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

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

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

Great Opportunity – 2 unit Condo

How many times do you hear about a condo with a separate unit that you can rent out? Well here you go! This beautifully remodeled condo has a spacious one bedroom upstairs with a wrap around deckand gorgeous views of Vieques, Culebra, and Puerto Rico! The lower unit is a smaller one bedroom with all brand new appliances, its own entrance, deck and parking! You can live in one and rent out the other or rent out both!! Add in the beautiful pool area, great location to town, and low condo fees and you have a winner!

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Karen

The Holidays

Happy Turkey Day everyone!  The holidays are a time when family gets together and catches up with each others lives.  Well, down here, lots of people are from the states and don’t have family on island.  Instead, we get together with other friends and have a ‘misfits’ party.  This year, the Texas Embassy hosted with beautiful views over looking one of the largest natural harbors, Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas in the USVI.
view from our Thanksgiving feast

view from our Thanksgiving feast

inside before dinner

inside before dinner gearing up for food!

out on the deck

out on the deck

gearing up for dinner

gearing up for dinner

Our hosts did us proud!  There was tons of food!

cooking up a storm of stuffing

cooking up a storm of stuffing And of course, after good conversation and great food...the 1st triptophan casualty

here's the second

here's the second

I was just resting my eyes.  No, really!

I was just resting my eyes. No, really!

All in all, a great day!

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Karen

More Fun On The Water

I have been on island about five years now.  There are lots of different water related things to do such as snorkeling, SCUBA diving, night versions of both, jet skis, parasailing, boating…

One thing I hadn’t done before is go fishing.  We have different fishing tournaments here every year.  The US Virgin Islands is actually known for its great sport fishing off of the North Drop and the South Drop.  Some 21 world records in fishing have been set in recent years in the Virgin Islands. 

the fighting chair

the fighting chair

The North Drop is part of the Puerto Rican Trench.  A 6 mile trench  a that runs east to west on the north side of St Thomas.  The ocean runs from where it touches the beaches and cliffs gradually out to a depth of about 300 feet -this happens over approximately 20 miles.  About 20 miles north/north east of St Thomas the bottom suddenly drops to a depth of about 28,000 feet.  (5.2 miles or 8,400 meters).  This is where the big fish hang out.  Some of the best Blue and White Marlin fishing is done here every year.

we caught one

we caught one

The South Drop only goes to a depth of about 12,000 feet.  Shallow compared to the North Drop, but still deep enough to catch Yellowfin Tuna, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo.

about 300lbs

about 300lbs

Several boats can be rented  for 1/2 day or full day charters.  For our excursion we went out on a 65 foot fishing vessel with a galley and 2 heads (the lap of luxury) called Prime Time.  The captain and crew were wonderful.

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Karen

Eatin’ Chili

Y’all common down n grab a bite o grub!  The annual Texas Chili Cookoff is held every August.  This year it was on the west end at beautiful Brewers Beach where you can watch the planes take off and land from your comfortable seat in the sand.

The location has changed over the years and so has the chili.  Not the stuff the judges try, that has very stringent rules.  Over the past few years a lot of the contestants have added vegetarian or white chili to their ‘menu’.  Individuals, restaurants, and companies all vie for the chance to be the chili king of St Thomas.

There is also a costume contest.  Whichever booth has the most chili spirit gets an award as well.  The contestants for this particular prize form a parade and try to get more votes using their sparkling personalities.

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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

St John Hiking

Well, the last hike was so much fun, we went again.  This time my brother and his family are on island so it was a great way to spend the day together in the sun without just sitting on the beach all day drinking (which is ok too!).

For this hike, we took the car ferry from Red Hook on St Thomas to Franks Bay on St John.  The people ferry is now $12.20 per person round trip and the car ferry is $53 round trip.  Since there were five people going and we were headed to the east end of St John it made a lot more sense to ride the car ferry.

Our destination for this hike was Rams Head.  This is a part of the island on the east end that when viewed from the trails looks like a charging ram.  It is an easy to moderate hike.  There is a parking area at the top, a smooth downhill walk to a sandy beach (perfect for a picnic lunch after the hike), after the beach is the Salt Pond, then a moderate trail to the top of Rams Head.  The views from the top of the trail are fantastic!

Make sure to bring plenty of water.  We had a beautiful but overcast day and even I went through almost a gallon of water.  After the hike we went to the car to bring down our packed lunch and enjoyed the rest of the day on the beach.  My friend and my brother went for a long snorkel.  I took a nap on the beach 🙂

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Karen

Private Pool with your own Condo! $55k!!

Here is your chance to purchase a 1 bedroom condo with its’ own pool on the desirable east end. This fixer upper is walking distance to one of the most beautiful beaches on St. Thomas.
Can’t beat the price at $55,000!!! Call Karen to take a look quick! Great as an investment property. Rent it out long or short term!

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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

Lets talk Condos

For those who do not know – a condo, or condominium unit, is like an apartment building except instead of renting, you can own individual units just like any other piece of real estate.  Condos are similar to townhouses (explanation of townhouse at end of post)

GOOD STUFF… 

For many people who purchase here, the purchase is an investment and they are not on island to keep an eye on the place.  The purchase of a condo may be the best option for them because the outside maintenance is taken care of.  All you would need to do is find people to rent it to and make sure the inside is ready for any arrivals.  There are several property management companies( www.saintthomasvacationrentals.com ) on island who can “keep your calender” and hire maid service for you.

There is a “condo fee” associated with this service of outside maintenance to pay for materials and labor.  The outside maintenance usually consists of landscaping, amenity maintenance (i.e. pool, beach chairs, tennis court, golf course, gym), parking lots, security, and general upkeep of the outside of the buildings (paint, deck or entrance repair, etc).  General upkeep is something you would have to spend money on even if you had a house.  The condo association is just taking care of it for you instead of you needing  separate numbers for the landscaper, pool guy, painter, etc. 

Purchasing a condo is also an affordable way to buy waterfront property.  For a fraction of the price of buying a piece of waterfront property or a house on the water, you can have a lovely 1, 2, or 3 bedroom home on the water or at the very least, a very short walk to the water.

NOT SO GOOD STUFF…

This is not to say that you can assume the association will act in YOUR best interest.  Please keep up to date with any notifications or meetings and feel free to request accounts of how and when your condo fees are spent.  Outside companies are sometimes hired to manage funds.  Keep on top of them and keep them honest.

Condo fees run from about $200/month – $1800/month.  This amount is in addition to your mortgage and taxes although it typically  includes  homeowners  insurance.  Insurance is expensive here because we are in the hurricane belt.  Ask to see the complexes’ blanket policy and reserve fund. 

There is also a term called a “special assessment” that may be added at any time to address unexpected expenses that come up.  These assessments may be a one time fee per instance, or if it is a substantial sum, the complex may give the option of spreading the fee out over several months.  You can join your condo board to give your input about how the fees and assessments are spent.

Townhouses are similar to condos in that the outside maintenance is taken care of and you have restrictions as to what you can put on the outside.  The main difference is that townhouses typically are tall, skinny structures with two or more floors and one or two walls adjacent to the next town home.  There is not another unit above or below you.   While we do have some structures that would usually be called a townhouse, there is not a separate designation on St Thomas, St Croix, or St John.  All multi unit structures are listed as “condos”.

Stay tuned next time for “Who can take care of my new Caribbean home while I’m not there?”

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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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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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