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

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

Remodeling in the USVI

Wow, what a project I took on.  The biggest projects in the house were…building a wall to turn the main unit into a three bedroom house, rebuilding the two shower pans, and rebuilding the kitchen.   Thank you to all of my friends that gave me a hand!  Your help and support is very appreciated. 

I had also hired some people who did some good work and some who did questionable work.  The most notable of the latter catagory was Caribbean Workshops on St John.  AKA K&S Caribbean, LLC.  A man by the name of Kent Scott found me in Home Depot writing down sizes and prices of the put together cabinets.  He said his prices were comparable to HD and his were custom made solid wood.  (the put together ones are particle board)  I had him come out to my house to take measurements.  He gave me a price that was a lot higher than the cabinets I was looking at, but he said he could have cabinets in before Dec 1st and the doors and drawers on by Dec 5th.  My tenant was moving in on Dec 3 and I was getting pressed for time with everything else that needed to be done.  I gave him the go ahead to make the cabinets.

To make the story short, today is Dec 22 and the kitchen is still not complete and now he will not answer his phone.   His cabinets are a kit he put together, the ends are particle board, the laminate is coming off already, he and his workers left sawdust in and outside the house and a saw in the living room.  The cabinets by the stove were not put in the correct spot and the counter has to be redone to fit the stove.  The drawer slides were supposed to be the self closing kind, but instead they were installed with 20 cent slides from Kmart.  He was unavailable the week of Thanksgiving even though he had set an appointment with a customer I had found for him and a meeting with myself about working for him.  So much for givng a new business a try. 

This has been a learning experience for me. 

UPDATE: AS OF 2/11/09 K&S CARIBBEAN aka CARIBBEAN WORKSHOPS HAS STILL NOT EVEN TRIED TO FINISH THE CONTRACTED WORK.

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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…encroachments

Let me start by saying, buying a home here is the same process as buying one in the states.  Oh wait, but it is not.  

As far as I can remember, the lending institutions here need all the same information, they just go about collecting and organizing it differently.  There are a few additional requirements (like hurricane insurance) that were not required in other states I have lived in.  My customer and I have been under contract since February 14th, 2008 to purchase a lovely two unit home on St Thomas.  Today is September 21st and we still do not have a closing date.  Now it is not all the banks fault because there have been some changes and the seller has been slow (very slow) about some items, but I do believe if the banks here had more of an interest in doing things in a timely manner, this would not be taking quite so long. 

The first problem was that the property had three encroachments.  This means that a part of a structure (building, fence, driveway, etc) from one property is actually on another property.  Every time a home or lot of land is purchased in the USVI, a surveyor must go to the property and map the boundries.  According to the original builder of this house, everything was built two feet within the properties boundries, however the current surveyor has said that this is not true, so the present owner of the house has to “cure the encroachments” prior to closing.  Normally a lending institution will not lend you money if someone else can lay a claim on part of the land they are funding.  The present owner of this house was fully aware of the encroachments before listing the property.  In the contract it states that the owner has 60 days from notification to cure encroachments or leins against the property.  The encroachments were supposedly cured and resurveyed by August 15, 2008. 

My buyer could have (in retrospect should have )backed out of the contract after the 60 days.  The problem was that there was not a alot of choice in that price range, they really liked the house, and they could see a lot of potential for improving the property.

So, the next issue… the banks take on the appraisal.

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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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