Island’s tranquillity lures luxury buyers
Political uncertainty in many parts of the world is stimulating interest in Bermuda's luxury real estate market.
That is the view of Karin Sinclair, of Bermudian real estate firm Sinclair Realty Bermuda, who says the island's beauty, tranquillity and civility are appealing to wealthy home hunters.
Donald Trump's victory in last November's contest for the White House was a catalyst for increased interest in the island, Ms Sinclair said.
“Our company experienced and continues to experience increased inquiries resulting from the outcome of November's US presidential election and other political uncertainties in the UK and Europe,” Ms Sinclair said.
“The world has been experiencing such tremendous flux, anger, and uncertainty on so many levels. We all tend to want to drive more slowly on a bumpy road, so you can see how Bermuda fits very well into the current global psyche.”
Ms Sinclair spoke with The Royal Gazette after the release of Luxury Defined, a report on the global luxury market published by Christie's International Real Estate. Sinclair was one of the brokerages to participate in the survey.
In a press release on the report, Ms Sinclair said several major prime property sales in 2016 and early 2017 were in part motivated by dissatisfaction with the US from buyers on both sides of the political aisle.
“Most of the world seems to be reeling in emotion,” she said. “Bermuda's greatest assets — beauty, tranquillity, and most of all civility — are very important and very appealing at this point in history.”
Ms Sinclair explained that the island's luxury market was very small.
“On average, we are only talking about six to nine non-Bermudians purchasing a freehold house in Bermuda in any given year,” Ms Sinclair said.
“Of those six to nine, usually one or two will be above $10 million. Over the last 12 months, a distinctive trend is that there were four sales contracts above $10 million all at varying stages of completion.
“Bermuda's luxury market is all about quality, not volume.”
In her blog on the Sinclair Realty website, www.sinclairrealty.com, Ms Sinclair referenced an anecdote from a dinner conversation with an international couple involved in a progressing sale in February. The conversation was about what made the buyers choose Bermuda.
“Bermuda's high ranking in per capita income and quality of life were influencing factors,” Ms Sinclair wrote. “Convenience and proximity to the United States are very important, and equally so is the fact that Bermuda is not the United States.
“However, when we raised our glasses, the toast was to something much deeper, more intrinsic … something that much of the world sorely lacks right now, but which Bermuda offers in relative abundance. The salute was to Civility (with a capital ‘C').”
Tomorrow marks the start of the America's Cup, an event that is attracting many high net-worth visitors, many of them here with their yachts. Ms Sinclair is hopeful that the event will give the island an economic boost.
“More people around the world are hearing, seeing and saying the word ‘Bermuda' than ever before,” she said. “Though it might not be immediately recognised, the America's Cup exposure can only have a positive impact on so many aspects of Bermuda's economy.”
In the Luxury Defined report, Christie's found that Hong Kong was the world's leading luxury market, overtaking London for the first time in the survey's five-year history.
Another first, the report added, was that the world's top ten reported residential property sales were all priced above $100 million — and sold for more than $1.3 billion in aggregate.
“If 2015 was dubbed a time for a ‘return to realism', then 2016 revealed a shift towards more of a buyer's market,” said Dan Conn, chief executive officer of Christie's International Real Estate.