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Karen

The Shoe that Grows. How you can help.

Good afternoon,

I want to share something with you that I think is a very neat and creative idea: The Shoe That Grows.

Today Sea Glass Properties set up a fundraising page as a way for the Virgin Islands to get involved: https://fundraise.theshoethatgrows.org/virginislands

I do not want you to pressure you to donate. If you can, wonderful. If you can’t, no problem. All that I ask is that at the bare minimum you either post to your Facebook page the link above or consider emailing to anyone you think might be interested in getting involved.

Also, you do not have to donate to the link above. You do have the ability to purchase the shoe on the website: https://theshoethatgrows.org/buy-the-shoe.html

Kenton, who is the man behind “Because International” a non-profit that believes in Practical Compassion. You can learn more about his organization and The Shoe here:

https://theshoethatgrows.org/index.html

Thanks and have a great day!

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Karen

Living in the Caribbean

Saw this and just had to post it. Comes close – both good and bad of living on a small island.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-walkins/9-definitive-reasons-why-_b_6496914.html

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Karen

Point Pleasant Condo

This is video of a condo that is for sale on the east end of St Thomas. List price is $185k. MLS 11-1733 Contact me if you have any questions!
http://youtu.be/ks0Ba3pzUGs

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Karen

Caribbean Critters

On St Thomas the biggest animals we have are horses, deer, and donkeys. We dont have anything big and scary. We do have a few little and scary things however. Brown Recluse spiders, tarantulas and scorpions.If you encounter any of these small critters, don’t touch them! Their bites can be deadly for some people.

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Karen

Workin it!

Here I am ‘working’ hard at Mini Mangos using their free wifi. This is a great place to kick back, relax, and have a drink while watching the cruise ship passengers come and go. I just found out that Mini Mangos is also renting out the Galaxy Tab for $20/day from Jont. You can connect using the 3G data network and take it around the island with you all day as your personal tour guide. It has places to go, things to see, stores, etc and how to get there all at your fingertips.

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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

House Hunters Intrnational episode

Hi everyone. I had a few people yell at me for not letting you know that I was on House Hunters International in June. They are going to replay my episode Tomorrow night. Im not in it much, but you are welcome to watch…

HGTV House Hunters International   July 8, 2010   11pm EST

The episode is with my customer Teri McKenna. You can Google ‘house hunters international karen korsgren’ or

go to http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters-international/teri-mckenna-has-lived-and-worked-on-her-boat-in-st-thomas-for-a-year-and-shes-ready-now-to-try-life-on-solid-ground/index.html

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Karen

One way to spend a day in the Caribbean

Each island in the Caribbean has it’s own feel, it’s own flavor, it’s own style!  St Thomas has the cruise ships, St Croix has some great golfing, St John has hiking and camping.  They all have shopping and great SCUBA diving!  But when you want to get a stamp in your passport, the easiest way to do that is to enjoy a day on Jost Van Dyke.

White Bay

White Bay

Jost Van Dyke (pronounced yost) is one of the smallest of the British Virgin Islands.  Jost’s population is about 220 people.  However, it has some of the most popular bars on it.  Foxy’s, One Love, and of course Soggy Dollar.  Soggy Dollar even has a web cam http://soggydollarbar.com/ 

Renting a boat for the day is how you get there.  There are several different boating options from a ‘bare boat’ to a three cabin yacht.

However you get there, it’s always a great day!

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Karen

How about that election!

I am going to go a little off real estate info for a minute here.  On Tuesday this week the United States of America held presidential elections and on January 20, 2009 the newly elected president will take his oath of office.  Presidential elections mean more to me now that I live in the Virgin Islands because we are a territory and cannot vote for president.  I have missed two elections since I moved here.  They are really the first elections I have wanted to take part in.  I always thought that no matter what, I would not like what happens in the White House, so it would not matter who was sitting in the Oval Office.  I felt very differently about the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Here in the Virgin Islands, because we could not vote, many people became supporters both physically and monetarily.  We were the cheerleaders and bakesale fundraisers in a game we were not allowed to play in.  It seems there is a huge sense of pride in the Virgin Islanders as they have adopted President-elect Barack Obama as their own.

President-elect Barack Obama means a lot of things to a lot of people.  He is a minority.  He did not come from a privliged family.  He is a family man.  He is a father, a husband, and a grandson.  He has faith.  He was a Senator for Illinois.  On January 20, 2009 He will be President of the United States.  I have been reading articles in the paper and watching the news.  Many people are mentioning that he is the first black president.  This is a big step forward for a group of people who would not have even dreamed it possible just 40 years ago.  This step forward is not just for black peoople, but for any minority including women.  His message is that you can be whatever you envision yourself to be.  Wheather that is the best plumber in the area or President of the United States.  There are still people who would try to hurt the president and his family just because he is black.  I hope we can get past the color of his skin to just see what kind of president he is to be.  

Let us not focus on the color of his skin.  Focus on what he says, what he does, and how he handles situations.  Does he listen to the people?  Does he keep his promisses?  Does he conduct himself in a Presidential manner? 

It was his message and the sense of hope that I was attracted to.  It would seem that  George W. with his failures has actually set up President-elect Obama to succeed.  We will have an intelligent, articulate, and energetic soul in the White House who may actually remember that he works for We The People of the United States, not for his family and his cronies.

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Karen

Hurricanes

Right now it is hurricane season.  The Louisana coast is getting hit with Gustov and Florida is getting ready for the next one.  The US Virgin Islands are in the hurricane belt.  We have not been hit since 1995 with a big hurricane, but we get some heavy weather even if the big storms dont score a direct hit. 

There are several precautions that can be taken to secure your home.  Hurricane shutters are a must!  They can be simple wooden shutters that are secured from the inside, they can be metal panels that have to be put in place, or they can be the fancy roll down kind with an electric switch. 

Having a generator on property is always a good idea even when there are no storms brewing.  Anyone on island knows WAPA can and will fail at any moment.  I dont even use my alarm clock anymore because I had to reset it 3-4 times a week.  Make sure the generator is powerful enough to run the water pump, the fridge, a few lights and fans, and the stove as well as the electric shutters or gate (if you have them).

Always keep a supply of canned food and fresh drinking water handy.  (I have heard a supply of rum can help  😉

Dont forget about your pets.  Keeping some extra food nearby for them will be one less thing to worry about later.

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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

The two main property mgt. services are…

Of the two main services a property management company provides, the first is called ‘keeping your calender’.  This simply means the company will book people to stay in your villa.  It is a bit more complicated than that though.  They will keep open any dates YOU want, make sure two families are not arriving at the same time, arrange and collect payment, and arrange any of the optional services listed in the last post.

The second main service is maintainance of the actual property.  This can include regular maintenience such as gardening, maid service (once daily, once weekly), pool service, etc.  It will also include emergency services such as plumbing, cistern, septic, electrical, storm shutters, etc.  This is a very important service especially if the owner does not live on island.  It means there is only one number for the owner or a paying guest to call if a problem or an ememrgency arises. 

Another option is sometimes available because of the way most houses are built in the Virgin Islands.  Many homes here are built with an extra apartment.  This apartment can be rented out, but it is often used as a residence for a handy man (or couple) free of charge in exchange for their services.  If the problem is too big, the handy man makes the call to a professional.

How many services the management company provides and to what degree will determine the cost.  Check around for different prices and services provided, but look for recommendations or referals.  Remember, you may not be on island and you have to be able to trust the company or individual with your home and all of its contents.

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Karen

St Thomas Rental Info

Many people who purchase here purchase for their future.  Some people buy just so they can stay in their second home for vacations, some buy to have a place to retire to, and some buy because real estate is a good investment.  I do ask my customers what their intentions are because what is important will be different if they are moving here to work and need an affordable place to live as opposed to a location that a tourist would be more inclined to stay.

When on St Thomas on vacation, people want to be close to the beach or have a nice view.   Lots of times they want a pool to cool off in.  In the Virgin Islands people are fond of naming their homes.  Typically the term Villa in front of the name means it is for rent.  There are several companies on island who will do your property management.  The fees that are charged vary for different companies as well as which services the company provides for you.  Below are three villa rental companies I would recommend, but there are several others. 

www.saintthomasvacationrentals.com

www.usvipvillarentals.com

www.caretbay.com

The two main services the rental companies can provide are maintaining your property and what is known as keeping your calender.  Other services that can be provided for your renting guests are…

  • airport pick-up and drop-off
  • stocking the fridge
  • chef to prepare one, some, or all meals
  • island tour
  • babysitting
  • maid service

More next time…

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Karen

Is a House Right For You?

When purchasing here, remember “buyer beware”. At this time, St Thomas does not require a sellers disclosure or a termite warranty. A home inspection is a very good idea especially for anyone new to the islands because there are certain things to look for that do not occur in most areas of the United States.

For example, almost all homes in the US Virgin Islands use a cistern. A cistern is basically a well that is built into the foundation of the house. The cistern holds water that is collected from the roof when it rains and is then pumped throughout the house to kitchens and baths. Drinking cistern water is not recommended as everything on the roof ends up in the cistern. There are, however, several ways of filtering the water to make it drinkable. Checking the cistern and gutter system for leaks and checking the filtering system (if any) is just one reason to hire a home inspector.

Now that you have decided to own real estate on St Thomas, do you want to buy a house, a condo, or a piece of land to build on.

In the US Virgin Islands, multi-unit houses with a main house and one to three apartments are typical. This is wonderful if you are looking for an investment property or just someone else to help you with your mortgage. A financial institution will consider 75% of your rental income as personal income. This means you can qualify for more house. You do still have to come up with the down payment which is typically twenty percent.

The extra unit(s) can be rented short term (vacation) or long term (yearly). The nicer the house the better chance of renting short term to vacationers who would like a unique island experience. This would also mean you can stay there when you visit if you are not quite ready to be on island full time.

There are people on island who caretake villas for a living. They can keep your calender (for short term rentals), interview tenants (for long term rentals), be the maid service, gardener, pool boy, and repairman. Your basic goto guy.

Ahhh, but that is a blog for another day…

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