Who will buy this US$3.8 million New Zealand penthouse?

In the good old days, the wealthy used to scoop up gold and jewels and flee in the dead of night before poor, angry peasants descended upon their estates. Today, the million-dollar jewels are often red carpet loans where today’s décolletage is rented like a yesteryear billboard.

Hiding assets from pillagees, modern-day pillagers have offshore banks, blind trusts, LLCs and cryptocurrencies. Fleeing is now the purview of private jets to far-away lands – but the local residents in those faraway lands are getting ticked-off at being priced out of their own markets and they’re mobilizing.

Last month, New Zealand passed a law banning many foreigners from purchasing existing homes. The legislation was part of a promise during Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s campaign in 2017 to reduce the country’s skyrocketing housing prices. Earlier in the year The New Yorker published a story about super wealthy Americans purchasing New Zealand real estate as a hedge against potential political or nuclear Armageddon – nicknamed “apocalypse insurance.”

Why New Zealand? (more…)

Bermuda: Endless Views of Pastel Houses and Endless Water

Bermuda: Endless views of pastel houses and endless water.

In case you missed it the first time back in January 2016, on June 16, 2017, this post was awarded “silver” in the “Best International Real Estate Story” category  by the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE).

Bermuda is a cluster of 130 picturesque islands you think is located in the Caribbean, but it’s actually in the North Atlantic Ocean about 650 miles east of North Carolina and 950 miles north of the Bahamas. Bermuda is known as much for its beauty as it is as a tax haven for multinational businesses.

Driving around Hamilton, you’d think the world consisted of bars, restaurants, insurance companies, and banks surrounded by ocean. That’s because while 400,000 tourists visit the island annually, 60 percent of the island’s GDP is derived from financial services.

As much as I detest corporate tax avoidance, I understand that without it, this island would be a lot poorer than it is. Certainly Bermuda has fallen into a sleepiness since its heyday in the 1960s as a jet set destination. While meticulously maintained, large hotels tend to be of that era. Tourists tend to be visiting executives eager for sun, sand, and high finance as well as east coasters wanting something more tranquil than some of the other more touristy islands of the Caribbean.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory so driving is on the left, but oddly the Bermudian Dollar is pegged to the US dollar (1-to-1) which makes currency conversion as easy as it gets. The local population of about 67,000 consists of those who trace their lineage to the UK and Africa (a legacy of the slave trade). Like many conquests, the original populace were wiped out by smallpox and STDs brought over by the original Europeans (how cheerful).

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