U.S. Virgin Islands

4 Replies

Afraid of the unkown!  Recently acquired leads through direct marketing on beachfront  and ocean view lots both on St Thomas and St Croix. I've developed a real estate agent on the island of St Croix (Cynthia Taylor) to help evaluate the properties and guide my offer. My goal is to wholesale the lots. I've been succesful with this strategy in my area (San Antonio) and have flipped the lots within a couple months of the original purchase. Just looking for helpful advice from those who've invested in the USVI's before.  Thanks for the help. 

Hi Jason,

While I have not invested in the Virgin Islands, I am a legal assistant who lived and work for real estate attorneys on St. Croix for 18 years and still work as a virtual legal assistant for several attorneys on St. Croix. I'll be glad to share some of my experience.

The markets on St. Thomas and St. Croix are very different. St. Thomas is a more vibrant island with lots of tourism and the business that it generates while St. Croix is more laid back and quiet. St. Croix's economy has been depressed the past few years with the closing of the HOVENSA oil refinery which was the second largest employer on the island (second only to the government).

Closings must be handled by an attorney in the Territory. It is illegal for title companies to conduct closings there. My best advice is to seek out a good real estate attorney that can discuss the ends and outs of investing in the islands. Things that are common in the U.S. are difficult in the islands, such as U.S. corporations and LLCs are considered foreign entities for tax purposes in the Territory which can cause problems and delays when you go to sell. 

Title insurance and surveys are a must when buying. Nine out of ten closings we do have survey issues. Oh, and don't believe anyone that tells you that you can close in 30 days. While it can be done, it is the exception, not the rule. Besides survey issues you have to deal with HOA's, obtain tax clearance letters from the government and all deeds, except condos, must be attested by the public surveyor before closing (that in itself takes a week).

I don't want to discourage you because I think investing in the islands can be lucrative, I have just seen many people from the states go in thinking that because it is the U.S. that it works like it does in the states. Unfortunately, it doesn't. 

I've worked with Cynthia Taylor on several closings and I'm sure she can tell you these things and probably has certain attorneys that she works with.

If you like I could give you some recommendations of good real estate attorneys both that I have worked for and some I have not worked for.  

I have access to the Recorder of Deeds records and Tax Assessor's records and I would be glad to help if you need any information on individual properties.

A japanese company bought the refinery December 2015, the economy will come back when it opens for productiin and employment again. However many that left the island may have established themselves state side. There may be properties available of those that left the island. However as the economy gains momentum with the reopening of the refinery, the prices of available properties on St Croix will quickly climb. I think now is the time to buy on St Croix.. Not necessarily land, as it is very costly to build there as all materials except for some concrete products have to be shipped in. The hoa fees for condos are very high compared to state side. My husband was born in St Croix and has alot of family there. We will be looking for an sfr or duplex to buy and hold as a long term rental just to get in on the wave of the rising economy , while it is still affordable. Google the subject of Japanese buying St Croix refinery. They are also compensating the local government there to stimulate economy and make roads and what not better.

Link for VI Recorder of Deeds which includes St Croix and St Thomas. St Croix is larger and more residential than touurist, however. They tourism economy is said to be part of a plan to stimulate growth there from Fredereicksted where there is some cruise ship tourism already, but not a lot. I prefer St Croix its bigger, more residential , more affordable, less mass tourism.

http://ltg.gov.vi/recorder-of-deeds.html

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