Real Estate Agent/Broker
We are wanting to relocate to St Thomas after we retire. BUT we are planners and though we will not be actually moving for about 10 years, we want to start the process of finding land, designing the home, and getting construction complete. We are coming down in a few months and would like an agent show us around, and a few places, so we can confirm where on the island we would like to purchase. I know that sounds like a waste of time, but I have many realtor friends (unfortunately none with connections in St Thomas) who say that a good agent would not mind this kind of appointment as they know it is sowing the seeds for future business. Well, this all sounds great but I'm having a hard time finding a real estate agent willing to help us, I've sent multiple emails to many companies I've found on the internet with no response. Does anyone have any recommendations on good agents on the island that would be willing to work with us? We are coming down with a few other couples, and I know at least one other couple is interested in relocating in the future as well.
Thanks for any assistance or advice!
I think it is your time line that is turning RE agents off. 10 years is a long time just for planning.
Are you thinking of purchasing your property now and then building sometime later as you get closer to your retirement date? If so, then why don't you just tell the RE Agents that you are interested in purchasing a buildable lot. There's no need to tell them you aren't going to build for several more years.
If, however, your intention is just to "look" at properties and not purchase for several years then it is certainly understandable why RE agents are reluctant to help you. They work on commission and are often short sighted. They know that the majority of people who "dream" about coming to the islands sometime off in the future never make the move. The agents have no idea how serious YOU are and in their mind you are just a tire kicker waiting their time. Besides, they might not even be in the business when you are ready to pull the trigger so "sowing the seeds" does them no good.
If you fall into the latter category and plan to purchase property a few years from now and just want to get an idea of what's available in your price range now, your best option is to just come for your visit and link up with a RE agent and see what they have in their inventory - after all you are "just planning".
Now to comment on your time line - we didn't start the design process until after we purchased our property. We spent several years traveling the Caribbean before determining what island we want to live on. Once that was done we concentrated on finding the piece of property that was right for us. That only took a few weeks. From then on, it took us a couple of months to choose an architect. Once we engaged his services, it too k about 9 months to finish the design process. Add another couple months to identify a couple of reputable builders and get bids for the project. After choosing our contractor, we started to build and the home was completed 18 months later. Bottom line, you are looking at about 2 years (not 10years ) from the time you have your property until you are ready to move into your house.
One caveat - it pays to have deep pockets - building a home in the Caribbean is not for the budget minded. We were behind schedule and over budget almost from groundbreaking. Depending on the complexity of your home you can expect the finished costs to be anywhere from 25% to 50% more that your best pre-construction estimates.
Good luck with following your dream.
Afriend, very good input. My wife and my experience in ultimately buying a seasonal retirement home on St. Croix started when I was about 2.5 years from retirement. We had traveled to a number of different islands in the Caribbean over 30 years and finely concluded being in a US Territory was best and for us St. John was too small (only 5,000 people and expensive) and St. Thomas was too crowded, plus I had good memories of St. Croix from a family vacation during the 1960’s. BTW, St. John would likely be my recommendation to someone asking about which island to visit for a weeks vacation, but not to spend 6 months a year.
Back to our experience, we started with thinking we would buy land, as building was the best way to get exactly what we wanted, partly because there are some great options on raw land at reasonable prices. Once we spoke to several people on costs, timeline and the absolute need to be on island during the construction process we switched our strategy to finding an existing home that met our needs. Keep in mind my wife and I have built 3 homes over the course of our marriage so we’re seasoned when it comes to building.
Our house search was remarkably short, call it luck. We had a specific requirement of having a guest cottage for family and friends on the property and ended up finding a truly lovely property that has 2 separate cottages. This has allowed us to have someone living in one cottage, looking after the property while we’re off island. My point being there are some excellent properties that should meet your individual requirements if you’re patient and diligent. Good luck in your search.
Sounds like OP wants something for nothing. If you want a valuable and unbiased information it’s best to pay for it as opposed to getting a freebie from realtor. I would also question the value of this information obtained from realtor. They are here to sell properties so they will show you whatever you want to see but they are not programmed for stopping you from buying a wrong property. This is especially true in VI.
There are a lot of unique factors applicable to choosing wisely in VI.
Only on St Thomas will you see real estate offices closed on weekends because, hey, realtors gotta go boating, too. ?
Also, the best way to know where you want to live is to visit frequently and experience life on island.
Unless you're actually ready to make a purchase don't waste your time or that of the realtor if you're not as then the property you may like may not be available when you are finally ready to commit to a purchase.
If you are fully committed at this time, pm me for name of an excellent and knowledgeable broker.
No tire kickers, please!
I would suggest hiring a taxi for a day tour of the island.
That is an excellent idea! The OP can look up lots on MLS and see where they are located. You don't really need a realtor to go look at lots, unless they are in a gated community. Otherwise you can go yourself and check them out!
Taxi is a great idea if your only goal is to see what type of building lots might be available and checking online MLS listing will give you an idea of asking prices. None of this, however, will be very relevant if you are looking at 10years in the future. Lots may no longer be available and one can only guess what prices will be in 10 years.
Forget the taxi, rent a Jeep.
Property for sale could be anywhere. Taxis won’t tackle questionable dirt roads. You’ll be amazed at how many million dollar homes and fabulous parcels are available at the end of terribly eroded, dirt roads.
You can search the MLS and enjoy exploring on your own.
We will have a rental so we are for sure taking the week to do that!
Thanks for your reply!
We do plan on buying land within the year, maybe I'm just too honest about our process. 🙂 yes I'm totally sure that they get cold leads, but truly not something I thought about when writing those emails. It's taken us a while to decide this is where we want to land, and we are they type that it should've happened yesterday once we have decided. We want to buy the land now so it's paid off in 5ish years before we start the design process, so we are paying on a minimal remainder of construction by they time we are out there. I am an Architect and my husband is a Structural Engineer (though neither of us has transferred our license yet to the islands) and have many connections in the other disciplines, so we don't expect the design process to take too long as we will already know what we want to do, and will just need the official sign off.
Your advice was very helpful, again thanks for the reply! Maybe we all should meet up in person when we are there to head us off at the pass before we make any other faux pas ;-p. We have no intention of angering any locals that are going to be our future neighbors!