Real estate investors and home buyers regularly flock to the US Virgin Islands, creating plenty of opportunities for home sellers like you. But before you list your home for sale, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Sell your home with a local realtor. The basic elements of the home selling process in St. Thomas may be the same as in mainland US, but it still pays to seek the advice and expertise of a local real estate agent.
While you can get information about selling in St. Thomas online, nothing beats the first-hand experience and knowledge of a USVI-based realtor.
- Know the associated costs and prepare for it. Selling your St. Thomas home might make you money, but you will also need to shell out funds for selling-related costs. These include attorney fees, the stamp tax paid to the USVI government, real estate commission, and survey costs, among other things.
- Structural and pest inspections are standard contingencies in the USVI. It is commonplace on St. Thomas to have thorough property inspections done before a sale is closed, especially if we’re talking about beachfront homes for sale.
If you want to avoid any hiccups in that stage, make sure to prepare your property for sale ahead of time. This includes investing in structural repairs and making necessary upgrades as needed.
- Leave the closing to the attorneys. Home selling in the USVI and mainland US differs in that in the islands, attorneys handle the closing instead of escrow companies.
Both you and your buyer will have your own respective lawyers to represent your interests. Your attorney will examine the contract of sale and handle other related paperwork needed for the sale to close. In case you can’t make it to closing day, your lawyer can also step in as your executor. As such, you will shoulder your own attorney fees.
- Closing can take up to three months. Depending on the type of transaction, closing a sale on St. Thomas can take anytime between one to three months, or more. It can take a while for a bank to secure an appraiser, and for Buyers to secure a surveyor. In addition, the paperwork can get backlogged in the Lt. Governor’s office which handles real estate transactions. When the market is busy, service providers can be backed up. We are, after all, a small island. Cash transactions are much faster and can usually be completed within a month.
- Staging your home helps. Home staging should be part of your marketing plan. It highlights the best aspects of the property, whether it be structural features or lifestyle options.
- You can stage the property yourself; there are many guides available online. But if you do want the expertise of a professional home stager, I can connect you with some great ones on St. Thomas.
A fresh coat of paint can really enhance your property. Make sure your colors are neutral though. De-cluttering and de-personalizing the home enables buyers to imagine themselves living in the house. Cleaning the whole property is also a must. Never make a Buyer regret walking into your home.