House Hunting on St. John: A Mountain Perch for $1.65 Million


This three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home sits on Bordeaux Mountain, simply exterior the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park, on the island of St. John within the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The home, referred to as Esprit Villa, was in-built 1995 on a half-acre plot about 1,000 ft above sea stage, with terraces on three ranges providing views of Coral Bay to the east.

“From each room in Esprit, the breezy view from Bordeaux Mountain to the islands in Sir Francis Drake Channel is what makes this villa so special,” mentioned Jan Courlas, a senior dealer affiliate with USVI Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the itemizing.

Built of concrete, with a galvanized roof, the 1,766-square-foot home withstood Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017; broken railings and gutters have been changed or repaired, Ms. Courlas mentioned.

Gingerbread fretwork provides it a quaint appeal, as does the country wall of native stone, speckled with seashells, that surrounds the property. From a six-car parking space, a 20-foot wooden bridge results in the entrance porch, which has a seating space.

The lobby has a half rest room and a laundry space, and results in an open-plan nice room, with slate ground tiles and double-height cypress ceilings. To the left are an open kitchen, with a travertine backsplash and countertop, and the eating space. To the best are the lounge and an open nook used as a examine.

Double doorways from the good room open to the lined higher terrace, which has eating and sitting areas. The complete residing house, in and out, is greater than three,000 sq. ft.

From the good room, a mahogany staircase leads right down to a lobby connecting two bedrooms with en suite baths, each of which have entry to the decrease deck. One rest room has a big window with views of the backyard; the opposite has an out of doors bathe.

“You can step out of doors and see the moon and stars at night — in the shower,” Ms. Courlas mentioned.

The third bed room, which additionally has en suite tub, is considerably smaller and has an out of doors bathe. It may be reached from the backyard and from the higher tales by exterior stairs.

Tropical vegetation, together with Christmas palms, ixora, bougainvillea and oleander, shade the yard. A solar-heated pool anchors the rear deck. Amenities embody solar-heated water, two cisterns, air-conditioning within the bedrooms, a generator, a water-filtration system, a hurricane-proof basement room, hurricane-grade home windows and a shutter system that protects the home throughout storms.

In winter, St. John’s excessive season, Esprit Villa has been rented for $three,900 to $four,400 every week for as much as six folks, Ms. Courlas mentioned. It is being offered furnished.

Hiking alongside Bordeaux Mountain Trail is a well-liked exercise within the space, as are water sports activities. Maho Bay Beach is lower than 10 minutes away by automobile, Ms. Courlas mentioned, and the closest city, Coral Bay, is about 5 minutes. The island’s largest city, Cruz Bay, is 20 minutes west. St. John doesn’t have an airport; Cyril E. King Airport, on neighboring St. Thomas, is about 90 minutes away by ferry and automobile.

St. John, with round 5,000 residents, is the smallest of the three fundamental U.S. Virgin Islands, after St. Thomas and St. Croix. With a nationwide park unfold over a lot of the island, land and properties are scarce. “As a result, home prices are generally much higher than elsewhere in the territory, but fluctuate significantly from year to year, given the low number of sales,” in keeping with a 2019 report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“St. John has always been the most expensive island of all three,” said Belton E. Jennings III, the chief executive officer of the Virgin Islands Territorial Association of Realtors. “It holds its value because it is preferred by well-heeled buyers.”

The island is still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which caused extensive property damage in September 2017. Afterward, homeowners at all price points “really wanted to get out of the market,” said Nick Van Assche, an owner of Sea Glass Properties, a luxury agency in the U.S. Virgin Islands with offices on St. John.

Corby Parfitt, a broker and owner of USVI Sotheby’s International Realty, said that newer homes tend to suffer less damage in hurricanes because of “improved construction methodologies and tighter building codes.”

He added: “There were a number of distressed properties sold by owners who had settled their insurance claims and were ready to move on. But by and large, normal market pricing was restored within first six months after the storms,” with single-family homes starting at around $500,000 and luxury properties starting at about $2 million and “going up to the eight-figure range.”

From 2013 to 2016, an average of 50 homes on St. John sold every year, for an average price of about $1.05 million, according to data from the St. John MLS system. In 2018, the year after the storms, 65 homes sold. That slowed a bit in 2019, with 55 homes selling for an average of $1.09 million.

The post-hurricane spike in sales, Mr. Parfitt said, was “attributable to the inevitable turnover that always follows such an event.”

The island’s most expensive properties have been slower to move. According to MLS data, more than 100 homes are currently available for more than $1 million, while only seven are priced from $250,000 to $500,000.

These days, Mr. Van Assche said, prospective luxury buyers are asking more practical questions: “What are the operating expenses and what kind of rental income can I get?”

At the affordable end of the market, Coral Bay, on the island’s eastern side, has long been a buyer’s market, even before the storms. It is more remote and less dense with amenities, but that is starting to change, Mr. Van Assche said, with the opening of new businesses, like a floating taco bar.

“Coral Bay is full of opportunity right now. You’re going to find some really good deals,” he said. “It’s on the quieter side of the island, and it’s less discovered.”

Most buyers on St. John are from the United States, Mr. Parfitt said, and are looking for vacation homes.

But there has been a recent generational shift, Mr. Van Assche noted, with younger people — in their late 30s through early 50s — buying properties from baby boomers who invested in the 1990s and 2000s.

Foreigners and American citizens can own property on St. John without restrictions, said Rafael F. Muilenburg, the managing partner of Morrisette & Muilenburg, a St. John law firm.

The buyer’s closing costs are usually less than 5 percent of the sale price, including a transfer tax that can be negotiated with the seller, he said. Buyers should do proper due diligence, get title insurance and do a survey if there isn’t a current one.

“All of this has a lot to do with the uniqueness of the land and neighborhoods and properties here,” Mr. Muilenburg said.

Because of the topography, differences in views and wind, neighborhood variations and other nuances, very few properties are the same, making comparable appraisals a challenge. And with some properties passed down through generations, title research is essential, he said.



Source link Nytimes.com

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