Buying Bermuda: What You Need to Know


Types of Property Available To International Purcharsers

Bermuda's natural beauty and gentle climate, proximity to the United States, sophisticated international business community, and tax-neutral status have made it especially appealing to the international purchaser. So desirable that, as far back as the 1930s, it has been necessary to establish policies that control the types and number of homes eligible for purchase by Non-Bermudians in order to preserve the majority of the housing supply for Bermudian population.

As of June 2015, the following categories of property qualify for sale to International Purchasers:

  • Freehold Houses and Estates with a minimum qualifying Annual Rental Value ('ARV') of $126,000
  • Condominiums with a minimum qualifying Annual Rental Value ('ARV') of $25,800

Note: Every residence in Bermuda is assigned an 'ARV' for the purpose of calculating 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 rental market.

Types of Property Available to Permanent Residence Certificate Holders

PRC holders are a special category of Non-Bermudians. As of June 2015, the following categories of property qualify for sale to PRC Holders:

  • Any condominium that is not Government sponsored
  • Any freehold property that has an 'ARV' ( ie $0 and up)

Types of Property Available to Bermudians

All properties are available to Bermudian purchasers.

Price Ranges

  • House and estate prices in the "available for Non-Bermudian purchase" category typically range between $3 million and $45 million.
  • Condominium prices in the "available for Non-Bermudian purchase" category typically range between $500,000 and $6.5 million.

Ownership Structure

We recommend that you contact qualified Bermuda legal counsel.

Individuals

Ordinarily, Non-Bermudian purchases are made in the name of an individual (or individuals in joint tenancy).

Corporate Land Holding

As of May 2014, local and Bermuda Exempted Companies that meet the established requirements may, at the discretion of the Minister of Economic Development, acquire certain residential and commercial property. For a summary of relevant policies, please read the Corporate Landholding Policies: Click here to view the PDF

Non-Bermudian Trusts

On a case-by-case basis, Government has approved Non-Bermudians purchasing by application in Trust subject to specific requirements including but not limited to (a) locally licensed Trustees, (b) the property ownership is limited to one generation and (c) upon death, the property must be sold within a specified time frame.

Ownership of Multiple Properties

As of June 2015, amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 enable Non-Bermudians to own two properties.

License To Acquire Real Estate & Bermuda Government License Fees

All sale and purchase agreements entered into by Non-Bermudian purchasers are subject to the purchaser attaining a license to acquire the specific property from the Bermuda Government Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs (Department of Immigration). This is accomplished through the purchaser’s application on the prescribed form, which is submitted to Government through a Bermuda law firm. The approval process can take anywhere from two to nine months.

  • As of April 1, 2013, the fee for the grant of the license is reduced from 25% to 8% of the property purchase price for freehold homes (houses) effective until March 31, 2017, after which the license fee shall be 12.5%.
  • For regular condominium developments (usually the balance of 999-year leaseholds), the fee is calculated as 6% of the purchase price of the property.
  • For Tourism condominium developments (such as Tucker’s Point Club and other hotel residences), the fee is calculated as 6.5% of the purchase price of the property.
  • For PRC Holders, the license fee is calculated as 4% of the property purchase price.
  • The license fee, which is always paid by the purchaser, must be received by the Minister before the license is issued. The license is required before the transaction may complete.
  • Applicants are required to provide a banker’s reference and personal references (preferably Bermudian if possible).
  • The license application fee is currently $1546.
  • For further Information about the Non-Bermudian license process, please contact your Bermuda legal counsel or visit gov.bm

COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH SALE & PURCHASE

Deposit

A deposit of 10% of purchase price is payable by the purchaser upon signing sale and purchase agreements and held in escrow by the seller’s attorney or agent.

Gross Transactions

The Seller is responsible for 100% of the Agent’s Commission and 50% of the conveyance fees and stamp duties. The Purchaser is responsible for the other 50% of the conveyance fees and stamp duties.

NET Transactions

The Purchaser is responsible for 100% of the Agent’s Commission and 100% of the conveyance fees and stamp duties.

Non-Bermudian and PRC License Fees: Non-Bermudian and PRC purchasers are always

responsible for the Bermuda Government License Fee for restricted persons, regardless if the sale is expressed as gross or net net.

Conveyance (Legal) Fees

These are legal fees directly related to the preparation of the deed of conveyance. They are calculated on a sliding scale set by the Bermuda Bar Association and are normally shared equally by Seller and Purchaser in a ‘gross’ transaction.

Other Legal Fees

Each party is responsible to his/her own attorney and not to the attorney of the other for the cost of any legal services provided in relation to the transaction, such as preparation and/or review of sale and purchase agreement, negotiations and other services.

Bermuda Government Stamp Duties

Calculated on the property purchase price, these are based on a sliding scale set by the Bermuda Government. Stamp duties are shared equally by Seller and Purchaser in a gross transactions.

  • First $100,000 is at 2%
  • Next $400,000 is at 3%
  • Next $500,000 is at 4%
  • Next $500,000 ($1,000,000 but not exceeding $1,500,000) is at 6%
  • Thereafter: 7%

Agent’s Commission

The Real Estate Division of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce establishes the guidelines for agent’s commission, which are published in its Real Estate Handbook. Sales commission is standard and calculated as 5% of the property price. In a gross transaction, it is payable by the Seller.

Additional Costs

There are various incidental costs incurred by the parties and law firms in preparing and completing the transaction. For example, the seller is normally responsible for the cost of the initial draft of the Sale & Purchase Agreement ( approx. $500). Mortgage fees and other search fees may also apply. In addition, the Seller typically assumes the cost of staking the boundaries; the Purchaser typically assumes the cost of any structural survey.

Bermuda's Cooperative Real Estate Brokerage System

  • Real estate brokers and sales associates in Bermuda are licensed annually by the Bermuda Government Registrar of Companies and, by law, each company must submit an annual audit.
  • In most cases, and unless otherwise specified, Bermuda estate agents represent and are agents of the Seller, to whom we have a fiduciary responsibility. At the same time, we are obligated to treat purchasers with fairness and to provide them with the full benefit of our professional knowledge.
  • When Sinclair Realty is asked to represent the Purchaser, we do so according to a written Buyer's Agency Agreement.
  • The standard agent's sales commission in Bermuda is 5% of the purchase price. The standard rental commission in Bermuda for a lease of one year or longer is the equivalent of one month's rent.
  • Sinclair Realty conducts business according to the guidelines set forth in the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Division Handbook.
  • There is no Multiple Listing Service in Bermuda
  • There is no central electronic source of real estate information in Bermuda.
  • Bermuda's estate agents work within a cooperative brokerage system and, through this system, Sinclair Realty provides purchasers with access to the island-wide inventory of homes.