'Meet the Valuer' - Suzanne Stones from Bermuda Valuers and Appraisers

This month in a change from our usual ‘Meet the Agent’ feature, we are meeting Suzanne Stones, a qualified valuer from recently formed Bermuda Valuers and Appraisers. Suzanne tells us about her new venture with Steve Bowie, where they are seeing activity in the market currently, outlook for the Bermuda property market in 2021 and whether they are seeing any price rises yet in Bermuda real estate. 

How long have you been in the business? I’ve been working in property for over 20 years, initially for Government in the UK where I qualified as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) I moved to Bermuda in early 2009 and have worked locally for 11 years.

Tell us about BV&A? BV&A is a new, independent valuation company which has been in operation for nearly 6 months. It is a partnership between myself and Steve Bowie (both of us are qualified valuers) and we pride ourselves on our ability to turn appraisal requests around in a very short time period. We focus purely on valuation / appraisals and have a good working relationship with agents, lenders, trust companies, lawyers as well as private individuals. See www.valuation.bm for more information.

What do you enjoy about running your own business? Definitely the flexibility of working hours is key – with school age children it is enormously important that I can spend more quality time with them without feeling guilty for missing work hours. I am also finding it really interesting being involved with all facets of running a business which you don’t necessarily experience when you are an employee. The accounting side has been a massive learning curve but an enjoyable one, as has been working with web designers to come up with marketing.

Where are you seeing activity in the market? Post Shelter In Place, last Spring I think it is fair to say that a number of people in the industry (valuers included) were not optimistic for the 2020 property market. However, these doubts appear to have been unfounded and we have witnessed a much busier year than predicted. With more and more people working from home, and spending more time with family during lockdown, priorities have changed with people looking for more flexible living spaces. There has been a demand for properties with the benefit of a home office or space for a play room or a slightly larger garden. We are also seeing first time buyers taking the plunge, having saved up the money for a deposit.

What is your outlook for Bermuda Property in 2021? Demand in 2021 has so far followed that which we saw from the middle of 2020. We speak to agents on a regular basis and they are reporting that they have plenty of buyers looking to purchase but the inventory levels are not always there. There are two segments of the market with high demand; the first is the single family home between $1,200,000 and $1,600,000 or thereabouts and quality properties in this bracket tend to receive significant interest. The second is the market for properties available to international purchasers, especially those on the water. Where the previous few years has been a ‘buyers market’ this is now changing with vendors being able to fully assess multiple bids and the conditions that are associated with the offers received – whether it is cash buyer, no chain or no survey required. Properties that are correctly priced are receiving offers in a short time period and often the successful purchaser is one that has all their ducks in a row, including financing, appraisal, survey etc.

Are you seeing prices rise in certain segments of the market? I think it is too early to quantify an increase in values, however the demand has certainly increased. Properties that have been on the market for a lengthy period of time are now selling and we are seeing this at both ends of the market. Multi-unit properties or larger properties which require capital investment are remaining on the market for protracted periods of time often because the cost of renovation is often in excess of the completed value.

Do you have any good tips for sellers preparing to sell their home to maximise its value?

Three key points to consider:

1) Curb appeal of a property – first impressions count. A well-manicured garden and a tidy entry lobby are so important. A prospect will remember the negatives much quicker than the positives so put them in the right mood from the get go!

2) Commission an appraisal to help set the list price. Properties that are priced appropriately tend to sell a lot quicker than those which are over priced.

3) My third tip would be to hire an agent who you trust. Be prepared to interview them and make sure you get a good feel for them – you are trusting this person with your home and you need to get on well with them. Listen to the agent and take on board their advice and consider a price reduction if the property has had limited interest in the first couple of months. 

To Contact Suzanne, E-mail: suzanne@valuation.bm 
Phone: 505-0202
Visit: www.valuation.bm 
Instagram / Facebook: @bermudavaluers

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