Archive for Real Estate News

Karen

Are you looking for a rental on St Thomas?

Large 3 bedroom house for rent on breezy north side of St. Thomas. 180 degree views from two levels of porches. Great north central location – 13 minutes to Red Hook on the east end and about 12 minutes to Charlotte Amalie and 7 minutes to Magens Beach.
Solar water heaters so lower electric bills! Apartment comes furnished but there is plenty of room for your stuff, too. Pets are welcome with owner approval.

For more information contact Karen at Sea Glass Properties 340-514-4730

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inside sitting area

kitchen cabinets new

new kitchen cabinets

view east down island

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view West

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Karen

I have moved to Sea Glass Properties!

I wanted to make a big announcement. I have moved to Sea Glass Properties. I feel this is a wonderful opportunity for me. Sea Glass has excellent marketing on many different websites as well as their own magazine. We also work on all U.S. Virgin Islands so I will be better able to take care of all my buyers and sellers. My cell phone number and email address will remain the same so you can still contact me easily.I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to assist you with all of your real estate needs.

I'm with Sea Glass Properties!

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Karen

Selling And Buying Real Estate In The US Virgin Islands

Here I live in the US Virgin Islands.  What a beautiful place to be!

karen-korsgren-headshot

When I was 15 my family went on vacation to Grand Cayman.  Ever since then I have wanted to live somewhere where it is warm all the time, palms are the most abundant trees, the water is aqua, and wearing your black flip flops means you are dressed up.

Well, it took a few years for me to convince myself that I could do it, but here I am.  I moved to St Thomas in October of 2004 and I have never looked back.  I am selling St Thomas real estate, along with St. John real estate and St. Croix in one of the most beautiful areas in the world and loving it!  Now I get to help other people find their dream home.  This can be a studio condo or a multi-unit income producing home or a piece of land.

The US Virgin Islands consist of St Thomas, St John, St Croix, Water Island, and various other smaller islands and cays.  I can help find commercial space for those of you looking to start a business or I can help you purchase an established business.

Feel free to email me at islandrealestate@joimail.com if you would like to find out what real estate is available or ask me any questions.

Karen Korsgren (”Island K”)

islandrealestate@joimail.com

ph: 340-514-4730

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Karen

Finally a homeowner!

I am finally a homeowner myself here in the beautiful US Virgin Islands.  AAAHHHHHHH…the wonders of homeownership.  The cleaning, the spackleing, the painting, the renting…Oh, did I mention I now have apts to rent?  Well I do. 

There is a very nice 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment on the lower level.  It has a large kitchen and is about 1000sf.   It will be available to rent Nov 1.

I am fixing up the 3bedroom, 2.5 bathroom main unit now.  It will be ready mid to end of Nov.  It also has a large kitchen, wrap around porch on the main level and a balcony on two of the bedrooms.  It is about 2600 square feet. 

Both have beautiful views from Inner Brass off Magens Bay all the way to Tortola and St John.  Windows on all sides, so there are great cross breezes!!  The house is on 8/10 acre and is mostly fenced at the end of a dead end road.  Both come fully furnished.  I will accept pets, but if the pets are not taken care of, the owner has to go!

Contact me at islandrealestate@joimail.com for more info!

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Karen

The ‘outs’ in a contract

There are several ways the contract to purchase a house may be cancelled.  Certain deadlines must be met and several ways of determining value that may be negotiated.

The seller must have the bound posts marked to show where the property lies if requested to do so.  I recommend Brian Moseley & Assoc www.visurveyors.com A survey is standard in the US Virgin Islands and required by lending institutions and title companies because there were no building codes or zoning laws until the 70’s.  An owner could literally have built part of his house or fence on a neighboring property. 

The buyer must have a survey and “as built” performed within seven to ten days.  An “as built” shows where the house is in relation to the rest of the property.  This is done to show there are no encroachments (see previous post) and the buyer can have clear title.

A buyer, as an option, may have a home inspection performed within the first seven to ten days of an executed contract.  I recommend Adrian Bishop at The Home Inspector abishop@homeinspect.vi This would make the buyer aware of possible faults with the house.  The buyer then has the option of requesting the seller correct the faults, renegotiating the price, or backing out of the purchase and having his earnest money deposit returned.  The seller has the option of fixing, renegotiating the price, or saying take it as is.  This clause is in consideration to the condition of the house, it is not related to encroachments and clear title.   

Next is the appraiser.  Having your house appraised is always a good idea especially if you are not familiar with prices in the Virgin Islands.  I recommend Tripp Torcia at Appraisal Associates tripptorchia@gmail.com If you are in need of bank financing, an appraisal will be required.  If the appraisal comes in at the agreed upon price or higher, the bank will probably fund the loan if you qualify.  If the appraisal comes in significantly lower than the agreed upon price, the buyer may try to renegotiate the price to satisfy the bank.  If the buyer is unable to obtain financing within the specified time (usually 30-60 days), he will have to cancel the contract.

If the seller and buyer cannot come to an agreement and both are within the timelines set in the contract, the contract may be cancelled.  If either party is outside the timelines set in the contract, the parties each have their different recourse.

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Karen

Insurance in the USVI

 Yes, insurance here is expensive because of hurricanes and possible flooding from such storms as find their way in to the Atlantic. The “replacement cost” on the appraisal is what the insurance companies look at when they decide what to charge you.  The appraisal does not go by square footage alone.  Other factors are what the house is constructed of and if it has hurricane shutters and clips.  When purchasing a home, the appraisal will have this information.  It will also have the three different ways the home was valued.    With a concrete, shutterd three unit home the insurance will be over $10k/yr.  Ouch!  That breaks down to about $850/month.  That is on top of the mortgage and taxes.  The different insurance companies do have slightly different rates, so shop and compare.

The bank will require flood insurance for beachfront, waterfront, and low laying areas, or a flood certificate if your home is not in a flood zone.  If you have rental apartments, I would suggest obtaining liability insurance.   Liability insurance does not cost much extra and it is well worth it.

 

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Karen

Closing on property, The Loan Stateside

After reading the previous posts, you may be asking yourself, why would I use a lender on island?  Well, you may have to.  St Thomas and the other US Virgin Islands are territories of the United States, not states themselves.  Although the laws and citizenship are US, there are some differences that become more noticable when trying to purchase property here. 

If you have a good relationship with your bank or credit union in the states, or if you own property in the US, you may be able to use a stateside lender.  The problem is that lenders in the states cannot use a property in the USVI as collateral on a loan.  This means you would have to own something in the US of equal value to what you are purchasing in the USVI.  If you default on your loan in the USVI, the lender would forclose on your US property.

Unfortunately when it comes to finding a financial lender in the USVI, there are very few choices.  We have recently had the opportunity to use lenders located stateside that are licensed to practice in the USVI.  That is a welcome change.  Half of the transaction is still on island time, but it seems to move along a bit better.

Buying a first home or a vacation home should be an exciting experience, not one you loose sleep over.  I have been looking for a home to purchase since I first moved to St Thomas in 2004.  I know that sometimes it will be years before you see the home you love.   I will help you find that home in paradise!

 

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Karen

Closing on property, The Loan

Lucky for me a loan officer from another bank came in to my office.  After I told her the story and showed her the appraisal, she said she didnt understand why my 30yr was not approved.  After speaking with her boss, a 30yr mortgage at a great rate would be mine.  Send in the paperwork.  I told her that the only way I could change lenders at this time is if we could close the first week of September.  This gave her just over a month.  She said no problem.

I sent in all the paperwork that was requested.  I mentioned that I would be off island for ten days and anything else they needed had to be submitted before I left since I would return at the end of August and we were supposed to close a few days later.  Upon my return I had a list of ten things the bank needed that were not mentioned before.

After asking many times for a truth in lending statement, I received it Friday September 19, 2008.  Three weeks after we were supposed to close.  Looking over the statement, I noticed the rate stated is one point higher than quoted.  When I asked about the difference I was told that since I was putting it into a trust, they had to charge me a higher rate.  This was not mentioned when I applied for the loan.  

I also wanted to mention that hiring council is recommended here.  There are certain functions that would normally be preformed by a title company or the lending institution in the states that an attorney must preform here.  Inform yourself  as much as possible and stay on top of what is going on.  You are paying these people to work for you.  Make sure they do their job. 

Next…Getting financing from the states 

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Karen

Closing on property, The Appraisal

Every time a lending institution thinks about lending you money, they want an expert opinion that what they are lending the money for is worth the amount they are lending you.  Welcome to the appraisal process.

The appraiser goes to the property to give their opinion on what they saw.  They take measurements of the rooms, rates the condition of the property, states what the house was constructed of, takes in to consideration the area, etc.  Then they research what other properties are listed for and the sale price of recently sold properties in the area.  In their opinion, the house in question was a two unit property with an accessory room (an extra bedroom outside the two units) and it was undervalued.  In other words, the buyer was getting a good deal! 

At first the bank said we were good to go.  The buyer turned in all requested paperwork.  The buyer was going to get a good rate on the mortgage, and I helped them look for potential renters.  Then the bank said they couldn’t get a traditional 30yr mortgage because the house was not zoned for three units.  Fannie Mae had rejected them.  Even after explaining that the third unit was just a bedroom, showing them pictures of the unit, and pointing out that even the appraiser said it was just a bedroom with an exterior door they said Fannie Mae said no. They suggested a thirty year amortized, ten year renewable in house mortgage.  Oh, and the loan would be considered commercial property.  This means that the buyers would have to come up with a 25% – 30% down payment (instead of 5%-20%) for a ten year mortgage with payments as if it were a thirty year mortgage, but at the end of the ten years they would either have to pay the mortgage in full or “renew” the mortgage at whatever the prevailing rate was.  The difference between this financing and a traditional ten year balloon mortgage is that if the bank lets them renew there are no closing costs.  This information comes when we have been under contract for almost 90 days and they cannot back out because of financing since the contract states they have 30 days to secure a loan.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COMMITMENT LETTER FROM THE BANK!

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Karen

To Purchase Land on St Thomas

If you have decided that you want to build your own dream home, you must first find the perfect property. There are several beautiful pieces of land available. The closer to the water, the more expensive. We have cliff waterfront, rock beaches, and sand beaches available. There are also parcels farther from the water with beautiful views. These cost a bit less and, since most places are about 15 minutes from any beach, this may be just what you are looking for.

The terrain here is different for every square foot – and it is rock.   A topographical survey (topo)of the land should be performed for an architect to design a house that fits the land.  It is a lot easier to build the house around the rock than to move it.  I have seen some very interesting rock formations incorporated into homes.

Keep in mind the cost of building here is on the high side – between $200-$500 per square foot. This is because everything must be shipped here and we must build for hurricanes. Whether you use poured concrete, concrete block, steel frame (force-10@earthlink.net ), or mixed masonry such as Deltec  (www.asenciosconstruction.com) you will have to build your cistern and septic tank first.

Also, remember that everything has to be shipped to the island – that means materials to build with and items to finish your home. Whatever amount of time you are told it will take to build or ship, assume it will take twice that amount of time to actually get done. Sometimes this is due to workers on “island time”, other times it is because in order to accomplish one thing, something is needed and it is not on island.

Whatever you decide you wish to purchase – home, condo, timeshare, or land – contact your trusty Realtor (that would be me) for listing information.

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Karen

So..Visiting St Thomas one week a year isn’t enough

St Thomas is a beautiful island to visit. Located at 18 degrees north latitude, St Thomas divides the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea where daily temperatures are about 85 degrees with a 30% chance of rain somewhere on the island.  When visiting once or even twice a year is no longer enough, lots of people look to purchase St Thomas real estate that they can call home while on island as well as rent out and/or retire to.  Sand between your toes and turquoise waters.  Afternoon naps under palm trees and driving on the left.

If this is your dream you have many choices to make.  I will talk about the benefits of owning a home, a condo, or land in this tropical paradise.  If you are not yet ready for full time residency, who do you talk to about property management?  Will you advertise and book customers yourself or have a professional company take care of your dream home for you?  Where do you find a maid/landscaper/pool service?  Stay tuned to find out…Where Dreams Become Realty

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Karen

Welcome To The US Virgin Islands Real Estate Blog

Welcome to the first and only St. Thomas Real Estate Blog. My name is Karen Korsgren (“Island K”) and I work for Remax Dream Properties in St. Thomas.

I sell real estate in the US Virgin Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands but I concentrate on St. Thomas because that is where I lay my flip flops. I’ll be posting articles on what’s happening with real estate in the Virgin Islands as well as local news.

I hope you like the blog and look forward to helping you answer any real estate questions you may have. I would like to give a B.I.G. shout out to those wonderful ex-pats at BrandIdentityGuru.com and StThomasBlog.com who made this awsome blog possible.

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