Buying Real Estate In St. Croix?
The great thing about buying real estate in St. Croix is that it's the good ol' USA - so you get title and a recorded deed - and your investment is safe. Any licensed real estate agent here can show you any property that is listed in the MLS. We generally know about "FSBOS" (for sale by owners) as well, and can show you those that fit the bill for you.
The vast majority of agents here are "sub-agents" - which means that they actually work for the seller. Buying a home here is a MAJOR undertaking. I know when I purchased a home here, I wanted someone to look after MY interests! I engaged a Buyer's Agent.
My passion is helping others find a home or piece of land here on St Croix, so if you are seeking a property here, I would invite you to request that I serve as a buyer's agent for you. I (and my TEAM) will do everything in our power to find the perfect match for you - regardless of who's listing it or what the commission is. When you find something you like, and want to make an offer, we will negotiate to get you the best price! Our job is to see that you find what you're looking for, and help bring you and the seller a place where you both are happy with the outcome!
Real estate paperwork (and your attorney) protect you
We prepare a contract for your review and signature, and present that through the listing agent to the seller.
One thing that is different in St. Croix is the earnest money deposit. On the mainland, typically a few thousand dollars will do. Here, the earnest money deposit averages about 10% of the purchase price. Of course, we put contingencies in to protect that deposit in the event something goes wrong (i.e., mortgage contingency, inspection contingency, other contingencies), but that's kind of the norm here. For that reason, it's important that your agent (hopefully ME) manages the process very closely to make sure all timelines are followed and you don't default on the contract provisions.
How are the transactions closed? Do I need to be there?
Here, you will need an attorney to close the deal for you, and you don't have to be here for the closing. Attorney fees range from around $800 to $1500 per transaction - depending on which attorney you select and how complicated the legal work is. For example, if you are buying a property that has not sold in a while, there may be easements, waivers, or other issues that cloud the title, and work needs to be done to clear it. It's usually not a big deal - it just takes time. Both parties pay for their own attorneys.
Who pays what of the real estate fees in St. Croix?
The seller here typically pays the commission (for both sides), and the transfer stamp tax (2 - 3.5%).
The buyer will typically pay for
an "as-built" survey (optional, unless you're getting a mortgage, but highly recommended in any case)
a home inspection (it's optional, but a good idea)
We strongly recommend you have your property inspected; and your offer will be contingent upon that. Inspections range from $375 - $1000 depending on the size of the home, and surveys range from $500 - $1500 for a half to 1 acre plot - depending on the difficulty of the job and other factors. Of course, no survey is needed for condos!
If you get a mortgage (and you must use a local bank, broker, or someone licensed here in the VI, which only includes a few off-island companies that I am aware of), you will most likely be required to have the property appraised (generally $450 - $1000) and of course you will have some fees associated with getting the mortgage.
You will probably want a title search - which is $125. I typically recommend that my buyers purchase title insurance - and the cost is dependent on the purchase price. I just paid about $1500 for title insurance on a property I purchased for $348,000.
Can You Represent Yourself as Buyer or Seller?
Hopefully the information above has given you the background you need to understand that you will want a professional Realtor representing you in real estate transactions in the Virgin Islands. I've worked with many families "long-distance" who purchased a 2nd home and know they could not have protected themselves under the contract without my help.
Contact me for a more thorough explanation of a real estate purchase or sale here in St. Croix, and a market analysis of current real estate conditions.
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