A HILLTOP HOUSE IN PAGET PARISH
This ranch-style house, known as Moondance, is in Paget Parish on the main island, home to the popular Elbow Beach and the 36-acre Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Perched high atop Trimingham Hill, it overlooks Hamilton Harbor and the capital city, Hamilton, and the South Shore.
The two-level 1960s structure has 3,800 square feet of interior space and is constructed of white concrete blocks, with a traditional Bermuda slate roof. There are three bedrooms and two and a half baths, along with an office that could be converted into a fourth bedroom. A family room and a separate one-bedroom, one-bath guest suite/apartment are on the lower floor.
“This house is extremely bright and airy,” said Buddy Rego, the president of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, which is listing the property. “And the views are special,” he said, adding that they were likely the reason behind the Moondance moniker.
The main entrance is through a large door of Bermuda cedar that opens to a spacious living room with a modern electric fireplace and built-in shelves. Off the living room is an equally roomy formal dining area. Both spaces have doors leading to a recently built wooden deck with a glass railing that looks out onto the harbor and city.
Beyond the dining area is an open, eat-in kitchen that has a balcony with South Shore vistas. At the back of the house are the bedrooms and an office. The master suite has a seating area and a tiled en-suite bathroom.
There are ceramic tile floors and stained-gray hardwood floors throughout, as well as an abundance of oversize windows. The furnishings are not included in the sale, Mr. Rego said. The current owners, he said, are in the process of building another home on the island.
The house sits on just under an acre of sloping property, with tropical landscaping and, down a series of steps, an in-ground pool with a diving board and a concrete-and-brick deck surrounded by shrubbery. There is street parking at the bottom of the hill.
Paget Parish is one of nine parishes in Bermuda (population 63,779); it is in the central-south portion of the main island.
The Trimingham Hill neighborhood, where this home is situated, is a short drive to Hamilton and Elbow Beach and also close to many of Bermuda’s other beaches and resorts. L.F. Wade International Airport is less than nine miles away.
Bermuda’s pink sand beaches and turquoise waters have long been major draws for foreign buyers, along with the country’s low crime rate and bustling financial center. But the luxury market slowed considerably after the 2008 financial crisis.
“There was a lot of uncertainty, and a lack of confidence in Bermuda’s reinsurance industry,” said Darren Donnithorne, a senior associate specializing in real estate at Marshall Diel & Myers. (Favorable tax laws in Bermuda have attracted many global corporations, particularly in the insurance and reinsurance sectors.)
But activity has been picking up in recent years, in part because of pent-up demand. “We’re very busy at the moment,” Mr. Donnithorne said. “There are a lot local transactions and non-Bermudian purchases as well.”
John Sinclair, the managing broker of Sinclair Realty Bermuda, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said the market was “at the upper end of average in terms of sales.” He said he has seen strong interest, in particular, in houses selling for less than $6 million and more than $10 million, as well as for condominium units in the $2 million to $3.5 million range, which is considered the luxury market entry point.
WHO BUYS IN BERMUDA
Most international buyers are from the United States, Canada and Britain, real estate professionals say. The majority of the Americans are from the East Coast, particularly the New York metropolitan region, where a number of nonstop, two-hour flights to L.F. Wade International are available.
Foreign buyers face several restrictions on this 21-square-mile British overseas territory. They generally cannot acquire undeveloped land, and the residential housing stock available for purchase is essentially limited to the upper end of the market. (This ranch-style house, Mr. Rego said, is among the least expensive properties currently on the market that is eligible for foreign purchase.)
“Whether or not a property is available for purchase by foreigners is determined by its annual rental value ascribed by the government valuation department,” said Francesca S. Fox, the manager of the property department for the law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman. “Realtors typically indicate if a property is available for purchase by foreign buyers.”
The property market was bifurcated, Ms. Fox said, “to preserve the majority of the housing stock and undeveloped residential land for Bermudian ownership.”
Non-Bermudians will need to retain a local lawyer to oversee due diligence of the property, particularly the title search. Bermuda “has an unregistered land system, so the deeds need to be inspected,” said Mathew Kelly, the director of real estate for the law firm Chancery Legal, adding that the country is now in the process of putting in place a centralized system for registering titles. “Eventually it will catch up with the modern world.”
It is not necessary for buyers to appear at the closing; power of attorney can be granted to the buyer’s lawyer. The purchasing process typically takes four to six months to complete, local lawyers say, and closing occurs only after an acquisition license is obtained from the government. Sales are typically made in Bermudian or American dollars.
Bermuda Tourism Authority: gotobermuda.com
Government of Bermuda gov.bm
Bermuda Chamber of Commerce: bermudachamber.bm
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
English; Bermudian dollar (1 Bermudian dollar = $1)
TAXES AND FEES
Sellers typically pay the sales commission, which is usually 5 percent of the purchase price.
Buyers are responsible for a number of closing costs, including the acquisition license fee, which is 8 percent of the purchase price for a house and 6 percent for a condominium unit.
Buyers and sellers split the stamp duty, which is 7 percent of the purchase price for properties that sell for more than $1.5 million. (Mr. Kelly estimated that the buyer’s closing costs on a $3 million house would be around $420,000.)
The annual property taxes on this house are $21,456, Mr. Rego said.
Buddy Rego, Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-441-292-3921; regosothebysrealty.com