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

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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