Historically, purchasing a home in Bermuda as an international buyer has been reserved for the world’s wealthiest individuals. On this beautiful island, where space and land are limited, Bermudian homebuyers themselves were hard-pressed to find a “fixer-upper” cottage for less than $1 million. Restrictions previously placed on foreign ownership meant that the entry level for homeownership was a minimum of $4 million. However, following the fallout from the global financial crisis in 2008, property prices on average have fallen by 30 to 40 percent in some categories, mostly condominiums.
The Time is Now
In an attempt to stimulate the property market, the Bermuda Government did two things: First, they reduced the licence fee for non-Bermudians purchasing condominiums from 18 percent of the purchase price to 6 percent and from 22 percent to 8 percent for houses, which represents huge savings. (You can expect a licence fee of 6.5 percent for hotel residences.) Second, they decreased the restrictions on properties that overseas purchasers could buy, and as a result, a majority of the condo market is available to these buyers now. According to Brittany Archer, a principal of The Property Group Ltd., this move has spurred an interest amongst many overseas purchasers in a market they might not have previously considered. “Condos offer greater maintenance options and an ease of management and overall less stress than a large home, which is more challenging when leaving it unoccupied in our island climate,” Archer says. “Land taxes are also far less with a condo than a freestanding home.” In April 2019, licence fees are expected to change.
Two-bedroom waterfront condos can now be purchased by non-Bermudians for as little as $550,000 at The Breakers (formerly The Mermaid Beach Club), located on the South Shore beaches and which are unique in their proximity to the water, as well as having the convenience of nearby public transport. There are 44 units ranging from 500 square feet to 2,300 square feet.
“Lovely oceanfront homes at West Point in Hamilton Parish with a private beach and a pool priced from $1,600,000 are now an option,” says Sharon Cranfield, owner of Cranfields Property Bermuda Ltd. Strawberry Hill, a collection of town houses and apartments near Hamilton, includes a pool and tennis courts on a quiet, tree-lined lane and is very popular for professionals and families who like its central location. “Here we see two-bedroom homes come to market from $750,000,” says Cranfield. “Within Hamilton itself are compact, city-living lifestyle condos, which can be purchased from $550,000, offering access to shops, entertainment and public transport within walking distance of home.”
Hotel Condominium Living
Bermuda has ushered in a wave of new construction with hotel condominiums that feel more like homes than an apartment or condominium.
The Villas at The Loren Hotel at Pink Beach in Tucker’s Town, in Smith’s Parish, offer newly constructed and to-be-constructed lock-off, two-storey, modern villas, each with their own private pool within the internationally newly acclaimed boutique resort. Residents and guests alike enjoy the conveniences of luxury living with two restaurants, as well as a beach club, gym, spa and concierge services. Prospects appreciate the option to place their villa into the hotel guest inventory or keep it as a private residence.
“The past year we have seen a significant increase of international attention on The Loren at Pink Beach, including praise from some of the top international publications in the world, such as Forbes, W Magazine, CNN Travel and Vogue Italia. Jetsetter Magazine even named it a finalist for the 2018 Best of the Best Hotel Awards for best on the beach,” says Penny MacIntyre, partner at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty. “The resort accolades bode well for residential homeowners looking for independent validation of a successfully launched hotel and bolsters investor confidence in the hotel condominium opportunity generating revenue from occupancy demand increasing.”
Existing condominiums such as Belmont Villas and Hidden Cove represent the traditional Bermuda residential communities. For those seeking a larger hotel resort setting, Rosewood Bermuda (built in 2001, with renovations under way) offers condominiums, town homes and estate homes for resale and land for bespoke single-dwelling development amid its golf, tennis and beach clubs along the picturesque Castle Harbour. Units vary in size from 3,000 square feet for two-storey town homes around $2.8 million to 4,200 square feet, or larger, stand-alone homes with private pools on over half an acre of land north of $5 million.
“Bermuda now has compelling condominium living for discerning individuals whether one prefers the new modern luxury boutique resort available at The Loren or grand resort developments of Rosewood Bermuda,” says MacIntyre. “The new ownership of Rosewood Bermuda has undertaken significant renovations to update its lobby, guest rooms, restaurants, beach and golf clubs for today’s ultra-luxury traveller and resident. The renovations will aim to elevate this award-winning resort location to showcase design elements representing a sophisticated blend of Bermudian culture and elegance.”
According to Sallyann Smith, a principal of The Property Group Ltd., the Azura boutique hotel on South Shore offers a slightly more affordable option, but with a similar hotel component. This is a new ownership concept for Bermuda, which in some areas is known as a hotel residence or condo hotel. All real estate units are designed specifically for hotel lock-off use, which means separate bedroom entrances and a full en-suite bathroom in each bedroom. One-, two- and three-bedroom residences are available, all with full kitchens, private balconies, terraces or gardens, and expansive ocean views. Pricing starts at $660,000 for spectacular one-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot lofts to $1,995,000 for a detached three-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot oceanfront villa. These are available to Bermudians, Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders, work permit holders and international purchasers.
As hotel residences, there is a 6.5 percent licence fee for international purchases, which is waived if the residence is offered back to the hotel development as a rental unit. In addition, there is no longer a 90-day and 120-day restriction on occupancy for licence holders, their family and guests staying in the tourist accommodation.
The ultimate in luxury is now available to international buyers at The Cove, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residence at Caroline Bay, an ultra-luxury, master-planned, waterfront community located on the west end of the island. The community will be home introducing a level of luxury unseen in Bermuda and rare across the globe. Caroline Bay is only the world’s fifth destination to feature a Ritz-Carlton Reserve Hotel and only the third to offer residences under the Ritz-Carlton Reserve name. The first phase of the residential development, slated for completion in summer 2018, will include 35 residences ranging from 1,983 to 3,174 square feet, plus private outdoor spaces including plunge pools or outdoor kitchens for entertaining, says Sandra Christensen, sales and marketing manager for Coldwell Banker Caroline Bay. Every home is situated to take advantage of spectacular ocean views, with prices starting at $2.5 million.
All About Luxury
“If you would like to make a larger investment, you can consider Lily Lodge in Tucker’s Town, where around $15 million will buy you a 6,872-square-foot home on .85 acres, with seven bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms, a swimming pool and its own dock on Castle Harbour,” advises Tom Sleeter of The Property Group Ltd. Also in the prestigious residential area of Tucker’s Town, for $23 million, you can buy the stunningly beautiful beachfront property Old Battery, with its main house and two cottages, nine bedrooms, and nine and a half bathrooms, totaling 7,890 square feet on 4.5 acres of beachfront property with a pool, tennis court and its own beach.
Albert Moura, broker for Keller Williams Bermuda offers numerous properties that may be of particular interest for the international buyer wanting to establish a home and business relationship in Bermuda preferring to be in the central hub of the island in close proximity to the city.
“‘Far Above’ is an excellent choice for a high-level executive,” says Moura. “Majestically perched on one of the highest hilltops in Bermuda known as ‘Pinnacle Hill’ having 360-degree, panoramic views of the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Harbour, the Great Sound and the South Shore, this fine property has all the amenities expected and appreciated by the high-end buyer.” The property sits on an ample 1.8 acres and has an infinity pool with the house measuring an impressive 6,300 square feet. “Far Above” is competitively priced at $6.75 million. Another option for the executive looking for the ease of condominium living is “The Wharf #14” located on Darrell’s Wharf in Paget, which offers front-row views and water frontage on Hamilton Harbour, as well as the convenience of an on-site ferry service to and from the City of Hamilton. This outstanding and well-appointed apartment is priced at $1,475,000.
“International buyers tend to come from western Europe and the east coast of North America and Canada, who are attracted by the mild climate, gorgeous coastal waters and verdant tropical landscape,” says Cranfield. “Combine that with our first-world attitude to work and technology, English language culture, plus the one-to-one ratio for Bermuda dollar to U.S. dollar, and you can see why it’s an easy transition to call Bermuda home.