'Meet the Agent' - Sue Frith from Frith Real EstateThis month for 'Meet the Agent' we interview Sue Frith, President of recently formed Frith Real Estate. Sue has worked in Bermuda Real Estate for the last four years following a successful career in finance and marketing at large international organisations. Sue discusses where she is seeing actviity in the Bermuda property market, some top tips if you are looking to buy or sell as well as discussing the new Frith Real Estate model.
How long have you been in the business? I have been in the real estate business in Bermuda for four years. Prior to starting my own agency, I worked for Rego Sotheby’s and Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty. My previous work experience includes 14 years at Morgan Stanley, where I managed financial portfolios of wealthy families, and 8 years as a senior marketing executive at Sports Illustrated Magazine.
Why do you like working for Frith Real Estate Bermuda and what’s the favourite part of your job? The most exciting aspect of my job is the opportunity to bring a new model to the Bermuda real estate business that is more cost efficient and has fewer conflicts of interest. What’s the model? 2% sales commission combined with an outstanding level of service. Right now, the only other choice in hiring a full service agent in Bermuda is to pay 5%, and then hope that your agent fully markets your property rather than showing preference to their agency’s clients. If one of the agency’s clients buys the property, the agency will make double the amount by capturing both sides of the transaction (seller and buyer). Ask your agent how their agency compensates their salespeople when their property is sold to a client of that agency versus a client of another agency (a co-broke). It’s important to understand what the incentives are and to make sure your agent has your best interests at heart. Another issue is that when you work with a traditional agency, because the seller pays the entire commission, the buyer’s agent legally represents the seller. Most buyers are not aware of this conflict, although it is typically disclosed. In my model, sellers pay 60% less, and buyers who need less guidance can choose to come directly to Frith Real Estate, saving commission for the seller, and therefore both sides enjoy lower transaction costs. Alternatively, they can hire a buyer’s agent, who truly represents their interests. Most importantly, buyers have are not forced into hiring a buyer’s agent paid for by the seller. They have choice.
Where are you seeing activity in the market at the moment? The market has been sluggish for some time now. I have been surprised that the big agencies, having regularly reported sales figures to the news media in good times, have gone quiet. They talk about segments of the market instead of providing overall sales figures. No one is fooled. The number of properties on the market is on the rise, and houses are taking longer to sell and are selling for less than their asking price, sometimes, substantially less. It’s a Buyer’s Market. That said, certain characteristics always draw interested buyers…central parish locations, waters views, mint or good condition, and waterfront, especially with a dock. These types of properties are still attracting buyers, at all price points.
What is your favorite property on the market right now? Duxbury is a special property in a prime Tuckers Town location overlooking the world class Mid Ocean golf course and the spectacular South shore. Designed by Will Onions, it looks like a Bermuda estate, not a U.S. style house dropped into Bermuda. Duxbury has enjoyed a strong rental history and with some renovation, could be a simply magical Bermuda home for a lucky buyer.
What property on the market right now, in your opinion, do you think is really good value? Storekeeper’s House on Ordnance Island in St. Georges is a lovely waterfront condominium. The unit has gorgeous water views from every window, high ceilings reminiscent of another era, and a lovely open kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The location in St Georges is central, yet very quiet because it is surrounded by water on 3 sides. At $579,000, it’s a great value. The current tenant is paying $3,300 per month.
How do you see the Bermuda property market in 2019? Absent any stimulus from government, the Bermuda property market will continue to be sluggish in 2019. Locally, our population has decreased and that obviously has had an impact on real estate. Tourism is on the increase, and there is opportunity, but Bermuda makes international buyers jump through many hurdles that other jurisdictions do not. Americans, our largest source of International buyers by far, don’t pay stamp duty when they buy in the US. To ask them to pay stamp duty, and then also pay a license fee in the amount of 6-8% of the property’s purchase price, is onerous. In my opinion, government should eliminate license fees to stimulate the market. The increase in stamp duty generated by stimulating the market would likely be more beneficial than the trickle of funds the government receives from license fees for International Sales. Because the market is already segmented, this action would not hurt most Bermudians, who are not usually in the market for a $3-$4 million plus house. We have an oversupply of condominiums, so it would help there too.
What is your top tip for purchasers when looking for a potential new home? Referring to my earlier list, whenever possible buy a home in a central location, in mint condition or prepare to bring it to mint condition over time. If the budget allows for it, look for a water view and dock. In short, make a smart investment. You never know where life will lead you so it’s important to buy with an eye to selling down the road.
Finally – do you have any good tips for sellers when preparing their home for sale? Consider staging. If the budget allows for it, hire a professional stager. Research shows that you more than make back your investment. If the budget does not allow for it, lean on your real estate agent for tips. In tough market conditions, you need to make sure buyers don’t see a list of “projects” they will have to tackle that may turn them off.
To Contact Susan you can e-mail: email@example.com
or Telephone or text to: +1 (441) 333-7067