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Why don't people care for their homes?

(@peachey)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

I've been looking at real estate listing in the area, just to get an idea for the market. It has become overwhelming clear that people just don't care for their homes. Most look rundown, or even some on the brink of what I would consider a tear down. I realize that home improvement materials are probably limited, on STX anyway. STT has a home depot. It just seems there is an overall lack of pride in ownership.

Conditions are rough on houses, but they just don't seem to care.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 5:26 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

One really has to work at it. This climate definitely can make things challenging with salt air, mold, mildew, etc.

It's expensive to hire people to do good work and have them do a good job, if you can't or don't have the skills and time to do it for yourself.

I've been maintaining 2 properties, my own home and a rental home, paying 2 property tax bills a year for each while the VI government catches up on bringing us to date after a lawsuit stopped them issuing property tax bills for a few years, plus paying homeowners insurance on 2 properties and I have to say, it's been challenging and exhausting.

Finding affordable help that does it right the first time is the hardest.

The majority of homes for sale will need work and/or updating unless you're paying $$$$$$$$$$$$ big buck$.

There not that many neighborhoods that have a homeowners association and our zoning laws and regulations are hardly ever enforced, properly. You can have a gorgeous home on a beautiful, well cared for lot and the neighbor's place looks like a dump.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 5:57 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

No, you won't see too many white picket fences and immaculately groomed gardens here. Keeping the bush at bay and dealing with the effect of salt air is a never-ending task but to come to an assumption based on some real estate ads or even on a drive-around that people don't care is a very false one. Most of the locals don't carry mortgages and build their homes sometimes over many years as they put together the money. Excavate, put in cistern, build first floor and then move in there while the concrete roof can sit for several years with rebar sticking up waiting for the accrual of money to start on a second floor.

If you want immaculate then sink several million into a project and be wealthy enough to afford a regular bevy of handymen and landscapers to keep it up to your standards.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 6:04 pm
(@peachey)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

No, you won't see too many white picket fences and immaculately groomed gardens here. Keeping the bush at bay and dealing with the effect of salt air is a never-ending task but to come to an assumption based on some real estate ads or even on a drive-around that people don't care is a very false one. Most of the locals don't carry mortgages and build their homes sometimes over many years as they put together the money. Excavate, put in cistern, build first floor and then move in there while the concrete roof can sit for several years with rebar sticking up waiting for the accrual of money to start on a second floor.

If you want immaculate then sink several million into a project and be wealthy enough to afford a regular bevy of handymen and landscapers to keep it up to your standards.

I want to be clear, I wasn't trying to be rude. I was just hoping for an explanation, and your post helped to inform. For me it wasn't so much the landscaping, or even the exterior of the homes (as those can take a beating from the elements), it was more the interiors where cabinet doors are broken, tile is missing, unfinished areas. Your explanation helps with that as well. If someone is doing everything themselves and only doing work as finances allow, then I can imagine that projects would somewhat always look like they were in a state of unfinished.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 6:11 pm
(@anonny-mouse)
Posts: 48
Eminent Member
 

It all depends on what price range you are looking in. I have watched real estate for years on STX, and in general this is how I see it:

Homes over $400k- Most are move in ready, in nice neighborhoods, requiring little to no work. For $500+ the places get much nicer.

Homes $300-$400K- most are move in ready in decent neighborhoods, but may require some work- updating kitchens and bath, maybe patch a concrete crack here and there. These homes are the equivalent to what I consider starter homes in the states.

Homes $200-$300K- There are some nicer ones at the top end with quality and condition dropping from there. Location begins to be hit or miss. You can definitely find some deals here and there in this price range, but many will require a fair amount of work to be done. Often some of the formerly grand older homes that have deteriorated can be picked up in this range.

$100-$200K- Fixer-uppers and those in less desirable neighborhoods, or the occasional little house that might be ok. Some of the cistern/downstairs apartment only homes ready to build up fall in this category. Many need $50-$75k or more to be brought up to par.

Under $100K: Lot with Cistern and slab, maybe severe hurricane damaged structure that can be built/rebuilt.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 6:37 pm
(@afriend)
Posts: 525
Honorable Member
 

Well, I think it all boils down to the cost involved in maintaining a home and what I jokingly refer to as the Catch-22 of life in the Caribbean. Namely, the high cost of living coupled with a lower than average wage standard (when compared with stateside living) make it difficult for the average person to adequately maintain their homes.

As previously pointed out the environmental conditions such as proximity to the sea, salt air, winds, strong sun, heat, mildew, fading paints, frequent heavy (but usually short) rainfalls all contribute to a high level of wear and tear on an island home. You'd be amazed at how quickly the tropical elements can cause deterioration in a home - much, much fasted than stateside.

Materials needed for upkeep and repairs, both indoors and out, are available on all of the islands but they are costly and a great many people don't have the discretionary income that allows them to adequately maintain their homes. They are often working 2 or 3 jobs just to get by on the basics, let alone have extra time and money to repair, re-paint or re-fabric their homes.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 6:43 pm
(@peachey)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

Afriend- Thanks for that breakdown. Much appreciated, and helped answer my question for sure. I did see a vast difference in the higher priced homes, which makes sense.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 6:55 pm
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2935
Famed Member
 

Another plausible reason: A home being built in the VI doesn't attract property taxes until completion reaches a certain point. Which is to say that you'll see many unfinished looking homes with people comfortably living in them because if they finish them, they'll have to start paying property taxes. I am unclear as to what point a home is okay to move into to but not completed enough to pay taxes. However, I'm told by a Realtor friend that there are hundreds of houses in the this neither here nor there status.

Alana33...anything on this?

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 7:42 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

Not that I've heard of, as to occupy a dwelling one has to obtain a CO/Certificate of Occupancy. Once you have that, even if another floor needs to be finished, it should be taxable for property taxes.
I may be wrong but that's my take on it. That doesn't mean that there wouldn't be some buildings that are occupied without obtaining a CO but the percentage would be very small, IMO.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 8:07 pm
(@speee1dy)
Posts: 8871
Illustrious Member
 

some houses were damaged during hurricanes and have not been repaired. maybe the cost is too high?

oh, btw-we have a home depot and at least 3 other places where you can get building materials

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 8:22 pm
(@peachey)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

some houses were damaged during hurricanes and have not been repaired. maybe the cost is too high?

oh, btw-we have a home depot and at least 3 other places where you can get building materials

I figured there had to be some place to buy materials. Other posts above have explained very well. The lack of fund, lack of time, harsh conditions, it all makes sense.

After reading these, I'm sure it isn't that they don't care, they just don't have the means to be able to keep up with it.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 8:33 pm
(@rmb2830)
Posts: 447
Reputable Member
 

currently a house under construction for a long period of time has a gradually increasing assessment, and increasing property taxes. We've seen them increase, even without an interior inspection, and know of several where the building has been going on for years. And lots have someone living in them long before a CO is issued, as that can't be obtained till all the necessary work is finished.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 8:34 pm
Dante
(@dante)
Posts: 256
Reputable Member
 

I agree with all of the explanations above .

I also feel that culturally it is not as important here to " keep up with the Joneses" , some would consider it showing off or "too flashy" just my opinion of course.

Seems to be less importance placed on how properties look both inside and out here.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 8:56 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

I agree, Dante. Well said.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 9:15 pm
(@peachey)
Posts: 36
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

I agree with all of the explanations above .

I also feel that culturally it is not as important here to " keep up with the Joneses" , some would consider it showing off or "too flashy" just my opinion of course.

Seems to be less importance placed on how properties look both inside and out here.

Very well said. I don't think there is a problem with a "i don't care what others think" mindset.

 
Posted : March 10, 2015 9:21 pm
(@Scubadoo)
Posts: 2437
Noble Member
 

I'd expect WAPA would not provide electric service to new construction until after CO.is issued.

 
Posted : March 11, 2015 2:13 am
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

And remember this is hurricane country. Many people who have lost homes and possessions due to a storm prefer to keep things simple and basic, because they learned to appreciate that life and loved ones are more important than things.

Living through a major storm can change your perspective.

 
Posted : March 11, 2015 6:10 am
(@nohstx)
Posts: 138
Estimable Member
 

I'd expect WAPA would not provide electric service to new construction until after CO.is issued.

Initially, a temporary meter is installed since it is pretty much a prerequisite to have power available at the site during the construction phase. The permanent meter goes in upon completion, but it is pretty easy to power a downstairs apartment or whatever using temporary power.

 
Posted : March 11, 2015 7:25 am
(@stjohnjulie)
Posts: 1057
Noble Member
 

All really good comments already. Another thing I have notice (as is in my own home) is that a lot of the people who live here don't use AC, so they have their windows open most of the time and there is just a lot of dirt and dust that you have to deal with. Just regular ol' dirt and dust, and sometime Sahara dust and volcanic ash. Mix in the humidity and all that stuff sticks to whatever it lands on. The high humidity will also cause wood to swell and crack (cabinets and such) and the salt in the air will cause metal to rust (hardware) so things look old and worn before their time. Also, the UV rays are torture on exterior surfaces and paint looks bad in a short amount of time.

 
Posted : March 11, 2015 8:21 am
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