Buying a House in The Virgin Islands
In this blog, we will discuss and cover buying a house in The Virgin Islands. In recent years, the United States Virgin Islands have seen an unprecedented boom in tourism, especially since money started trickling into the island through investments and tourism. This means that even the hospitality industry has directly benefited from this boom and, therefore, has created opportunities for all.
Even cruise ships worldwide have been docking on the island’s beaches, which tells you how serious the boom is. With increased tourism, the property market has also massively improved, as many tourists settle on the island. In this article, we want to look at why buying a property on the Virgin Islands could be the best decision, plus how you should go about it. But first, let’s look at some facts about these islands. In the following paragraphs, we will cover and discuss buying a house in the Virgin Islands.
Buying a House in The Virgin Islands With non-Traditional Home Loans
It is a no-brainer that a homebuyer with 800 credit scores, perfect credit, on-time payment history, no collections and charged-off accounts, no prior bankruptcy or foreclosure, and a low debt-to-income ratio can get a mortgage when buying a house in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, how about homebuyers who had a little dent in their credit?
Self-Employed Borrowers Buying a House in The Virgin Islands
How about the self-employed borrower who has an established business but utilizes the unreimbursed business expenses of the IRS tax code? How about the retiree who has worked hard all of their lives and is living off their assets? In the following paragraphs, we will especially focus on buying a house in the U.S. Virgin Islands with bad credit. We will also cover buying a house in the U.S. Virgin Islands with credit scores down to 500 FICO.
Some Facts About The Virgin Islands
The U.S Virgin Islands are a group of islands that are organized and recognized as part of the U.S territory. Geographically, these islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are found on the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, west of the British Virgin Islands and east of Puerto Rico.
The Islands in The Virgin Islands
In terms of composition, the U.S Virgin Islands has three main islands: Saint John, Saint Croix, and Saint Thomas, plus 50 other minor islands and cays, representing a total land area of about 134 square miles. The capital, Charlotte Amalie, is on Saint Thomas Island. This territory was sold to the U.S by Denmark in 1917 for $25,000,000 and has been a U.S territory since then.
What Is The Biggest Industry in The Virgin Islands
The biggest industry in the islands is tourism, with an estimated 3 million people visiting annually. The tourism industry contributes about 60% of the GDP. Other sectors of the economy include; small-scale manufacturing, rum production, and also agriculture. Here are more facts about the territory of the U.S Virgin Islands:
The Population of The U.S. Virgin Islands
The current population on these islands is about 105,100 people. Most of the population (76%) is African-American, while 15.6% is white. Others take up the remaining percentage.
Population Growth in The Virgin Islands
The population growth is currently at negative 0.5% per year.
Median Income in The U.S. Virgin Islands
The median house income is $40,600 on Saint John island, $38,200 on Saint Thomas Island, and $36,000 on Saint Croix Island.
Tax-Rate in The Virgin Islands
For property taxes, for any property worth up to $350,000, the tax rate is about 2%, and 5% for property exceeding that price tag. There are no local income taxes on the islands.
Education in The Virgin Islands
There are three high schools, two alternative schools, one middle school, and 13 elementary schools across the U.S Virgin islands. Generally, all these schools on the islands are above average.
The islands have a tropical climate, with temperatures throughout the year ranging between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. However, hurricanes are more likely to hit the islands during August and September.
What Are The Median Home Prices in The Virgin Islands
The median home listing price on Saint Thomas island is $560k, while the price per square foot is $440. In St Croix, property ranges from $300k to $700k
Renters vs. Owners
Due to the tax breaks, buying a home on the islands is logically beneficial compared to renting, which is why most property investors on the islands prefer to buy.
Why Invest In The Virgin Islands?
Capital tax breaks are one of the top reasons investors are flocking to the island’s property market. The U.S treasury announced and approved capital tax break zones to reduce taxes in specific areas on the islands. Also, the island’s government announced a property tax amnesty aimed at reducing the tax burden among property investors. If you invest in any of these areas, you will pay considerably low property taxes, unlike any other state in the United States.
Infrastructural projects – the kind of infrastructural projects undertaken on the islands should also tell you about the region’s future. As you know, infrastructure developments do always have a direct impact on property prices in that area. Projects are going on in St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John that have, in turn, increased job opportunities, thereby economic growth of the entire region. These projects range from pacing roads to reconstructing seriously damaged properties, businesses, and other crucial facilities like hospitals, schools, and electrical infrastructure.
High rental occupancy – as you can see from the points above, many people are coming to U.S Virgin Islands every year to the point where they have even outpaced hotel capacity. This means that demand for rentals is rising, making this the perfect opportunity for investors looking to invest in investment properties.
Tips For Buying Property in The Virgin Islands?
The truth is that buying property on the islands is the same as buying on the U.S mainland. From the buying process to how the title is handled, including all the guarantees and protections in the constitution. However, here are top tips to keep in mind when buying property, especially rental property.
How Do You Plan on Managing Your Rental Properties?
How you will manage the property – when you buy an investment property in the U.S Virgin Islands, you have to think about how you will manage it. The good news is that several property management firms and other experienced managers could help you actualize your dream of owning a rental property in this paradise.
Marketing Rental Property For Qualified Tenants
Marketing the property – compared to a couple of decades ago, marketing rental property in the U.S was quite hard and didn’t use to reach a wider audience. However, these days, with websites such as Airbnb, VBRO, and HomeAway, marketing has become quite easy. All you need to do is create an account on any of these websites and begin your marketing. You can also choose to market the property on social media since that’s where everyone is. And if you are looking to rent on the islands, you should as well head to these platforms to find a property that suits your needs.
Buying a Property in The U.S. Virgin Islands
How to fund the investment – you should know that mortgage is always available from local lenders. And as we have already said, most things on the islands are the same as that on the U.S mainland. This means that when it comes to mortgages, not only can you be able to get a mortgage. You can also apply for all types of mortgages in the U.S, including FHA, VA, Jumbo loans, conventional mortgages, and many more.
Hiring an Experienced Real Estate Agent
Get the needed help – if you are a renter looking for an apartment on the island, you should get much-needed help from local property agents, who would help you find the best property in the ideal location on the islands – based on your needs, of course.
Where You Should Look For Properties On The islands
When you come to the U.S Virgin Islands looking for property and areas to invest in, of course, you want to be in the best locations. So, here are the best places you buy or rent property on the islands.
The Island of St. Thomas Virgin Islands
St. Thomas – ST Thomas is the most inhabited island in the U.S Virgin Islands and is the most commercialized, not forgetting that it has become a regular stopping-off point for Caribbean cruise ships. The island is approximately 30-square miles and does have the most beautiful turquoise water and jungle cliffs, which makes it quite beautiful.
This, together with a wide range of restaurants, entertainment, and other fun activities, makes the island overrun by tourists eager to get a piece of it. When it comes to the property market on the island, you will find properties of all kinds, from luxury mansions to condos and villas. Even smaller properties for smaller families are plentiful, and actually, these ones range from 150,000USD to 250,000USD.
The Island of St. Croix
St. Croix – this is the largest island of the Virgin Islands by landmass and largely contains rainforests, sugar plantations, as well as old forts. The main towns on this island are relatively quiet and don’t have much going on. However, when it comes to property, it is a pretty nice place to live. Many homes sit on large pieces of land, which means you not only get the home, but you will also get land you can choose to cultivate. You will also find plenty of schools, medical centers, and shopping centers. So, if you are looking for a quiet life on the U.S Virgin islands, this is the place to be.
Summary and Final Thought
The Virgin Islands is one of the best places to buy property in the U.S and based on how the property market is growing. You should do it now. Properties are plenty in the islands, especially St. Croix and St. Thomas, and quite affordable. This might no longer be the case in the future. If you need any assistance on anything, you can always hire a local property agent and a resourceful mortgage broker, who have a proven track record and a wide network of contacts.
October 24, 2022 - 7 min read