Thursday, October 27, 2011

Emerald Hills, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

High on Emerald Hills on the East end of St. Thomas is this beautifully decorated two bedroom, one bath, 1100 sq. ft. apartment with gorgeous views of the Caribbean and down island. It rents for only $1600 per month under an annual lease. The apartment  gets lots of cool breezes because it is at the crest of the hill. The unit is wired for DSL, cable and phone service, the bedrooms are equipped with window air conditioners. These utilities, plus your electric are the responsibility of the tenant. This is the rare rental that will considered pets individually.  The owner occupies the top two floors. There is off street parking for one vehicle.

If you are going to relocate to St. Thomas, Van Blake-Coleman Realty can help you with all of your real estate needs, whether you are looking to purchase a home or condo or you just want to try island living, with a long term rental please call us at 340 344 2959.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors Annual Meeting

On 10/22/11 the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors (VITAR) had our annual meeting aboard the Discovery, a glass bottom boat, as we sailed around  St. John and some of the smaller islands in the Territory. It bought together members of the St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John boards, and Gov. John deJongh.

Regional Vice President Cynthia Shelton swore in our VITAR officers for 2012. I will move from the President of the local board of St. Thomas to the President-elect of VITAR in 2012.

Governor deJongh spoke on how the financial turmoil is effecting the region and the importance of  promoting small businesses in the territory. In addition, his goals include keeping the police department properly staffed; making education a priority, not cutting back any further on teachers but moving them to the schools that most need them; and promoting the availability of good health care in the territory.

While Stephanie Hodge of Blue Sky Real Estate on St. Croix has completed her legislative interview and was officially appointed to the Real Estate Commission,  the challenge of appointing a fully functioning  Real Estate Commission continues. The commission will need to address the lack of a licensing testing center in the territory. The governor committed to a goal of having the latter issue addressed by January of 2012.

President B.J. Harris was officially awarded Realtor of the Year, Among her many accomplishments this year are obtaining the Ira Gribins grant for the territory. This is a revolving, low interest fund to assist first time home buyers with closing costs. Two,  buyers on St. John were the first to use this fund. Classes were made available to members on all three islands on agency issues and social media with more scheduled later this year and early next year. The idea for this wonderful meeting was also BJ's brain child.

The event was catered by Passion Fruit Chef. They served a selection of fruits, brie, wraps, pasta salad and wonderful cookies, accompanied by lemon grass iced tea, fruit punch.

Sponsors for the meeting included Theodor Tunick Insurance, Pyles Publishing,  and ProSolar Investments. Thank you!

Most people are not familiar with how much Realtors work. It is normally very long days and pretty much seven days a week.  I don't know many places that host their annual meetings aboard glass bottom boats in the Caribbean, it helps to ease the stress some. The perfect place to reflect on the year so far and anticipate the next. A perfect combination of business and pleasure.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wild Life on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you know I like to spend the weekend mornings at Magen's Bay Beach. I enjoy walking on the beach and in the water, snorkeling, having breakfast at the restaurant and hanging out with my friends.

Besides the broad array of sea life, birds and Farrel cats there are an abundance of mongoose at Magen's Bay. Today, as I approached the entrance, a mother and her two babies crossed the road in front of me. As I searched for a parking spot I saw a small female cross the path and I thought she was alone, then I noticed her larger male companion was waiting for me to get out of his way.

They are fairly shy animals. The don't linger when they encounter people. I have seen them play hide and seek in the root system of trees at Magen's Bay. They move quite quickly and I understand if cornered can be quite feisty. You will see the mongoose throughout the island, but they are often a blur and you're not quite sure if you saw something or not.

The mongoose is not native to the Virgin Islands, they were bought in to control pests, rats, that were introduced to the island through the shipping industry. In 1872, a Jamaican sugar planter, Mr. W. B. Espeut, imported small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) and released them on his plantation. The rat populations were reduced, so other farmers bought them from Mr. Espeut to release them into other areas, including Puerto Rico (1877), Barbados (1878) and Cuba (1886).  The mongoose in the West Indies has helped to exterminate or endanger more species of mammals, birds and reptiles in a limited area than any other animal deliberately introduced by man anywhere in the world.

While they are an interesting little animals, they are a serious lesson in "misuse" of biological pest control.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

St. Thomas, U S Virgin Islands Rental

This light and bright apartment is located in the center of the island.  Placing it close to the lively East end which is just down the hill one way with yacht and night clubs. Down the hill the other way is Tutu, the real down town of the island, with grocery stores, banks, dealerships, movie theater, gym, preforming arts center and restaurants. Yet is is just minutes from the Harbor town of Charlotte Amalie, where the cruise ships come in, most businesses are centered, including the hospital, medical centers, and jewelry stores abound. In other words this apartment is close to work and play.

It is a new concrete structure, with down island views. Two bedrooms one bath, new stove and fridge, lots of closet space, wired for cable and a water view from every room. Off street parking for your vehicle.

No smokers or pets please. An annual lease can be yours at only $1,300 per month plus utilities, the electric has a separate meter the cistern is shared. There is a smaller unit in the same house that rents for $925, also a two bedroom one bath. Talk to Tanya at 340 344 2959 or visit this and other great rentals at; click on long term rentals.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Rental Listing - St. Thomas, USVI

It just doesn't get much better than this. Although you're renting, you'll feel like a home owner in this unit, there are no neighbors upstairs or down.  This home is located on the North side of the island and catches most of the cool breezes from the Atlantic Ocean. The house sits on a completely fenced lot with lots of room to play, run and park. Being unfurnished, you can add your personal touches to truly make it yours. The kitchen has an open floor plan with a stove and fridge in place.  The covered, wrap around deck allows for additional indoor/outdoor living space. A two bedroom, one bath rental for only $1350 a month. This one won't last, so call now 340 344 2959.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Critters On St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas has a number of roads that are kind of tricky to drive with steep hills, narrow passages and pot holes. Combine that with a fair number of Iguanas, chickens, sheep, goats, cats, dogs, mongoose, and an occasional cow and there is, unfortunately, considerable road kill. Some drivers are fairly considerate and will, if they can, stop to allow animals safe passage across the roads. I can recall seeing taxis loaded with tourists waiting for a hen with her chicks to cross a busy road.

The other day I left my home headed down town on a road that is not particularly rough.  As I approached a straightaway I saw something in the road that initially appeared to be moving in a very awkward manner, almost as if it had been injured. I slowed to see what it was. I quickly realized it was not injured at all but a Red-Footed Tortoise making it's way across the road.  This reptile is protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means it can not be exported from it's home country without permits.  I put my flashers on, stopped the car and got out. I knew if I simply drove around it, I would probably see it in the road, crushed.  So I picked up the tortoise and moved him to the other side of the road. 

Surprisingly, he did not withdraw completely into his shell. He was quite beautiful with the distinctive shell and the red spots on his feet were quite pronounced. I have seen these tortoises in people's homes as pets, wild on Water Island but this was the first I had seen, wild, on St. Thomas.

As I returned home later, I checked the road to see if he had continued on his way or turned back and not survived the return trip. I was pleased to see he was safe, at least for the day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Bedroom Rental

This lovely one bedroom apartment is located high in Mandahl on the North side of St. Thomas.This is just over the hill from downtown Charlotte Amalie, one of the business centers of the island and close to world famous Magen's Bay Beach and Mahogany Run Golf course. It is one of four apartments in this gated complex with an infinity edged pool. The rent includes a credit of $100 towards your electric bill. The water is on a separate cistern. There is one off street, parking space that comes with this unit.

The rent is $1500 per month for an annual lease. Contact Van Blake-Coleman Realty at 340 344 2959 or for all real estate in St. Thomas, U.S. VI

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Crunch of Relocating

As Realtors we do our best to make the search for a new place to live or vacation as easy as possible.

Asking all of the right questions to define what you need and want,  whether you are purchasing or renting. Scheduling at the convenience of the customer, and in the most efficient pattern to save time and gas. Previewing to make sure it is what the customer to name just a few things we do.

I have a few buttons when it comes to customers. This is a synopsis of a rental situation I recently experienced:

 Lateness, I had  customers yesterday, who I called after waiting a half hour. They forgot. I guess a reminder call on my part might have headed this off. Tried that. The cell said I could not leave a message. After contacting them through their new employer;  turns out with the relocation they had cut off the cell number I had, they forgot to give me the new number.

 Not giving pertinent information. With the first round of showings, since our initial contact,  they have decided they will be moving all of their furniture, okay. So you need an unfurnished place. This information comes as we are standing in  the second of a string of appointments. Scratch the rest of the showings and regroup.

 So, I review the parameters of what the customers are looking for. We clearly define what they need; bedrooms, bath rooms, pets, none smoking, school for children, time frame of move, commuting time, and price range.

Too much flexibility. We are in the middle of looking at places during a second appointment and the neighbor has a pet. He remarks "oh, clearly pets are allowed here". Answer, "yes, in this particular apartment". Statement,  "I thought you didn't have any pets".  Response, "We don't, I promised my kids we could get a dog when we move". He forgot, again, to mention that; to placate the children about the move, he'd made this promise after the first round of looking at places.

Many rentals don't allow pets and this severely limits the choices.

Not enough flexibility. The customer has two children to accommodate in a single bedroom due to budgetary restrictions.  Every bedroom in each apartment I show is too small. I couldn't figure it out. Twin beds would fit comfortably in all of the bedrooms in the apartments I was  showing. Finally, it is mentioned that the children have one queen size bed and a double bed, which they want to put into one bedroom.

I understand when relocating you want to keep as much familiarity as possible, especially with children but at times common sense needs to take precedence and if you want to put two children in one bedroom their furniture may not fit from two separate bedrooms, a compromise is in order.

Next, we are in a brand new, apartment building,  where no pets are allowed, looking at a two bedroom, they ask to see a three bedroom which I have explained is about $1000 over their budget. Well, they want to see it anyway, we were right there and what harm could it do? I reluctantly conceded.

OOh's and Ahhh's abounded. Of course they loved it, it is the best thing they've seen. Then they wanted to know if the landlord would give them a break and rent the three bedroom at the two bedroom rate? And why couldn't the dog stay out on the balcony?

This is not going to happen in a new building even in a down market. Now we have unrealistic expectations, although I have done my best to focus them in a realistic direction.

Relocation is difficult and overwhelming to everyone. Managing the customer's expectations can be a challenge, especially when they are downsizing to a rental apartment from a home.

Taking time, communicating and listening is so important.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Time Home Buyers in the Virgin Islands Assisted by Realtors

First time home buyers in the U.S. Virgin Islands now have a helping hand from the Realtors of the territory and the Virgin Islands Department of Housing Finance.

The National Association of Realtors offered a grant to each state level organization (for us, the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors or VITAR). The grant is named after Ira Gribin, and is in the amount of $50,000. Two of the conditions for receiving the grant were that the fund had to be self sustaining and also help impact home ownership. Belton Jennings our CEO of VITAR, wrote the grant proposal and secured the funds for the territory. The money will be used to assist with closing cost for first time home buyers.

Closing cost can be prohibitive when you are trying to purchase your first home anywhere. Inspections, lawyers fees, the appraisal, down payment, and insurance is especially high in the Virgin Islands and can take a toll on one's pocket. For a concrete dwelling, insurance can run as high as 2% of the value of the home, annually. If the home is constructed of wood the premium can go as high as 3% of the value, annually. It is rare to find habitable homes valued under $200,000 in the territory, especially if you have a family.

At our annual meeting on St. Croix, Delegate Donna Christensen was in attendance speaking on the importance of preserving the secondary mortgage market and helped to make the presentation of the funds. I was also present, as president of the St. Thomas Board of Realtors, along with BJ Harris, president of the VITAR, Sherrymae Morales, president of the St. Croix Board of Realtors, Adrienne Williams, Interim Executive Director of Housing Finance and Lisa Richards Director of Home Ownership (pictured above).

The seed money will be used to establish loans with a ceiling of $5000 per household for qualified buyers. The loans will be at the very low interest rate of 2%. Half of the interest will go to help cover administrative costs for Housing Finance and the other half will help to perpetuate the fund.

Housing finance can be reached at 777 4432 for more information on these loans.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Relocating to the St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Means Getting Your Things There.

Relocating to St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, requires getting your belonging to your new home. Because it is often an extreme change in weather and accommodations, some choose to only bring clothing and very personal items. Others want to bring as much as possible with them.

If you want to ship a household of furnishings you will want to start with a moving company to do the packing as well as the shipping. We used Viking . Our home was packed, loaded into a container on a truck at our home on the mainland, delivered to a port and loaded on a ship. Then shipped to St. Thomas, loaded on a truck and unpacked at our new home. The only thing that did not make the trip was a tissue holder that I was probably better off without.

If your have less to ship, you can pack it yourself and have it put on a pallet or a number of pallets and shipped as a portion of a  container. Tropical Shipping is a company I have used to import supplies. Contact them in advance, give them the weight and dimensions of what you are shipping and they will let you know what it will cost. Do this close to the time you will ship, as rates change with the cost of fuel. You will be notified when your shipment arrives. You then  go to the dock, clear it through customs and make arrangements to get your belongings where you want them on island. This is more labor intensive but a lot less expensive.

For a more gradual, small move, you can send boxes to yourself by the United States Post Office. As an American territory the USPS does deliver mail to the island. For the most part, they do not deliver to private homes, most of us receive our mail via  mail boxes. There are many mail box rental facilities on island. You will want to pay for first class mail as parcel post is put on a ship and will take  4-6 weeks to arrive, unless you have the time.

FedEx does ship here, but don't expect  it to arrive overnight, they can be reached at 1-877-838-7834. They may even accept your money to deliver it overnight but the reason it often does not make it, is Customs may hold it. Your money will not be refunded if the delay is due to Customs. This is true of Express mail too.

UPS or Big Brown, also ships here. I believe they treat us as an overseas destination. The local number to reach UPS is (340) 776-1700. The cost of calling numbers in St. Thomas from the mainland, is no more than calling from state to state on the mainland.

I provide the local numbers because I have been told in the States, they don't ship to the U.S. Virgin Islands or they want to send it to Puerto Rico, which is only part of the way here. You may have to provide a State side location with the numbers of the local offices. I have also received calls from some bewildered delivery person wandering in Virginia trying to get a package to me, in the VI.

When ordering online, you will often find there is no "U.S. Virgin Islands" in the drop down menu or they won't mail to a mail box.  You can get around this by having shipments sent to your work place or having a good friend or family member who will forward things to you from their address on the mainland.

I found it most interesting when I saw a UPS truck parked at the U.S. Post Office in Sugar Estates today, which inspired this blog. When I questioned the driver, he told me they deliver everywhere!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

St.. Thomas Board of Realtors Award Scholarships

Home ownership is the largest single monetary investment most of us will make. For many, it will be the foundation of wealth building and stability for generations to come. Realtors have a real interest in the communities in which they make their living, not just in the cost of housing and making the next sale. The St. Thomas Board of Realtors tries to give back to the community in a number of ways.

Each year, Realtor Janice Popo (on the left above) coordinates an essay contest for the graduating seniors on St. Thomas. Students from all of the schools, public and private, are invited to use their creative minds and fresh ideas to examine an issue that is a concern on island. This year's topic was the Bournefield Development, a residential complex which has been threatened with being demolished due to age and deferred maintenance. This is a thriving, tight knit community with the benefit of low rents that are not available anywhere else on island. Their plight has been the topic of a recent local legislative hearing.

The contestants submit their essays, along with their academic records, college acceptance letters and recommendation letters from guidance counselors or teachers. Each essay is reviewed by a committee of at least three Realtors. This year's judges were Alford Howell, Warren Stryker and Dionne Nelthropp. Each Realtor ranks their top four picks of the essays. The two contestants that are ranked highest and most often are the winners of the essay competition.

This year's winners were Tia Abraham and Neisha Paul, also pictured above. These young ladies are both graduates of Eudora Kean High School and recipients of a number of awards in addition to each receiving two thousand dollar scholarship awards from the board of Realtors. They were supported by family members when they attended our annual meeting to receive their awards.

There is no more important investment than our youth and their education. Congratulations to Ms. Abraham and Ms. Paul on their graduations and the beginning of their bright futures.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lindberg Bay St. Thomas Rental, MLS 11-665

This is a great furnished, two bedroom rental in St. Thomas. It is located in a quiet neighborhood on the South Western side of the island above town. There are stunning views of the harbor and Caribbean Sea. On a clear day you can see all the way to St.Croix. You would be close to town for work, shopping, banking and all the necessities of life. The beaches are never far away on St. Thomas, you can choose from Brewer, Lindberg, or Magen's Bay. They are all a short ride away. This is a small building with only three units. There off street parking and hurricane shutters. Long term tenants are desired at $1600 per month plus utilities. Pets will be individually considered. Visit to see this and other rental opportunities featured by Van Blake-Coleman Realty

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

St. Thomas Real Estate, St. Thomas MLS 11-739, 1-Y-A Wintberg

This new and solidly built concrete home is located on the North side of St.Thomas and has a total of four bedrooms and three bathrooms. With a wonderfully open floor plan and sleek modern furnishings,it could be your perfect piece of paradise. Architectural details include vaulted ceilings and sky lights. There are hurricane resistant windows throughout the home with roll down shutter, to seal you safely up when the tropical storms come our way. Situated on .45 acres not ten minutes from world famous Magen's Bay. Priced at $685,000 USD. Call 340 344 2959 for more details or click here to see more real estate on St. Thomas

St.Thomas Real Estate 1-Y-A Wintberg

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

St. Thomas Open Houses for Realtors

Wednesdays are traditionally the day for open houses on St. Thomas. They are open mainly to brokers and agents. Although you are not prohibited from bringing your customer. Today there were a total of six open houses.

I started out with the thought of trying to identify the best buy, but it really depends on your needs.

The first home was in Frenchman's Bay. A duplex, two, 2 bedrooms 2 baths, mirror images of each other with a 1 bedroom apartment downstairs, nicely renovated, garage and a private beach. As an income investment you could probably generate $6000 a month by renting out all three units, which could go a fair distance on helping to pay the mortgage on the $1.35 million asking price depending on how much you put down.

Just next door was a townhouse that had been renovated to be one, 3 bedroom 3 bath home on the main levels with a 1 bedroom apartment down stairs. This home has a large infinity edged pool, private beach, and no garage. More of a home, I see a family owning and using the apartment for a nanny, in-law or guest suite. You would have to be able to comfortably afford the $2.2 million asking price.

The pool pictured on at the top, belongs to the house in Solberg and is located right in the center of the home. It opens to the deck and overlooks the Caribbean Sea, port harbor of Charlotte Amalie, Water and Hassle Islands, one of the most coveted view on St. Thomas. One of the bedrooms, the kitchen and dining rooms are on one side and the master bedroom suite in on the other side. This too, has a one bedroom apartment downstairs. I envision a younger or older couple, living here, due to the two bedrooms and the pool is not so you could prevent young children from accessing it. The asking price on this one is $450,000.

The largest home was in Frenchman's Bay, consisting of some 7000 sq. ft. It has 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths on the main level and 3 bedrooms and 3 baths below, a large pool with a huge deck and sits close to the water. I see this home filled with a large family. Perhaps including grandparents, children ranging in ages, and parents who love to entertain often. Whether it is having the entire soccer team over or throwing a fund raiser for their favorite charity, it is on a flat lot so there is lots of parking. The asking price on this home is $1.6 million. There are some finishing touches that still need to be made on this home, but it is a grand villa with marble floors and custom work throughout.

There is a cute, I call it, a doll house, in Frenchman's Bay. This home has 2 bedrooms , 1 bath, a garage, a covered gallery that has a fabulous view of the cruise ships coming in, an efficiency apartment downstairs and great neighbors, I am told. Well maintained and loved by it's owner but the time has come to move. I see this as a great starer home for a young couple or a single person who wants more privacy than a condo can offer. It is priced at $425,000.

The last home I visited was a gated compound. There are two buildings containing a total of 4 separate living areas which share a very large pool with expansive decking, an outdoor kitchen and cabana bathroom. There are a total of 9 bedrooms and eight baths not counting the cabana bathroom. I see this being purchased by a corporation, using it as a retreat/think tank/ training center. The complex sits on the waterfront and I am sure has some of the best snorkeling around. The owners are throwing in a few kayaks for the adventurer in you. The stonework and tiling is exceptional. The place is built to surpass all building codes, has an automatic generator. If you have food delivered, you would never have to leave and you may not want to. It is offered at $5.5 million.

There is a broad selection of real estate on St. Thomas. If your looking, let Van Blake-Coleman Realty, help you find what will work for you!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Try St. Thomas on for Size, Rent a Condo!

Always wanted to live in Paradise? What is holding you back? Come down and try our island on for size!

You could live in this lovely turnkey, one bedroom, condo minutes away from these pristine waters in a gated community.

Point Pleasant is a resort community with three large pools, two restaurants and a series of condos perched on a hillside. This particular unit is at the crest of the hill, ensuring cool breezes and gorgeous views. The deck wraps the condo on two sides adding significant outdoor living space. There is a mix of full time residents, long term renters and hotel guests so there is always someone interesting to meet. Because we are accustom to new comers, people are friendly.

Located on the East end of the island where a series of white, sandy beaches and natural harbors have cause people to gravitate. High end homes, multiple yacht clubs, restaurants, the ferry to St. John and Tortola, and every imaginable water sport are all minutes away. You will only sit idle if that is what you want to do.

Rent is only $1250 a month plus electric. To see more pictures of this and other rentals on St. Thomas, click on "Long Term Rentals" when you get to our website,

If you are thinking of purchasing click on, "search MLS listings" and decide whether your are looking for condos, homes or land. You will have access to everything on the Multiple Listing Service for St. Thomas and St. Croix here. If you need immediate assistance call 340 344 2959 or e-mail We will find the right fit for you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

St. Thomas Real Estate Goes Solar

This is a picture of the Federal and local law enforcement buildings in down town Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The Caribbean Sea is to your immediate left. If you look carefully, you will notice there are solar panels on the roof of both of the buildings.

I noticed the recent addition on the day I was headed to the airport to visit New York just after the snow storms rocked the Midwest and East coast, in early February.

Many things are a little more expensive here in the islands, because they are most often imported, making our cost of living higher than some places. We are generally on par with New York, Chicago and LA.

One basic expense that is higher here than in many places is the cost of electric. Our electrical plan uses oil and it's products to generate our power. The third largest oil refinery in the Northern hemisphere is located on the Island of St. Croix. Besides tourism, the distilling of Rum and the refinery of oil are major revenue generators for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

One thing we have no shortage of and does not have to be imported is sunshine. While the government has recently added solar panels to their roofs, many private citizens have been quietly using solar power to conserve on the use of electricity for some time.

It is not unusual to find homes with panels and storage batteries. Pool water is sometimes circulated so the sun can heat it. You will find pools are smaller and more shallow so they don't get too cold. Beside there is so much warm water in the Caribbean Sea, you don't need a huge pool at home. The Atlantic is much larger and deeper, so it tends to be colder, but on a hot day it can be quite a treat to swim in.

Because we are a territory of the U.S. we also enjoyed the tax incentives to ease the expense of installing solar devices. This created another surge in ecologically conscious home improvements.

the concept of harnessing the wind has not caught on as fast and we are just beginning to see windmills here and there. It may have to do with the occasional hurricane. I think they would give a windmill a hard way to go. I could be wrong on this.

Many people who live in the Caribbean have a tendency to try to live in harmony with nature. A home is not complete without fruit trees or a small garden. Rain and sunshine are blessings to be enjoyed. Homes here have always been designed and situated on lots to take advantage of breezes and to avoid the direct sunlight streaming in during the afternoon when temperatures are the highest.

The first certified "green" home was built on St. Croix last year and there is one under construction on St. John as I write. But, that is a topic for another blog.

For more information on real estate in St. Thomas, visit or give Van Blake-Coleman Realty a call at 340 344 2959.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Entertainment in St. Thomas VI

Michael Bolton rocked the Reichhold Center for the Arts in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands last night as part of his, One World One Love 2011 tour. Showing his range from classics like, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay", and "How am I Supposed to Live Without You" to Puccini's "Nessum Dorma" which brought tears to my eyes!

And, Yes, he is just a fine as ever.

The University of the Virgin Islands has a performing arts center and brings a wide variety of shows to the territory. It is an open air theater with some covered seats and others that are covered by the stars only. The center is named after Henry Reichhold CEO of Reichhold Chemical Inc. of Detroit Michigan, who initially contributed 3.5 Million in 1976-77 to the foundation. The center continues to operate through the Reichhold Foundation.

Next week a six day Film Festival starts, Chaka Kahn opened the season and J. Anthony Brown and Friends of the Virgin Islands performed their Comedy Tour a short while ago. Scheduled to appear are Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Cliff and Gramps Morgan, as well as the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Due to the intimate size of the theater, patrons and season ticket holders are sometimes treated to private receptions with the artists.

So besides the astounding beauty of the island, world class beaches, endless water sports, hot night spots, local entertainers; St. Thomas also offers world class entertainment in an amazing venue.

One of the highlights of the evening was when, as the band began playing, "When a Man Loves a Woman" the lights dipped and Michael disappeared from the stage. When the lights came back up he had moved to the space between the covered seats and the totally open air seats. The crowd went wild and we all rushed to take pictures. One of mine is on the right, above.

Just in case you were wondering what there is to do on a little island in the Caribbean besides relax. Now you know!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Property Taxes in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Buying and selling property in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a little different from buying on the mainland. Two important differences are in the areas of financing and taxes. For your initial financing you will have to work with a mortgage company or bank licensed to do business in the territory. It is a short list.

Taxes on commercial property in the U.S. Virgin Islands have been in dispute since 2000. When the governor unveiled a proposed property tax structure creating different property categories, each with different tax rates in 2007, residential property was pulled into the fray.

When closing on a property in the Territory, Buyers are credited an estimated amount for each year of outstanding taxes the Seller are not able to pay due to the lack of an official bill (the tax assessors office cannot accept payment for taxes not officially billed). The estimated taxes were usually based on the last valid tax bill which was issued in 2005 and based on 1998 valuations. In August of 2010, valid tax bills were issued for 2006 taxes and are also based on 1998 valuations. The responsibility to pay the taxes transferred to the new owners along with the property.

This has been off putting to some Buyers who now have reason to take heart! On January 22, 2011 Judge Gomez, Chief Judge of the District Court, lifted the freeze on property taxes in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The last area of dispute requiring resolution to move forward was a properly functioning Tax Review Board which had been seriously back logged. The back log has been cleared and an agreement was reached with the original complainants and the Board through mediation.

The 1998 values and tax rates shall continue for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax years. 2010's tax bill will be the first to be based on fair market value. Tax payers will receive two years of tax bills per year until the bills are current, placing the issuance of 2010 tax bill in 2012.

The infusion of revenue for the government should mean significant relief in budgetary issues and strengthen our economy.

If you have been delaying your dream of purchasing property in the Virgin Islands, because you were not comfortable with this situation, you can relax. Now is the time to buy real estate in St. Thomas, St. Croix or St. John. Prices are good.

Take a look at what is available by visiting to search the Multiple Listings, when you see something that interest you contact Van Blake Coleman Realty at 340-344-2959 or send me an e-mail at

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Piece of Paradise in St. Thomas, USVI

I just listed an efficiency condo in Sapphire Hill Village in St. Thomas. Imagine having this view from your living room, dining area and balcony. The marina is one of the most naturally protected marinas on island. Your yacht will be safe even in stormy weather. Sapphire Hill Village is a small community of condos with a restaurant and two pools all within a short walking distance from the beach, the marina and a waterfront resort. There are tennis courts and every imaginable water sport is available to you. I spent my first six months as a resident on St. Thomas renting a unit here. I loved it. The East end of the island is a great place to live. This is a quiet complex but it is close to shopping, a number of great restaurants, night clubs like, "Duffy's Love Shack" or the "Saint". The ferry to St. John or the BVI is just around the corner. So whether you are looking to move here forever or just vacation it is a perfect location. Check out more photos of condo on St. Thomas, US VI, check out current sales and featured listings, and many other listings. This unit is offered at $125,000 contact, Van Blake-Coleman Realty at 340 344 2959.