Interest picks up in lower-end properties
There has been renewed interest from property hunters and those looking for a place to rent since the easing of shelter-in-place restrictions at the weekend.
Sales of properties under $1 million are attracting the most interest, with a few inquiries around those priced up to $2 million. On the rental side, properties marketed for $4,000 per month or under are particularly busy, with demand said to be outstripping supply.
During phase one of the easing of restrictions imposed to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, real estate agents are allowed to work “in the field” to show properties to perspective buyers and tenants. Health and safety protocols are in place to safeguard agents, owners/landlords and clients.
The protocols mean that, at the very least, all persons at a property viewing must wear masks, gloves and remain six feet apart for the whole duration of the activity.
The Chamber of Commerce's real estate division has issued more detailed guidelines to its members for protocols to follow to protect all involved.
Sharon Cranfield, chairwoman of the real estate division, said: “In some cases, there are tenants or residents in a property and we believe that their permission and their safety should be considered as well as the participants to a showing.
“It's also important to be able to have contact tracing should the need arise. These are covered in the declaration.”
The electronic safety screening declaration document is for all participants entering a property. They agree to take all recommended and reasonable actions to protect themselves and others from exposure to Covid-19, and assume the risk, as applicable, for entering the property, or allowing someone to enter the property.
The public can also ask an agent for a virtual showing, such as on WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, if they feel uncomfortable physically viewing a property. Ms Cranfield said interest in real estate property started to increase once a phased lifting of restrictions started at the end of last week.
“We've seen a steady increase in rental and sales inquiries since that day,” Ms Cranfield said.
“Local interest in rentals is very active. Agents fielded inquiries during shelter-in-place and were at vacant properties doing showings after it was lifted on Saturday.
“Several rental contracts are already in progress from Saturday — indicating pent-up demand being met.”
Ms Cranfield added that overseas inquiries had also picked up.
But she said that “often these people do not understand the rigorous requirements for them to be able to purchase here and that we are nothing like Cayman or other countries to our south when it comes to restrictions on purchase and so we lose them to other jurisdictions”.
Ms Cranfield added: “The real estate industry has had good interest this year from international buyers in the very much higher end of the sales market, which looks like it will provide much needed income to the Bermuda Government coffers once licence applications are processed.”