Bermuda Real Estate
Hailed as one of the “best islands in the world” by the 2022 Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards, Bermuda has been consistently on the list of the world’s most celebrated island getaways for the last two decades.
And for good reason.
Famous for its clear cerulean waters, idyllic pink sand beaches, exotic foliage and mild temperate climate, the wonders of Bermuda’s natural beauty are matched only by the country’s remarkable economic success — making it not only a favorite holiday destination for travelers but also a vibrant center for international offshore business and finance.
Known officially as the Bermuda Islands, the country is a well-developed and densely-populated British Overseas Territory in the western Atlantic Ocean. A long-time haven for holidaymakers, it has since become one of the world’s most prosperous economies due to its robust financial services industry.
With its high standard of living, political stability, excellent schools and health care services, technologically advanced infrastructure, wide assortment of outdoor activities, and accessibility to major airports in both the US and the UK, it is not surprising that Bermuda has become a preferred location for international property investors — whether for acquiring a vacation home or a permanent residence.
Reflecting luxury and comfort in a tropical paradise, many residential properties in Bermuda offer ocean views and access to its numerous beaches. The majority would also feature outdoor amenities such as swimming pools and patios, as well as al fresco dining and recreation spaces for the utmost in relaxation and enjoyment.
Of its nine parishes, named by experts as the most desirable areas for property investors are Warwick Parish (with its natural landmarks that include Warwick Long Bay), St. George’s Parish (home to the prestigious neighborhood of Tucker’s Town), and Hamilton Parish (which circles around the Harrington Sound water area and features several places of interest such as the Crystal and Fantasy Caves, Blue Hole Park, and Shelly Bay).
Meanwhile, those who wish to stay close to the financial center might want to check out properties in the capital city of Hamilton in Pembroke Parish. A charming harbor city lined with pastel-colored colonial buildings and high end shops, dining options, museums and galleries, as well as parks and gardens, Hamilton is the hub of international business in Bermuda and is also known to rank very high in the global cost of living index.
Who can own property in Bermuda?
Bermuda is a small country with a limited inventory of real estate. In order to protect the ownership prospects of its citizens, the government has imposed stringent policies and regulations on properties that can be allocated to foreign buyers.
Fortunately, recent amendments on existing laws and the introduction of new ones have resulted in fewer restrictions and more opportunities for international buyers than ever before.
One of the significant changes came with the enactment of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act of 2015, which allowed non-resident foreign individuals to purchase property on the island.
In 2021, the government also launched the Economic Investment Certificate and Residential Certificate Policy, which enables high net-worth individuals to make substantial economic investments in Bermuda, including the acquisition of residential or commercial real estate, and allows them to apply for long-term residency with their families should they qualify.
With that being said, prevailing laws relating to the acquisition of property by non-Bermudians remain quite complex. And in spite of the welcome changes that have allowed foreigners to buy property in Bermuda, the rules still operate within certain limitations.
Some key information for international buyers
Basically, there are two kinds of residential properties in Bermuda — those that are available only to Bermudians and those that are also available to non-Bermudians.
Whether or not a property is eligible for purchase by a foreign buyer is largely determined by its assessed Annual Rental Value (ARV), which must be set at or above a minimum amount designated by government’s land valuation department. Realtors would usually indicate in their listings if a particular property is available to international buyers.
Understandably, much of the real estate available to international buyers would comprise of houses and condos on the more upscale end of the market, or within private residential resort communities such as the Bermudiana Beach Resort (Tapestry Collection by Hilton) and The Residences at St. Regis Bermuda.
To purchase property, overseas buyers must obtain a “License to Acquire Property” from the Bermuda Government. These requires the submission of several documents and the payment of applicable fees.
Foreigners are permitted to own a maximum of two (2) residential properties in Bermuda, whether they are houses, apartments or condominiums. However, the sale of undeveloped residential land to non-Bermudians is generally prohibited.
While there is no transfer tax in Bermuda, the government imposes stamp duty on a wide variety of legal instruments, such as transfers of property, deeds, and rental agreements. Land tax shall also be paid by the property owner twice a year based on the assessed Annual Rental Value (ARV) of the property.
These pointers, however, are merely key information and are expressed in broad terms. In reality, the policies and procedural details governing the acquisition of property in Bermuda can be quite complicated.
To ensure a more efficient and straightforward transaction, it is highly advisable — especially for overseas buyers — to work with knowledgeable professionals, such as local property lawyers or experienced real estate agents, who can provide expert guidance and assistance in this tedious process from the get-go.
Finding your dream property in Bermuda
Overseas buyers looking for residential property in Bermuda should start by doing some research on what is currently available in the local real estate market.
As there is no comprehensive Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database for Bermuda real estate, the best way to find properties online is by searching through property websites such as Property Skipper, Mansion Global, and other reputable resources. Listings can also be found in the official websites and social media pages of licensed real estate professionals and agencies that represent buyers and sellers in Bermuda.
For a more personalized and targeted selection of listings that will satisfy specific needs and preferences, it would be best for prospective buyers to work with local real estate agents who are familiar with the area and are readily prepared to help them find the ideal property.
Work with experts, Work with ERA
A reliable list of licensed real estate professionals can be obtained through the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (BCC) Real Estate Division, which sets clearly defined requirements for its members and provides a directory of the individual realty and property management firms in its roster.
To further professionalize its ranks, the BCC Real Estate Division also became an international affiliate of the National Association of Realtors in 2018, opening the doors for local brokers and agents to become accredited with this U.S.-based trade organization with more than 1.5 million members worldwide.
For more information about working with ERA and for interested franchisees, please inquire below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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