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2nd Home Owners: Do you regret or love your "dream" home purchase?  

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ALW
 ALW
(@ALW)
Active Member

Hi All,

After having that common statesider's dream of moving to "paradise," I've come to realize that living in the islands full-time wouldn't suit us during this phase of our life. Someday we'll likely want to live in the VIs part-time, but it will be when we no longer have to rely on FT employment and find professional employment in the VIs.

However, we have always wanted a waterview or waterfront home of our own. We'd use it for extended vacations since both my husband and I have jobs where we can work remotely, and also would rent it out for vacationers. Since the market is pretty slow in general right now everywhere, we're considering purchasing a lot in the next couple of years. We are not making any decisions in haste. We're considering mountain lake property in the US and water view property in the VIs - either St. Croix or St. John. Yes, I have visited both (St. John much, much more often) and understand the vast differences between St. Croix and St. John (including cost!).

My question is - for those of you who have purchased your second "dream" home, condo or lot in the VIs, do you wish you'd never done it? Or, despite all of the hassles, has the effort been worth it to you?

BTW, I understand the challenges and costs of building in the VIs. We are not looking to build some fancy, million-dollar custom villa. We're actually going to go with a small Deltec Homes model shipped from the US. Cottage as opposed to sprawling villa. Something between 750-1000 sq ft interior space and no pool. Site prep costs will be the most unpredictable variable. And yes, I know that taxes are jacked up in the USVI, that WAPA bills are sky-high and that renters drive these costs even higher with their incessant A/C running, that appliances rust quickly, hurricanes happen and insurance costs are ridiculous. I know, I know, I know.

We are considering St. John more strongly simply because the villa rental market there is so darn strong. However, St. Croix has a lot to offer as well and we love the pastoral parts of the island. However, rental market not nearly as strong. BUT - lots on St. Croix are less and you can find more buildable parcels for less $$.

This is a long term investment and we probably won't begin building for another 5-7 years.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 2:06 pm
terry
(@terry)
Expert

We bought a condo in 2005 on STX. LOVE it.
We thought we were going to move so we bought a lot with a great view. Then came grandkids so now we are not moving.
We had planned on a Deltec as well. There are a few on STX.
We are now trying to sell the lot as we can't afford both our house and a second house. Keeping the condo.

We looked at places with renters and decided not to do that. And now it seems like the time we want to be there is the time the tourists would want to be there.

Another thing to consider, with a smaller house with no pool, it will be harder to get renters. The ones you do get may not take care of the place. It seems to me, the higher the rent the more responsible renters you get. I know this is not always the case.

You will need a GOOD agent looking after the place for you since you will not be there. Many of the condos that are by our unit are rentals. The owners have a very hard time because some of the agents only want to collect the money. We have one agent who just gives people the keys to go look at the place because they are too busy. If that were my unit, that would **** me off! We had another neighboring unit that was rented be a couple of 20 something year olds. Before they skipped out on 6 months back rent, they had 11 ELEVEN others living in a one bedroom unit. They completely destroyed the place. It took over $30K to repair the damages. All because the agent wasn't doing their job.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 2:40 pm
ALW
 ALW
(@ALW)
Active Member

Thank you Terry. I agree, the rental market, on St. John in particular, is definitely stronger if a home has a pool. However, it's not an inexpensive island to visit, so in high season many look for "budget" options. We're still talking in excess of $2000/week for a 2-bed property in high season, even without a pool. But, point well taken and we shall re-consider. Even a small pool may make a difference.

We are only in our mid-30s and have young children, so we're bound to the school calendar for many, many years yet. This means high season will be for renters, with the exception of our spring break week and perhaps one of the two holiday weeks. Our extended stays will occur in low season, probably June/July.

Have you found condo ownership to be very overly expensive with the HOA fees? So you maintain yours as a second residence and never rent out to tourists?

It seems to me that there are many reliable rental agents on St. John. I truly think we're leaning in that direction from an investment standpoint. It's going to be a PIA to build there, though. If you plan very, very well and budget carefully (we'd use flooring, paint, furniture, counters, etc in standard sizes found at Home Depot or similar on STT) it seems you can do it without completely breaking the bank. But I don't know - I just don't want a dream to become a nightmare and before you know it we're tired of the island and the hassle. I know this has happened to many, but I'm unsure if it's because their expectations were too high, they didn't have adequate information or failed to properly plan.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 2:49 pm
Hiya!
(@Hiya!)
Trusted Member

Most HOA fees are not as high as people think. Insurance is usually half or more. I own a house and keeping it up to date inside and out easily costs what the rest of the HOA is for the year. If you are not handy or don't live on island the HOAs are very reasonable. At least as far as stx goes, never looked at stj HOAs.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 3:19 pm
ALW
 ALW
(@ALW)
Active Member

Thank you Hiya. I know insurance is typically a large portion of HOA costs. If we were ever to consider condo ownership, we'd have to wait longer to come down with 25-30% of the cost of the condo. We'd also consider STT for condo ownership, but not home ownership. I understand that condos don't appreciate nearly as much as homes. I'm afraid condo ownership on STJ is out of the question for us for the time being, cost-wise. Modest units at rentable places are in excess of $500K. We could build a small Deltec, no pool for less, including land costs. I've definitely run those numbers.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 3:25 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

If you can pay for your land and Deltec house construction out-of-pocket, and don't mind the risk, you don't have to factor in insurance. If you hope to insure a Deltec house, which isn't a masonry house, your wind insurance cost will likely be over $1,500/month.

I choose to live in the Caribbean in planning for my infinite future, to try to grow accustomed to the heat...

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Posted : June 27, 2011 4:30 pm
ALW
 ALW
(@ALW)
Active Member

dntw8up - thanks for that info. I was under the (perhaps mistaken) impression that Deltec homes cost less than traditional wood frame structures to insure precisely because of their design and proven effectiveness in surviving storms better than a "square" wood frame home. I am speaking with someone who owns a Deltec in the VIs soon and I'll be sure to ask that question.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 4:51 pm
ALW
 ALW
(@ALW)
Active Member

PS - any St. Thomas condo owners out there? This is another option we are considering and there appear to be plenty of well-priced units on the market these days. I'd be curious to speak to those who own in a variety of places, including Sapphire or Crystal Cove (I understand there are/were common area issues with an adjoining landholder), Point Pleasant, Mahogany Run, Regatta Point, etc.

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Posted : June 27, 2011 4:56 pm
loungestx
(@loungestx)
Advanced Member

If we had bought at the top of the mkt. I may have some misgivings but we bought OK so I am OK with that.
are there things I wish I had more control over? yes. Do I wish it was cheaper to keep? yes.
Am I glad we did it? YES!
Love it!
STX

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Posted : June 27, 2011 6:26 pm
C Urchin
(@C_Urchin)
Advanced Member

ALW,

I bought a lot on STT about 6 years ago and put off the clearing/building phase until I was a little more comfortable in life. Then, I couldn't resist - - - - I went and bought a condo at Point Pleasant with the sole purpose of renting it out while I am not visiting. The condo had to be completely remodeled it but it is now beautiful and ready to rent. . . . then, I looked around at my little condo and realized that I did not want to rent it out because I did not want other people ruining my things. . . . never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen!

But, I have no regrets for either purchase! And I love my little vacation spot!

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to PM me.

Thanks,
C Urchin

C Urchin

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Posted : June 27, 2011 8:05 pm
independent man
(@independent_man)
Advanced Member

Thank you Hiya. I know insurance is typically a large portion of HOA costs. If we were ever to consider condo ownership, we'd have to wait longer to come down with 25-30% of the cost of the condo. We'd also consider STT for condo ownership, but not home ownership. I understand that condos don't appreciate nearly as much as homes. I'm afraid condo ownership on STJ is out of the question for us for the time being, cost-wise. Modest units at rentable places are in excess of $500K. We could build a small Deltec, no pool for less, including land costs. I've definitely run those numbers.

STJ condo ownership may not be as out of the question as you think. Keep an eye on the "sold" prices rather than the "asking" prices. Units in solid developments are selling for considerably under the asking price. Most are languishing on market because the asking price doesn't reflect the current buyers market. There are sellers out there who have to sell. If you find a motivated condo seller, you can get a real value buy that reflects today's market.

On the other hand avoid STJ condo sellers who have mortgaged their units to the hilt in the "good old days" and can't sell for anything but yesterdays prices.

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Posted : June 28, 2011 11:44 am
terry
(@terry)
Expert

No, we don't rent ours out.
When we went down to purchase a condo, we wanted a two bedroom - two bath unit to put in the rental market. After looking at several units that were in the rental market we decided we didn't want anyone in our place. After having ours since 05 and seeing my neighboring rental units I am still of that mind set.
Check with CJ at Cilcia Builders, 340-998-9677 or 340-715-4303. www.caribbeanroundhouse.com They have built several Deltec homes on STT and would maybe come over to STJ to build yours. They would not come to STX but he was still very helpful with info including shipping costs.

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Posted : June 28, 2011 2:12 pm
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