FRIDAY, OCT. 12: A change in the law to allow buyers from overseas more choice of homes has sparked fresh interest in the island’s real estate market.

And Government signalled that more changes could be on the way in a bid to further boost a sector badly hit by the global recession.

Buddy Rego of real estate firm Rego Sotheby and a former president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce said the change in the law had led to more enquiries about property from long-term residents.

He added: “The most obvious change that affects people is the rule as it affects Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders.

“There are now PRCs re-entering the market and having a look because they have a wider choice of properties available as they don’t have to buy only from non-Bermudians.”

Mr Rego said, however, it was too early to say if the interest would be translated into sales, boosting the island’s ailing real estate sector.

He added: “There are some other concerns that are dictating why people aren’t rushing to the market — economics is one.

“Circumstances today mean people are struggling and it’s also to do with the availability of financing.

“If the favourable mortgage terms of a few years ago were available now, we would probably see more of a rush to buy.

“Every little helps, but it’s still tough for people to get on the property ladder, although there have been people waiting in the wings for quite some time for this.”

It is understood that the Chamber’s real estate division is in talks with Government to reduce extra taxes levied on PRC property buyers in a bid to give the market a further shot in the arm.

Chamber of Commerce real estate division chairman and realtor Dale Young of Paget’s Dale Young Properties said: “There is more interest but we have to wait and see what materializes.

“We worked very hard in the Chamber and Government worked closely with us to achieve this.

“They came to us and they asked. We had meetings and the results were the changes and we’re very pleased with them.”

She added: “There is still more work to do and hopefully more changes to come.”

Minister of National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief piloted two changes to existing laws through the House of Assembly earlier this year.

Now a non-Bermudian married to a Bermudian will no longer have to buy a land licence in order to buy a home with their partner.

A further change changed the Annual Rental Value (ARV) limit  for sale of a home to a non-Bermudian at $177,000 and above, widening the pool of potential buyers for up-market properties.

Mr Perinchief said at the time that would mean around 250 homes would be available for purchase by those from overseas.

A spokesman for the Minister said yesterday: “We will continue to work with private sector partners and stakeholders within the industry in creative ways to stimulate the market.”

He added: “We are particularly cognizant of the state of the condo market right now.”

The spokesman also hinted that more changes in property laws are being considered in a bid to give a further shot in the arm to house sales.