Market conditions for home buyers are the best they've been for 15 years, Bermuda's largest realtor said this week.

The days of properties getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market are over - nowadays houses and condos may have to sit for months before a buyer comes along.

Average home prices have levelled off to just under $1 million and speculators are scurrying away from the market because prices are expected to rise by only five per cent per year.

It all adds up to the best of times for people looking to buy a house.

With properties, both condos and the "coveted" single-family homes, remaining on the market longer, and more of them available than in years past, buyers can take their time to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.

'A good time to buy'

Susan Thompson, agency manager for Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty, said: "They have levelled off, particularly in the condominium market, and in some areas have possibly decreased slightly.

"And in the case of the coveted single-family dwelling, they've levelled off. They are not decreasing, but we're not seeing the growth we've seen in the years past.

"Depending on the property and where it's located, you're probably seeing a growth of 5 per cent a year.

"For the person looking to buy a house it's a good opportunity for them. They have more choices than they had in the past because there is more inventory on the market."

She also said where previously there were only a handful of single-family homes on the market at any one time, now numbers are in the double digits.

"It gives people more options," she said. "It gives them a better opportunity to go out and negotiate potentially. The banks are also very cooperative and flexible in lending so it's a very good time to buy."

While people looking to sell their houses will have to wait longer for them to move, real estate remains a good option for both buyers and sellers because of Bermuda's limited land space.

She also said Bermudians had overcome their reluctance to buying condos - the three high-rise condo developments in Hamilton, Atlantis and Gilbert Lopes' two buildings on Dundonald Street, have proven to be a good investment because of the rental returns.

Condos have become an attractive option as a residence because they come with less maintenance.

Ms Thompson was expanding on comments she made in a review of the real estate market in a company newsletter.

In the review, she addressed fears that Bermuda's real estate bubble would follow the lead of the U.S. and burst. She wrote that it is important "to point out the obvious."

"Bermuda is not the United States," she said. "In addition to its sensible lending practices, other factors ensure the continuing demand that keeps prices stable."

She said because of Bermuda's size, demand likely will always exceed demand and "its high-skill-based service economy is much less vulnerable to hiccups in world markets."