies to all who deal in Bermuda real estate.

Real Estate by Parish map

Parish map

Real Estate Taxes

See http://www.landvaluation.bm/taxframe.htm

Renting a Bermuda home 

Beware of possible water tank contamination. All who seek to rent a Bermuda home, whether on a short term holiday (vacation) basis or on a monthly lease or rental agreement, are strongly advised, before the rental period occurs, to get it in writing that the owner or owners have had the property and in particular its water tank both examined and certified by a competent Bermuda authority such as the Department of Health, as free from any water contamination that could cause potentially very serious health problems. Most folk who are not Bermudians or long-term residents don't know that Bermuda has absolutely no standard piped-in underground fresh water supply and no piped-out underground waste water and sewage system. It also has rivers or a rainy season, no fresh water lakes. It has to be said publicly that many Bermuda home owners and landlords do not comply with nearly 65 year old Bermuda Government regulations  - Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951, which require all household water tanks to be professionally cleaned every six years, as a result of which unsuspecting tenants could be unwittingly exposing themselves, their children and their pets to dangerous drinking and bathing water. It also has to be said that these regulations, which in any event are too old to comply with international current standards, have not been enforced in Bermuda and that many properties have not had their tanks professionally cleaned for possibly as long as 30 years.  Many water tanks located in homes rented to non-Bermudians do not meet American, Canadian and other international hygiene standards and prospective renters should make a special point of asking for appropriate certification that water tanks have been cleaned recently before they rent. If they cannot be supplied with such certification they should not rent the property, period.

Rents and Rent Control

Some non-Bermudian newcomers receive a housing allowance from their employers.  It can pay all or some of the rental costs. Utilities are always extra. Newcomers are advised not to pay any more than 28% of their salary on accommodation if they do not receive a partially compensatory housing allowance. In July 2015 the average rental price of a one-bedroom property is $2,389, a two-bedroom $3,551 and a three-bedroom $5,403. Location and scenery are among the most significant factors. Non-Bermudian property owners are prohibited from buying 'investment' property or property intended primarily to earn rental income. While they may be given permission by the Immigration Department to rent under certain circumstances, this permission cannot be taken for granted and is generally not given for periods in excess of one year. (A tax of 10% is paid to the government on rental income earned by non-Bermudians). 

2017. Landlords, be aware of Rent Control pitfalls. See http://www.royalgazette.com/business/article/20171123/landlords-be-aware-of-rent-control-pitfalls

2016. April 25. Falling house prices in Bermuda mean the threshold for properties which come under rent control is to be reduced. Homes with an annual rental value of $27,000 or less are regulated by the Rent Commission to give tenants in lower-value properties security of tenure and prevent landlords from increasing rent arbitrarily and unfairly. The threshold is to be lowered to $22,800, but the number of properties which come under the commission is not expected to change because thousands of homeowners had the value of their homes drop between the end of 2009 and July 2014. A Bermuda Government spokeswoman said the change was being made on the basis of information provided by the Department of Land Valuation from its 2015 draft valuation list. “The 2015 draft valuation list reflects the analysis of rental information returned to the Land Valuation Department,” she said. The draft list confirms the widely held opinion of many in the property sector, and in the community, that rental values, in general, in the open market have fallen between the valuation date of December 31, 2009, for the previous 2009 valuation list and July 1, 2014, which is the valuation date for the valuation units in the current 2015 draft valuation list. A tenancy of a premise is subject to rent control if the ARV is $27,000 or less, as determined by the 2009 land valuation list. This threshold placed 17,060 rental units under rent control. Now that the Department of Land Valuation has finalized the new valuation list, which takes effect [retroactively] from January 1, 2016, the new list has lowered ARVs, which will require an adjustment to rent control’s threshold. The effect of the new valuation list will place approximately 3,215 more residential properties under rent control if the current threshold of $27,000 is not adjusted ... The lowering of the threshold to $22,800 will keep the number of valuation units under rent control relatively unchanged [17,061].” The 2015 draft valuation list can be inspected at post offices, the Land Valuation Department and online at www.landvaluation.bm

Under the Rent Increases (Domestic Premises) Control Amendment Act 2009 approved by MPs in December 2009 the annual rental value (ARV) ceiling band for rent control purposes increased from $24,600 to $27,000. The Act sought to stabilize the percentage of premises that are rent-controlled. Tenants without the benefit of protection may be exposed to landlord undesirable practices and abuse, such as speculative rent gouging, inordinate rent increases, rent profiteering and unjust eviction.. Rent control has been in place in Bermuda since the late 1970s and is enforced by the Rent Commission. About 16,800 premises on the Island fall under the $27,000 ceiling, making them potentially subject to rent control. In theory, anyone in a rent-controlled property who felt they were paying too much could go to the Rent Commission. If someone has been paying too much rent for an amount of time, they can get reimbursed. 

Landlords and tenants should be aware that a court action may result if the landlord of a rent-controlled property (house or apartment) shows a cynical disregard for the rights of a tenant. A common example of this is physical removal of the tenant or his possessions to re-let at a higher rent. Landlords should know that an order of a court is always required before a tenant may be lawfully dispossessed. 

Roadside Properties

2016. August 12. The Ministry of Public Works has reminded owners of roadside properties that they are responsible for trimming back overhanging trees and hedges. A spokeswoman said that cleaning teams had been working additional hours to help cut back vegetation which had encroached onto public roads. “Overhanging vegetation can cause safety hazards to road users including obstructed visibility, damage to bus and truck windscreens, and injury to pedestrians, cycle riders and waste collection personnel,” she added. The spokeswoman said that vegetation needs to be kept clear at least 4.9 metres (16ft 1in) above the road surface, or 3 metres (9ft 10in) above the surface of a pedestrian walkway or verge. If property owners do not heed requests to trim back their vegetation in reported problem areas, she added that the Ministry can serve a statutory nuisance abatement notice.

Security Precautions

With drug addition rife and burglary and other ant0social crimes common, Bermuda is not a low-risk area. 

Selling Taxes

The vendor is typically responsible for paying 50% of the stamp duties (see below) on a conveyance. 

Sellers of properties in Bermuda need to produce title deeds going back at least 20 years. Title deeds must be kept in a safe place known to the owner at all times. Those who have a mortgage should expect the mortgage holder to retain possession until it is satisfied. Possession of a deed is required to mortgage or sell a property.

Stamp Duties

The Stamp Duties Act, as amended, a revenue-raising act, changes the various rates of stamp duty payable on the conveyance or transfer of property and land on the Island.

Highest in the world by a very large margin. especially since 1 April 2019. Approximately $34,000 would be payable on the purchase of a residential property for the sum of $1 million.

2019. March 20. Stamp duty payable on lease agreements is set to rise sharply if legislation passed by the House of Assembly, and currently before the Senate, comes into force. Under current legislation, a flat stamp duty fee is based on the monthly rent of the property in question. The maximum fee payable is $400, which is due on a property that attracts a monthly rent of $5,000 or more. Properties with lower monthly rents attract lower flat fees. However, the Stamp Duties Amendment Act 2019 has introduced a new fee schedule that is based on a percentage of the aggregate rent payable under the lease. The stamp duty payable is 1 per cent of the aggregate rent payable for the first three years of a lease, and 0.5 per cent of the aggregate rent payable for any additional period beyond three years. For a one-year lease on a property attracting a monthly rent of $5,000, the new fee would be $600, an increase of $200 over current rates. A three-year lease on the same property would attract stamp duty of $1,800, a rise of some $1,400 over current rates. Sharp increases materialise in the case of multiyear leases of larger spaces such as commercial property. A commercial lease of 5,000 sq ft of space at the typical rate of $40 per square foot per year over three years, would result in stamp duty of $6,000, a $5,600 increase on the current flat fee of $400. A 10-year lease on the same property would result in stamp duty of $13,000, an increase of $12,600 over the current rate. Stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of the execution of a lease. The amending legislation was passed by the House of Assembly on March 15. It gets a second reading in the Senate today. Provided it is passed by the Senate, the amending legislation — and the new stamp duty rates therein — will become effective on April 1, the legislation says. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a leading property lawyer said: “It is a dramatic increase — that is agreed — but the need for a change in the stamp duty rates payable on leases has long been acknowledged. It seems a bit ridiculous that a lease granted for five years, or even 100 years, at a rent of $1 million per annum should be stamped at the rate of $400. Increases probably ought to have been implemented some time ago. No doubt, the increase will cause a stir, but the schedule of fees has been crying out for some form of revisit for many years. Maybe Government has gone too far in the eyes of some people, and maybe not in the eyes of others, but stamp duty at the rate of $400 for $1m or $2m in rent is somewhat lower than it should be.” The lawyer pointed out that stamp duty of approximately $34,000 would be payable on the purchase of a residential property for the sum of $1 million. Even so, the lawyer said, the increase in rates will be a shock to commercial landlords. “The other side of the argument is that commercial landlords have come to expect stamp duty rates to be maintained at a certain level and if they are operating on the basis of tight financial margins, a sudden increase of this nature could have a material (negative) impact on them,” the lawyer said. “Taking this new approach in a phased way may have been a better idea. If it had been done 10 or 15 years ago, when it was first discussed, perhaps there could have been steady increases over time.” The lawyer identified a flaw in the proposed legislation. “The way the new rates are framed, prevents one from calculating the stamp duty that will need to be paid on leases that include open market and consumer price index based rent review provisions,” the lawyer said. “In such cases, you won’t know what the stamp duty should be because it’s not determinable. You will have no choice but to send it to the Tax Commissioner’s Office for adjudication, or to determine the stamp duty that should be paid.”


For Bermudians, the potential for subdivision will be governed by the zoning of the area. Non-Bermudians may not subdivide unless the portion subdivided is sold to a Bermudian and the portion retained has a qualifying ARV.


Only licensed surveyors are licensed under the Professional Surveyors Registration Act 1997. In March 2002, 21 were registered.

Tenants in Common

See under "Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common."

Timeline of relevant events or legislation or news

2019. August 19. Almost two thirds of properties bought from a top estate agent this year were bought with cash. Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said the number of buyers who did not need a mortgage had grown “exponentially” since 2010. The firm’s midsummer update also said that the market for $1 million properties had strengthened. The realtor said its team was able to collect a “tremendous” amount of information and found “several noteworthy trends”. The firm explained: “The most astonishing data is the number of cash buyers. Our agents have seen this number grow exponentially since 2010 when we recorded only 3 per cent of buyers with cash. Last year, 43 per cent of our buyers used cash to purchase their homes. During the calendar year so far, 62.5 per cent of our purchasers were cash buyers.” The estate agent said its data over two decades showed that “the island’s real estate sales have been relatively flat for the past five years” and that the average number of units sold annually was about 300. The report added: “We anticipate seeing an improvement in transactional activity in 2019. Our data indicates that the $1 million-plus market segment is strengthening, as is the $750,000 to $999,000 price range. Based on the recent notable price reductions, it appears that buyers are now finding these prices more attractive.” Analysis carried out by the Coldwell Banker team showed that prices were dropped for 111 properties throughout Bermuda between January and April. The realtor said that the figure equated to about 22 per cent of the market, based on about 500 properties currently for sale on Property Skipper, an online portal. The report explained: “The adjusted prices seem to have caught the attention of buyers because Property Skipper reports show inquiries were up by 14 per cent this April, compared with April 2018, in the sales, rentals and commercial market segments, and traffic overall in Bermuda for June was up 19 per cent compared with the corresponding period from the previous year. In fact, our most recent in-house demand analysis, tracking qualified buyers, indicates that our Coldwell Banker agents are actively working with 25 per cent more buyers than they did six months ago. Although we are continuing to see list-price erosion, buyer demand this summer appears to have been relatively robust.”

2019. July 8. Bermuda’s stagnant economy has had a knock-on impact on the island’s commercial real estate market. Forty commercial properties are listed for sale on the Property Skipper website, some of which have languished on the market for prolonged periods. The most expensive property checks in at just under $10 million, while some 21 properties are available for less than $1 million. Real estate agents surveyed by The Royal Gazette said that annual total dollar sales volume is well off the highest yearly figures of the last 14 years. Scott Powell, an agent with Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, said the number of transactions during that period peaked in 2008 at 20, but otherwise annual sales have been in the single digits or low double digits. The highest sales volume during this period, he said, occurred in 2006 at just more than $90 million, while 2013 saw $80 million in sales. “Sales figures in both number of transactions and dollar volume have oscillated with the low of the market flagged in 2017 with the total number of sales transactions at nine, and selling at ‘bargain prices’,” Mr Powell said. “In 2018, the market bounced back nicely with figures doubling and volume nearly tripling. Having said that, the total dollar volume is still very low compared to 2013. “As tenant demand has softened over the years, and vacancies have grown, prices have dropped. We find owner occupation more of a motivator than speculation. There are few properties available with rent-rolls that are attractive enough to attract some of the prices being asked. There is scant interest in development or redevelopment.” Brian Alkon, of Brian Alkon Real Estate, said the market has been in a prolonged downturn. “I personally have sold three commercial properties in the last two years,” he said. “All real estate in Bermuda, commercial or otherwise, dropped in value in 2008 by 25 to 30 per cent. It has been a buyer’s market for the last 11 years.” Rosanna Cox, an agent with The Property Group, said very little commercial real estate is being sold in Hamilton apart from recent purchases by the Green family, owners of Hamilton Princess and Beach Club. The Green family’s market activity, Ms Cox said, is “wonderful as they will keep Bermuda looking in good shape”. However, she said the Greens purchased commercial properties “at very low prices [and] it has influenced comparable prices in Bermuda and made it difficult for owners to sell at a price they feel is correct for their property, even taking into account the downswing in prices in recent years, because purchasers can use those sales prices as a comparable reference point”. Sales activity is price dependent, Mr Powell said. “The real estate market is very much price driven. Therefore, each property is unique, but if a property is priced according to market conditions, it can and does sell quite rapidly and in some cases there are price wars. Days on the market can be protracted depending on location, price and demand.” An uptick in the commercial property market will only happen when Bermuda’s economy expands, Mr Powell said. “There is no question that the flood of companies/people looking to Bermuda as the domicile of choice has fallen off substantially from that of ten or more years ago. An uptick will come when we roll out the red carpet in welcoming these opportunities and making their move as hassle-free as possible.” Ms Cox mirrored this view. She said: “We need to see more overseas companies being welcomed to Bermuda to start up business. Their work permits should be processed faster and [there should be] a lowering of stamp duty on leases which has been hugely raised just recently especially on high end rentals that have a number of years on the lease.” While he specializes in the residential market, agent Will Kempe of The Property Group said from the outside the commercial market “looks pretty dire, we need a more Cayman like immigration policy and therein hopefully more people”.

What is on the market

The most expensive commercial property listed for sale on the Property Skipper website is the five-acre Munro Beach Cottages, which overlook the south shore near Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton. The property, which includes a private beach, is listed by Rego Sotheby’s International Realty for $9.95 million. Rego is marketing the property as a “rare opportunity to acquire an exclusive resort destination redevelopment site”. Zoned tourism and coastal reserve, agent Penny MacIntyre says on the website that the property “offers the chance to develop a truly unique resort and/or condominium offering and currently consists of nine individual units which have recently been refurbished”. Staying with golf-adjacent properties, the former clubhouse of now-closed Riddells Bay Golf and Country Club is available for $2.85 million. Listed by agent William Kempe of The Property Group, and agent Daina Outerbridge of Rego Sotheby’s, the property having a lot size of 1.93 acres is zoned recreational. Two adjacent cottages are offered for sale along with the purchase of the clubhouse, priced separately at $600,000 and $850,000. Alas, Mr Kempe reports “little to no interest” in the property to date. In Hamilton, the most expensive listing is 19,000-square-foot Magnolia Place, situated at the intersection of Victoria Street and Parliament Street. Built in 1969, the three-storey building is listed by Barry DeCouto of DeCouto & Dunstan Real Estate for $6 million. The building is configured with storefront/retail on the ground floor with offices on the other two floors. The basement level can be used either as an office or for retail, the agent says. Second spot in Hamilton goes to Veritas Place at 65 Court Street. Having seven floors, the building is listed for sale by agent Scott Powell of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty for an asking price of $4.66 million. Tenants currently occupy more than 6,000 square feet of office space on the fifth and six floors. The second and third floors have not been fitted out, while the fourth floor is fitted out but vacant. Total vacant space available for an owner occupier amounts to 14,582 square feet, the agent says. The building at 71 Front Street, which houses Crisson & Hind African Gallery, is available through Herb Crisson at Crisson & Company Ltd for $2.99 million. Having 23 feet of street frontage in Hamilton’s retail district, the three-storey building was built around 1930, the agent says. The ground floor has nearly 2,900 square feet of space, while the upper two floors each have approximately 1,150 square feet. The agent says the City of Hamilton Plan allows for retail, restaurants, cafés and similar on the ground floor. The upper floors may be used for office space, retail, residential, or entertainment, the agent says. At 27 Queen Street, a 6,000-square-feet of space over two floors is available in the Bermudiana Arcade. Agent Rosanna Cox of The Property Group represents the property, which is listed for $2.3 million. Other commercial properties available in Hamilton include The Rego Building on Reid Street (Brian Madeiros, Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, $2.05 million), Reid House (Scott Powell, Coldwell Banker or Ben Rego, Rego Sotheby’s, $1.5 million), the former Flying Chef property at 54 North Street (Brian Alkon Realty, $1.3 million), a combined commercial/residential property on Court Street that houses Bulldogs bar (Ambika Scott, Moongate Realty, $1 million), a combined commercial/residential building at 52 Angle Street that formerly housed Hubie’s jazz club (Brian Alkon Realty, $912,000), and a combined residential/commercial property at 40 Court Street with four commercial units and four two-bedroom apartments (Hasan Durham Realty, $880,000). In the East End, the building on Kings Square, St George that has housed several pub-like operations over the years, is awaiting buyer interest. Represented by multiple agents, it was first listed for $1.47 million, was reduced to $1.25 million — and is now available for $975,000. On Slippery Hill, overlooking the town, a purpose-built residential home is listed with Dale Young Properties for $1.3 million. The building has two floors with a staircase along with an electric chair lift giving easy access to the top floor, the agent says. Some of the rooms have a bath en suite and others share a bath. There is a large industrial kitchen, several sitting areas along with a reception. In the West End, Charing Cross restaurant, on Cambridge Lane in Sandys, is available. Established in 1792, the property is composed of two lots of land with a bar with two bathrooms, liquor store with one bathroom, two finished storage rooms below and a large warehouse, the agent says. There is space for up to 50 cars and a newly renovated two-bedroom apartment. It is listed with Brian Alkon Realty for $1 million. A mixed commercial/residential property on Watlington Road in Devonshire had an asking price of $980,000, and has a pending offer. Two commercial units include the Devonshire Laundromat, while there are also three residential units on site. The property is represented by Bermuda Longtail Real Estate Ltd.

2019. March 27. Figures that showed fees from the sale of property to non-Bermudians were likely to be at least $4.5 million less than predicted has sparked questions from the Opposition leader. Craig Cannonier said that Walton Brown, the former home affairs minister now responsible for the Cabinet Office, “took his hand off the steering wheel” when he was in charge of the immigration department. Revised revenues from land acquisition fees for 2018-19 were $2.414 million, according to the Government’s Budget book, but the original estimate for the fiscal year was $7 million. The goal set for 2019-20 was $5.5 million, said to be a reasonable target by Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, who took over the area after a Cabinet reshuffle in November. Mr Cannonier claimed: “Anyone residing over this kind of crash in the private sector, having forecast $7 million and only brought in $2.4 million, is fired. Not transferred, fired. That’s $4.5 million gone, where is it? Something’s wrong.” He asked about the figures during a Budget debate in the House of Assembly last week, when Mr Caines said the revenue target for the upcoming fiscal year was adjusted in line with the “softness” of the market. Mr Caines said the estimate for 2019-20 was $5.5 million, “which is within the range of a reasonable estimate”. He told MPs the revenue was made up of an initial $1,625 application fee and landholding charges that varied depending on the purchaser and property type, which was paid after the licence was approved. Mr Caines said these could be split across fiscal periods due to processing times and suggested it could take about 60 days to complete the procedure, but that he was looking at ways to cut that. Mr Caines admitted: “Sometimes it’s simply a backlog.” Mr Cannonier told The Royal Gazette: “That goes back to the former minister who took his hand off the steering wheel.” He added: “How does that happen, that we only gleaned a third of what we expected to bring in? Revenue is one of those things that you can pretty much forecast, it’s a constant.” Mr Cannonier said: “That’s not a soft market, that’s a market that has crashed.” The original estimates for the category ranged from $6 million to $11.3 million over the fiscal years 2012-13 to 2017-18 according to earlier Budget books and actual revenues have been between about $4.9 million and $6.9 million. Sharon Cranfield, co-chairwoman of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce real estate division, explained yesterday that land acquisition, or alien land licence, fees for non-Bermudians were 8 per cent of the purchase price of a house and 6 per cent for a condominium and the fee for Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders was 4 per cent. The condominium fee is 6.5 per cent if the property is in a designated tourist resort. Ms Cranfield added: “The current alien licences fees were extended by two further years to March 31, 2020 in the recent Budget to encourage investment by overseas purchasers.” She explained that several factors could contribute to changes in non-Bermudian sales, such as a greater population of Bermudian-born residents who have found prices now within their reach. Ms Cranfield said: “We have seen a fair number of people who were PRCs get Bermuda status and purchase. This is welcomed by both Bermudian sellers and the market in general. We, the real estate division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, believe that revenue could be improved and sales of condos would increase if the Bermuda Government opened up the sale of condominiums on island to non-Bermudians with work permits.” Karin Sinclair, of Sinclair Realty, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said eight non-Bermudian house sales were completed in 2018, which was “the upper end of average”. She said a further three purchases were still going through the immigration process by the end of the year but had closed or would close in 2019. Ms Sinclair explained: “But 2018 was very unusual in that the highest non-Bermudian sale was only $8 million. An unknowledgeable observer might jump to the conclusion that values are dropping, but actually that’s a totally false impression. The truth is that 2018 was a year of caution for higher-end non-Bermudian buyers, reflecting not only what was happening in New York City and London, Bermuda’s two main feeder markets for international purchasers of luxury homes — but also the very real global challenges faced by most countries.” The Government’s communications department was contacted for comment.

2018. July 12. People will be able to apply for a new category of dwelling unit from Monday. The new units will have an assessment number but will be restricted from having a private car registered to the address. The change means homeowners with smaller properties will be able to get rental income, fulfilling a pledge from the Progressive Labour Party’s Throne Speech. Previously, there was no way to issue an assessment number to an address that would not automatically include the ability to register a car against the unit. That limited the creation of dwelling units to those properties that were able to provide the required car parking on their site. Home affairs minister Walton Brown said: “Many homeowners have space to create an additional unit, but are unable to create additional parking spaces. This provides a new opportunity for homeowners, who would otherwise not be able to build additional units because of parking constraints, to maximize their potential for rental income.”

2018. July 6. Property owners who want to register holiday accommodation were left baffled after there were no official forms available. In a bid to comply with the new Vacation Rental Act 2018, which introduced a 4.5 per cent tax on Airbnb-style rentals, landlords have asked for the appropriate paperwork from the tourism ministry. However, despite the start of the legislation earlier this week, the forms were not expected to be ready until today. Justin Mathias, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, said he was concerned that the law had been “rushed”. He said: “I’ve been getting some phone calls, people have been trying to apply for their vacation rental certificates and the forms aren’t ready yet. I said, this is the unintended consequences of rushed legislation, that the administrative staff can’t keep up and the intent of the legislation doesn’t meet the reality.” Mr Mathias added: “People don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.” Government announced the start of the Vacation Rental Act 2018 on Monday and advised homeowners to view an online fact sheet. It explains that vacation rental certificate application forms “are available at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism”, but to contact the Department of Consumer Affairs if the property falls under Rent Control. Proprietors were told that among the benefits of registration was “promotional support” from the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The webpage added: “All vacation rental units are required by law to be registered with the appropriate minister. Any vacation rental owner who fails to register their property or remit the 4.5 per cent vacation rental fee to the BTA is liable on conviction to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000 in accordance with Section 15A (8) of the Vacation Rentals Act 2018.” The rate is expected to bring in $750,000 for the BTA. One frustrated Airbnb host yesterday said he went to the ministry for an application form on Tuesday. He added: “There are no forms to fill out, they said there are no forms for people to register their property. The accommodation owner claimed that holiday lets had boosted the economy and community spirit all over the island. He said: “These people come and stay in neighborhoods, so we’re going back to good Bermuda, back to the old Bermuda experience, we see them walking in all different neighborhoods.” A government spokeswoman said the application forms would be available by the end of today and anyone who contacted the ministry would be informed.

2018. June 23. Restrictions on car ownership will make it easier for homeowners to earn extra income through a rental property, the House of Assembly heard yesterday. Walton Brown, the home affairs minister, said that one-bedroom and studio apartments will be given assessment numbers, but will not be allowed to have a private car registered at the address. Mr Brown said: “Many homeowners have space to create an additional unit, but are unable to create additional parking spaces. This new type of unit can provide additional income for homeowners with smaller properties who previously were unable to create a rental unit.” The minister added that the move fulfilled a Throne Speech pledge from the Progressive Labour Party. He added it was hoped the move would also provide a boost for the construction industry. Mr Brown said: “There was no mechanism available to issue an assessment number to an address that would not automatically confer the ability to register a car against the unit, thereby limiting the creation of dwelling units to those properties that were able to provide the required car parking and maneuvering spaces on their site.” He added that minor changes to existing rules will be needed, but no legislation was required. Mr Brown said the public would be notified of the start date of the new policy.

2018. March 13. Real estate brokers and agents are invited to attend an outreach session tomorrow afternoon. It is being hosted by the Bermuda Government’s Superintendent of Real Estate at the Cathedral Church Hall on Church Street, starting at 2pm. Topics of discussion will include summary findings of the national risk assessment impacting the real estate sector; an update on implementation of AML/ATF supervisory framework in real estate; international typologies and indicators for real estate; and suspicious activity reporting obligations and how to report to the Financial Intelligence Agency. There will also be a question-and-answer session on implementation of AML/ATF obligations for real estate brokers.

2018. January 20. Real estate brokers who trade without a valid licence are breaking the law, Government warned today. The Superintendent of Real Estate said failure to renew licences for the 2017-18 period while continuing to trade is an offence under the Real Estate Brokers’ Licensing Act. Offenders could face a fine of $10,000 and two years in jail. Information on how to apply for a real estate licence and application forms can be found at www.gov.bm. Questions about the application process can be sent to cnfox@gov.bm or glomara@gov.bm.

2018. January 12. Demand for stand-alone houses is strong, but pricing for condominiums slipped last year as growing inventory gave buyers plenty of choice. Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty market update’s described the overall market as “relatively buoyant” in the latter stages of last year. However, it added that the commercial real estate market is facing major challenges, with more than 500,000 square feet of vacant or underused office space on the market. The realtor found that condominiums represented 26 per cent of closed sales during 2017, while 30 per cent of all purchasers were first-time buyers. “Even with a high percentage of first time buyers, Bermuda’s entry-level condominium market is anything but robust,” the report stated. “Supply continues to increase and sellers will be confronted with longer than average days on market if the property is not correctly priced. Our market analysis suggests that the average price of condominiums sold in 2017 continued to decrease to around $650,000. Price, perceived value and downsizing, continue to be the major contributing factors from a demand perspective.” The realtor reported that the proportion of cash buyers remained high at around 40 per cent — compared to well under 10 per cent before the 2008 global financial crisis. Demand for stand-alone homes with a price tag of up to $2.5 million in sought-after neighborhoods remained “healthy”, Coldwell Banker said. “Recently, a correctly priced executive home received multiple offers and went into contract in less than 90 days after coming on the market. Demand emanated from both Bermudians and Permanent Resident Certificate holders with the primary motivation being to purchase a home for their growing families.” The inventory of homes available to overseas buyers stood at a record high of 40. “Although we have noted an uptick in demand from overseas buyers since mid-2017 onwards, our market would benefit from the presence of more buyers as supply currently exceeds demand,” Coldwell Banker said. With a glut of office space still available on the market, the realtor called for a fresh approach to try to attract more business to the island. “Property owners will be forced to explore alternative uses in this competitive market or respond to vacancy challenges by offering rent-free fit out periods or competitive market pricing.  There are a number of large office buildings on the market at prices reflecting great values, especially for potential owner-occupiers. As the City of Hamilton provides the infrastructure for our economic engine it would be advisable for policymakers and economic growth stakeholders to continue to aggressively explore the global market to identify real opportunities for potential job creators to relocate to Bermuda. Maintaining the status quo is not an option if we wish to see more investment in the city, additional taxpayers and new consumers.” And the report outlined a cautiously optimistic outlook for the months ahead. “We predict that 2018 will mirror last year in terms of performance within the various market segments; although, we expect a potential uptick in the sale of stand-alone luxury homes up to $2.5 million, providing this inventory type is appropriately priced. Our ageing population will continue to explore downsizing options as they plan for their long-term accommodation requirements. As new luxury resort and residential properties are completed and introduced to the market, we anticipate an increase in sales towards the latter part of 2018.”

2017. November 3. Real estate broker and agent licenses will expire at the end of the month, the superintendent of real estate said today. A statement added that the receipt of real estate license applications will start on November 14. It also advised that brokers are responsible for getting criminal background checks from the Bermuda Police Service on form SF39 for all broker and agent applicants. Applications should be made directly to the BPS, with copies of the results submitted with each application. The statement added: “In the event the criminal background check has not been received at the time of submission of your license application, a condition will be imposed in your license providing a limited timeframe to permit the subsequent submission of the criminal background check results received from the Bermuda Police Service.” It also said that the superintendent would publish a statement of principles by November 30 to explain how the minimum criteria for licensing will be interpreted and applied by the superintendent. It will also explain proactive inspection of real estate brokers to ensure compliance and general policy on enforcement measures, including factors relevant to a decision to impose a penalty or fine; revocation, prohibition orders and public censure. The statement added that all brokers must register with the Financial Intelligence Agency and a hard copy of the registration confirmation e-mail is to be submitted with the application package. And it said that real estate regulations will be sent out to realtors around November 10. These contain application forms and sets out the criteria for the application for a licence, form of licence, renewal, written examination, licence display and surrender, personal representation and form of auditor’s report. The statement added: “The license application forms for brokers and agents have been revised to include fit and proper criteria.” The form and a how-to guide can be collected from the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate on the fourth floor of the Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, after November 11. The forms will also be sent out by e-mail and will be available on the government website at www.gov.bm. The statement added that the real estate license fees will remain at $635 for brokers and $105 for agents. And it added that the real estate guide and the exam, which is administered by Bermuda College, are being updated to reflect the anti-money laundering/antiterrorist financing obligations of realtors. The changes are expected to be completed around December 15.  Queries regarding the application process can be directed to cnfox@gov.bm or glomara@gov.bm.

2017. October 26. Rego Sotheby’s International Realty has been “flat out” over the past three weeks dealing with a sudden pick-up in high-end property market activity. The firm has built up its sales team in recent months, mainly because of its role in selling new developments, and now has 31 employees. Principals at the firm could only speculate on the reasons behind the recent uptick in business. Buddy Rego, Rego SIR’s president, said there appeared to be some pent-up demand. “I’ve had two clients who have been looking at property in Bermuda for close to three years and, for whatever reason, have now decided to commit,” he said in an interview. Penny MacIntyre, partner at the firm, said July’s election may have influenced the market. “With any election, there’s uncertainty beforehand and afterwards and people hold off on making decisions,” she said. “Now people are making decisions.” This week the firm was visited at its new Front Street offices by executives from Sotheby’s International Realty, the global firm with which Rego SIR is affiliated. Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, who became SIR’s new chief operating officer five weeks ago, made Bermuda her first affiliate office call and has been meeting staff and clients during her three-day stay, along with Michael Valdes, SIR’s global vice-president of international servicing. Ms MacIntyre said: “We’ve had to add people onto our team, particularly licensed agents, because we’ve got these exclusive arrangements with St Regis, Tucker’s Point and we’re the listing agents on The Loren.” Such branded developments with amenities were increasing around the world, Ms LaTorre said, and were popular with a the growing cohort of younger buyers. “We’ve got a number of big development properties across the globe and we’re able to work really closely with the local affiliates, to use local expertise but also to bring our global network and marketing power together to really best assist developers,” Ms LaTorre said. “In the next 30 to 40 years, there’s going to be a transfer of wealth from boomers to millennials of something in the ballpark of $30 trillion. When you think about that and you think about their desire for branded residences and amenities, the developers are probably responding to that demand that they know will come from the generation inheriting this wealth and making purchasing decisions.” Ms MacIntyre said she was noticing that some younger people were buying higher up the property ladder than had previously been the case. “We’re seeing younger purchasers — some in their early 30s — who’ve decided to make Bermuda their home base and who have asked to be introduced to philanthropic contacts so they can give back,” Ms MacIntyre said. “This is the ripple effect you see when people come in. They come in with skill sets, capital and the wherewithal to be able to contribute to the community.” She added that the hotel-condo development The Loren, at the site of the former Pink Beach, was attracting a lot of interest, some from people seeking an investment property. Mr Rego said, going by the past two years of data, about 50 per cent of buyers in Bermuda’s luxury property market were from overseas — mostly buyers from the UK, the US and Canada. But the market could broaden in the coming years, according to Mr Valdes. “There are migratory patterns of wealth on a global scale,” Mr Valdes said. “Two years ago we were talking about the Russians and the Brazilians and today we’re talking about the Indians and Chinese, who are buying on a global scale. We had a goal to increase our international sales by 20 per cent — and we’re on track to do that this year. Sotheby’s was growing fast in Asia, particularly mainland China and India." Asked about the impact of the America’s Cup, Mr Rego said the after-effects were “yet to come. I guess most people spent their time in restaurants or on the water, watching the event, instead of shopping for houses. But there’s no question that many people came her for the first time. And the fact that the luxury market seems to be well up this year — that story is still to be told.” Reform of the tax system has been promised by the new Progressive Labour Party administration, with the wealthy a likely target. Mr Rego said representatives of the real estate industry had met with government officials and made clear their view that increases in licence fees for overseas property buyers would be counterproductive and could hurt investment in new development, as well as property sales. “The kind of buyers we’re talking about are shopping around the world,” Mr Rego said. “They’ll look at licence fees and compare those costs with other jurisdictions. The Government gets more revenue when there are more transactions.” He also opposed further land tax hikes. We had huge increases in land tax with the prior government — exponential increases — so I hope they will look at other avenues of taxation."

2017. September 25. The Real Estate Brokers’ Licensing Act 2017 became law yesterday. Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, told MPs that the legislation would modernise the operation and supervision of the real estate industry and bring the island into compliance with standards set up by the Financial Action Task Force. Opposition MPs including Jeanne Atherden, Grant Gibbons and Trevor Moniz raised concerns that the legislation could adversely impact lawyers who practice in real estate. Mr Moniz said: “I express the Bar’s concerns that these new requirements would apply to members of the Bar who in their normal course of practice engage in the practice of real estate law. Will a lawyer engaged in the normal course of practice be caught by this Act?” Mr Roban acknowledged the concerns as well as the need to pass the legislation before the end of this month. “I am mindful of the concerns,” he said. “The undertaking has been to sit down with the Bar once this Bill is passed and immediately begin to present an amendment to this clause so the practitioners’ normal course of business can see relief.”

2017. September 23. An estimated $40 million in fees has been lost as a result of fronting land purchases by non-Bermudians, MPs were told yesterday. The sale of about 120 properties are under investigation. Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, told the House of Assembly that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is helping with inquiries and an amnesty period was now at an end. He said: “We are acting now, and people who have not approached the Government in an effort to regularize will be approached.” Mr Brown said the unpaid cash dated back ten years, before 2007 changes to the law cracked down on cheating over land licences. He emphasized that not all properties on file were fronting arrangements. But he warned that non-Bermudians who broke the law would be prosecuted on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions to claw back some of the unpaid millions. Fronting, the use of a Bermudian as cover for non-Bermudians to acquire property or land, became an offence under 2007 immigration amendments. But the law was criticized as too harsh on Bermudians married to foreigners, and licensing requirements for local spouses were rolled back in 2012. Mr Brown said that some questionable deals had been given a long grace period — first under a three-year amnesty after 2007. He added that in 2010 there was a “further two-year period of abeyance to allow people to comply, that led to 2012”. MPs queried what had happened to the file of names and land assessment numbers over the five years since. Asked by this newspaper, Mr Brown replied: “All I can say it it’s a matter for my ministry to focus upon and resolve.” Mr Brown said the law was clear on the amount of acreage that could be held by non-Bermudians. Earlier, Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess told the House of Assembly he had raised the issue in Parliament “years ago, and was told it was ready to go to the Attorney-General’s chamber”. Mr Brown told MPs that the file had “sat in the Department of Immigration”, while Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Leader of the Opposition, queried “whether the information I got, that the file couldn’t be found, emanated from the technical officers”. The minister replied: “Anyone who makes a statement has to stand by his or her words. I wouldn’t want to pass responsibility to the technical officers.” Opposition MPs asked how many cases had been brought by the Attorney-General. Mr Brown told them that he would try to find out

2017. January 25. Political uncertainty and unrest at home and abroad has hit the property market, a top real estate figure said yesterday. Penny MacIntyre, director of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, spoke after the firm’s review of last year found that luxury home sales dropped by half compared to 2015 — and prices plunged by around a quarter. Year-end sales volume and total dollar volume, including home, land and commercial sales all fell — ending the 2013 to 2015 increases since the market hit bottom in 2012. The grim news was revealed in the 2016 review which said that only seven homes at the top end of the market — those with an annual rental value of $126,000 or more — sold last year. And the average and median sale prices in the luxury sector were about 25 per cent lower at $4.4 million and $3.5 million respectively. Bermudians made up 50 per cent of the sales in the sector, the others were British buyers. Ms MacIntyre said the US presidential election and Brexit had affected international sales, while domestic unrest had slowed demand in the Bermudian market. She added: “I believe that with any election you will find people tend to want to see what the outcome is.” She added domestic unrest, including transport stoppages and the shutting down of the House of Assembly in a protest against the public private partnership deal to rebuild the island’s airport, had dented consumer confidence at home. It makes it very difficult for people to enjoy Bermuda. It certainly has that effect. It’s not just the effect on the international buying audience, who are put off by it to a lesser extent. People want to know they are in an environment moving forward — a safe place to be and one that generally doesn’t have unrest. Business will go on, people will do what they have to do, but they will just be more cautious. As we try to encourage people to think through what’s in the best interests of Bermuda’s economy as well as its residents, we want to make sure we are not moving in the direction where it’s self-inflicted wounds.” Luxury condominiums — those with an ARV of $25,800 up — provided one ray of sunshine, with average prices increasing by 7 per cent to $910,000 over 2015 prices. Bermudians made up 80 per cent of the buyers in the sector, with US, South African and Swiss buyers represented in the remaining 20 per cent. And the average sale price across the residential market remained “relatively unchanged” for the eighth year running at around $1.1 million to $1.2 million. The year end report said: “While 2016 sales continue to be recorded, we expect the homes available to Bermudian buyers only will not reach the volume of 65 units sold in 2015.” Sales at the lower end of the condominium market, those with ARVs of less than $25,800, totaled nine in 2016, on a par with 2014 and 2015, but the average sale price fell $57,000 from $322,000 to around $265,000. A buyer’s market meant that purchasers struck tough deals on discounts on properties that needed upgrading. Sales of undeveloped land also dropped, down by a quarter compared to 2015. The residential rental market remained in line with the previous year, with rental activity boosted in part by long-term properties taken up by America’s Cup teams, reducing the overall inventory available for long-term tenants. The report said rents had consistently fallen between 2008 and 2015 due to an increase in available properties, creating a “tenant favorable market. Properties during that same period often took longer to rent and faced rent reductions to secure tenancies.” The report said that Devonshire, Pembroke and Paget remained the top choices for two and three bedroom homes with at least two bathrooms. The highest rental price in 2016 was for a five-bedroom home which went for more than $22,000 a month. RSIR said that the latest average asking rental rates went from $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom property, through $2,800 for two bedrooms and $4,500 for three bedrooms. The firm added that permanent resident certificate holders entered the real estate market over the last two years, buying 28 per cent of the luxury homes, which encouraged more sales and supported the overall value of residential property on the island. The report said: “We hope this year’s America’s Cup in particular provides the much needed short-term and long-term stimulus to our island and the entire real estate industry.” Ms MacIntyre added: “People want to see Bermuda thrive, from international business to the public sector. If Bermuda does well with the America’s Cup coming up, that will be good for confidence and investment.

2016. July 12. The number of Bermuda property sales hit a five-year high last year, real-estate firm Coldwell Banker said yesterday. A total of 302 properties sold last year, up from 250 in 2014, with sales volume hitting more than $324 million, a slight rise on five years ago. And commercial-property sales were also up, with 16 sales recorded for the year with a total value of nearly $20 million — the highest figure since 2009. Susan Thompson, the agency manager for Coldwell Banker, said that the America’s Cup, due to be held next year, had injected money into the economy. But she added: “After June 2017, we don’t know what will happen with the America’s Cup, who will win and whether it will stay here. We do have smaller companies coming to Bermuda, but we still have a lot of vacancies when it comes to commercial property, so we obviously need to work on filling that space if we can. And we will be heading towards an election — whenever there is a potential change in the world as we know it in Bermuda, it can make people a little uneasy. Coming up to an election, people hold off on making major decisions, regardless of the outcome. We have had some increases and we need to continue to increase in that direction. I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I believe 2016 will be a better year than 2015. I think we’re in a positive era at the moment. People in general are feeling very positive about things.” She added that changes in the rules governing property purchases had increased the number of Permanent Resident Certificate holders entering the property market, while there had also been more buyers from overseas. Coldwell Banker said the average price of a single family home in Bermuda for the calendar year last year was $1,073 million, while the average condominium went for $714,000. Plots of land sold with an average price tag of $400,000. Single family homes totaled 38 per cent of the market, condos 27 per cent, and land sales a distant third at 8 per cent. But Ms Thompson said: “While the percentage attributed to land may seem small, it is interesting to note this percentage has increased by 5 per cent in the last 12 months.” Luxury properties, the top 10 per cent of the residential market, saw eight homes that sold for prices of more than $3.5 million. While encouraged by the upward swing in the number of sales transactions, we still have a long way to go to get a healthy, sustainable real-estate market. 2016-17 will present some challenges” as inventory levels start to adjust and pent-up demand slows."

2016. June 16. A Bermudian real-estate firm has drummed up business in Las Vegas. A team from Rego Sotheby’s International Realty has just returned from a major event in the Nevada city for members of Sotheby’s International Realty network. And the firm’s Ben Rego said: “In terms of referrals, we really drive business that way.” He added that on his flight home he spoke to two people who had also attended the conference who said they knew an American family in Bermuda who wanted to sell their home. Mr Rego said: “We can also refer Bermudians to purchase abroad and connect them with the top agents worldwide to assist with their real estate needs.” He added that the conference also highlighted the latest in video technology and growing networks. Mr Rego said that it was also valuable to judge the state of the real-estate markets in other countries. “I certainly think worldwide things have been hit. It’s not just the Bermuda market. The good news is that our main feeder markets, the East Coast of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, are also seeing strong signs of recovery. The metropolitan areas of many of these locations have seen their markets stabilize and in many situations they are seeing growth. The hope is that this renewed confidence in the industry from our key referral markets will encourage more foreign investment coming into Bermuda’s stabilizing market as well.” Mr Rego added that the firm had seen three successive rises in both sales and average prices between 2012 and last year — signs that the market was recovering. The Las Vegas conference attracted around 2,300 members of Sotheby’s International Realty from more 165 of the brand’s companies from 40 countries. Rego Sotheby’s chief Buddy Rego said: “Attending allowed us the opportunity to connect with the world’s most talented real-estate professionals and to learn more about the industry on a global level. We realise the endless advantages offered through the Sotheby’s International Realty network and the brand’s vision for the future, all while creating lasting friendships and a valuable global referring business.” Philip White, the president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, added: “This year’s conference was our most attended ever and it is incredible to see how members of our network continue to utilise the resources we provide, take the reins and develop their own new opportunities and continue to grow their business. We are proud of our network, our heritage and our future and the success of this year’s global networking event is the culmination of it all.”

2016. April 28. The Bermuda Government intends to lower the threshold for properties that can be purchased by non-Bermudians and non-permanent residents. However, senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, said the move would maintain the number of properties available to such individuals rather than increase it, citing falling ARVs across the island. Until now only homes with an annual rental value of more than $153,000 had been available for purchase by such individuals but Mr Fahy said that limit would be lowered to $126,000. Meanwhile, the minimum ARV threshold for condos will be reduced from $32,400 to $25,800. He said yesterday that regulations already in place to protect land for Bermudians — such as a limit to the total acreage that can be held by restricted persons and anti-fronting provisions — would remain unchanged. “The motivating factor behind this decision is the reduction of the value of the property sector in recent years and the corresponding reduction of ARVs across the board in Bermuda,” he said. "This reduction came about during the preparation of the 2015 draft valuation list, which reflects an analysis of rental information across Bermuda. The draft list confirms the widely held opinion of many in the property sector, and in the community, that rental values in the open market generally have fallen between the valuation date of December 31, 2009, for the previous 2009 valuation list and July 1, 2014, which is the valuation date for the valuation units in the current 2015 draft valuation list. Now that the Department of Land Valuation has finalized the new valuation list, which takes effect retroactively from January 1, 2016, the new list has lowered ARVs, which will require an adjustment to the ARV threshold for residential property for restricted persons.” A total of 462 properties and 425 condos are purchasable by restricted persons based on the threshold, but Mr Fahy explained that 198 valuation units and 61 condos would fall below the threshold without the reduction. Penny MacIntyre, partner at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, described the reduction as a “reasonable adjustment. The ARV thresholds need to correspond with the lower property values which Bermuda has experienced for almost seven plus years. This adjustment isn’t aimed at putting more properties on market but simply putting back the ones previously available to international buyers over the last few years that fell out of being internationally available when ARVs were reassessed to reflect lower property values. Bermudian buyers who were buying internationally available properties here walked away from their deals earlier this year when the property they were buying fell out of being internationally available. No one — Bermudian or non-Bermudian — will buy anything if they see one minute a house is available to the world of prospective buyers then the next it isn’t. Because when it isn’t, the value is far less and takes longer to sell. The adjustment shows Bermuda understands the need to be consistent and improve buyer confidence in real estate here. Holding values steady and restimulating the real estate market with international buyers is not just great for sellers and buyers but necessary for Bermuda’s future unless someone here has figured a way to make money grow on trees.” Mr Fahy said the move was intended to help the local real estate market, adding: “Liberalising real estate for PRCs and other non-Bermudians can be a sensitive topic for some Bermudians. But let me stress that our motivation in bringing this legislation forward is to stimulate a waning real estate market. Many of us know at least one property that remains empty. Some of us may even be in the unfortunate position of being unable to sell such property. It is clear to the ministry that it is Bermudians who are primarily hurt by a real estate market that is not as robust as it can be.” In addition to directly boosting the real estate market, Mr Fahy said the move was hoped to help the wider economy. “Based on detailed submissions received by industry stakeholders, I can report that when high-net-worth non-Bermudian purchasers acquire property in Bermuda, they almost always then expend considerable funds in the renovation of the property in order to have it suit their requirements. In certain cases, the renovation costs have almost matched or exceeded the initial purchase price itself. This contributes to an economic multiplier effect and feeds back into our economy through increased Government revenue by way of import duties and payroll tax on construction, landscaping and housekeeping workers. All of this is in aid of the Government’s efforts to foster job creation. This is, and will continue to be, the singular focus of this Government.”

2016. January 29. Commercial properties sold at their fastest rate in eight years in 2015, according to industry experts. And the sale of luxury residential properties also had “a significant resurgence” over the previous year, with 12 properties sold, double the number recorded for 2014. A total of 19 commercial properties sold — a number that would have taken three years to achieve post-2008. The average price paid at the top end of the residential real estate market went up nine per cent to $6.2 million compared to $5.7 million the year before. Bermudian buyers have accounted for about half of the total number of luxury homes sold over the past eight years. The news came in the review of the year compiled by Rego Sotheby’s International Realty. Penny MacIntyre, partner in Rego Sotheby’s, said that the boost in the commercial sector came from a mix of business owners opting to buy rather than rent, new firms setting up and retailers gearing up for an expected America’s Cup sales boom. Ms MacIntyre said: “We’ve seen people who are partners in a business or working for a certain practice, a doctors’ office or dentists’ office, where the principal owner is retiring and selling their practices or renting and taking the opportunity to own.” She added: “Overall, commercial inventory in the central business district of Hamilton has reduced with more start-up businesses from law firms, both locally and internationally establishing presence in Bermuda, to retailers seeking to capitalize on consumer confidence with America’s Cup 2017 drawing more first-time visitors.” But there was a “significant drop” in the average sold price for commercial properties from 2014’s $2.4 million to $1.14 million last year. Ms MacIntyre said, however, the fall was “not a statistic that defines values and trends since a single high or low sold price in the generally low volume of commercial sales in Bermuda will easily cause the average price to fluctuate”. And the Rego Sotheby’s report added that nearly all the commercial properties sold required upgrading and modernization — likely to fuel an increase in business for the construction industry. The firm said that both dollar volume and transaction volume had increased for the third year in a row after the 2008 recession hit sales on the island hard, with the market bottoming out four years ago. Ms MacIntyre said: “Since then, we expect the real estate industry Island-wide to achieve a 30 per cent increase in dollar volume and approximately 25 per cent increase in transaction volume once all sales are officially recorded for 2015.” Rego Sotheby’s said, however, that condominium sales continued to struggle, especially those with an annual rental value (ARV) of less than $32,000, although those rated above that figure had “shown some resilience” with 84 per cent of sales being to Bermudians, up from 62 per cent in 2014. The average price for condominiums sold was $850,000, a 13 per cent decline over the figures for the previous year. Overall, the number of houses sold is expected to be the same as 2014, with an average price tag of $1.2 million, also in line with 2014. Around 70 per cent of the homes sold across the industry went for less than $1.5 million. Ms MacIntyre said that, although the figures remained much the same over the two years, it was a signal that the market was recovering. She explained: “We look at it as a positive indication that we’re retaining value — we’re not seeing fluctuations in figures that are causing us concern. We’re pleased with how the luxury sector has shown more signs of life. We have people coming to Bermuda, looking around and evaluating the benefits.” The Rego Sotheby’s review added that a recovery in the hotel market was also evident, with new developments slated or ready to begin construction. The report said: “We continue to garner development and redevelopment interest from local and international prospective developers and hotel operators. This year will have added momentum as we prepare to launch Bermuda’s newest condominium hotel and villa residences at the former Pink Beach Club property.” Buddy Rego, president of Rego Sotheby’s, said: “No one has a crystal ball, but for the first time in a long time, three years consecutively, we have seen more activity and stronger pricing. What 2016 will hold remains to be seen, but people are probably cautiously optimistic. With the America’s Cup and if interest rates stay low and consumer confidence stays high, or at least on the same plane it is now, we hope again for modest increases.”

2016. January 15. The real-estate market has bounced back, according to a new report from a major industry player. But Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said the recovery had a long way to go before it matched pre-recession boom years in the property market. Agency manager Susan Thompson said sales by the firm rose 60 per cent last year compared to 2014, with 37 per cent of the transactions being cash purchases, compared to just two per cent in 2010. She added the anticipated Island-wide total of 300 properties sold in 2015 was up from the 209 logged in 2012 — the worst year on record — although way below the 714 recorded in 2008. “The real estate market has suffered tremendously over the past few years,” she said. “The latest figures are a very promising sign when you look at the confidence people are showing in their spending transactions and that 37 per cent of the transactions were in cash.” She added: “There may be a couple of overseas buyers in there, but the vast majority of that 37 per cent are Bermudians and people living on the Island — permanent resident certificate holders and spouses of Bermudians.” Ms Thompson was speaking after Coldwell Banker released its sales market update yesterday. The report said: “While we cannot confirm that the Island is out of recession, we can support the positive indications of a healthier economy.” Ms Thompson said: “What has happened is a couple of things — people were not confident in Bermuda and the economy for a period of time and they were holding on to their money. For a while it was tougher to get money out of the banks. Now people have seen that prices have gone down over the years: 25, 30 per cent and some have gone down more. People are getting back to work and there are people coming to the Island. People were holding onto their money and looking and waiting for the right opportunity. Some of these people buying with cash have perhaps sold a property which is higher in value and are downsizing. In some cases, they may have sold a property which adds to the cash flow they have.” The update noted that sales of commercial property and vacant lots had also gone up, with the highest demand for smaller spaces of between 1,500 and 4,000 square feet. Ms Thompson said: “People who have bought commercial property have bought for occupation, not investment. These are people, once again, who have been prudent. They are looking at growth opportunities or asking why they are renting when they can buy a property which is affordable. Demand is definitely on the smaller end. We’re not getting huge demand for large spaces of 5,000 square feet and above. But it’s smaller companies coming on the Island, starting their businesses and maybe growing.” She added there was also a trend of companies opting for smaller office spaces, but that “we are seeing more people coming onto the Island, which is positive because there is more money coming to the Island.” The report said the average price of a family home now stood at $1.2 million and that, despite a large inventory, the average price for condominiums was $655,000 last year. It added: “Contrary to popular belief, condo inventory is in fact selling and makes up approximately 27 per cent of total sales.” The report added that rental demand was strong in Hamilton, increased rental activity in the west, the focus of the America’s Cup, while there had been an overall increase in single-bedroom properties rented across the Island. “There is still a need for stand-alone, three-plus bedroom family home inventory and our four dedicated residential rental representatives have reported an increase in rental activity in the western end of the Island,” noted the report, which also recorded an increased Bermudian level of interest in the luxury end of the market. About 60 per cent of homes sold for more than $2 million going to Bermudians. The update predicted that 2016 will see continued momentum at the top end as Coldwell Banker staff are at present negotiating new sales and preparing to close on six luxury homes.

2015. August 20. The Island is seeing growth in property sales to non-Bermudians, but realtors have warned the Bermuda Government to defer a hike in property fees, citing $124.5 million in land transactions that are “in train” at present. The growth in purchases from international buyers and Permanent Resident’s Certificate (PRC) holders was confirmed by Rego Sotheby’s International Realty. Executive vice president Penny MacIntyre told The Royal Gazette that agents were “absolutely experiencing an uptick in business this year. International buyers largely recognise there are current buying opportunities that make Bermuda real estate valuable in the long term,” she added. The figure of $124.5 million was given in the House of Assembly on Monday by Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, as he tabled the Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Land-Holding Charges) Regulations Amendment 2015. That legislation is set to go to the Senate for approval next Monday, brought by Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs. The amendments follow the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2015, which was tabled in the Senate in March by Sen Fahy. The Act, which aimed to boost stagnant property sales by relaxing some of the rules for sales to PRCs and non-Bermudians, proved controversial, prompting a march on Cabinet in which protesters came into the Senate Chamber. Marchers viewed the legislation as catering to foreigners while not enough was done to help struggling Bermudian families — but Sen Fahy insisted the measures were strictly aimed at improving the Island’s economy. Those sentiments were echoed this week, as Mr Richards said the moves had been designed to “stop the bleeding of property values, spur growth in the property market and help create jobs for Bermudians”. However, Mr Richards said, industry representatives had subsequently approached the Government, urging for a scheduled increase in land fees to be delayed as it had the potential to “derail activity.” As a result, the latest amendments seek to delay a proposed increase in land holding charges by a further 18 months, so that they come into effect on March 31, 2017, instead of on September 30, 2015. Responding in the House for the Opposition, David Burt, Shadow Minister of Finance, said the first round of legislation appeared to have been ineffectual thus far. The new amendments, which were brought before MPs at 2.15am near the close of business, were not strongly opposed by the Progressive Labour Party. The legislation targets property fees, which are set to increase automatically to between 6 per cent and 12.5 per cent of the value of the land. These cover charges must be paid by applicants before the minister will issue a land licence for a non-Bermudian to own property.

The increases are as follows:

• For permanent residents: 4 per cent of the value of the land, to rise to 6%.

• For other non-Bermudians: purchasing a residential unit, 8 per cent of the value of the land, to rise to 12.5 per cent; purchasing a condo, 6 per cent of the value of the land, to rise to 8 per cent.

Commenting yesterday, Sen Fahy said that there would continue to be no landholding charge payable for land purchased by the spouse, child or parent of a Bermudian. “In addition, the landholding charges for tourist accommodations and hotel residences will remain unchanged by these regulations,” Sen Fahy added. "It should be noted that since the passage of the Landholding Amendments in March 25, 2014, there have been strong signals of activity in the real estate market. This demonstrates that the Government of Bermuda is on the right track.” However, Ms MacIntyre said the changes in fees ran the risk of sending the wrong message to prospective buyers. “All this talk of whether to raise the licence fees or not this year should not be the conversation taking place. These potential fluctuations make an international buyer see Bermuda as inconsistent and irrational. Who wants to buy somewhere they feel rushed to make a decision because of a potential looming licence fee hike? Then there is the exit risk for any seller who can’t sell their property in a world-class market against other islands that do not have these random licence fee changes. We strongly recommend Bermuda focus on simply setting the licence fee, then monitoring the effectiveness of the fee rate and adjust with a year advance notice, if market conditions warrant the change. After all, that is the intention of the licence fee reset in the first place: to stimulate our economy in a competitive global market, and balance the interests of protecting land for Bermudians if international buyers flood our country. This would be a welcomed problem to solve.”

2015. July 23. Bermuda’s real estate market is bouncing back, according to the Island’s biggest real estate firm. Coldwell Banker said its sales of homes had jumped 44 per cent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2014. And rental transactions were up 17 per cent over the same time period. A report from the firm said: “This translates to a busier, more active market even though the dollar volume of sales Island-wide has not shifted significantly. These are encouraging signs that the real estate market in Bermuda is showing positive signs of recovery.” Coldwell Banker added that the commercial market was also showing signs of improvement, with four completed sales in 2015 and five “in the works” — pointing to the best performance in the sector for four years. The report said that condominiums, more than a third of available inventory, were outselling all other categories. Single family homes accounted for 28 per cent of sales this year, with the central parishes commanding higher prices. The firm’s report said it was exciting to see the renewed interest and confidence in real estate with a cautious return to stable prices, multiple offers and in some cases, buyers looking to purchase for investment. Sales of land for residential development also appeared to be on the rise. Around 20 lots sold each year between 2012 and 2013, but that had dropped to eight by last year. But the firm said its market intelligence indicated that around six lots had sold so far this year. The firm added: “It’s interesting to note that there are currently ten times that number of undeveloped residential lots on the market. This indicates an excess supply of available inventory making it a great time to looking for lots if you are pre-approved and looking to build your dream home. There were also more homes in need of renovation coming on to the market. As the real estate market begins to show signs of improvement, prudent buyers and sellers will look for opportunities in the market. Making low ball offers — substantially below the asking price — either on rentals or sales can, however, be offensive to vendors and may not be a good idea as demand increases. Our market has changed. Landlords and vendors working with well-educated real estate agents know the market and price their property accordingly. Residential rentals appear to be following the same trend as the sales market although available data is not as robust. Our rental agents report that rental demand for stand-alone cottages and houses in central parishes is outstripping supply and they are looking for new inventory.”

2014. December 11. Bermuda's real estate firms are to join forces to help provide accommodation for America's Cup crews and staff. The industry has got together in a bid to provide a seamless service to the thousands of people expected to descend on Bermuda in the run-up to the 2017 event. And Bermuda Chamber of Commerce real estate members have already met on-Island representative of the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) Dede Cooper at the Chamber's Hamilton HQ to hammer out plans, including an online portal showcasing properties available for the event. Chamber of Commerce executive director Kendaree Burgess said: "We are all looking for a fair and open process and the Chamber is going to play a role in talking to the America�s Cup Bermuda people about housing the visiting teams through the Chamber's real estate division. The Chamber will coordinate requests and distribute potential clients' details to all its real estate members. It's so everyone can get a fair shot at the same time. The meeting had also discussed managing the expectations of homeowners, emphasizing that America's Cup visitors will be looking for a wide range of properties. Rego Sotheby's International partner Penny MacIntyre. who attended the meeting, said: " Ms Cooper is hoping to establish a protocol on how we as an industry attends to the requirements for real estate, whether it's long-term, medium or short-term, which could be a week or so for the events. The ACEA is looking to be able to do business with the community at large here, in particular the provision of services, so they have reached out to Chamber of Commerce and real estate professionals who are members of the Chamber of Commerce. It's fantastic, certainly this is a plus for us to be working in conjunction with the Chamber. We are able to receive this as a benefit and also work together to establish best practices with our peers so we can service the event's needs. It also allows us to bring all our inventory together. It's a good way to be more seamless in addition to presenting properties. It's a big undertaking. All the Chamber real estate members are registered and they follow best practices and ethics. It's also to educate the community on how to price properties and if they have permission and are legally permitted to rent out their properties. There is certainly enthusiasm about the America's Cup  but people are always cautiously optimistic when it comes to execution. We want to do this well. It's important people recognize not only our ability to go and pitch for this, but also to deliver well. We're all happy to have this kind of challenge to work through. It's fantastic for the Island and we hope we all come together as registered members of the Chamber of Commerce and professionals to make this happen, sooner rather than later."

2014. April 17.  Landlords and other property owners who break the law by failing to regularly clean water tanks are escaping prosecution, despite concerns about the risk to public health posed by Bermuda's rainwater catchments system. Government admitted yesterday that no one has ever been prosecuted for not cleaning a tank under the Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951, even though the law requires tanks to be cleaned every six years and allows for suspected offenders to be taken to court and fined if convicted. Public health officers have the power to order a tank to be cleaned but the Department of Health said when water is tested and found to be unsuitable for drinking, it gives only verbal or written advice to the property owner to clean then chlorinate, if the tank hasn't been cleaned for more than six years or looks dirty. A spokeswoman said: "When cleaning and chlorination is completed, then a sample may be resubmitted for retesting. In the past, we have not had to use a formal notice to achieve this result." Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) insisted last night that better enforcement of the law was needed if the Island was to continue relying on its traditional roof catchments system for the majority of its freshwater supply. BEST founder Stuart Hayward said: "While the regulations do require that tanks be cleaned and sludge removed at least every six years, the mechanisms for tracking and enforcing the regulations are less than efficient. It is difficult to imagine an efficient bureaucracy that could track and enforce this regulation effectively. The he public needed to understand that excessive sediment and the failure to regularly clean tanks could promote the breeding of unhealthy bacteria and cause an accumulation of contaminants such as metals and petroleum hydrocarbons that can pose health risks. It can cost several hundred dollars to get a medium-sized tank professionally cleaned. We would not be surprised to find that people will be put off cleaning their tank for years or decades because of the cost of the cleaning and replacing the water. The only way to ensure tanks get cleaned, particularly with landlords, is to have greater enforcement of the law. A public education campaign would be useful on the reasons to have tank water tested and to clean tanks, and the best ways to disinfect tanks between cleanings. People need to be mindful of testing their water regularly and using some form of disinfection if there is any indication of unhealthy bacteria. However, they need to know that adding chlorine when there is a lot of accumulated sediment can cause the creation of cancer-causing chemicals. They cannot rely on just disinfecting the tank the sediment needs to be removed regularly as well. The Island's system of collecting and conserving water in individual catchments had several advantages, including that it encouraged people to moderate their water use and lessened the chances of a water-borne infection affecting many due to a piped-in system. But he added that a disadvantage was the exposure of the collective water supply to air-borne pollutants, such as acid rain from a distance, road dirt, vehicle exhausts and emissions from plants like Belco and the Tynes Bay Incinerator. It wouldn't hurt for the Government to perform a water supply audit to examine our current system and look at alternatives." The issue of tank water safety hit the headlines this week after the parents of a baby girl who doctors believe was made sick due to contaminated water urged Government to rigorously enforce the six-year rule so other families don't suffer. Asked if anyone had ever been prosecuted under the regulations, a Department of Health spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette yesterday: " No. But compliance activities, advice and education are applied with stakeholders daily to collaboratively achieve improvements. Members of the public could get their water tested by Environmental Health for all of the standard bacterial indicators coliforms, faecal coliforms and E. coli, which are proxy indicators for the risk of pathogenic [disease-causing] organisms. When water was found to be unsuitable for drinking at a property, follow-up samples were taken after advice was given to the occupants about water safety. But there has been at least once instance last year when an unacceptable result did not result in any request for follow-up samples. One of the first questions asked when poor results are received would be whether the tank has been cleaned within the past six years. Dependent on where the property in question is located, more frequent tank cleaning may be required. It is important to remember that water test results indicate the water quality for a particular sample, taken on a particular day, and that microbiological flora can fluctuate with every rainfall. " A study of 140 household tanks was conducted last year by government and overseas scientists, the results of which are expected to be published later this year. A similar study done ten years ago by the same team found that while rainwater collection from rooftops is a simple, efficient and cost effective procedure for the provision of freshwater supplies to individual households, it may represent a risk to human health if used for drinking.

2014. April 15. The parents of a baby girl who doctors believe was made seriously ill by contaminated water are urging Government to rigorously enforce regulations that require all household tanks to be cleaned every six years. The American couple, whose two-year-old daughter is still recovering after contracting a rare lymph node infection in 2012, claim the Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951 are not enforced in any way by the Department of Health, despite the risk to human health from dirty tank water. They told The Royal Gazette they fear most landlords are not t aware of the legal requirement to regularly clean tanks and that unsuspecting tenants could be exposing themselves, their children and their pets to dangerous drinking and bathing water. The couple's daughter had to have an MRI scan and a three-hour operation under general anesthetic to have an infected lymph node the size of a golf ball removed from her neck a month before her first birthday. The infant also had to take medication which could damage her eyesight in the long-term. The couple, who asked not to be named, say their child never drank tap water at the three-bed roomed property they rented for $4,400 a month in Smith's, but they believe she was exposed to the disease-causing bacterium kansasii in her bath water and from having her teeth brushed. "We had pure water delivered [for drinking]" said the father. But the doctors determined that it could have been just that little bit of an amount, just from bath water and brushing teeth." Pediatrician Douglas Savino, from New York State, initially diagnosed the child with atypical mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis and said in a statement shared with this newspaper that contaminated tank water "was the probable and likely cause." Another doctor, infectious diseases specialist Patricia DeLaMora, from the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, confirmed that diagnosis and said in a statement that it was proven when "cultures of the affected node taken during an open operative procedure grew mycobacterium kansasii. Contaminated drinking water is considered to be the main vector for transmission of this organism to humans." In a second statement, Dr DeLaMora wrote that the girl's infection was "typically associated with ingestion and/or exposure to contaminated water. The water tank located in the [family's Bermuda-rented] home did not meet hygiene standards, making it the logical source of [the child's] infection." The couple say a third doctor, Jay Dolitzky, from ENT & Allergy Associates in Manhattan, told them that the likely cause of their daughter's infection was contaminated water or milk. The child drank only formula milk at the time and it was never made with tap water. According to the couple, their Bermudian landlady admitted to them after their daughter's diagnosis that she could not remember having the tank cleaned at the house and that it could have been 30 years since it was done. A Department of Health report shows that an analysis of the tap water at the house conducted by the Central Government Laboratory on February 19 last year found it was not fit for drinking and contained 16 different types of bacteria, including e-coli. A local water supply company called in by the couple to clean the tank found a "significant build-up of organic and inorganic sediment." The company boss sent an e-mail describing the clean-up to the child's father, in which he wrote: "Heaviest dosing of chlorine we've ever used ended up spraying a solution on the walls and letting sit a while. While not clean in terms of volume of sediment, this is not uncommon to find in tanks that have not been cleaned in many years, nor the worst we've ever seen. While we have not seen the test results, sounds like the worst bacteriological issue we've seen yet." The couple lived in Bermuda as guest workers from 2009 to 2013 but have since returned to the US. They say the ordeal they have gone through has caused immense emotional distress, as well as loss of income and loss of friends on the Island, who have objected to their criticism of Bermuda's system of collecting rain water for drinking and bathing. The mother said: "We firmly and wholeheartedly believe that [our child] contracted this bacteria from swallowing a small amount of bath water. something that cannot be prevented, as anyone that has children would know. We wrongly assumed this water was safe. She described having to hold her daughter down while she was anaesthetized for the MRI and the surgery, adding: "To say this was traumatic would be a gross understatement." One infected node was successfully removed from the little girl, but other smaller ones were too close to facial nerves and had to remain. The child was immediately put on a daily regimen of four antibiotics, which were not kid-friendly in any way, according to her mother. One medication could damage the infant's eye nerves and she has had to have a series of regular eye tests, which are not available in Bermuda. The woman said: "We really do want to make this public so it doesn't happen to anyone else. [Our daughter] is still seeing the eye doctor to make sure there is no long-term damage to her eyes from the medications. Furthermore, we won't know if any or all of the medication and/or the bacterial contamination will affect [our daughter] in the long run. We can only pray that it does not." The father said: "The day we found out it was the water, my wife was hysterically crying. She ended up having to quit her job to move home [to the US] to take care of our daughter. My wife ended up moving back [to the US] because the medication our daughter needed wasn't available in the right potency in Bermuda." He said he eventually had to quit his job here to be with his family and that the stress of his daughter's illness put an enormous strain on his marriage. We don't have anything against Bermuda but it was about our daughter. We don't want anyone else to suffer like we have." Through their lawyer here, the couple have asked their former landlady to pay them $35,000 in damages or face legal action but she has denied any liability and her lawyer has said she will vigorously defend any lawsuit. The landlady's property insurers, BF&M, have also rejected the claim that the tank water at the house was responsible for the child's illness. Asked to respond to the allegations made by the couple, the landlady told this newspaper: "At this point, there is no comment. This has been a matter that has been already taken care of with lawyers." The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment for this story. It recommends that tanks are cleaned every five years  while the law requires it to be done every six years and says water should be regularly disinfected to make it safe to drink.

2014. March 18. Businesses owned by non-Bermudians will be able to buy up residential and commercial properties under new Government proposals. But Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons cautioned that, because land is a scarce commodity, restrictions limiting the capacity of companies to acquire land will be in place. The laws relating to land purchase had become confused and inconsistent in recent years and amendments debated in the House of Assembly will for the first time, provide a clear and transparent written policy on corporate landholding in an otherwise cloudy area of law and practice. The Companies Amendment Act 2014 and new Corporate Landholding Policy policy relate. The holding of land by corporate entities became a restricted business practice under the Companies Act. The Policy is to provide guidance for the Minister in making the decision as to whether to provide consent for a business entity to acquire and/or hold land. The changes will also stimulate turnover in the real estate market and create jobs in the construction sector, and make the Island a more attractive and competitive jurisdiction. Some companies had been unable to sell on their properties because of irregularities with the current laws. The Minister will be able to provide rectification to situations where, if a company can prove that they should have had proper ministerial consent, they will be able to receive it. This consent will then put them in a position to pass on clean title to prospective buyers. The most significant change under the new proposal would allow local and exempt companies to purchase residential property. The residential properties they will be allowed to purchase are very specific and are the properties that are already available to restricted persons. This restricted person category is a designation that the Department of Immigration uses for foreign nationals or persons who do not possess Bermudian status. Residential properties with an Annual Rental Value of $177,000 and above are the properties available to restricted persons. There are about 250 high end residential properties in this category, as well as a number of condos that are similarly designated. The new law will prevent companies from renting these properties in the market, and the changes will also allow exempt companies to hold commercial property if it is used for the specific purposes of their business. Similar provisions will apply to local businesses. The revisions did not affect the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. The decision making of the Minister of Home Affairs with regard to Immigration consent still applies on landholding. Consultation with the Bermuda Bar Association and the Chamber of Commerce on the proposed amendments had taken place over the past year. With passage of this Bill, several properties are currently on the market will be acquired, to produce revenue for the government via stamp duty. And, most importantly, it will produce jobs in the construction sector. Many of the properties, once acquired, will undergo renovation and redevelopment.

2013. December 9.  The non-Bermudian house market had five completed freehold contracts so far this year and there are several others at varying stages of contract. Some of these are truly world-class estates. Chelston Estate on Grape Bay Beach in Paget, was listed at US $45 million, is an example. The change in Bermuda Government policy, particularly the lowering of the non-Bermudian licence fee was a motivating factor in several of the 2013 non-Bermudian sales. The first house to break the $1 million dollar ticket price was Atlanta-by-the-Sea in Tuckers Town. That was more than 30 years ago. There was a For Sale sign on the lawn of a $38 million dollar property, one of a small handful of Bermuda properties which have reached stratospheric price levels. It is the Tuckers Town, Idolwood Lagoon Estate, set on 4.27 acres and comprises a beautiful main house of approximately 10,350 square feet. and three separate cottages together offering an additional 4,000 square feet. It was completely rebuilt in 1997 and includes five bedrooms suites, a study with half bathroom, a spacious two-storey entrance hall, grand living room, formal dining room, kitchen, family room and two-storey library. It has four garages, gym, tennis court, an extensive orchard, nature trails with ravines, two docks and moorings. Another is the former US Consuls residence Chelston, in Paget, listed at $45 million. Another, priced at $19.5 million, is a beach front home in Paget, Agapanthus. The main house includes four spacious bedrooms all en suite, a vast formal living room, an informal living room/movie room with wet bar, dining room and library all with fireplaces, an office wing, a conservatory, two wine cellars, elevators and a two bedroom staff apartment. The grounds are beautifully manicured and feature a beach pavilion, two bedroom guest cottage, separate gym, pool, tennis court and putting green. The property also enjoys a manicured trail leading to a secluded, private and peaceful beach.

2013. October 3. HSBC Bermuda offers home buyers a break that will hopefully help boost the local property market. The bank has introduced new five-year fixed-rate mortgages of 6.10%, 6.15% and 6.25%. But the lowest 6.10% rate is for customers who maintain at least $200,000 at HSBC. This limited time offer is ideally suited for any new borrower seeking the stability of a fixed payment amount over the first five years of their mortgage, HSBC said. "First-time home buyers and seasoned real estate investors looking for the security of a monthly mortgage payment in a changing interest rate environment or who are interested in locking into a competitive rate for the next five years are best suited for this option. Those on a budget or a fixed income can also benefit from a fixed-rate mortgage because of its stable nature. Knowing exactly how much is going out of your pay check for your mortgage repayment means you can budget more effectively without having to worry about rising interest rates. This also helps when budgeting and planning around other key financial needs such as saving, investments and insurance. If you have a large mortgage, even a slight rate increase may mean big increases in your monthly mortgage payment.  You may be better off with a fixed rate. If you wish to be cautious, then the fixed rate mortgage can be your option. By offering this low rate on a fixed-rate mortgage for a limited time, we are adding another way to home ownership. This offer is an extremely competitive rate at 6.10% for the next five years. The rates from HSBC are: Premier member customers: 6.10%. Advance member customers: 6.15%.  Personal banking customers: 6.25%. HSBC notes savings could exceed $24,000, based on Premier Rate $1 million mortgage paid over 30 years. To qualify for HSBC Premier in Bermuda, you need to maintain at least $200,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) in personal savings or investments with HSBC Bermuda. To qualify for HSBC Advance you need to maintain at least BM$50,000 or more across all of your joint and sole accounts, deposits and investments. By comparison Butterfield's Bank variable 30-year mortgage rate is 6.75 percent.

2013. October 3. "Desperately seeking a $20,000 a month rental home!" Joy Lusher Real Estate has placed advertisements appealing for modern executive family homes with apartment and preferably water views/access/pool. "Do you have a newly built or renovated home?", says the ad. "We have clients seeking an unfurnished home with 4 Bedrooms, 4 baths, a great kitchen and separate apartment. Water views, a dock and mooring would be an added bonus! Willing to pay up to $20,000/month." If you have a home that fits this description, call Donna Bennett at Joy Lusher at 535-9909. Ms Bennett said while there is not a big surge in demand for executive rentals, the market is definitely picking up and she is doing more property tours with people wanting to move to Bermuda for business. She said there are currently several top executives moving to Bermuda who are looking for high-end executive rentals. the kinds of luxury homes these executives are looking for are either rented well, long-term already or owner occupied. "Maybe we can peak the interest of owners who may want to rent out their homes (at these prices). We don't know how long this demand will last. I want to try to make people coming to the Island feel as welcome as possible and find them whatever they want. The type of clients looking in this price range want a specific property; It must be large, modern and upgraded throughout with a fabulous kitchen, and of course, stand-alone. Swimming pool, water views and water access are all preferable." (Note, the highest market rent ever achieved on the Island to date was $35,000 a month, or $420,000 a year).

2013 July 27. Lawmakers yesterday removed a licensing requirement for mixed-status couples who purchase land. Government described the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2013 as “housekeeping” measures. But the Opposition Progressive Labour Party — which had imposed the restrictions when in Government — opposed the move, citing the need to preserve property rights for Bermudians, lambasting Government for not providing relevant data to the House of Assembly and questioning what measures will be in place to prevent the practice of fronting. Introduced by Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Senator Fahy, the changes repealed controversial provisions forcing married couples in which one person is a non-Bermudian to get a licence before purchasing land. “In practice, married couples, where one spouse is a Bermudian, will simply be allowed to acquire property in accordance with the rules and regulations that pertain to a Bermudian with no added regulatory requirements,” said Mr Dunkley. Much of the debate centered around the rationale and history of the licensing requirement. Opposition MPs led by Shadow Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban explained that the PLP had first introduced land licensing requirements for mixed-status couples in 2007 to combat the practice of “fronting” — where a Bermudian would stand in as the owner of a property for a non-Bermudian — and because it was unclear how much land was in the hands of non-Bermudians. The 2007 law proved controversial and sparked intense lobbying with opponents claiming it discriminated against Bermudians simply because of the status of their spouse. In 2012, the measure was amended to exempt a couple’s first land purchase from the licence requirement. But Mr Dunkley told the House that the law simply deterred property purchases and created an administrative burden." With the elimination of the requirement to acquire a license for a first property the opportunity to monitor land held by restricted persons using the licensing regime is greatly diminished. The estimated number of licenses ever issued for the purchase of a second or third property under the regime is in the region of three.” He added that in the event of death or divorce of the Bermudian spouse the law already provides for the non-Bermudian to obtain a licence to hold land. “Protecting the rights of Bermudians are paramount when it comes to land,” Mr Roban. He added: “ Any Bermuda Government has a duty to protect the property rights of Bermudians now and Bermudians yet to be born.” And he said that non Bermudian spouses can apply for status after ten years of marriage in any case — a period in which they are unlikely to have paid for their first property. He said the law limits non Bermudian held land to 400 acres per parish and that it was important to know how much land is currently in non Bermudians hands. Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz said the practice of fronting had been rampant before the 2007 legislation and that some companies continued the practice today. But he warned against an “us and them” paradigm and defended the new legislation as part of an effort to boost confidence in the community. “We’re trying to do a number of things to stimulate this economy to stimulate the confidence of Bermudians and non-Bermudians. We’re trying to stimulate inward capital investment and the investment of people in this community who have money. We’re trying to open up the economy and we don’t want people to be frightened by that.” Deputy Opposition Leader Derrick Burgess reminded the House that in 2007, 37 percent of land was owned by non-Bermudians. “We should have had the figures presented to this House today on what percentage of residential property is owned by non-Bermudians, how many non-Bermudians are married to Bermudians at this point, how many non-Bermudians own property,” said Mr Burgess. “These figures would have been most helpful to us.” He warned against “opening the floodgates” without having the data and called on the Government to rise and report progress. Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown rejected the measures saying it was “aided and abetted by the real estate community” and not sensitive to the needs of the vulnerable. “This particular piece of legislation will further marginalize those who are more financially challenged. Those who have will get more. Those who find challenges in this current marketplace will continue to see those challenges in place.” And he noted that the bill could be “effectively illegal” given that the data on non-Bermudian held land was not clear. “We cannot make effective policy in the absence of good data. How do you make policy without knowing what the facts are. Simply being lobbied by the real estate community is not sufficient justification for passing this bill.” Mr Brown rejected what he said were calls by the real estate community to bring prices back to the “unsustainable” levels of 2007. “Who loses in that, Mr Speaker? The average working Bermudian.  I go back to my parents. In 1972, a bartender and a waitress were able to buy a home in this country. What bartender and what waitress today can afford to buy a home in this country? If all you’re going to do is bring forward legislation to benefit the rich, to benefit those who are your strangest lobbyist, then you’ve shirked the responsibility that was given to you on December 17.”

2013. July 24. Bermuda’s inventory of properties for sale is shrinking not expanding. This from Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty in its July sales market update. There are currently about 236 properties for sale on the market in Bermuda, compared to some 360 last year, the realtor’s manager Susan Thompson said. That approximate number includes the listings of all local realtors.  “The area that we have seen the largest decrease in listings is in the condo market; condo inventory has fallen from 60 percent of the total number of properties for sale, down to 40 percent,” she noted. So does that mean condos are selling or just removed from the market? “Our records indicate that 18 percent of the total sales in 2012 were condos,” she said, and: “Last year there were approximately 200 transactions!” Ms Thompson pointed out, though, that the number of real estate transactions in Bermuda has fallen drastically in the last couple of years. “In fact, in recent history the highest recorded number of transactions Island-wide (excluding fractional sales) was as far back as 2001 (650 transactions),” she said. Based on Island-wide averages for 2012, condos on average sold for $650,000 which is comparable to 2003-4 prices. Single family homes are still “coveted by Bermudians”, she said, with an average price of approximately $1,400,000 which is comparable to 2005 averages. And land prices averaged around $500,000 which is close to 2004 averages. Ms Thompson added: “Another key component affecting real estate decisions is access to accurate data regarding the market through an experienced real estate agent. Without accurate data, it is nearly impossible to analyse/comprehend the market in Bermuda. Gone are the days when an agent can effectively practice in all market segments. Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty maintains teams who focus on individual market segments so that they can provide expert knowledge based on real time market intelligence. What the average layman may believe about the market and what the statistics support are often at opposite ends of the spectrum. In today’s market some purchasers seem to think they can make ridiculously low offers and the vendors are so desperate for a sale they will take anything … that is not the case. In fact, at Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty our average list to sale price ratio is 92%. That means that we typically price property very close to the actual final selling price, which is good for sellers who want to know that they received the best price for their home in today’s market. Finally, once you have made the decision to buy or sell you need to find out what is happening in the market right now? While we can not speak for the entire industry it is exciting to say that activity has increased at Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty with more viewings … offers and sales! There is a buzz in the office that has been missing for quite a while. And yes, multiple offers (some over the asking price) on correctly priced properties are occurring from properties as low at $90,000 to those as high as $2,400,000 and everything in between."

2013. July 16.  Government’s reduction in property licence fees for international buyers and Permanent Resident Certificate holders is stimulating the Bermuda real estate market. But realtors say the Island is not out of the woods yet, as they wait and see if the increased interest will translate into more sales. Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said they had seen a jump in inquiries from PRCs and international buyers. However they cautioned they could not say at this point whether the pick up in interest would result in increased sales through 2013. “We are pleased to announce that we have received significant interest in one of our waterfront Tucker’s Town homes from both PRCs and Bermudians and successfully negotiated sales and purchase agreements on two condominiums with prices in excess of $2,500,000,” Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said in its July luxury market update. The realtor said that luxury homes and condominiums which are located in sought-after areas, in excellent condition and priced for the current market are benefiting from the recent increase in market interest from qualified luxury home buyers and “this bodes well for 2013. Recent policy changes relating specifically to PRCs and overseas buyers announced in early 2013 were most certainly welcomed by the industry. The Government’s stated objective was to stimulate the market and ultimately, our economy by incentivising overseas buyers and PRCs to participate and engage in our community through the acquisition of real estate. During Q2 of 2013, our agents have noted an overall increase in enquiries from PRCs and luxury home buyers however, it’s difficult to state unequivocally at this juncture, whether this increased activity will result in notable and sustainable increases in transactional activity in this market segment through 2013. ” Penny Pascual MacIntyre, executive vice president of Rego Sotheby's International Realty said the realtor had seen interest and activity from PRCs “awaken” since the land policy change. "As with any sector, the properties which are well-maintained, properly priced to market and in need of minimal repairs and/or upgrades are of most interest. Last year operated at a whisper for internationally available properties. This year we feel a pulse as we are experiencing more inquiries and conducting viewings with more international buyers. However the Bermuda real estate market is nowhere out of the woods with more than half the year gone and only two internationally available properties under contract." The PRC property license fee was reduced to four percent for 18 months and international buyers licence fees have been reduced from 25 percent to eight percent for a stand-alone home (rising to 12.5 percent after 18 months) and from 18 percent to six percent for a condominium (increasing to eight percent after 18 months).

2013. July 3. Former Premier Dame Pamela Gordon Banks and her husband have criticized the Land Valuation Department for waging a costly four-and-a-half year legal battle against them, instigated by a senior civil servant who overvalued their Gate Wood, Inglewood Lane, Paget, house. The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the couple, agreeing with an earlier tribunal that Chris Farrow, the Director of Land Valuation, proposed an “incorrect and unfair” annual rental value for their luxury home in Paget. The civil matter is likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, since Government brought in a QC and junior barrister from London to argue its case, against the wishes of the Bermuda Bar Council. Dame Pamela told The Royal Gazette she and husband Andrew Banks were willing to fight the case as the outcome impacted hundreds of Bermudian homeowners. “We will never shy away from looking for justice and a just outcome,” she said, adding that they would “take it to the nth degree” to ensure justice was done. Businessman Mr Banks said the couple endured the “four-and-a-half year legal gauntlet” to “right the wrong that was inflicted upon us” and ensure it didn’t happen to others. He alleged that Mr Farrow used “bully tactics” with them and said he’d heard similar complaints about inaccurate valuations from “many, many, many people” who didn’t have the means to appeal such decisions. He also shared documents with this newspaper showing how the Director did not pass important paperwork about their property to the Tax Commissioner’s office for a year, resulting in the couple receiving an inaccurate land tax bill for almost $215,000. The bill included $151,000 in arrears and interest, although it was the first demand they’d received. “When we heard from scores and scores of people who had [also] been mistreated we just felt like ‘we can’t let this go’,” said Mr Banks. “People continue to tell us how they were treated unfairly. We were appalled.” The couple’s argument with the Land Valuation Department began in December 2008 when Mr Farrow proposed that their newly built property should be deemed for land tax purposes as a single unit with an annual rental value of $852,000. The highest ARV given to a property in Bermuda is thought to be $1,182,000 for Golden Eye in Tucker’s Town. GateWood comprises a main three-bedroom house, a two-bedroom staff apartment and a two-bedroom guest cottage, but Mr Farrow proposed giving it just one assessment number, instead of the three it had, increasing the amount of land tax payable. The Bankses objected to the proposal and to a proposal a year later giving the property an ARV of $768,000. Two tribunals heard their objections, with the first upholding their appeal and concluding that GateWood should have three assessment numbers. The second tribunal confirmed the same and decreed that the total ARV for the three units should be $360,000. It heard evidence from a realtor that the highest market rent ever achieved on the Island was $35,000 a month, or $420,000 a year. Mr Farrow had 21 days to appeal the decisions but he took almost 14 months to challenge the first one, with the AG’s Chambers bringing in Jonathan Small QC and barrister Nathaniel Duckworth from London to make an “out of time” application. Bermuda Bar Council objected to the expensive silk and his junior coming here for the Supreme Court hearing in March last year, as its policy is that foreign counsel shouldn’t be used for “interlocutory” proceedings and foreign junior counsel shouldn’t be used at all. Bar Association president Justin Williams said the result was that at a hearing in then Chief Justice Richard Ground’s chambers, counsel for the Attorney General’s Chambers appeared with work permits for Mr Small and Mr Duckworth. “The Attorney General’s Chambers obtained the work permits directly from the Department of Immigration,” he said. “Bar Council had put in place the procedure to protect the rights and engagement of Bermudian attorneys.” Mr Farrow’s “out of time” application failed and his timely appeal of the second tribunal decision was also dismissed by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. The judge agreed to look at the “wider public interest” issue of how residential properties are evaluated for tax purposes, with Mr Farrow giving evidence in an affidavit that there were 758 properties classified as single valuation units, despite having a main house and at least one guest house or pool house. The judge found there was no “coherent legal basis” for reclassifying high-end properties like GateWood as single units when there were “too many examples” on the Department’s valuation list of “more humble” houses with apartments and cottages being treated as separate units. The Director appealed the Chief Justice’s ruling in the Court of Appeal, where he lost again earlier this month, meaning all costs must be met by Government. Meanwhile, the appeal panel found no “pressing reason” to consider and rule on the issue of how the number of assessment units should be evaluated. Mr Justice Kawaley’s judgment could open the door for the 758 homeowners whose properties are currently classed as single units to challenge that when the Department’s next valuation list is compiled in 2014 — and be granted multiple assessment numbers. Dame Pamela, the Island’s first female premier and a former Environment Minister, said the issue was an important one as many Bermudians relied on rental incomes to pay their mortgages. The Land Valuation Department and the AG’s Chambers have failed to respond to numerous requests for comment from this newspaper since June 18 and have not shared any information on how much the case will cost taxpayers.

March 15, 2013. Land tax will be increased for the Island’s most expensive homes, according to legislation approved in the House of Assembly. The Land Tax Amendment Act increases taxes for properties with an annual rental value of between $90,001 and $110,000 from 9.6 percent to 19.2 percent. Taxes on properties with an ARV of more than $120,001 will rise from 19.2 percent to 23 percent. Land taxes on all other properties will remain unchanged. The increase comes into effect on July 1. Finance Minister Bob Richards said the legislation would only affect a small percentage of homeowners and raise millions in revenue for the Government. “This is fair,” Mr Richards said. “Those who live in the most expensive homes should pay more land tax than others.” Shadow Finance Minister David Burt said he was pleasantly surprised, saying there were “a few more places” to look in order to find similarly progressive revenue sources. Mr Richards responded: “Hope springs eternal.”

February 23, 2013.  The real estate sector yesterday applauded a reduction in the licence fees for non-Bermudians to buy property.  Finance Minister Bob Richards had earlier said the changes amounted to “a jobs programme, pure and simple. This tax incentive will in no way increase the number of properties in Bermuda available for sale to non-Bermudians. With these two tax initiatives Government has found a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs without resorting to major tax cuts which would jeopardize the solvency of the Government. The cut in licence fees for non-Bermudians purchasing property is also a sensible change that will give a much-needed boost to the property sector. It also sends the message that Bermuda is open for business. " Chamber of Commerce board member, realtor Buddy Rego stated: “We are delighted that the Government has listened to the industry and has seen the natural correlation between reducing the cost of purchasing property and the positive impact it will have in the construction and other related industries. When housing starts to move again we can only expect construction to rally, and the economy to strengthen as new homeowners purchase furnishings, fittings and other home improvement supplies. Government will also enjoy a significant increase in revenues through additional stamp duty fees.” Realtor Albert Moura described the cut as “long overdue. As Bob Richards has stated, not only will it result in more Government revenue from licence fees and stamp duty but increased property sales will create employment opportunities for those industries involved in the home improvement industry from masons, painters, plumbers, landscapers and electricians. Additionally, retailers that supply home improvement and building products will benefit as well.” Coldwell Banker general manager Kendra Mello said: “We are grateful that the policy amendments outlined in today’s budget create opportunity in the real estate market and are hopeful that these and other initiatives will stimulate growth in Bermuda’s economy.”

The changes essentially include:

- Reduced licence fees for non-Bermudians who purchase houses. Once 25 percent of the value of the property, fees will be reduced to eight percent for 18 months and thereafter 12.5 percent. Applies to houses with single ARVs over $177,000.

- Condominiums not in hotel residential developments will see fees for non-Bermudians reduced from 18 percent of purchase price to six percent for 18 months. The fees will then rise to eight percent. Non-Bermudians can purchase condos with a minimum ARV of $32,400 in designated developments.

- Reduced licence fees for Permanent Residency Certificate holders. Where such persons once paid 18 percent for condos and 25 percent for houses, it is proposed to reduce the fees to four percent for 18 months and six percent thereafter. PRCs are able to purchase houses with single ARVs over $63,000 and condos not sponsored by Government.

“The lowering of licence fees as outlined will stimulate much needed inward direct investment into Bermuda,” Mr Richards said. “The purchase of a new house, particularly those at the highest echelons as represented here, is frequently accompanied by renovations or customization of some description. Local construction companies will be required to carry out such modifications, thereby increasing the demand for labour in that depressed sector.”

February 9, 2013. Bermudians married to non-Bermudians will no longer have to buy a licence in order to own a second home on the Island, Government announced yesterday. Other methods will be implemented to preserve land for purchase by Bermudians, said Governor George Fergusson as he read the Throne Speech. “The land licence requirement for the purchase of additional dwellings for married couples that include a Bermudian and a non-Bermudian spouse will be set aside. In removing the licensing requirement, the Government will put in place measures to prevent any potential loss of land that would otherwise be eligible for Bermudian purchase. ”The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act demanded that mixed-status couples buy a land licence to purchase a home in an effort to reduce fronting. Amendments were passed last year that allowed such persons to purchase their first home without a licence. Yesterday’s move opens the door for ownership of further properties. Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera campaigned against the land licensing requirement when it was law. Government also take a look at legislation surrounding Permanent Residents’ Certificate holders ability to buy. Some relaxation of the PRC rules are what the Real Estate Division of the Chamber of Commerce has been asking for. Government also promised to amend the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Appeals Rules 2013. “The Government is keen to deal with long-standing appeals that have been submitted to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal for consideration,” it was stated in the Throne Speech. “Therefore, the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Appeals Rules 2013 will be amended to ensure that individuals are not penalised by decisions affecting their rights or legitimate expectations unless they have been given prior notice of the case and fair opportunity to answer and present their own case.” The Appeals Tribunal was established in July of 2011, replacing a Cabinet committee that heard appeals of Ministerial decisions. More than a year later, the Tribunal had yet to deal with a single appellant after discovering that there were no rules in place

January 29, 2013.  Compared to 2011,  in 2012 Bermuda’s overseas luxury real estate market was hugely disappointing — virtually drying up in the second half of the year. Bermuda's overseas luxury market (homes available to overseas purchasers) has not rebounded like comparative jurisdictions. In fact, all the sales of property involved global purchasers occurred in the first two quarters of 2012 with practically no transactional activity for the remainder of the year. There has been a significant decline in property sales volume overall, including in the luxury market. Conversely, Bermuda’s high-end competition, including exclusive North American coastal communities — particularly in Boston and New York — have cited significant increases in sales of luxury property, the report states. Both locations are where many of Bermuda’s overseas buyers hail from. In order compete globally, the Island “must critically assess whether or not we compete favourably from a global perspective.” Bermuda's new government - from December 17, 2012 - has been asked to make the “necessary policy changes” to help stimulate this sector of the economy. Issues relating to the barriers to entry for overseas investors, from the complicated rules and regulations surrounding an overseas purchase to the high cost of a foreign buyer licensing fee, are just some of the issues realtors would like resolved. Currently the licensing fee is 25 percent for houses and 18 percent for condos and 6.5 percent in resort properties. Comparatively, the Turks & Caicos doesn’t have such a fee, a place that has seen home sales vault a reported 70 percent over the past year. While some progress has been made — relaxing some restrictions around homes that non-Bermudians can buy and the laws around non-Bermudian spouses needing a licence to purchase, however, realtors say that is not enough in order to compete with rival jurisdictions.

January 4, 2013.  New Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy has pledged to undertake “a thorough and measured review” of a law affecting Bermudians married to foreigners. Part of the controversial amendment to the Immigration and Protection Act — which forced mixed status couples to obtain a licence for the purchase of their own homes — was rolled back in the House of Assembly in July 2012. However, such couples will still require approval to buy a second home — something that One Bermuda Alliance MP Shawn Crockwell blasted in July as “fundamentally unfair.” Asked what the OBA plans to do about the policy now it is in power, Sen Fahy issued a statement saying: “We recognize that this is an issue that touches on considerable sensitivities in our community. The public is aware that I have been very vocal about this matter, and I am committed to sitting down and undertaking a thorough and measured review of the current policy.” He went on to say that while there are numerous items on the Government’s agenda which are an immediate priority, the policy will receive early attention and legislative amendments may follow based on the outcome of the review. According to Sen Fahy, “a time line will be determined shortly.”. Campaigner Ronnie Viera, who has pressed for changes to the law, said of the news: “I am pleased to hear that a review will be done and hope that it results in the remaining negative aspects of the Act being changed. While there is a long list of priorities, I hope it will be done sooner rather than later. In addition, I suggest that any such review include the restrictions on Permanent Residency Certificate holders with regard to real estate purchases. Apart from being the fair thing to do, it could also stimulate the current flat market.”

October 10, 2012. Realtors called for review of foreign property ownership requirements for long term owners. The call came in reaction to concerns expressed by Canadian homeowner Larry Marsland who said that a policy change on foreigners owning Bermuda property had reduced his options for the disposal of his property, and made it “more likely” that he will leave the Island taking his economic contribution with him. Mr Marsland, who has owned a Tucker’s Town home since 1974 said that when the revised rules on foreign property ownership became effective in June this year, his house became inaccessible to foreign buyers as its ARV fell just below the threshold. He argued that as a good faith investor, the property should have been grandfathered. Government’s policy review was aimed at having only the top 250 homes in Bermuda available to foreigners, so as to protect Bermuda homeowners and potential owners from undue competition for Island properties. “There is a fine line between protecting properties for Bermudians and encouraging/permitting foreign ownership,” said Dale Young, President of the Chamber of Commerce Real Estate division. “Mr. Marsland is correct that foreigners do add a great deal to the Bermudian economy in the way of jobs and financially supporting charities and organizations on the island. We believe that the policy should be reviewed particular for long standing foreign owners of 20+ years. In most cases, Bermudian are not purchasing properties in the upper ten to 20 percent of the market as it would be assumed that this property would be in that range. Failure to allow foreign owners in this range of the market to sell to another foreigner is a huge disadvantage and will substantially reduce the selling price. The Chamber is always willing to work with government by providing data that could help arrive at a ‘fair’ policy to all.” The United Bermuda Party suggested that the policy could be relaxed on a case-by-case basis.

August 10, 2012.  Interest in Bermuda real estate is strong from overseas, say realtors looking for a boost in business from a recent change in property laws that will make more homes available to foreign buyers. Rego Sotheby’s International Realty has noticed thousands of people from North America and Europe browsing over properties featured on its website this year. In June, an amendment to land-holding laws that will enable Bermudians to sell to non-Bermudians, immediately doubled the inventory available to overseas buyers. While the change has yet to see results in terms of sales being closed during what is traditionally a quiet time of year for real estate deals, interest is brewing. This week, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates vice-president Peter Turtzo flew in to visit the Rego Sotheby’s office and explained how he saw what was going on in the Bermuda market. “The recent changes have had a very significant positive impact on the real estate business in Bermuda and because of the new opportunities, more people are able to sell or buy at levels they would not have been able to before.  Bermuda has been attracting a lot of interest on our website from overseas. The numbers for the first seven months of this year are well into five digits. The main countries of origin are the east coast of US and Canada, the UK and Germany. Technology is changing the way people hunt for homes. Over 90 percent of home buyers begin their search online. Many of them are looking at lifestyle as part of their search, for example boating, or water view. That kind of search was helping to direct house hunters to Bermuda, even those who might have known nothing about the Island. Online translation tools made the real estate market even more accessible to those from overseas.  Technology has improved the availability of information too. When the consumer sends an e-mail to a real estate agent, we find they know nearly as much about the market as the agent."  Realtors are hoping that the change in the law, which also increases he minimum annual rental value (ARV) of a property that is eligible to be sold to a foreigner from $153,000 to $177,000, will give the market a badly needed shot in the arm. Buddy Rego, president of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, said the total number of properties sold declined by about 40 percent between 2009 and 2011. However, single detached homes had held their value well around the $1.1 million to $1.2 million level, since the 2008 global financial crisis. “What has changed is the number being sold,” Mr Rego said. “Those that have been sold have done so at the same level for the past four years. It’s the condo sector where we’ve seen the biggest declines. Condominiums sold at an average price of $630,000 in 2008, compared to $480,000 this year, representing a decline of nearly 24 percent. Imminent general election was causing some Bermudians to hold off buying. Job security issues and tighter lending policies by banks were also having a dampening effect on the market. Some buyers were also not committing to deals because they were waiting for prices to fall further. People who are having a problem committing are those who are wrongly, in my opinion, waiting for the bottom of the market. I think we are seeing that the price of Bermuda detached homes is holding very, very firm, while in the condo market, this is a very good time to buy.” Mr Turtzo said Bermuda was an attractive place to live, but foreign buyers would have to weigh up whether the roughly one-third premium they were required to pay would be worth it. Overseas buyers, as well as Permanent Residency Certificate (PRC) holders, have to pay 25 percent of the purchase price for a licence to buy a property (or 18 percent for a condo), plus stamp duty on top of that. Reducing or eliminating the licence fee would significantly stimulate the market, in Mr Rego’s opinion. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand from PRCs,” he said.

July 27, 2012. A law requiring Bermudians married to non-Bermudians to purchase a licence before buying property has been rolled back by Senators. While such couples will not require a licence to purchase their first home, as was necessary under the controversial law, they will still need licenses to purchase additional properties. OBA Senator Michael Fahy said yesterday the amendments were an improvement, but the law remained unfair as it discriminates in a way against Bermudians who fall in love with non-Bermudians. “I still see discrimination against Bermudians,” Sen Fahy said. “I still think we need to go a little bit further. I’m just not sure why there’s this restriction. The mistake continues because if a married couple want to buy a second home, they require a licence based on a code of conduct we haven’t seen.” Passing the legislation in the Senate, Senator Jonathan Smith said that the original law was introduced to combat the issue of fronting, which allowed non-Bermudians to circumvent property regulations. As a result of fronting, land left Bermudian hands and property values rose beyond what many Bermudians could pay. He said the legislation would also increase the limit of local property that can be held by non-Bermudians to 2,500 acres. The limit had been set at 2,000 acres, but in reality 2,344 acres is already owned by non-Bermudians. The new figure, Sen Smith said, would account for that and provide room for new hotel developments such as Park Hyatt and Morgan’s Point. A Code of Practice, intended to guide Ministers on the practical application of the law, will also be created. Independent Senator Joan Dillas-Wright stressed the need to protect Bermudian land for the sake of Bermudians, saying: “Even if people are in a position where they can purchase more than one property, it behoves the government to exercise some control.” Independent Senator James Jardine agreed that it was important to protect land for Bermudians, noting that the amount of open space around the Island had fallen. Government Senator Vince Ingham said that Government was right to tackle the issue of fronting, saying that land is a precious commodity for Bermudians. “It was important to act, and act we did,” Sen Ingham said. “What I like about this amendment is it not only addresses an issue that has been raised, but it also has a forward looking view in the terms of allowing future development.” Senator David Burt agreed, stressing that the original intent of the legislation was to help Bermudians, describing the amendments as a “recalibration”. “At the time the average property value was $1.6 million. This is something that just seems out of reach for most Bermudians. Many young Bermudians have been able to enter the housing market, some on a single income.” OBA Senator Michael Dunkley noted that while Sen Fahy had to purchase a licence to buy a home with his wife, Sen Burt will not have to when he is married next month, joking: “Timing is everything in life.” Sen Dunkley said he supported the amendment, but criticized the time it took the Government to make the move. Sen Dunkley said: “There are people who will be pleased by the policy that’s coming today, but there are others who will say: ‘This didn’t help me in any way.’” Responding to the comments, Sen Smith said the matter is a difficult one to legislate, noting that in the case of a divorce properties could easily slide into foreign hands.

June 23, 2012. The Island’s real estate industry hailed an announcement by Government today that it’s finally made changes to its policies on property purchase by non-Bermudians. A bill tabled in Parliament allows Bermudians to now sell property to Non Bermudians providing their house has an ARV of over $177,000. In addition, special spousal alien licenses (for non-Bermudians) are no longer required for the purchase of a primary residence. The bill changes the ARV on houses for purchase by non-Bermudians from $153,000 to $177,000. It’s not clear yet if or how the land holding policy changes affect the condominium market. Announcing the changes, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief told the House: “I can confirm to Honourable Members that the provisions of what has become known as ‘the 2007 Act’ have expired such that Bermudians can now sell properties, meeting the requisite criteria to non-Bermudians. As we indicated throughout this process, these provisions were transitional and would eventually expire.” Mr Perinchief continued: “Mr. Speaker, a return to the market conditions which prevailed at the time these provisions were enacted is not in the best interests of property owners or those of our citizens seeking to become homeowners. A real estate market which is overly weighted and is sustained in favour of any one group is not healthy and defeats a primary aim of this Government; to promote conditions for young families to acquire their own homes. Mr. Speaker, as I indicated publicly on previous occasions, the ARV threshold for those properties available for purchase by non-Bermudians must be set at a level that promotes Bermuda as open to high net-worth individuals while preserving a market share for Bermudians that makes home ownership and asset improvement a realistic goal. Mr. Speaker, I will introduce into this Honourable House a set of Regulations that have been gazetted today which set the ARV threshold for those properties available to non-Bermudians at $177,000. Mr. Speaker, as I previously indicated, setting the ARV at this level is consistent with a long-standing policy to provide the top 250 valued properties in Bermuda as available for purchase by non-Bermudians. This figure is not arbitrarily set but is based upon current data supplied by the Land Valuation Department. Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to be tabling amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act to remove the requirement for couples, in which one spouse is a non-Bermudian, to obtain a license on the purchase of their own family home. This change is a responsive one and delivers on a promise this Government made earlier this year. Mr. Speaker, the Bill is forward-looking in its scope and provides the framework that will support the intended development of the tourism products planned for Morgan's Point, Tucker's Point and Park Hyatt.” 

February 26, 2012. Stamp duty will no longer be levied when borrowers switch from one mortgage lender to another. The 2012 Budget offers a significant tax break for homeowners who want to refinance their loans to get a better rate. Hoping to promote competition among the banks, Government said it removed the stamp duty rate of 0.1 percent for borrowers switching mortgages from one bank to another institution. HSBC Bermuda and Capital G Bank told The Royal Gazette they supported the change. In announcing it, Premier Paula Cox said: “Assignments or transfers of mortgages are currently charged at a rate of 1/10 percent of the sum secured under ... the Stamp Duties Act 1976. Government proposes to remove this stamp duty charge to encourage mortgage payers to seek the best financing options available to them and to promote competitive lending rates between our local banking institutions. This exemption from the stamp duty charge will reduce the cost to customers when transferring a mortgage from one bank to another.” HSBC Bermuda currently offers a rate of 6.5 percent on 30-year mortgages. According to its website, Butterfield Bank currently offers a rate of 6.75 percent on a 30-year mortgage. Capital G offers a rate of 6.25 percent on 15-year mortgages and 6.5 percent on terms above 15 years. An HSBC spokesperson stated: “The removal of stamp duty, payable on assignments or transfer of mortgages, for borrowers in Bermuda is welcomed. HSBC supports efforts to ensure a prudent yet robust competitive mortgage environment. Stamp duty removal for assignments or transfers of mortgages will assist in this regard.” The spokesperson added: “We would look forward to working with customers who are interested in reviewing their home ownership alternatives using HSBC’s suite of industry leading credit solutions.” Ian Truran, president and CEO of Capital G said: “Capital G supports the decision by the Government of Bermuda as outlined today in the 2012/13 Budget Statement to remove stamp duty charges for the assignment or transfer of mortgages. Capital G has always encouraged healthy competition and supports Government’s concession that will remove costs that previously inhibited a borrower’s ability to obtain the most competitive terms available to them.” Butterfield Bank declined to comment on the change.

February 22, 2012.  In 2007, The Royal Gazette daily newspaper of Bermuda warned that the requirement that Bermudians married to non-Bermudians would have to get a licence to own real estate would backfire. An editorial stated that while the goal of preventing “fronting” was justified, the method was wrong and discriminatory, because the dead hand of bureaucracy would lead to long waits for couples to get licenses, which would give the advantage to other buyers. Now National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief has announced that the licenses will no longer be required for first time homeowners, as government tries to reinvigorate the real estate market. Five years has been far too long to wait for this policy, that was clearly flawed from the outset, to be reversed. However, the more discriminatory and blatantly unfair part of the policy, which prevents these same couples from owning a second property, is still in place, and apparently is still under review. While the licence requirement for a first home was cumbersome and discriminatory in practice, at least the possibility existed to own a property. Not so the second part, which was designed to prevent too much Bermuda land falling into foreign hands. In barring Bermudians married to non-Bermudians from owning more than one property, it blatantly discriminated against those Bermudians who happened to fall in love with and marry non-Bermudians. We said then: “That makes no sense, and may well drive Bermudians out of their own country as a result.” To some degree that has happened, exacerbating the ravages of the recession on the real estate market. Also stifling the market, at least at the top end, is the restriction on Bermudians selling property to non-Bermudians. The newspaper disliked the policy from its start in 2005, not out of sympathy for millionaire homeowners, but because it too was the wrong approach to ending the practice of “fronting” in which Bermudians were the titular owners of houses actually owned by non-Bermudians. Instead it had the effect of instantly devaluing properties owned by Bermudians while increasing the value of homes owned by non-Bermudians. The knock-on effect of that has been to subdue the market, restricting the number of properties available. Behind concerns about fronting, the Government wanted to prevent non-Bermudians from owning more than 2,300 acres of land being owned by non-Bermudians. This is now said to be 37 percent of the land available for residential development. There are several concerns with this. One is that no one can really be certain how much land is held by non-Bermudians. In any event, if that is a concern, the answer is to gradually raise the annual rental value limit at which non-Bermudians can buy property. There is an opposite argument which is that more property and rights should be made available to wealthy non-Bermudians, but there is not room here to debate that question. These policies have caused misery for many, and have damaged Bermuda economically. This was obvious from the start and any credit Government gets now for reversing these policies must be tempered by the fact that it has taken far too long to get rid of them. To restore at least some of his Government’s credibility, Mr Perinchief now needs to reverse the policy on second property ownership by Bermudians married to non-Bermudians as quickly as possible.

February 18, 2012.  National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief yesterday defended Government’s handling of a controversial land policy in Parliament. Mr Perinchief faced robust questioning from Opposition figures shortly after announcing the key changes. But in a novel twist, a question from his own Cabinet colleague, Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess, forced Mr Perinchief to admit that the amount of land owned by non-Bermudians has already exceeded the statutory limit. And Government came under fire from the One Bermuda Alliance for “doing more to harm the Bermuda economy than any other single entity” through policies like the land licence policy. Mr Perinchief had announced that Government would allow land above a certain annual rental value to be sold to non-Bermudians, reversing the policy which prevented Bermudians from selling to non-Bermudians. He also revealed that Bermudians married to non-Bermudians would no longer be required to obtain a licence to buy land, provided it is for their first home. Mr Perinchief was asked by Kim Swan, who was elected as a United Bermuda Party MP, how much money Government had made from the land licenses since that policy was implemented in 2007. The Minister responded by saying the information was in the Budget book. Mr Swan then asked whether the Minister had concluded that the original policy was “draconian”. “It was brought into place to stop fronting. That has now been stopped. And to preserve land for Bermudians.” Ruling party backbencher Dale Butler then asked: “Can the Minister, Mr Speaker, in light of an alleged leak of his statement indicate if he is going to resign, cross the floor or open an investigation as to how this happened and tell us what will be done to prevent this in the future?” Mr Butler was referring to this newspaper’s story about the Minister’s statement. Mr Perinchief told the House that no leak had occurred but that he had authorized release of a “small, abbreviated teaser to the press”. He said: “There was no expectation of pre-empting the House and if there’s an apology to be given, I now give it.” One Bermuda Alliance Shawn Crockwell put it to the Minister that he had in fact reversed policy because the policy was wrong. “There’s no culpability here. Any prudent Government, using principles of good governance, changes policies according to the financial situation, and that’s what we have done,” the Minister replied. “It’s an adjustment to a policy which became dated and we now find that it had to be amended.” Mr Crockwell then asked whether the Minister agreed that the policy restricting land sales to non-Bermudians by Bermudians, had “suppressed the real estate market and hurt the economy.” Mr Perinchief said the new policy allowed Bermudians to sell to foreigners if their property was in the $177,000 ARV band and that “stimulates the real estate market.” Mr Crockwell asked whether the policy requiring licenses for mixed couples had suppressed the market. The Minister agreed that changing the policy had stimulated the market. “Lenders were confused as to who was allowed to buy property and who was not. And that did cause a problem,“ Minister Perinchief said. “So it has removed the barrier and it has satisfied a need to restimulate the market. So you can interpret that any way you wish.” Pat Gordon-Pamplin of the OBA referring to the Minister’s statement that illegal fronting had been “prevalent” asked the Minister how many prosecutions had been brought against fronting. He said he was not aware of any prosecutions but one property was forfeited to the Government. A question from Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess, revealed that the limit on land holdings to foreigners had already been exceeded. “Minister Perinchief, is it a fact that 37 percent of our 6,000 residential acres are owned by non-Bermudians and the main objective of this Government was to preserve land for Bermudians?” asked Mr Burgess. “That is correct. I believe the figure is 2,300 and some acres,” he said. “We’ve actually exceeded the allocation to be sold to foreigners. We are really moving close to the mark now in even expanding it further but we’re loath to do that.” Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons, referred to the Minister’s comment that local lending institutions should reduce down payments, and asked whether the Minister had discussed the matter with the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The Minister said that a discussion had been had with one lending institution which had indicated that 100 percent mortgages had resulted in some mortgages being considered sub-prime. “We have not put any pressure on the lending institutions at all,” he said. Dr Gibbons then suggested that the Minister was not aware that the BMA had tightened up capital requirements and required banks to take a “more conservative lending position.” Mr Perinchief said he was aware of the BMA policy. The OBA later issued a statement which criticized the Government’s handling of land policy. The party said that it welcomed the reversal of policy, but said: “The damage from its flawed policies has caused untold stress on Bermudian families, in the form of lost jobs for thousands, reduced pay cheques and shrinking business earnings. “The Government has been in damage control for most of the past year, scrambling to reverse policies that have not worked. Today’s rollbacks on land policy are the latest step in this process.” The land policy “was bad policy from the start,” according to the OBA statement. “It discriminated against Bermudians who happened to fall in love with and marry non- Bermudians, instantly making them second class citizens in their own country. “It undermined the value of real estate owned by hundreds of families. And it gave international business people one more reason to consider moving their businesses elsewhere. The outflow of international businesses to other jurisdictions cannot be separated from the 2007 legislation, and every Bermudian who saw their rental income go down or disappear since should consider the cause. The Minister, by stating that today’s policy reversal is intended to ‘stimulate’ the economy, is admitting the 2007 policy helped depress it. The Minister, by stating the 2007 policy ‘unduly and adversely’ affected Bermudians married to non-Bermudians, is admitting the discrimination at the heart of the policy. We sympathise with the people who had to pay for a licence during this period. For many, it severely strained family budgets and was fundamentally unfair. Perhaps the Government can address their concerns directly. The reversal of the 2007 land policy a policy that went too far - is welcome.”

February 18, 2012.  Bermudian Ronnie Viera says Government’s reversal of the controversial land licenses rule is too late to restore his faith in the way it handles property laws. Mr Viera remains angry that he was told to sell an investment property bought several years ago as a result of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act passed in 2007. And he said many mixed-status couples have suffered stress and legal fees after the law required them to purchase a licence fee in order to buy property. He said he was pleased the amendments are now being reversed, but that Government should not expect any accolades; he noted there will be no refund for those who were made to buy licence fees. As an owner of more than one property before 2007, Mr Viera said he had been adversely affected by the decision to apply the legislation retroactively. “Those couples who owned an investment property, in some cases, were told they had to sell the second property within 12 months,” he told The Royal Gazette. “It was offensive to be told, as a Bermudian, that I had to sell a property purchased several years before the new law was enacted. Furthermore, as a Bermudian, I am not willing to invest any further in the local market as this whole land licence debacle has demonstrated that this and any future Government can simply pass whatever legislation they wish, without consultation, and apply it retroactively as it suits them.” About 100 people joined Mr Viera’s protest group shortly after it emerged Bermudians married to non-Bermudians were forced to buy a $1,375 licence as part of the anti-fronting legislation. At that time, Mr Viera was married to a Canadian, though in recent months she has become a Bermudian. “It’s good to hear that this Minister has listened and has made progress in reversing bad legislation and policy although it has taken nearly five years for this to happen,” he said yesterday. “While I and many others would like a refund of the licence fee and reimbursement of legal fees, it is unlikely to happen. It is pertinent to point out that the stress this policy has placed on those affected over the five-year period has been far more damaging than the financial impact. It is also ridiculous to consider a legitimate marriage as fronting, which has been the case. I’m glad it will now be reversed but saying, ‘We got that one wrong, we’ll change it back’, and then expecting accolades is not acceptable.” Shadow Attorney General Trevor Moniz, a lawyer who frequently criticized the legislation, yesterday said Government had employed a much too forceful tactic to deal with fronting, the practice of non-Bermudians gaining an unlawful interest in land by using a local as a front. “The Minister today is credited with changing that and needs to be commended for taking the bull by the horns, but obviously mixed-status couples still feel hard done by. My sympathy goes to those people,” said Mr Moniz. “People say lawyers made a lot of money out of this. But if it wasn’t for this legislation, there would have been more transactions, so lawyers would have made a lot more money.”

February 7, 2012. A former home of the US Consul General has been put up for sale with a $45 million price tag. The luxurious Chelston, built between 1939 and 1941 for California oil baron Carbon Petroleum Dubbs, was conveyed to the US Government in 1964 and served as the official residence of the US Consul General for more than 30 years. During that time, it housed guests including US President George Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Senators John Kerry, Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd, General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and actress Brooke Shields. It was also known locally for hosting an annual July 4 celebration, which sometimes drew more than 3,000 people to the 14-acre property. However the US sold the property to a US businessman in 1999 for around $15 million. The estate features a 10,000 square foot main house overlooking Grape Bay and boasts 15 bedrooms and 19 baths, including three guest cottages and a staff cottage. It also includes a well-equipped home cinema, a nearly Olympic size swimming pool, a croquet lawn and a wood-burning pizza oven. A section of the official listing for the site reads: “Exemplifying understated elegance and incorporating the best of traditional Bermuda design, the main house, on three levels, is light-filled and spacious. “High ‘Bermuda tray’ ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, multiple sets of French doors, generous room proportions and a general consistency of finishes throughout the estate are Chelston’s hallmarks.”

January 12, 2012. Bermuda luxury home and condo sales were so strong in 2011 that there was increased demand from wealthy overseas buyers for multi-million-dollar properties in desirable areas, including Tucker’s Town. Not only did the number of sales of high-end homes rise, but there was also a significant increase in the average selling price of both luxury houses and condos compared to 2010. The 2011 luxury market saw robust activity with an increase in the number of homes sold by 30 percent over 2010 for homes with an ARV of $153,000 and higher. Average sale prices in the luxury residential market also increased by 15 percent over last year, from $6.4 million to $7.5 million. Sales to international buyers increased by 40 percent from the previous year representing 56 percent of the total luxury home buyers this year. The numbers were in contrast to the non-luxury local market, which continued to suffer in 2011 with the two-bed condo market remaining saturated and rents dropping further. It seems this is a sign of confidence in the Bermuda market by international buyers, who are drawn for tax purposes, as well as the Island’s quality of life, sophisticated business community, location and proximity to the US and UK. While the number of luxury properties sold was small - nine houses in 2011 vs seven in 2010 the increase in sales in that market showed a clear, positive trend. There’s demand for homes by international buyers who want to become Bermuda residents as well as base their businesses here. International buyers are looking for homes with at least four to six bedrooms, primarily in Tucker’s Town, followed by Fairylands, Point Shares and Paget. Tucker’s Town particularly appeals to international residents interested in convenient amenities from golf, to direct beach access and a hotel resort lifestyle. The demand showed a need for proposed changes to land policy to open up the buying pool for luxury homes in what is a tightly controlled real estate market. The majority of the luxury home sales were to Americans followed by British and Canadians. The luxury condo market also saw an increase in the number of sales and average sale price. There were 69 luxury condominiums sold to overseas and Bermuda buyers in 2011 versus 64 in 2010. International buyers represented 15 percent of the 2011 condominium purchases with ARV values over $32,400 again with the majority of purchases by US citizens, followed by British. Average sale price of this luxury condominium tier increased 12 percent from $969,000 to $1.1 million. 60 percent of international buyers bought their Bermuda properties as vacation homes in 2011. The remaining 40 percent regard Bermuda as their primary residence and place of employment marking a seven percent increase over 2010 in the number of international buyers making Bermuda their primary residence. Changes to current land policy could boost the luxury market even more. It is hopeful that the policy would be changed in 2012 to allow Bermudians to sell their homes to non-Bermudians, allow permanent resident certificate holders to purchase properties as Bermudians and drop the requirement for non-Bermudian spouses to have special licences to acquire properties. At least $35 million worth of luxury homes has sold in Bermuda in just the first six months of the year. More multi-million-dollar properties had sold in Bermuda in the first half of 2011 than all of 2010, and 2009. The sales represent millions of dollars worth of annual revenue to the Government, given the now 25 percent cost of a licence for a foreigner to acquire a home in Bermuda, plus the one to three percent stamp duty, legal fees and land taxes due.

2010. December 23. Shadow National Security Minister Michael Dunkley yesterday called for all house buyers caught “fronting” to face the same outcome as the couple who bought Southampton property Laughing Waters. About 20 homes are thought to have been purchased using fronting: when a non-Bermudian uses a local as a front to gain illegal interest in Bermuda land. And Sen Dunkley said he hoped others would be treated the same way as the expatriates who saw their $1.5 million Laughing Waters given to the Bermuda Housing Corporation at no cost. “The UBP has always been on record stating that fronting arrangements are not on,” Sen Dunkley said. “We support the Department of Immigration getting to the bottom of this case. But if we are going to make a big deal about it publicly, we need to always make sure the law is being adhered to. I am sure there are other people who fall into a similar situation. We need to make sure their cases are treated the same way.” Sen Dunkley said the law firm which acted as trustees should also be dealt with by the authorities, although Sen Burch yesterday said it would not be penalised. On Tuesday, Sen Burch announced the BHC had acquired the home as a settlement after finding out the expatriates bought it illegally. Instead of being prosecuted and facing a possible jail sentence, the couple must pay $4,500 rent a month for the next five years; that cash will go towards national housing needs. Sen Burch believes there have been around 20 cases of fronting, and hopes others will now be encouraged to strike similar deals with Government or end up in a legal battle “you cannot possibly win”. He says one case is ready to go to court in the New Year, with two others close. As part of the crackdown, expatriates have until December 31 to get a licence for any property they own or face up to five years in jail or a fine of up to $1 million. Expressing a long-held UBP criticism of that aspect, Sen Dunkley said yesterday: “We still feel many Bermudians are very concerned that because they are married to a non-Bermudian they need to go and apply for a licence.”

A Bermuda houseAnother Bermuda propertyOverlooking the ocean


Time share units and their Services and Occupancy taxes

There are some, mostly at The St. George's Club. Prospective owners should make sure they know what the local laws and regulations are. See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231423&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true

Trash collection

2018. July 30. The Ministry of Public Works has announced that effective Monday, August 6th there will be some adjustments to the once a week trash collection map, resulting in an expansion of the map for some areas. Please note:


Not included when renting apartments, condos or single family dwellings and may be double or triple the rates in most US cities. Get an account with the Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO, Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) and more. With air conditioning, electricity alone for a three bedroom house can easily cost US$ 450 a month. (One way to save on this if facilities permit is to get a system known as Geo-Exchange from Bermuda Energy Conservation Ltd). Home buyers should get it in writing as part of their purchase contract that the electricity wiring is modern, up to code standards and with a reliable electrical map of the wiring available to the homeowner. Bermuda homes may be very attractive to look at, but it will be expensive and prolonged if they need extensive rewiring to meet current code standards. A contract for such services is recommended. Bermuda limestone or concrete block walls have to be ripped open with jack hammers and plaster ceilings also cut into and exposed, with holes all over the place and dust and debris, at many times the cost of new electrical wiring in homes in the USA or Canada or United Kingdom.

Note the lack of central heating in most Bermuda homes and apartments. Some Bermuda winter days and nights can be quite damp and chilly for non Bermudians accustomed to having seasonal central heating. Some homes have a fireplace, while others may have a ductless split heat pump system with reverse cycle heat during the winter and air conditioning during the summer. If not, electric heaters and separate air conditioning units for winter and summer comfort levels are available commercially.

Vacant possession

Always best, when selling a home. Tenants who will continue in an apartment cannot be counted as vacant possession and could cause complications.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rental Act 2018 now applies.

2018. July 6. Property owners who want to register holiday accommodation were left baffled after there were no official forms available. In a bid to comply with the new Vacation Rental Act 2018, which introduced a 4.5 per cent tax on Airbnb-style rentals, landlords have asked for the appropriate paperwork from the tourism ministry. However, despite the start of the legislation earlier this week, the forms were not expected to be ready until today. Justin Mathias, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, said he was concerned that the law had been “rushed”. He said: “I’ve been getting some phone calls, people have been trying to apply for their vacation rental certificates and the forms aren’t ready yet. I said, this is the unintended consequences of rushed legislation, that the administrative staff can’t keep up and the intent of the legislation doesn’t meet the reality.” Mr Mathias added: “People don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.” Government announced the start of the Vacation Rental Act 2018 on Monday and advised homeowners to view an online fact sheet. It explains that vacation rental certificate application forms “are available at the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism”, but to contact the Department of Consumer Affairs if the property falls under Rent Control. Proprietors were told that among the benefits of registration was “promotional support” from the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The webpage added: “All vacation rental units are required by law to be registered with the appropriate minister. Any vacation rental owner who fails to register their property or remit the 4.5 per cent vacation rental fee to the BTA is liable on conviction to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000 in accordance with Section 15A (8) of the Vacation Rentals Act 2018.” The rate is expected to bring in $750,000 for the BTA. One frustrated Airbnb host yesterday said he went to the ministry for an application form on Tuesday. He added: “There are no forms to fill out, they said there are no forms for people to register their property. The accommodation owner claimed that holiday lets had boosted the economy and community spirit all over the island. He said: “These people come and stay in neighborhoods, so we’re going back to good Bermuda, back to the old Bermuda experience, we see them walking in all different neighborhoods.” A government spokeswoman said the application forms would be available by the end of today and anyone who contacted the ministry would be informed.


See under "Water" in Architecture

Water Tank and their cleaning

Bermuda Home 01All private dwelling units and apartment complexes must by law have their own water tanks to collect and store rainfall, mandated in size by local building and planning regulations. Without rivers or a rainy season, no fresh water lakes and no public water system for fresh water or waste water (sewage), Bermuda depends on the weather for water. Without regular rain, home owners and commercial properties will have problems. With a solid limestone rock base, piped in water is not feasible, except in certain commercial areas. The supply of drinkable and/or well water is not is not and never has been a Bermuda Government service for the real estate taxes paid. Homes can store about 14,000 gallons per bedroom completely independently of any other building. But with Bermuda Government import duty averaging 30 percent at wholesale and the resulting impact on retail prices of all building materials and plumbing fixtures, a major disadvantage is the huge extra cost of building water tanks that property owners in most other countries do not have to endure. 

The Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951 require all tanks used for drinking water to be cleared of sludge and properly cleaned not less often than once in every six years. Those who breach the regulations and are convicted in Magistrates Court can be fined $168 for a first offence and $420 for a subsequent offence. The offender can also be fined $33.60 a day for each day an offence continues.  The Department of Health advises the public to disinfect tank water because bacteria and other micro organisms from the environment can contaminate the water in your tank. Your roof catchment not only collects water but also any dust, dirt, leaves and fecal matter from birds that wash into the tank as it rains. The advice is to either: bring water to a rolling boil for five minutes; chlorinate the tank regularly using half a cup of unscented bleach per 1,000 gallons of water; or install an ultraviolet light or distillation system. Fecal matter contains bacteria that causes diarrhoea so failing to disinfect the water can leave it unsafe to drink. In 1998, bosses at the Marriott Castle Harbour Hotel had to carry out an extensive cleaning programme on their main water tank after hundreds of guests became violently ill from drinking contaminated water caused by a leaking sewage pipe, leading to several lawsuits. A study of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in Bermuda carried out between late 2011 and early 2012 found that it was a significant public health issue, with a yearly incidence rate of one episode per person per year. The survey of 861 people found that none believed drinking water to be the cause of their AGI. The predominant pathogens isolated through a laboratory survey of stool samples were salmonella (47.8 percent), campylobacter (23.9 percent) and norovirus (15 percent). According to the 2013 Environmental Statistics Compendium, gastroenteritis accounted for 11.10 percent or 658 cases of the environmentally-related diseases in Bermuda in 2012. To clean a tank, professionals drain the water and then use a pump to remove any trash, using a vacuum to suck up any remaining debris. Most tanks of a small to medium size cost about $400 to $650 to clean.

Landlords and their tenants and all real estate property owners need to know that they break the law by failing to regularly clean water tanks. In the past but no longer they escaped prosecution, despite concerns about the risk to public health posed by Bermuda's rainwater catchments system. They are required to do so under the Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951. The law requires tanks to be cleaned every six years and allows for suspected offenders to be taken to court and fined if convicted. It should be understood that excessive sediment and the failure to regularly clean tanks can promote the breeding of unhealthy bacteria and cause an accumulation of contaminants such as metals and petroleum hydrocarbons that can pose health risks. It can cost several hundred dollars to get a medium-sized tank professionally cleaned. Some people have put off cleaning their tank for years or decades because of the cost of the cleaning and replacing the water. The only way to ensure tanks get cleaned, particularly with landlords, is to have greater enforcement of the law. People need to be mindful of testing their water regularly and using some form of disinfection if there is any indication of unhealthy bacteria. However, they need to know that adding chlorine when there is a lot of accumulated sediment can cause the creation of cancer-causing chemicals. They cannot rely on just disinfecting the tank the sediment needs to be removed regularly as well. The Island's system of collecting and conserving water in individual catchments has several advantages, including that it encouraged people to moderate their water use and lessened the chances of a water-borne infection affecting many due to a piped-in system. But a disadvantage was the exposure of the collective water supply to air-borne pollutants, such as acid rain from a distance, road dirt, vehicle exhausts and emissions from plants like Belco and the Tynes Bay Incinerator. Members of the public can get their water tested by Environmental Health for all of the standard bacterial indicators coliforms, faecal coliforms and E. coli, which are proxy indicators for the risk of pathogenic [disease-causing] organisms. When water is found to be unsuitable for drinking at a property, follow-up samples are taken after advice is given to the occupants about water safety. One of the first questions asked when poor results are received is whether the tank has been cleaned within the past six years. Dependent on where the property in question is located, more frequent tank cleaning may be required. It is important to remember that water test results indicate the water quality for a particular sample, taken on a particular day, and that microbiological flora can fluctuate with every rainfall. While rainwater collection from rooftops is a simple, efficient and cost effective procedure for the provision of freshwater supplies to individual households, it may represent a risk to human health if used for drinking.

Working from home in Bermuda

In the USA, Canada, Europe, etc it has long been accepted and even approved by their tax authorities that working from home, using computers and the internet or in other ways, is not a privilege but a right.  In the USA alone, millions of employees work solely from home and at least 63 million employees do so occasionally. But not in Bermuda. Here, it is regarded legally as a privilege, not a right. Unlike in the USA, Europe and elsewhere there is no equivalent Bermuda legislation that encompasses flexible or home-working. The term “home-worker” (or similar) is not defined in Bermuda's Employment Act 2000 (“the Act”). Because of this, home working is a privilege rather than a right in Bermuda. Potential non-Bermudian homeowners of Bermuda property should, in their own interests, expect to be allowed to work and to have their employees do the same if they wish, from their very expensive homes without any restraint.

Zoning Areas

Residential properties are typically zoned either Residential 1 or Residential 2. Residential 1 is higher density than Residential 2.  Local realtors can be more specific. The current Bermuda Plan shows the present zoning for every part of the island.

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Last Updated: January 17, 2020
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