Buyer Information & Land Policy:
Acquisition of Bermuda Property by Non-Bermudians
Non-Bermudians may only purchase property valued above a set minimum Annual Rental Value (“ARV”). The minimum ARV for houses is $126,000 and $25,800 for condominiums.
The ARV is used to determine land tax and is not necessarily a reflection of market value.
Houses with a qualifying ARV start at approximately $2,500,000 and condominiums at approximately $320,000.
ARVs may be viewed on the Department of Land Valuation website (www.landvaluation.bm)
The effect of these guidelines means that only the highest valued properties are available to Non-Bermudian purchasers.
Non-Bermudians must acquire a Residency Certificate to purchase a condominium, which they are not eligible for if they have a work permit. This certificate does not apply for houses.
A Non-Bermudian is permitted to own up to 2 properties.
A Non-Bermudian is not permitted to acquire vacant land.
There are situations where a Non-Bermudian is permitted to purchase a house with more than one assessment number upon application. However, the ARV of one of the assessment numbers alone must be above the $126,000 minimum.
Non-Bermudians who purchase property are not able to rent it out for short-term or holiday rentals unless it is in a specific hotel tourism designated development. Non-Bermudians may be granted permission to rent their property upon application to the Department of Immigration which is subject to a tax of 7.25%.
Acquisition of Bermuda Property by Permanent Resident Certificate Holders (“PRC”)
A PRC is able to purchase any property on the market with some exceptions.
A PRC is not permitted to acquire vacant land, a property that is part of a Government Scheme, and may not rent out a property that they own which has two assessment numbers.
A PRC is permitted to own up to 2 properties.
Licensing and Fees
Non-Bermudian purchasers must obtain a licence from the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs; their application is made through a local attorney of their choosing. Licence fees are 8% of the purchase price of a house and 6% for a condominium (on April 1, 2019, licence fees are expected to increase to 12.5% for houses and 8% for condominiums).
Licence Fees for Permanent Resident Certificate Holder (“PRC”) purchasers are 4% of the property purchase price (on April 1, 2019, licence fees are expected to increase to 6%).
The licence fees for a property within a hotel development is at 6.5%.
Applicants are required to provide a banker’s reference and personal references (preferably Bermudian if possible).
The licence application fee is currently $1,546 (refundable upon licence approval).
Government has approved Non-Bermudian purchasing by application in Trust subject to (a) a locally licenced Trustee, (b) the sale is limited to one generation and (c) after death, the property must be sold within 2 years.
Multiple Property Ownership
Generally, a non-Bermudian is permitted to own two residential properties.
Preparing to Purchase a Property
Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you may make and certainly one of the most significant investments of your life. We at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty are pleased to provide these simple tips to help you understand what to expect when purchasing your home:
Financial Planning: Enlist the help of your bank’s financial advisory services to determine your buying capacity. Schedule an appointment with your bank to speak with a mortgage loan officer who will guide you through what you need to submit for your loan pre-approval. Your bank will also assist you in determining additional costs you may not have thought of that are associated with a home purchase – appraisal fees, land taxes, structural survey fees, property insurance, legal fees, services charges, bank (mortgage) finder’s fees, etc.
Choose a Real Estate Agent: You will be working closely with your Agent on your home purchase; you will want to choose an Agent you are comfortable with, who listens to you and helps you define your needs (‘must haves’) versus your wants (‘wish list’). An informed agent will know the market, arrange viewings of suitable properties and may be one of the first to hear of new properties coming onto the market, giving you first opportunity to view. Generally, the seller pays the Agent fee.
Ask Questions: Be an informed purchaser. Check with your Agent about zoning restrictions, rules and regulations and neighbourhood facts.
Know the Government Regulations and Tax Structure: For example, if you are Bermudian or a Bermudian with a non-Bermudian spouse, first-time buyer, and purchasing a property for $750,000 or under, the Government has provided a stamp duty exemption on the conveyance of the property you purchase, which may save you as much as $12,000.
Understand the Process and the Costs:Your Agent will guide you through the process, from Offer and Acceptance to Sales and Purchase Agreement and the documentation required throughout. Costs associated with the conveyance of a property are usually shared equally between the Vendor and the Purchaser. These costs are legal fees for preparation of Conveyance and Stamp Duty payable on the Deed of Transfer. The Purchaser is liable to their own attorney for costs incurred for legal advice.
Costs associated with Purchase of Property
Deposit: A deposit of 10% of purchase price is payable upon signing sale and purchase agreements. The deposit is held in escrow by the Agent or Attorney until closing. Interest accrued is for the Purchaser’s benefit. Balance is payable when sale completes.
Stamp Duty: Bermuda Government Stamp Duty is calculated on purchase price:
- 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 (exceeding $1,500,000): 7%
Conveyance Fee: Based on a scale of minimum fees provided by the Bermuda Bar Association and determined by your legal representative.
Mortgage Fees: Your preferred lender can provide a current fee schedule for mortgages.
Additional Costs: These may include an Appraisal fee (from $450 upwards), Pro-rated land taxes at closing; structural survey fee (if the home you are purchasing is a fixer-upper and requires repair/renovation) – price of survey depends of size of property and approximately 1/10th of one percent of the purchase price; property insurance; services charges for utility service installation; moving costs; maintenance fees (condos).
Property Ownership Costs: Other costs to consider include utilities (such as electricity, cable and internet), water (houses in Bermuda collect rainwater via their roofs which is collected in a cistern or tank – some properties may have access to a well or are connected to the Bermuda Waterworks – during the drier months it is possible that your water supply may need to be supplemented), building maintenance (houses should have their exteriors painted every 5 years or so and their roofs painted every 2-3 years as needed), and ground maintenance.
Government has approved Non-Bermudian purchasing by application in Trust subject to (a) locally licenced Trustee, (b) limited to one generation and (c) after death, the property must be sold within 2 years.
For more information on the residency requirements for Non-Bermudians to purchase property in Bermuda, please refer to the Bermuda Government website: www.gov.bm
Multiple Property Ownership
Generally, a Non-Bermudian is permitted to own two residential properties.
For more information, go to: www.gov.bm