IT'S NO SECRET THAT BERMUDA MAKES AN IDYLLIC VACATION DESTINATION; GOLF BEYOND COMPARE, STUNNING BEACHES, WORLD-CLASS DINING AND AN ISLAND CULTURE LIKE NO PLACE ELSE COMBINE FOR A DREAM HOLIDAY. Like many visitors, chances are you’ve found yourself seduced by this unique slice of paradise and wondered how to turn a vacation here into something more. Buying a piece of Bermuda real estate — one of the world’s most rewarding property investments — is a natural next step. And thanks to new land policy changes and licencing fee reductions in recent years, buying into the Bermuda real estate dream is now more appealing than ever. NEW PATHS TO OWNERSHIP Bermuda has always placed importance on preserving a market share of the island’s houses for Bermudians, but changes to government land holding policies that were enacted in June 2012 have opened doors to more home ownership options for non-Bermudians. With the announcement that Bermudians are now allowed to sell their homes to non-Bermudians, there’s an undeniable buzz around the island. And the wider housing market has created a win-win situation for both buyers and sellers. With more houses now available to international buyers, your choice of where to place your foothold on the Bermudian dream lifestyle has never been more enticing. Essentially, as long as the house for sale has an annual rental value (ARV) of at least $177,000, or at least $32,400 for a condo, Bermudians are now able to sell their properties to non-Bermudians. The land policy was amended to allow non- Bermudian spouses of Bermudians the right to acquire land without the former requirement of an additional licence. Now that spousal alien licences are no longer required, non-Bermudian spouses can purchase their own home much more easily. This change in policy is estimated to have led to an additional 35 percent in whole ownership inventory in Bermuda available for purchase by non-Bermudians. In 2013, exciting law changes to licencing fees brought even more good news for international buyers eyeing the island. As of April 1, 2013, the Bermudian government reduced licencing fees that non-Bermudian buyers are required to pay when purchasing a new house. Non-Bermudians used to have to pay a 25 percent fee, but now it’s a much lower 8 percent. The reason the licencing fee is there is because of the limited availability of inventory available to foreign buyers, explains Michael DeSousa, a sales agent with Kitson Group of Companies, one of Bermuda’s oldest real estate companies and a familyrun enterprise that specialises in higherend vacation homes, particularly those in the Tucker’s Town area. “That moratorium is good until at least October 2014, at which time the licencing fee will go back up to 12.5 percent,” explains DeSousa, adding that there are about 45 homes on the market (as of press time) for foreign buyers and there has been a definitive uptick in interest from foreign buyers since the licencing fee was reduced. “With the American economy improving, we’re seeing more interest from folks; and as it continues to gain momentum, we’ll benefit from that,” says DeSousa, adding that current prices for whole ownership on the island range from $670,000 for a condominium to from $2.5 million up to $45 million for a home. And with more inventory than ever when it comes to where non-Bermudians can own, the time to buy is definitely now. Sallyann Smith, managing director for The Property Group Ltd., reinforces this claim. “In 2013, The Property Group had a very successful year, including the sale of three Ship’s Hill condominiums at the exclusive Tucker’s Point, all to non-Bermudians. With the recent sale of several major homes to non-Bermudians, we are confident that the Bermuda real estate market is gaining strength; and there continues to be tremendous interest in home sales and rentals.” A PRIVILEGED AND AFFORDABLE NICHE It’s fair to say that Bermuda ranks amongst the world’s most prestigious and pleasing places to live. Not quite English, certainly not American and far from Caribbean, Bermuda blends island style, cosmopolitan class and natural beauty. “It’s a place that’s steeped [in] tradition,” explains David Dodwell, a fifth-generation Bermudian and owner of The Reefs Club. “We’re one of those conservative British territories, and we’re proud of that. There’s an element of comfort and confidence; there’s a culture and history here.” The Reefs Club, which opened in August 2009 adjacent to The Reefs Resort in Southampton, is one of three fractional-ownership residences on the island, together with Tucker’s Point Club, in Tucker’s Town, and the Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort & Spa, located on Hamilton Harbour in Paget. Tucker’s Point Club is a particularly attractive community for foreigners looking to purchase a vacation home in Bermuda. Unique on the island, the resort has 200 acres of woodlands and open space that includes an 18-hole championship golf course within walking distance of the residence clubs, trails for walking and jogging, tennis courts and even a watersports centre where you can rent a Boston Whaler boat or go out diving on Bermuda’s spectacular reefs and shipwrecks. But perhaps the biggest lure at Tucker’s Point Club is the spectacular beach club here, home to Bermuda’s largest private beach and two freshwater swimming pools overlooking the ocean. “We have a real beach club, much larger than those elsewhere; and a resort shuttle runs around the property all day long, so you can jump on the shuttle and go down to the beach or golf club,” says Lisa C. Mello of Tucker’s Point Real Estate. Two-bedroom residences at Tucker’s Point Club start at $199,500, a 44 percent reduction over the all-time-high price. And three-bedroom residences start at $299,500 for fractional ownership, a 28 percent decrease over all-time-high rates. “The fractional-ownership option is particularly well suited for someone who plans to be on the island for only about a month a year,” says Buddy Rego, a long-standing island real estate expert and president of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty. Fractionals offer five weeks of guaranteed occupancy, plus the option for more. “In Bermuda, fractional ownership is the most affordable way to get involved in home ownership,” says Rego. And remember, this is a lifestyle like no other you are buying into — and one for which you’ll be handsomely rewarded. A STRONG ECONOMY At just 21 miles long, Bermuda lacks open land for development. So what you have here, for the most part, are longstanding residential areas that have functioned as stable and nurturing communities for decades. Pair that with the overall success of Bermudian businesses — a thriving local economy, to be sure — and you have the groundwork for a healthy, flourishing society and an ideal place to invest in a stable future of your own. Bermuda has the third-highest per-capita income in the world, and the moneyed populace enjoys world-class cultural opportunities, dining and recreational activities. Add to that Bermuda’s reputation as being safer than the Caribbean and the appeal is only enhanced for foreign buyers. The list of people who have purchased here reads like a who’s who of business, politics and Hollywood, including billionaire H. Ross Perot, actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Lifestyle lures aside, Bermuda’s healthy economy, paired with the weakened U.S. dollar and suffering housing market in the U.S. generates considerable interest from foreign investors looking to grab a share of the islands’ luxurious real estate. Bermuda’s stable real estate market is proving to be a lure for more overseas buyers. Whilst the world has been plagued by a stormy market, Bermuda’s climate has remained relatively steady by comparison — especially when it comes to real estate at the upper end of the luxury market available for purchase by non-Bermudians. “Long term, buying here is a positive investment because property values at the upper end have not depreciated,” says DeSousa. When the North American housing market crashed, Bermuda properties fared much better, falling in value by only about 25 percent of what equivalent properties in the United States suffered. So it’s no surprise that buyers eyeing the upper end of homes here continue to show considerable interest. Much of the buyer interest has come from the East Coast of the United States, Canada and the U.K. The United States buyer’s market, in particular, showed signs of rebounding in recent years, predominantly with American buyers in the luxury home segment, followed by British and Canadians in equal measure. Recent years have also shown an uptick in Europeans purchasing homes in Bermuda, whilst the condominium market has been dominated by keen buyers from Canada and South Africa as of late. Overall, Bermuda real estate continues to be seen as a good value in the global luxury market because it hasn’t suffered the downward pressure that the U.S. market experienced. The fact that Bermuda’s currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, still weakened against the Euro and pound sterling, makes the territory more appealing to Europeans, too. And whilst U.S. citizens are taxed on their worldwide income, U.K. citizens who domicile elsewhere are not subject to the same tax regulations as when they live in their home country — a further incentive for the British to call Bermuda home. TIMESHARE APPEAL Another way to buy into the Bermuda lifestyle is through a timeshare. On the island’s eastern end, at the prestigious St. George’s Club, where condominium-style cottages fringe the pink-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, self-contained residences are very appealing to those in search of timeshare ownership. The St. George’s Club offers members the right to use for a period of up to 50 years. Unlike fractional ownership, timeshare owners do not actually own a piece of real estate. Winter rates at The St. George’s Club start at $4,000 for a week’s lease in a one-bedroom unit and up to $25,000 per week for a two-bedroom cottage in peak season, according to Sally-Ann Kyle, president of The St. George’s Club. Annual assessment fees run an additional $1,350 to roughly $2,760 depending on the size of the unit and the season during which it’s occupied. “A lot of the people who purchase here have childhood memories of coming here with their parents,” she continues, “And they’re continuing to make happy memories.” Timeshares are generally less expensive than staying at a hotel and offer the benefit of a full kitchen as well as access to several onsite restaurants. The appeal of investing in a timeshare property in Bermuda, says Kyle, is value for money. “We provide all the amenities of a hotel but with a fully fitted kitchen — a great addition for vacationing families,” she says. Occupancy figures at The St. George’s Club were up in 2013 over 2012 by around 5 percent, says Kyle. And timeshare members hail primarily from the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada, with only 10 percent coming from the U.K. and other European nations. STAKE YOUR CLAIM With such a variety of options for gaining a foothold in one of the world’s most desirable destinations to live, work and play, there’s a niche for every discerning home buyer with an eye on Bermuda. Deciding which pied-à-terre appeals to you most will be the hardest part. After that, you’ve gained a stake in Bermuda’s enviable and sophisticated mix of sun, sea and sand. And being in on the real estate market, of course, lets you breathe easier, too, knowing you’ve invested in one of the most beautiful and desirable destinations on the planet. Kitson Group of Companies 5 Reid St., Hamilton Tel: 295-2525 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: kitson.bm We are a full-service real estate company providing services in sales, rentals and vacation rentals, as well as management for residential and commercial Bermuda property market. Our extensive vacation rentals offer beautiful homes for short-term rental in some of the most exclusive locations on the island. Please contact us for advice in purchasing a property on the island or if you want to experience that special vacation in renting a beautiful Bermuda home. The Property Group Ltd. Nautilus House, 82 South Rd., Warwick Tel: 234-6900 E-mail: email@example.com Website: property-group.com The Property Group Ltd. Is the finest of Bermuda’s real estate companies. They represent the most desirable properties available in every sector of the residential market for sale or rent on the island. Call their office or e-mail them for more information. After hours, please contact Sallyann Smith at 535-4521 or Brittany Archer at 505-1466. The St. George’s Club 6 Rose Hill, St. George’s Membership Office Tel: 297-1222 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: stgeorgesclub.com Perched on Rose Hill overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage old town is The St. George’s Club, a cottage hotel and vacation ownership resort. Seventy-one Bermudian-style one- and two-bedroom cottages are set in about 12 acres of landscaped gardens with three swimming pools, three tennis courts, a fitness centre and a scooter rental facility. They have two restaurants: Griffin’s Bistro & Bar located in the main Club House and The Beach House located five minutes away across the adjacent golf course at the secluded beach of Achilles Bay. Tucker’s Point Real Estate 60 Tucker’s Point Drive, Tucker’s Point Tel: 298-6915 E-mail: email@example.com Website: tuckerspoint.com Known for its legendary lifestyle, Tucker’s Point spans 200 acres of the island’s most coveted waterfront and championship golf course property. The world-class resort community offers fractional ownership in two exquisite Residence Clubs with fully appointed two-, three- or four-bedroom villas, starting at $199,500. Homeowners enjoy membership in the private Tucker’s Point Golf, Beach & Tennis Club, as well as convenient access to the outstanding resort amenities of Rosewood Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa.
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