U.S. Virgin Islands Real Estate
Known to travelers as “America’s Caribbean Paradise,” the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are comprised of three main islands — St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas — along with some 50 surrounding minor islands and cays.
Directly located south of Saint Thomas is Water Island, a small residential island which many consider as a fourth key destination.
Like many Caribbean destinations, visitors flock to the U.S. Virgin Islands to enjoy stretches of shimmering coral sand, sparkling emerald waters, and the yearlong “no off-season” beach weather. On top of these, the USVI has a rich multi-cultural legacy that lives on today in its colorful historic districts, picturesque architecture, delightful culinary options, and vivacious art and music scenes.
Having been an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States since 1917, individuals born in the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered US citizens. Moreover, American citizens do not need any passport or permit to visit, live in or work in the US Virgin Islands.
And since English is the dominant language and the prevailing currency is the U.S. Dollar, doing real estate transactions in the USVI can be so much easier to navigate for individuals of any nationality who wish to buy a vacation home or to retire in any of its beautiful, sun-kissed isles.
Who can buy property in the USVI?
While the real estate market in the U.S. Virgin Islands is largely driven by American buyers, there are no restrictions on overseas buyers. In fact, the government is quite supportive of foreign property investment.
Undoubtedly, it is one of the best places to buy U.S. property and the time to do it is now.
The USVI real estate market has experienced steady growth and resilience in recent years, especially as international travel and business activities return to their pre-pandemic pace.
Because of its vibrant tourism industry, the USVI has been attracting millions of holidaymakers each year, which in turn contributes to an increased demand for vacation rentals, making it a location of choice for property investors.
Aside from its lucrative real estate market, the USVI also presents buyers with appealing tax incentives (including tax breaks on capital gains, property taxes), as well as residency programs to those who qualify.
Buying process is simple
Buying real estate in the Virgin Islands is a relatively simple procedure that is identical to purchasing property in the U.S. mainland.
Find your dream property. If you are an overseas buyer, you can do your property search by going online and combing through listings posted by independent websites and realtors. Or you can simplify your search by working with a local real estate agent who knows the islands well and can help you meet your buying objectives.
With their access to the USVI’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS), professional realtors can offer you a wider selection of property choices, arrange viewings, and handle all the necessary paperwork on your behalf. A good place to find a local realtor is through The Virgin Islands Territorial Association of REALTORS® (VITAR), which has a membership of over 350 real estate professionals serving their local boards on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.
Make an offer. When you have found your desired property, the next step is to make an offer. Here is where your realtor can also be of great assistance. With their knowledge of prevailing market trends and prices, your agent can assist you in making a suitable offer and negotiating with the vendor.
Conduct due diligence. Once the offer is accepted, you will need to hire a lawyer to conduct thorough due diligence, and to either draft or review the purchase contract. At this point, it is also highly recommended to do a title search and a property inspection to make sure that everything is in place before you sign the contract. You will also want to obtain a Tax Clearance Letter from the USVI government to certify that the seller has no outstanding taxes on the property.
Signing and closing the deal. Upon signing the contract, it is typical to pay a deposit of 10% to 25% of the property value, with the balance paid during closing, when the deed is transferred to your name. Closings are usually handled by the lawyers of the contracting parties; neither the buyer nor the seller needs to be present.
Pay taxes and fees. The last step is to pay all required taxes and fees, which would include Recording Fees, Government Transfer Tax or Stamp Duty (usually divided between buyer and seller), legal fees, and real estate agent’s fees.
When applicable, you may also shoulder other fees such as appraisal costs and title insurance, as well as inspection and surveyor fees, if such services have been availed of in the buying process. Moving forward, there is also an annual property tax to be paid based on the assessed value of the property.
The Recorder of Deeds is the office responsible for recording all property deeds, mortgages, personal liens, tax liens, and other miscellaneous documents against individuals and property owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Moreover, ownership of property is protected by the same guarantees and constitutional rights that are implemented within the United States.
Get to know the islands
There is a wide variety of real estate property available in the USVI — from sprawling mansions to family homes, luxury beachfront condos, resort residences, and land on which you can build your own island sanctuary.
Property hunters will find that each of the three major islands carries its own distinct characteristic that appeals to different lifestyles.
St. Thomas is the gateway island to the USVI and home to the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. The most commercialized of the islands, it is a regular stopover for cruise ships and is considered the shopping capital of the Caribbean, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to its duty-free shops each year. St. Thomas also offers some of the best spots for exploring local dining, entertainment, culture and history. It is also home to the powdery white sands of Magens Bay, which has consistently been ranked among best beaches in the Caribbean. Its scenic roads are surrounded by wooded hills, and many properties enjoy amazing views of the island’s crystal clear waters and magnificent coastline.
St. Croix is the largest island and boasts of the only underwater national monuments in the United States—the Buck Island Reef National Park. It is also referred to as the “Twin City” because of its two historic main towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted. While more laidback than the other two islands, St. Croix is known for our stunning coral beaches, amazing dive spots, wide range of recreational activities, exquisite local cuisine, as well as world-class resorts, casinos and golf courses.
The smallest of the three primary U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John boasts of some of the most pristine underwater and terrestrial habitats in the Caribbean. More than half of the island is preserves as a National Park. A preferred destination for those seeking privacy and tranquility, its offers a diverse menu of activities for those who are passionate about communing with nature and experiencing outdoor adventures, from swimming and snorkeling in its crystal clear waters teeming with colorful marine life, to observing the diversity of its flora and fauna while walking through its over three dozen hiking trails.
Accessible mainly by boat or ferry, the main port is located on Cruz Bay, the island’s largest commercial center. St. John is also known as the heartland of luxury residential living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, earning it the moniker “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean”.
You can view some of the most amazing residences in the USVI through dedicated property websites such as Mansion Global, Realtor.com, or through the individual websites of accredited local real estate companies.
Let ERA help you find your home
Are you looking for a residence, a holiday home, or a vacation rental property in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Our team of trusted ERA real estate professionals would be more than happy to assist you!
For more information about working with ERA and for interested franchisees, please inquire below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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