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

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

St John Carnival

St John Carnival time is here!  Fourth of July weekend every year is cause for double celebration here in the US Virgin Islands.

Each island has its own Carnival to celebrate celebrating!  Jouvert (pronounced joo-vay) means first night.  Jouvert kicks off Carnival weekend with a parade commencing at 4am.   Colorful costumes, local music and food means everyone has a good time.

carnival-2009-7-225x300

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Karen

Be prepared for Hurricanes

Summer is coming!  The breeze dies down, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea get warmer…and the weather conditions are ripe for hurricanes in Florida and the Caribbean.  There are a few simple precautions to take to help safeguard you and yours. 

First, get some approved containers to hold fresh water for washing but dont forget your bottled drinking water as well.  Stock up on canned foods and other types of foods that wont go bad if there is no refridgeration.  Keep in mind that if the power goes out, it could be weeks before it is restored.  If you have a gas stove or grill, make sure the tank is full or have an extra one ready.  Have your hurricane shutters ready to go.  Make sure they are in good repair and you have plenty of extra screws. 

Have a full first aid kit, flashlights, and plenty of batteries.  Candles too.  You can purchase radios and flashlights now that you simply wind up, some even have an extra outlet on them.  If you have a generator, check fuel levels and make sure it is in good working condition.

Another good idea is to get together with your neighbors.  Work on the buddy system.  If there is damage in your area, once you are safe, get to your assigned neighbor and check on them.

If you have pets, make sure you have a plan for them.  Have extra food (and cat litter) and have their cages and any medications ready if you need to evacuate.  Make sure they are wearing a collar with name tags and up to date rabies tags.

Keep your fingers crossed that the U.S. Virgin Islands do not experience any hurricanes this summer.  If we do, we are prepared.

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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

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

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

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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