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Realtor: Demand for home rentals has exploded

Tenant demand for residential rental properties is outstripping supply, a real estate agent has revealed.

Adam Birch, of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty said: “As an agent, my rental inventory tends to fluctuate around 15 listings at any given time, sometimes spiking to 20 and rarely, if ever, below 10.

“At this moment I have about five rental listings. New listings are being rented fairly quickly across the board and I need new inventory to satisfy the current demand from qualified tenants.”

Writing in the agency’s September rentals newsletter, Mr Birch added: “Since the first lock down ended in 2020, the rental market has exploded. Instantly, there was a demand for home offices, internal space, large yards, pools, apartments.

“The demand for those amenities and more led to a series of bidding wars across the island – particularly in the higher end of the market.”

Apart from families simply needing more space, he said other contributing factors to the demand for rental properties included Government’s “Work from Bermuda” programme that encouraged foreign “digital nomads” to set up on the island, start-up companies with a need for staff accommodation, Bermudians moving home, an active housing sales market, and the number of people renovating or enlarging existing homes.

Mr Birch said “single people, couples and even entire families” were interested in living on the island and working remotely, adding: “In August/September 2020, we had a small influx of ‘digital nomads’ looking for eight months to one-year long leases.”

He said start-ups during the last quarter of 2020 and first quarter of this year were interested in apartments in Hamilton, and in middle and higher-end rentals, adding: “Demand exceeded supply to the point where early in 2021 there were no luxury rentals to be found as they had all been successfully rented. We are still seeing the effects of this demand, today.”

Mr Birch added: “We witnessed a number of Bermudians in their 30s & 40s with families deciding to move home to Bermuda during the pandemic to be with loved ones and take advantage of working remotely.

“Bermuda being relatively Covid-free as opposed to cities they were migrating from: London, NYC, LA, etc, made Bermuda attractive. This definitely added to the increase in demand in the middle ($5,000-$8,000) of the market.”

He added that an active residential sales market has affected some tenants, saying: “We have tenants with leases expiring that found themselves not able to extend the lease as new owners expected vacant possession upon closing as they wanted to live in the homes.”

Mr Birch said a surge in demand for the renovation and enlargement of existing homes had also put pressure on the rental market, adding: “Those renovating need somewhere to live temporarily.

“For the first half of 2021, we were inundated with people looking for short-term rentals from three-six months which impacts an already active market.”

The agent said one bedroom rentals in the $1,800-$2,500 range “are always in demand if modern and in a good neighbourhood. These continue to rent.”

He added that two bedroom rentals in the $3,000-$4,000 range are in demand by local families and people new to the island.

Mr Birch said three bedroom rentals in the $5,000-$8,000 range “are in high demand. We recently listed a property for $7,000 and had multiple offers at and over the asking price within days of the listing. This is the price bracket where we absolutely need more inventory.”

Rentals in the $8,000 to $30,000 range, considered the upper and luxury market, “have been extremely active” Mr Birch said, adding: “If priced correctly, these properties are not staying on the market for long and tend to be rented within as little as seven days and with some never hitting the open market as there is a list of waiting tenants.”

Mr Birch said apartments in Hamilton are popular again.

“City apartments weren’t in great demand for the latter part of 2020 and into 2021, as understandably working from home in a city apartment wasn’t ideal. With travel restricted we weren’t seeing many new expats looking for these turnkey city apartments.

“As 2021 progressed into summer, the city market definitely picked back up again. We are back to renting them quickly again within one-two weeks opposed to one-two months.”

Adam Birch, of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty (File photograph)

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Published September 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated September 21, 2021 at 8:03 am)

Realtor: Demand for home rentals has exploded

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