Sunday, December 30, 2012

St. Thomas, Just listed, Great Investment for 2013

This three bedroom two bath home on St. Thomas has just been listed and is a steal of a deal. Located on the South side of the island in cool and breezy Bonne Esperances, not far from the university, the airport and town. This new listing on St. Thomas is a solid concrete home, with views of the Caribbean Sea and it has a studio apartment to help with the mortgage or provide maximum privacy for visitors or a nanny should you have one. Some 2660 sq. ft. of interior living space situated on .55 acres of land. There is a lovely courtyard surrounded by a blue bit rock wall which also lines the driveway. The property could easily be gated should you so choose. There are parquet floors throughout the house and corian counter tops in the kitchen. A large master suite with a walk through dressing room. With the extraordinarily low price of only $375,000 you can make this your Caribbean Jewel with your customized updates.
Play VisualTour

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Home for The Holidays in St. Croix, St. John or St. Thomas

Whether you live on St. Croix, St. John, or St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands this is the time of year that people expect children, friends and relative to come home for the holidays. Whether it is to stop in for a drink of guava berry wine or an extended stay of grown children along with grandchildren. Villa owners often want that extra pop for the high season too. In preparation, people often do home improvements. If you are looking to spruce up a bathroom or kitchen with fixtures or new faucets or cabinets: On St. Croix - Caribe Do-it Center at 30 Castle Coakley 340 778 5280 Ka-MA-KRIS Sales Inc at 50 A Hannas Rest at 772 0670 East End Lumber a 1 Gallows, Christiansted 340 773 1034 St. John - St. John Hardware 4-A Enighed 340 693 8780 St. Thomas - Ace Hardware at Red Hook 340 779 1717 or Crown Bay 340774 0495 East End Lumber in Anna's Retreat 340 775 3993 Home Depot in Market Square 340 7771077 One of the quickest ways to make a space look brand new is to give it a new coat of paint. Most of the hardware store carry a good selection of paints; additionally some specialty stores are: St. croix - Colorama at 86A Castle Coakley 340 778 5961 Shwerwin Williams 35-36 Castle Coakley 340 9877 St. Thomas - The Paint Depot in Al Cohen Plaza 340 775 1466 Sherwin Williams at 118 Contant 340 776 0836 Good luck with your projects on St. Croix, St. John or St. thomas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Home on St. John - Open House

                                               Nick greets Donajen on the steps

Home for Sale on St. John - open house - Amarilla Villa

St. John is the smallest of the three  main U. S, Virgin islands. Historically the value of homes for sale on  St. john  have been high due to the fact that the majority of it's land mass is protected and will never be developed. This also creates a quieter atmosphere than the more urban feel of St. Thomas.
As the economy has changed more homes on St. John are becoming more affordable and are excellent buys for the quality of home your can purchase in such a prestigious setting.

Another  brokerage (Sea Glass Properties) hosted an open house in Coral Bay for a home they have listed. Five people from St.Thomas hopped on the ferry from the East end of St.Thomas and took the 25 minute ride to St. John. It was a lovely day, to view a home for sale on St. John. The hosting company had someone (thanks Chris) meet us at the dock and shuttled us to a lovely three bedroom three and a half bath home with an Easterly view that was simply breath taking.  The address of the home for sale on St. John is 6A-1-B Rem St. Quaco & Zimmerma. St. John, Virgin Islands. The home for sale on St. John has approximately 1'920  sq. ft. enclosed  and  approximately 2,570 sq. ft of decking. This home for sale on St. John has Spanish tile roofing with Caribbean stonework ( a topic for another blog), copper gutters, Mahogany wood work, a heated pool and an 180 degree view of Coral Bay and the BVI's. The home sits on .61 acres and  is offered at $1,990,000. I understand there is an adjacent, undeveloped lot (.81 acres) for sale as well at a very reasonable price. Why not scoop them both up?

Everyone seems to be going solar, it is particularly important with homes on St. John and St. Thomas as the cost of electric can run quite high when you use air conditioning and other appliances like pool pumps.  This home for sale on St. John  has 32 new solar panels to reduce the energy costs. An investment that will pay for itself many times over; and a true assets to the lucky buyers of this wonderful property.

Click on the blue MLS number, 12-2161, in the widget below to view all 78 pictures of this home for sale in St. John. if your are interested in viewing this property please give me a call at 340 344 2959 can assist you.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Do you do business on a wing and a prayer? Probably not, so why would you buy property that way?

Upon taking a new listing, in the Virgin Islands, I like to gather as much information in preparation for the closing. One item I like to have is a Land Title Survey or As Built Survey. This lets potential buyers know in advance where exactly the dwelling sits on the lot relative to the boundaries.

There are a number of good surveyors on the island, an icon in the community is a firm called Brian Moseley and Associates, Inc. Land and Surveyors and Consultants. Their office is located on Rahpune Hill in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. They work on St. John and St.Croix also.  Ryan Wisehart is the principle and David Starshark is their CAD technician. The office is open and welcoming when you walk-in you will be greeted with a smile and the manner is always gracious. They will supply copies of surveys and send you a copy in a PDF which is great for attaching them to your listings.

Brian Moseley & Associates is a members of the National Society of Professional Surveyors and the Virgin Islands Board of Architects - Engineers and Land Surveyors.

When selling a home or lot of land in the Virgin Islands, owners are normally required to expose the "four corners" of the property, usually indicated by flagged stakes.

When buying a home or lot of land in the Virgin Islands, it is wise to have a full survey done. It not only documents the quantity of land being conveyed but many times it will expose any encroachments or easements that could exist and may not be apparent without the survey. The survey will also indicate the location of utilities, buildings and access, if any, relevant to the parcel. If your are financing the property the lending institution will require a Land Title Survey.

If you purchase a vacant lot and you decide to improve your land, plans for homes usually start with a Topographical Survey. It helps the architect understand the features of the land. A Topographical Survey shows the elevations, contours and substantial rocks (prevalent in the Virgin Islands) trees, roads and drainage. All of this information is essential in determining where the home, driveway and drainage will work best on the lot.

Investors in the Virgin Islands who purchase larger parcels of land and want to subdivide it into multiple parcels will hire a Professional Land Surveyor to assist in determining the potential for dividing the property and preparing plans for developing parcels and roads.

Another area a Professional Land Surveyors is useful is determining if your property is within a flood prone area. It will determine if you will need to secure flood insurance and determining the appropriate insurance premium.

Surveys cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to thousands depending on the type of survey, terrain, location and ground cover. As with any service you should discuss costs up front and get an estimate. Keep in mind it is similar to an insurance that will protect you against costly problems in the future.

The conduct of a Professional Land Surveyor in the Virgin Islands is governed by territorial laws and professional code of ethics. A Professional Land Surveyor is an expert at interpreting descriptions of property and is uniquely qualified to accurately and precisely locate property lines.

When buying or sell property in the Virgin Islands, you should  make a Professional Land Surveyor, like Brian Moseley & Associates part of your real estate team. They can be reached at (340) 776 4090. or e-mailed at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reichhold Center for the Arts, Virgin Islands

The Reichhold Center for the Arts, is an open air venue associated with the University of the Virgin Islands located on St.Thomas.

This past Friday night I had the pleasure of attending a preformance of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra.

The Puerto Rico Symphony's  inaugural concert was held in 1958  in Mayaquez and  was directed by Maestro Pablo Casals. The current musical director is the Chilean Maestro Maximiano Valdes. The symphony has a long and elustrious history.

The Rising Stars program was started in 1981 as a vision of the Honorable Judge Emeritus, Verne A. Hodge as a way to positively engage youth on island, keeping them in school and out of trouble. Since their inception the group has become Goodwill Ambassadors for the Virgin Islands traveling as far as Taiwan and Japan. They have preformed in many spectacular venues like the Lincoln Center the Capital building in Washington D.C. and on the Skyline stage in Chicago. They are my favorite part of Carnival each spring here on St.Thomas during the battle of the steel bands as well as the parade.

The program Friday, included:

J. Brahms - Academic Festival Overture Ob. 80

Rimsky Korsakov - Procession of the Nobles

Von Suppe - Light Cavalry

Tchaikovsky- Marche Slav

Mozart - Figaro

Love on Top

Gracia por la Musica

L.V. Beethoven - Symphony no. 5

Please notice that the Rising Stars do not have any sheet music in front of them.  They played from memory.  This is an outdoor venue, so you will hear the frogs and crickets give their own concert along with the musicians and my photograpy skills leave a lot to be desired.

If you would like to explore being a buyer or seller in the Virgin Islands please give me a call at 340 344 2959

Building or Renovating in The Virgin Islands

In the virgin Islands, like in most place, home owners are constantly working on their property.  With all renovation  you have to consider the impact on the value of your home. We have recently decided, to update the decking system on our home. Well, correction, it was a decision made a long time ago, the logistics of making it a reality was a bit challenging in the Virgin Islands.

We purchased our home in 2004, prior to our purchase the deck on the home was torn off by a hurricane.  Although I have lived on St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands for almost nine years, thankfully,  I have not experienced a full hurricane. After seeing the damage created by hurricane Sandy, I know our home would not have been here to purchase had the storm that took the deck been close to the level of Sandy. But I digress.

To restore the deck on our home, permits are required in the Virgin Islands. The Department of Planning and Natural Resources requires architectural drawings rendered or approved by a local architect, as well as a copy of the as built survey of the home.The licensed contractor who is going to do the work is required to  attach an estimate of what it is going to cost to do the work.  Once you have obtained these and submitted them and paid a fee, it takes a few months for the review to be completed and if there are any issues you may be asked to alter the drawings or make a further explanation of what you want to do. This may take a while depending on what else you are asked to submit and then that documentation starts the review process anew. Once started in earnest, this process took us 5 months.

Once your permits are in hand, (you should make a laminated copy of them and post them prominently the closest electrical pole works) the job can begin. There are stages which require inspections to make sure building codes are being adhered to. The slide show is a pictorial of the progress of installing our decks. I still have to order the stainless steel  cording to complete the banister and of course the staining is left to do.

If you are interested in building a home in the Virgin Islands I can help you with locating the perfect lot. Building cost vary from $200 per sq. ft to $500 per sq. ft. depending on the level of finishing you select.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - Ready to Help you Buy or Sell Real Estate

                                                       Aisha Watley - my stylist
                         Phoenix Visions Hair Design, in Crown Bay Marina, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

I have lived in the Virgin Islands for almost nine years now, helping people sell and buy real estate. As with any profession, it is important to maintain a neat, professional image.  With the tropical, humid atmosphere it can truly be a struggle here in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I have had a number of stylists who have done my hair well, but  for the most part, by the time I reached my car in the parking lot and looked in the mirror I could not tell I had been to the hairdressers. A little frustrating.  I have tried relaxers, twists and a host of other processes, I didn't have the patience for locks, all to no avail.

Early this year, when it was time for a trim, I called Sharon, a stylist I had been to before, she owns a shop in French Town and is a good stylist but she was off island. She said, "I hear there is a new stylist in town and I have heard a lot of good things about her. She is good with all hair textures". She gave me the name of a shop, Phoenix Visions Hair Designs and specifically  the name of Aisha. I have never had a stylist recommend another person before in  St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands or anywhere else I have lived. I needed to have my hair done so I took a chance,  I called 340 774 1944, and made an appointment.

From the moment I walked in, Aisha Watley, made me feel it was about me and what I wanted. She took my hair loose and familiarize herself with it's texture,  Aisha asked a lot of questions about how I felt and what I wanted. I'd just lost  a fair amount of weight and wanted a new look, to go with the new me. She asked about  concerns I had, my  hair care routine and habits. I told her I had been searching for a minimal care routine as I was hugely busy and I go to the gym regularly.  Aisha made recommendations for day to day care,  and suggested a style, I could wear either straight or naturally curly.  I stepped out on faith and allowed her to do what she recommended. Aisha sent me home with products to use for both a straight look and a curly/wash and go look.

I loved the results, but I was still skeptical with the straight/ flat iron effect. I made it to the car and peaked in the mirror, my hair still looked great. I made it home, it still looked great! I was amazed. When I decided to go curly, the results was equally as satisfying.

I have since, recommended many friends and business associates to Aisha and Phoenix Visions Hair Designs. They have each reported positive experiences with Aisha. The most recent  referral is a male customer who  is new to the island. I had noticed a lot of men and children too,  enjoying services, while I was having my hair done, all of them leave looking great.

The shop is well organized, they are ready for you when you arrive for your appointment. They give you a call to remind you of your appointment the day before.  As a real estate professional.  I have a busy schedule with things constantly coming up, and this is really appreciated.  They are a full service salon, manicures, pedicures, massages, waxing, and they offer wedding packages and services for other special occasions.

Today  I decided I wanted to go even shorter. Aisha, did not hesitate, she asked a few crucial questions and went to work. I have a fresh, short, sassy look!  So if you live in St. Thomas,  are vacationing, or getting married here and need any salon services, check out Phoenix Visions Hair Design and ask for Aisha.

If you are in The Virgin Islands and are abuyer, seller or  want to rent property call me at 340 344 2959.  With my fresh, sassy look, thanks to Aisha, I will help you find the perfect place.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cultural Institutions in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

St. Thomas may be a fairly small island but cultural institutions abound here. One of the cultural institutions in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. is the Pistarkle Theater. Established in 1991 and currently molded by Nikki Emerich as the artistic Director. The Pistarkle Theater offers a variety of productions that get better each year.

Saturday was the final performance of "Cabaret" at the Pistarkle Theater. Typically,  there was not an empty seat in the house. I attended with two friends and enjoyed the performance of a cast that has been honing their skills and clearly are exhibiting the benefit of a new musical director. An additional bonus is being able to see  friends and colleagues preform at a professional level.

This cultural institution in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands offers educational camps for the youth of the community. The 2011 Leadership Performing Arts Camp was held July 29 to August 19th. Some of the attendees are featured in the video below.
The 2012 - 2013 after school program runs from Oct 15 through December 14th. They offer dance, acting and singing lessons. Individual lessons are $10 per class, $45 weekly and $350 for all 8 weeks. The acting classes are free to children enrolled in public schools  age 9 and older.

Located in Tillet Gardens which is a center for the arts, yet another cultural institution on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Here, shops sell everything from Orchids, hand crafted jewelry, and hand painted clothing to name just a few products of local artists. The center was created by Jim Tillett, a, now deceased, world renowned, silk screen artist. He arrived on  St. Thomas in 1959 and converted a Danish farm into  a screen printing shop and art gallery. There are some Thirteen shops and a new Restaurant, "The Bistro". I tried the honey mustard pulled chicken salad, Saturday. The food is tasty and the portions are more than generous.

These cultural institutions on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands provide opportunities for young people to develop their talents, learn to express themselves in wonderful ways, improve their self esteem, and provide a great source of entertainment for the community.  The arts are heavily dependent on contributions from individuals and corporate sponsors.

Friday, October 26, 2012


 The ultimate Halloween video. I know it it vintage but I don't believe it gets any better than this. Michael Jackson set the benchmark for videos with this one.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cottage for Rent on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Play VisualTour
Other than large villas, rentals on St. Thomas are generally either the top part of a home, the lower part of a home, or one of many units in a building or condo complex. Anyway you look at it, you are sharing a building with others. This cottage is just that a single cottage.

The essences of island living in St. Thomas, a charming, stand alone, two bedroom, one bath cottage on a fenced and gated property. Tastefully decorated with original art from around the world, Moroccan carpets and all new furniture. Every detail has been attended to, down to the linens and cookware.

The kitchen is open to the living area for maximum interaction with guests and family. The bedrooms are on opposite ends of the cottage for maximum privacy. There is an extra room that can be used as a walk-in closet or an office area, if you like. Split air conditioning, Internet service and cable television are included. There is a lovely outdoor dining room with lounge chairs for sipping your cordial after a romantic dinner.

There are traditional wooden hurricane shutters and hurricane resistant glass in the windows and French doors that lead to a patio. A generator in case the electric goes out. There is a full sized washer and dryer. Flat parking for two cars is another bonus with this rental in St. Thomas.

This rental in St. Thomas is conveniently located just West of town, so you are not fighting the traffic. It is close to the University, and not far from downtown businesses. This ideal, home can be yours with an annual lease for only $2,400.00 per month. Pets are considered individually. This is a nonsmoking property.

For all your real estate needs on St. Thomas, contact Van Blake-Coleman Realty. Call 1 866 576 3331.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stumpy Bay Beach, Legendary in St. Thomas

Play VisualTour
Since arriving in St. Thomas, I have infrequently heard people my age either ask about property near Stumpy Bay or refer to wonderful times they had while growing up going to Stumpy Bay. There was never a lot of details, just whimsical looks and soft knowing smiles.

I have shown property in Estate Hope only once before, a raw piece of land. Estate Hope is located on the Western side of the island before you get to Estate Fortuna, people hold on to the property in this area. I had an appointment to show a home listed for only $249,000, hard to find on St. Thomas. The listing touted the home to be within walking distance to Stumpy Bay. I met a friend I have been showing homes for a while and we ventured down an unpaved road that was pretty rugged (not unusual in St. Thomas). Turns out, this is probably not the home for her and her husband but I could not resist the opportunity to go to Stumpy Bay. My friend had never heard of Stumpy Bay (she is quite young, at least by my standards) We could hear and see the water clearly from the house but there didn't seem to be any beach in sight, just a rocky coastline. When we got down to the road we could not see the water so we decided to drive. We finally reached an area too rugged for either of our four wheel drive vehicles. We parked in the middle of the road, no one was going to be able to drive any further any way; so walked the rest of the way. 

As we came through the trees, a beach began to appear, as we walked across the sand littered with bleached coral (most of this has been removed by visitors on the other beaches even though it is prohibited), there was a serenity and sense of peace that settled around us on this isolated beach. No wonder it is such a treasure to those who know it. I only had the time to take these pictures but I will return with a bathing suite and some snorkel gear, when I can steel an afternoon. Soon, I too will be able to smile whimsically when Stumpy Bay Beach is mentioned. I may not have the wealth of memories but I will know the privilege.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween is Coming - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Halloween in St. Thomas is usually a fun event for adults and children alike. There are events like the costume part the Historical Trust gives as a fund raiser every year. Stay tuned for special event for the fall Holloween season in St. Thomas. A haunted house is always fun and scary too. I don't think this home is haunted but is it cool, it is definitely not in St. Thomas. In the mean time enjoy this video I found on YouTube of this not so "haunted house", some place other than St. Thomas. I hope you are getting ready for Halloween with scary pranks and costumes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

St, Thomas Looses KISS 101.3; A tribute to "Old School

Just a little "old school" coming from St. Thomas to you, enjoy. on 10/2/12 we lost a radio station in St. Thomas, KISS 101.3. They played a lot of good music and I particularly enjoyed the Tom Joyner morning show, and Daddy Driver in the afternoon. It is now off of the air. This is my salute to those who worked there for years and entertained us all. St. Thomas and the Caribbean basin will miss your work.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Open Houses in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Wednesday is the day for broker open houses in St. Thomas. There were four today; two homes and two condos. 

Three of the open houses were in the Estate of Frenchman Bay

MLS number 12-1635, priced at $1,799,000 this relatively new, sprawling 7,000 sq. ft, seven bedroom, seven and a half bath home is located very close to the sea and in clear view of the cruise ship route. It was the first open house on St. Thomas, I attended today. It is minutes from Antilles School, town and the Lime Tree Beach.  Amenities include  a huge pool, balconies off of the bedrooms, each bedroom is en suite, custom imported wood work, incredible parking  space and travertine flooring throughout. There are actually two separate units here; a four bedroom four bath upper level  and a three bedroom three and a half lower level. 

MLS number 12-878, priced at $360,000 a two bedroom, two bath, solid concrete condo with breathtaking Caribbean Sea views from every room except the bathrooms. I almost missed this open house in St. Thomas today. This unit has been beautifully kept and has a private driveway.  It is situated in a quite small complex, located in the center of the island. Other significant features are large closets and a double sink mater bath, low condo fees - only $555.30 a month, hurricane screening, UV water filter and an automatic generator.

MLS number 12-1555, priced at $259,000, the only two bedroom two bath unit in Frenchman View Condominium Complex. There are great panoramic views and a large deck. The complex has a pool. Construction is concrete. The condo fees are $962 a month.

                                                     View from the deck of MLS 12-1645

Estate Lerkenlund is the location of the last open house MLS 12-1645, priced at $515,000 and consists of three bedrooms and three baths, with a work shop and bonus room down stairs.  This immaculately kept home commands amazing views of Magen's Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and could be converted into a two unit home if you wanted to, with access from the lower road. The main level has walk-in access and there is a solar and generator system on this home; resulting in low electric bills and making power outages a non-issue. The hammock in the living room make this home my pick of the open houses in St. Thomas today.
If you are interested in seeing real estate in St. Thomas  call Van Blake-Coleman Realty at 866 576 3331. 

Many of the listings are available through broker's reciprocity.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

St. Thomas Real Estate Market Report September 2012

This report contains figures from the St. Thomas Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service:

During the month of September in the St. Thomas real estate market, 7 homes were sold with an average price of $605,929.00. The total volume of homes sold  last month was $4,241,500.  The number of homes sold has increased by more than 200% over the same time period last year but the average price is down by more than 26 %.

There were 4 condos sold in the month of September with an average price of $158,375. The total volume of condos sold last month was $633,500. In the St. Thomas real estate market, the number of condos sold has increased by 33% in the same time frame last year but the average price  has decreased by 46% from a year ago.

The raw land sold in the St. Thomas real estate market during the month of September numbered only 2 with  an average price of $202,500.  The total volume of land sold  last month was $405,000. This represents a decrease of 60% in the number of lots sold compared to the same time frame last year but a 141% increase in the average price.

the St. Thomas real estate market is small enough to be significantly impacted by one or two large or small sales with in the month.  The St. Thomas real estate market normally see an increase in both the number of sale and prices in the high season from November to April. Now is a great time for buyers to purchase on St. Thomas and throughout the Virgin Islands.

 There are a significant number of transactions which take place and are not recorded on the MLS.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Virgin Island Territorial Association at Work For The Community

The Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors is our state level organizations of Realtors in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is comprised of The St. Thomas Board of Realtors, the St. John Board of Realtors and the St. Croix Board of Realtors. There is currently a combined membership of 292 members.

Many people believe the only interest Realtors have is selling people's homes and collecting large checks. I would be crazy to say we have no interest in making money, everyone likes doing that. Most of us live in the territory and our lives, our futures, our families and friends are all impacted by addressing large and small issues that affect the Virgin Islands Territory. Therefore our interests are much deeper and very personal to each of us.

The Virgin Islands Territory has a challenge in specific sections with homes that have been damaged by hurricanes, abandoned because of inheritance and probate issues, financial inability of owners to complete rehab projects  or a combination of all of the above. Yes, even in paradise, we have blight and we need an organized method of address it, especially since we have such a rich history that deserves to be preserved.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors, especially our president, Kerstin McConnell, president Elect for the St. Thomas Board of Realtors, April Newland, President of the St. Croix Board of Realtors, Caryn Hodge, Honnie Edwards and Lorine Williams  and our CEO of the Virgin Islands Territorial Association, Belton Jennings for the dogged determination and dedication they have exhibited in working to pass legislation in the territory which will improve the quality of life for all Virgin Islanders, specifically the Historic Preservation Bill.  While the bill is not in it's final form, it's essence is important.

 Belton Jennings was the conduit to the grant from NAR (National Association of Realtors), which help to fuel the latest efforts with the Historic Preservation bill. The named members waged a campaign this year, personally lobbying, making appearances on radio and TV and testifying before the legislation.

Here is a link to read the article that was published in  Realtor's Party News Letter

Monday, September 3, 2012

St. Thomas, VI Over The Labor Day Weekend

To take a short restorative beak in St.Thomas, VI over the Labor Day weekend, I escaped to some of the neighboring islands. They are a short boat ride away.

A friend of mine decided to charter a boat right here in St. Thomas, VI over the Labor Day weekend and invited me to join them. We departed from Compass Point one of the many marinas on St. Thomas.

As we left St. Thomas, VI over the Labor Day weekend we sailed by Nazareth, RH. One of the waterfront homes in this neighborhood is depicted below. At the time of this writing there were 20 homes for sale in this area, ranging in price from $399,000 to $4,100,000.00. Pricing depends on whether the home is inside gated areas such as Water or Deck Point and proximity to the water.

We passed by St. John and Tortola. Our first stop was Sandy Cay. This island is 13 acre island, donated by Lawrence Rockefeller in 2008 to the BVI. Part of the allure of this island is that you get to feel what it is like to be on a completely private beach. Although there are at least six mooring lines, there seems to be an unwritten rule among the boaters. If they approach and see some one else there, they sail on until you leave. Circling back and coming ashore. Occupancy is limited to 90 minutes. We used our time to frolic in the surf, scrub ourselves with the white sand, walk the trail and snorkel a bit. Although there wasn't much to see in the water the beach was glorious.

Next came Foxy's Taboo Located at the water's edge and known for it's casual but sumptuous dining.


Back to the boat and on to White Bay where the beach is lined with restaurants, bars, boats and activities.

Although, I was in St. Thomas, VI over the Labor Day weekend most of the time, I enjoyed the day in the BVI. They are so close, we boarded our charter at 9:30 am and were back in St. Thomas before 7:30 pm. Some of the boats came from as far as Puerto Rico and were able to return home the same evening as well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Real Estate Market Report, August 2012

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Real Estate Market Report
Presented by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Your Virgin Islands Realtor

On St. Thomas there are a total of 168 residences for sale ranging in asking price from $155,000 to $10,990,000 currently.

During the month of August, 2012 there were 5 homes sold on St. Thomas.  The median price was $460,000 which, on average, was 93% of the asking price.The average days on the market was 357.


Play VisualTour

There are 175 condos available for pruchase in the St. Thomas, Virgin Islands real estate market, ranging in price from $69,000 to $2,595,000. There is a  boat slip that comes up under this category for $62,500.

For the condo segment of the market, 3 units closed on St. Thomas during the month of August.  The median price was $250,000 which was, on average, 87% of the asking price. The average days on maket was 188.

The St. Thomas, Virgin Islands real estate market has 245 lot for sale; ranging in asking price from $20,000 to $8,000,000.

During the month of August, there were 4 lots of raw land sold on St. Thomas, with an median price of $46,500, which was, on average, 84% of the listed price. The average days on the maket was 316.

Snap Shot of the St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Real Estate Market
Condos are selling quicker than homes or land. Homes are selling closer to asking prices. Only the very inexpensive lots are selling. The higher end of the market is fairly quiet in all segments.

How can both buyers and sellers gain an advantage in the St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Real Estate Market? Retain a local Realtor who knows the market.

All satistics are from the Mulitple Listing Service for the St. Thomas, St. Croix Real Estate Boards.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Preparations for Hurricanes in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Issac Is On His Way

Each year I find myself making preparations for hurricanes in St. Thomas. Although we rarely are hit directly. We are often brushed or just dodge major hurricanes. Isaac is currently on his way. There are several levels of preparation, my lists are as follows.

Long Term Preparations for Hurricanes in St. Thomas:

1. As I list properties, I make note of properties with owners living off island, and which ones I am responsible for closing up in the event of a storm.
2. For those that have generators, I have them serviced annually and ensure an adequate supply of fuel is on hand.
3. Have brush and trees trimmed away from the homes, especially in July.
4. Make arrangements to have each location scheduled with a service for shuttering in the event of a storm. These services usually include the relocating of outdoor furniture inside or having it stored.
5. Always be nice to your neighbors and friends, you will no doubt need them at some point.

Short term preparations for hurricane in St. Thomas, starts around June of every year:

1. Ensure the area around homes and building is clear of debris and anything that could become a missile should winds get high enough. Things like lawn furniture, yard art, gardening tools, potted plants, mobiles, building materials, bird feeders and the like, all need to be addressed. This inspired me to clear out my carport today.
2. I suggest to friends, customers and clients to bookmark sites that help to click here keep you informed, this site includes maps, projections, blogs. The blogs have links to other informative and click here interesting sites that actually have pictures of the storm as it develops (I don't know how long this link will be good, probably until the storm passes).
2a. A subscription everyone making preparations for hurricanes  in St. Thomas should have is to click here VI Alert. This service keeps you informed of all kinds of emergency information via e-mail. It could be power outages, flash floods,hurricanes, which shelters will be open during the storm and the like.

3. Monitor these sources regularly and make your decisions regarding preparations for hurricanes in St. Thomas based on information they supply. Also check with friends and co-workers.

4. stock up on water, food, fuel, cash, flash lights, batteries and prescription medication. Pack a spare set of clothes and your medicines in a water tight bag and store them in your safe spot (where you will weather the storm should it get really bad). This is normally a place composed of mostly concrete with few or no windows.
4. Shutter your dwelling, even if you think the storm is going to be mild. Better safe than sorry. Those people who were on island during Hurricane Maryland some Nineteen years ago (the last very destructive hurricane to hit St. Thomas)were told is was going to be a mild storm (category 1). It gained momentum in the few hours before it hit island and cause a lot of damage. Some say it turned out to be a category 4 or more storm. Some of the destruction can be related to lack of preparation.

When making preparations for hurricanes in St. Thomas, do not make national/International news services your source of information. They tend not to mention islands as small as St. Thomas, and you would get the impression that you don't have to make any preparations. They cater to the larger population areas, ratings are their life's blood. We literally don't hit their radar.

Even if you don't live here, but are interested in seeing what it would be like to click here  own property here or have family living here these are good sites to be aware of and to monitor. Knowledge is power and the best preparation for Hurricanes in St. Thomas.

Something I did not discover while preparing to move to the Virgin Islands is there are a fair amount of tremors here, the activity results from a fault that is under the Caribbean Sea between St.Croix and St. Thomas. The sea absorbs a lot of the motion but you do feel it and sometimes you will hear it. But that is a topic for another blog.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Real Estate in St. Thomas, One Bedroom Condo for Sale

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Real Estate in St. Thomas is on the move. This one bedroom, one and a half bath condo, located just above town is a prime example of the opportunities that are available, priced for a quick sale at only $128,000. Situated on the edge of the primary business center, close to the hospital, university, airport, restaurants, churches, schools it could not be a more convenient place to live.

The price of real estate in St. Thomas has come down significantly since 2008, making it a more affordable place to have a primary or secondary home.

This unit has an open airy feeling, magnificent views of the harbor, town and the Caribbean Sea. It is perched at the top of the building. There is a jetted tub and bi-level balconies.

If you are looking to purchase an affordable piece of real estate in St. Thomas, this could be it! If you want to look at other units or single family homes, click here St. Thomas Real Estate, then click on "Search the MLS" on the upper left hand side. You will have access to all properties for sale on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Click here to find out what loans and mortgage products are available to you.

Call to make an appointment 340 344 2959, I will be happy to show you your heart's desire.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sugar Mill Hill, Townhouse for Sale in St. Thomas, U.S. VI

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Townhouse for sale in St. Thomas with great bones!

This townhome is waiting for the right buyer to doll it up. Located on Raphune Hill in a solid concrete building, overlooking the harbor only a little cosmetic work stands between it and a stunning show piece of a two bedroom, two bath home.

A stairwell with built-in lighting leads to the loft style master suite.

The entry level bedroom has a walk-in closet.

Raphune Hill is just above the hospital and down town Charlotte Amalie, and before you get to the major, center of the  island shopping area, so it is truely convenient to everything. You will be able to see the ships as they arrive in port.

Priced to sell at only $225,000.00 call 866 576 3331 for your appointment for a private viewing now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home?

Many prospective Sellers will question if they need to hire a Realtor to sell their home. Many  people do not realize homes sold by a Realtor, more often than not, sell at a higher price than those sold privately.

As a representative of the Seller of  property there are many services I provide.

1. It is essential to be familiar with the market place for the home in question. I prepare a market analysis to assist you with determining what is the best price for your property. To do this I look at the neighborhood the home is located in. Specifically, I examine the homes that have sold in the area and what homes will be competing with the prospective home for sale. I take into consideration the similarities in those homes and yours. Since St. Thomas rarely has developments where there are tracks of homes constructed with little variation in the size, floor plan and physical situation, I take pride in taking the time to consider the specific features of your home or condo. Just about every home here is unique so I often have to make adjustments in values to allow for these differences.

2. Having as much of the documentation on your home as possible for the Buyer to review is essential. I assist in gathering everything from, deeds, tax records, surveys and as built maps and if you have occupied your home recently, the seller's disclosure form. The gathering of such information helps to avoid delays as you get into the home stretch of the closing process and it gives the buyers a level of comfort with knowing exactly what they are purchasing.

3. Preparing your home for viewing is so important. You only get one chance to make a good impression on a potential buyer. I supply a list of strongly suggested things Sellers need to do, like, get rid of the clutter and clean like never before. I will walk through your home and specifically point out areas to work on. I also will share a list of cleaning professionals and contractors you can choose from to do projects that can improve the perception of your home.  A fresh coat of paint and power washing the exterior of buildings in the tropics can work wonders. Staging is a wonderful idea especially if the home is empty.

4. A strong marketing plan is essential as well.  Once the  home has been prepared great photographs tell the story and entice potential buyers to view your home first.  95% of buyers begin their search for a home online and the more pictures associated with a home the more interest there is in the home. It gives the buyer a method of narrowing their search before they leave home, saving them precious time and it lets the world know what is is you are selling.  Making sure your property is  available to hundreds of websites of individual real estate professionals, my personal website with Virtual tours, eFlyers, blog posts, social media sites, with enhance features,  and well written descriptions all improve the exposure of your property and  bring the right buyer to your home. I use print ads in the form of trade magazines and some newspaper advertising too.

5. Safety is an important consideration while your home is being actively marketed.  I place electronic lock boxes on the properties I list. They allow me to tack who gains entrance to your home.  Only Realtors, home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, repair people and cleaning staff who have made  appointments in advance will have access to your home. If it is your preference or there are special circumstances, like pets, I will personally attend all showings too.

6. I conduct brokers open houses. St. Thomas is a bit unique in this area. Open houses are not normally open to the general public here, although if an agent or broker has a customer they are working with and they believe the customer may be interested in a particular home that is having a broker's open house, the customer is welcome to attend with their agent.  On occasion, a neighbor or friend may attend too.

7. Communication is essential. I will update you on frequency of showings and feed back on showings and the open houses conducted.  As the conduit of the transaction, I am the liaison to the buyer through their agent or broker, attorneys, the mortgage company, inspectors, surveyors, any repair and  people  and contractors you may need during the transaction.  Following up and making sure each requirement is met to complete the deal.

8. Besides doing the job required to get the transaction done, I listen to and try to resolve any other issues you may have and inevitably come up with the sale of property. I can recommend list of international packing and shipping companies, help organize yard sales,  transfer of utilities from a distance, offer guidance on transferring licenses and vehicle registrations (normal things but they sometimes have a unique twist here in the VI).

The long and short of it is I will do what needs to be done to make your selling experience as simple and  pleasant as possible.

If you have been thinking about selling, contact me, lets get it listed now!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Luxurious Condo Overlooking Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, VI

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On the jewel island of St. Thomas, situated above the most popular port of call in the Caribbean, is Harbor View Villas. An intimate condo complex designed for comfortable living in tropical surroundings.

The stunning view of the harbor and Caribbean Sea is immediately apparent as you enter the unit. The gleaming marble tile runs throughout the condo and onto the wrapping balcony. Should the tropical breezes take a break, the unit is equipped with central air conditioning.

Custom mahogany cabinets grace the kitchen and both bathrooms. Corian counter tops and Italian glass tile back splash are among the finishings in the kitchen. Dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove, fridge and extensive culinary utensils make cooking a joy. There is a large barbeque grill and the kitchen has a pass through to the deck so you can hand things out instead of walking through the living room.

The master suite has a king sized bed, office area, walk-in closet, duel sinks and sliding door access to the balcony.

If you tire of working, diving, golfing, sailing, partying or lounging by the complex pool there is a complete entertainment center in the unit.

All of this can be your to enjoy on a long term lease for only $3,000 per month. Call to make your appointment to view this unit in person.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter from the U.S. Virgin Islands

While we don't have melting snow with crocus peaking through the melting snow; there are quieter changes in the Virgin Islands with the advent of spring.

One of the measures of winter in the Virgin Islands is the onset of what we call the Christmas Winds. They are pleasantly cool breezes that blow from mid February, unit early spring. When they are here you hardly notice the height of the mid-afternoon heat. Most of us have to sleep with light blankets and some wear sweaters and pull out wool clothing.  There is a noticeable lowering in the temperature of the Caribbean waters.

During the past few days, I have noticed the bite of the high sun in the afternoon. So don't forget your sun block.

The Caribbean waters begin to warm and those who have the option to swim here year around prefer to wait for the warmer waters. Yea, more beach time!

Normally my orchids bloom in November or December, this year they chose to bloom in late March.  I love the combination of the Orchid and the Bromeliads shown in the picture above. I have a lot to learn about growing orchids, I think I may have them in too much direct sun. I have several others who have pink and purple blossoms but I have not had success in getting them to produce flowers.  I will keep trying.

In the mean time, enjoy the new signs of life wherever you live, celebration of the resurrection and  life in general! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Days at The Beach Are More Special Than Others

If you read this blog, you know I spend a fair amount of time on Magen's Bay Beach, in St. Thomas, especially early in the morning. The astounding beauty brings peace, preserves sanity in crazy times and provides great exercise.

This past Saturday was a day I was determined to get there, a particularly demanding week with rental issues, made it even more important. A friend was supposed to meet me but she wasn't there when I showed up. I forged on, walking briskly and enjoying the picturesque homes in Peterborg and Misgunst nestled in the rolling lush green hills, crystal clear water with gentle waves lapping the shore, a cool breeze and brilliant warming sunshine.

 As I started my second length of the beach I noticed an attractive man go down on bended knee at water's edge.  Standing beside him, a pretty blonde woman, open mouthed, grabbed her chest and mouth in surprise. I was close enough to see the color come into her cheeks and tears spring to her eyes as she reached to hug the man. It was clear, I was witnessing a proposal. I saw a camera swinging from her wrist.

As I interrupted to offer to capture the moment on their camera for them, she pointed out he had written in the sand, "Will you marry me?". From her accent, I believe they were from Australia.  Ooops, I had almost stepped on the proposal.  I inquired, "Clearly this is a specail moment, may I take a picture to capture it for you?". She excitedly said, "he has a ring and everything!". Curled tightly on his pinky was a lovely diamond ring.

 I think it is a safe guess, she had forgotten the camera was even on her arm.  I did my best to capture them, the view and the sand writing in one shot. I took several shots, of them and the writing separately. Their joy was so obvious. I wished them many years of happiness and moved on.

As I continued my walk, I was overwhelmed with emotion, as I was allowed by fate and them, to share such a special moment with total strangers. I have seen a lot of weddings at Magen's, many of them very beautiful; it is an ideal location. This was the first time I happened on a proposal. I am still not sure why it moved me so. Writing about it brings back the emotion.

I thought about asking them to e-mail a picture or two so I could post them here, but I thought it would be a bit too intrusive. I may not know them but I will always remember them and feel connected in some small way to them.

Another great day at the beach.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Improving the Efficiency of My Business

It is great that Active Ranis is doing this contest. After attending the NAR Convention in Anaheim in November of last year and attending Jack Canfield's class I knew I needed to make a concerted effort to improve my business.

The first step was identifying  where I was most inefficient.

1. I was using a manual day planner and to do lists. It was bulky and awkward, so I stopped carrying it and sometimes would use small note pads.  Paper gets crunched up, when you don't carry it you forget what was on the list and so on.

2. I was buried in paper and physical files,  I have a small office with limited cabinets that are filled to the brim and I now have metal boxes holding the over flow and truthfully there are files on the floor. Talk about inefficient, when you are sorting through hand labeled files in boxes on the floor when you are trying to reconcile rental accounts.  The feeling of panic was sometimes overwhelming when I could not locate something I knew was there somewhere.

3. I have a Quick Books system for accounting an billing but I am not fully utilizing the program. When I first purchased it I had an accountant show me how to do the essentials, basically using it like a check registry.

4. Over the years I have developed friendships with people who seem to dwell on all that is wrong in the world. They will call and spend what feels like hours complaining or will set lunch dates and use the entire time to complain. I leave feeling drained depressed.

5. Keeping focused on goals has also been a weakness of mine, which is reflected in a level of scattered efforts and resulting in a lack of results.

6. Obtaining signatures on listing agreements and sales contracts and ensuring the customers and clients are left with a copy has been a challenge in the field. I carry a folder of forms everywhere and try to remember to prepare possible listing and sales contracts in triplicate in advanced. I am killing trees by the dozens and have a car filled with paper. Not to mention the hours of time I have wasted calling and e-mailing people because I haven't gotten the signed document back. My clients and customers literally span the globe, from here in the Caribbean, to South Africa, the Middle East and China.

The first thing I did before I left California was to purchase a IPad, eliminating the need for my day planer, or note pad. My to do lists are always at hand, so I don't forget what I need to do, I am focused on my goals because the are always with me. I can prioritize everything, plan my route of travel in the most efficient manner (gas is too expensive and time is too precious to wonder around) and I keep the larger picture in focus now. Truly mobile access to the internet has been enlightening, I am not hindered by truncated messages or images on my phone. I don't have to search for a scrunched up notes, I know they are at the tips of my fingers.

I do my, to do list, the night before, it eliminates the anxiety during the night of "what have I forgotten?"; that used to make me sit straight up in the bed in the middle of the night.

Then I moved on to the paper, I am in the process of going paperless. We are required by law to maintain file for seven years in the Virgin Islands. All of my files are in the process of being converted to e-files. My office is being transformed.  I am going to start my new files as e-files and eliminate the physical file all together. This is a major challenge for me as I cling to the physical paper.

Quick Books remains a challenge for me and I never seem to have time to attend the courses when they are available. I am out sourcing this too. I have a son who has a business degree and could use some extra work, he just became engaged and there is a big wedding in the planning stage. We have agreed to set up a Dropbox account so he can attend to this aspect of my business for me, since I dread doing it and am not very good at it anyway.  Freedom, to do the things I like and am good at.

My negative friends, are still my friends but I have to admit I have cut way back on the time I will allow them to absorb. I listen for a minute, try to inject something positive and motivating for them and excuse myself.

After reading the Docusign promo, I am signing up for the free trial so I can stop hauling all of those forms and wasting time following up on whether someone received my fax or was able to scan and e-mail a signed document back to me. With the distance of some of my customers and clients the time difference will no longer be an issue either.

I now have organized days that are more often than not started with a trip to the gym very early in the morning. I have eliminated lots of anxiety and replaced it with focused efforts, resulting in increased business and a fitter and happier me!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Affordable East End One bedroom apartment, in St. Thomas

This is a wonderfully private one bedroom apartment located on the desirable East end of St. Thomas. It is in the midst of some of the most desirable real estate on the island.   Close to Red Hook, the yacht club and Ritz Carlton. This lovely, apartment has a water view from every room including the bathroom.  The rent includes the first $100 of your electric bill. Everything is new, furnishings, appliances and fixtures.  Just up the street from Secret Harbor condos and resort with their wonderful new waterfront restaurant.  There is off street parking. Sorry no pets or smokers, please. This is a long term rental, an annual lease is preferred, at $1650 per month. Call Van Blake Coleman Realty at 340 344 2959 or visit for this and other great rentals.