Video of the week

We were fortunate to be donated some amazing drone and underwater footage by one of our very talented clients.  We have just started going through this stuff and cut together this little teaser.  Check back for regular videos showcasing the beauty of St John and the lifestyle that goes along with it.  Contact us today to Plan the Vacation of a Lifetime or a Lifetime of Vacation

CHOOSE TO BE LUCKY!!

 

Daytrip to Virgin Gorda

On St John, which is centrally located to all of the Virgin Islands, we are fortunate to have easy access to some pretty incredible places.  In my many years of captaining day sail charters out of Coral Bay I got to spend a lot of time at some of the most secluded and stunningly beautiful destinations.  Some of them just a mile or two from the house, others within a day trip distance. 

Traveling between islands is traveling between worlds. 

Virgin Gorda's famed "Baths" is one of those day trip spots and is nothing short of spectacular.  The impossible sized stones piled on white sand beach create pools, caverns and valleys of turquoise water.  One can feel the age of the earth under and among boulders that big.  

 

Getting there Tips

17 miles to Windward(from Coral Bay -longer from Cruz Bay) can be a a long way.  On a breezy day it can be a challenge to make it there.  The good news is, if you try and go and can not make it, there are lots of other destinations to go to on those days.  If you are lucky enough to make it, be humble, be careful and go early or late to avoid the crowds

Snorkeling the Virgin Islands National Park

St John is stunning and special for many reasons, but the Virgin Islands National Park is probably one of the most important.  The Virgin Islands National Park encompasses nearly 70% of St John by land.  Being the largest land holder on St John has a profound affect on the island, it’s politics, it’s culture and it’s jaw dropping natural beauty.  The National Park’s protection of St John’s tremendous natural resources and scenery is why our beaches are so pristine, and why the demand for St John as a tourist destination remains so high.  Not to mention the undeniable fact that the VINP not only maintains property values, but drives continued appreciation of the Real Estate Market on St John. 

Just a small piece of the Land and Water's Protected by the Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

Just a small piece of the Land and Water's Protected by the Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

What you might not know about the park, is that it also includes over 5650 acres of submerged lands which protect the Coral Reefs and diverse collection of animal species that inhabit our shores.  In addition to the huge acreage held by the park, The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument adds another 12,700 acres to that! 

This protection makes St John an amazing destination for Snorkeling and Diving.  Don’t like to snorkel, no worries, you can easily enjoy the marine life that lives the slow life here in the tropics from the beach or from the boat.  For those that do want to snorkel, we are always asked where is the best. 

We have put together our favorite 8 snorkel spots in no particular order below.  Check these out and tell us yours!

Photo by Leah Randall - Co Owner of Flyaway Charters out of Coral Bay

1. Waterlemon Cay – Park at Annaberg ruins and hike 1 flat mile toward the cay.  Snorkel around the entire island if you are a strong swimmer or just float and enjoy some amazing Coral and tons of Fish.  There can be a current some days on the back side

2. Haulover Bay – Park at Haulover beach and enjoy the southside easily without a walk, or more advanced walk to the Northside and snorkel to the east for Stunning Coral.

3.  Salt Pond – Hike down to Salt pond beach is about 1/4 mile.  Turtles, Rays and some great Coral out deeper. 

4. Maho Bay – Park in the parking lot at the east end of the beach, Right across the street swim straight out toward the dinghy channel markers (red and green).  Look for large turtles feasting on sea grass with Ramoras on their backs and Rays swimming underneath.

Below Photo's except Turtle, by Leah Randall

5.  Flanagan Island and New Found Bay – Getting out on the water in a boat is a must do for any Virgin Islands Vacation.  These two stunning snorkel spots are only accessible by boat.  We recommend Flyaway Charters.  Captain Colin and I spent years taking tourists to these spots and awing our customers with the deep clear water and amazing Coral Structures.   Colin is still doing it and this is a trip that should not be missed!

6.  Hurricane Hole – This is another spot best reached by boat, contact Flyaway charters for the best guided snorkel of this area.  It can also be reached by shore.  Park along the mangroves at areas where people have clearly parked before.  Climb through the mangroves and get into the water.  Snorkel close to the root systems and be careful not to stir up the water.  Look into the roots for tiny versions of the large reef fish you know and tons of other interesting things like anemones, crabs, shrimp, seahorses and starfish

7.  Windswept point – Snorkel out of trunk bay to the east around the point– life guards may try to stop you, but if you are a good swimmer and the North Swell is not up, this can be amazing.  

8.  Gibney Beach – Park along road at Oppenheimer beach gate.  Walk down the driveway. Tons of great reef and then snorkel to the east along the coast for some private pocket beach stops

New Company, New Listings

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Thanks to your business and support, we are thrilled to announce the formation of UNIQUE ISLAND ASSETS our new Real Estate Brokerage on St John.

Running our own brokerage provides us with the ability to offer a more robust suite of real estate services.  We now have greater flexibility and opportunities for creativity and innovation in marketing so that we can better serve our client's real estate needs. Pairing our brokerage with our existing property management company is the perfect match to offer our customers and clients 100% coverage for their real estate needs on St John.

Since forming Unique Island Assets 2 weeks ago we already have two amazing new listings!!

SEAROCK - $1,600,000MLS # 17-105

SEAROCK is one of those must have homes: A solid craftsman built custom villa with big blue views spilling into every room. This conveniently located yet private home has a delicately finished masonry build on the lower level and elegant hand made post and beam design upstairs with high end finishes in excellent condition. French doors open to the stepped down covered porch, which allows unobstructed ocean views into the beautiful great room with stainless steel chef’s kitchen and spacious living room. The breezy covered veranda with travertine floors is the kind of place you could sit forever. Outdoor spaces feature carved teak panels, a fish pond, slate patios and mosaic stone tile work surrounded by natural rock walls and outcroppings. MUST SEE THIS HOME!!

SUNSET COVE - $819,000MLS #17-106

''Sunset Cove'', a very private and charming masonry home in Chocolate Hole East, offers stunning sunset views to the west over Chocolate Hole Bay above Pillsbury Sound to St. Thomas. Currently configured as a 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental home on two levels it has wonderful opportunity for immediate expansion with a 4th bedroom that is now used for owners' storage. There is a large covered deck with outdoor dining table and comfortable hammock on the upper level, plus another expansive open deck on the lower level with a delightful new hot tub and wet bar plus another comfortable hammock for more lounging and relaxing. A third deck is located directly off the kitchen with a barbeque area. This property has deeded access to two beaches at Chocolate Hole and Hart Bay.

Searock's main feature besides meticulous construction, easy access and perfect condition is the fact there is a view from every room and every part of the home.

We are very excited about both of these listings and have already been scheduling showings.  CONTACT US now for more details on these homes. 

Many clients know us for our exceptional service that goes above and beyond. Now, with our own real estate brokerage, we can offer an even higher quality of service.

Our services include:

  • Real estate Sales and Purchases– Homes, Condos, Land, Timeshare, Business Opportunities and Commercial

  • Real estate home staging

  • Local real estate market reports, CMA’s and data/document collection

  • Local real estate market expertise and guidance

  • Real estate professional referrals (for those moving to another state or country)

  • Real estate leasing (commercial, industrial, retail, residential)

  • Detailed Professional Property Management – From simple bi-monthly walkthroughs to Full Service Management

  • Meticulous Home care service. Maintenance, Landscaping, Pool and Hot tub Care, Professional housekeeping, improvements and repairs, electrical, plumbing, painting, carpentry, appliance repair and more…. As the shirts our staff wears say, “Problem Solved”


Do you have a unique real estate issue that you need assistance with? We are happy to work with you to find solutions.

I greatly value the business and personal relationship I have with you and hope that you will consider contacting me for any of your future real estate needs. My updated contact information is below

Best Wishes,

Jared Warren

Jared Warren
Owner – Broker – Captain
Unique Island Assets
Detailed Professional Realty & Property management

www.stjohnhomesandvillas.com
340-626-8229
Jared@stjohnhomesandvillas.com


Jared is the President Elect of the St John Board of Realtors



Be sure to connect with us on Social Media
https://www.facebook.com/stjohnhomesandvillas
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jared-warren-7a9a9134
https://twitter.com/StJohnVillas1
http://instagram.com/stjohnhomesandvillas1

We Love Our Guests

We love our guests.  Visitors to St John are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  They love our island with a passion.  They follow every social media update about every topic that covers St John.  Their desktop is photo of St John.  Some have a “beach bar” set up in their yards or basements. Some even engage in local politics. Most develop life long love affairs with St John, coming back every year or even sometimes multiple times a year.  Some people yell it to the heavens about how great it is.  Others keep it close to their chest so no one else will find out.

Tourists are funny people.  Do they drive us crazy?  Of course!!  Even so, we happily help make their trip special and keep them coming back.  We get the craziest requests and calls sometimes.  Sometimes I have to leave my dinner hot on the table to help them out. Sometimes they call for extra blankets because they like the AC too cold.  Sometimes they call to report about Iguanas poaching the pool.  Sometimes they call because they hit the wrong button on the remote and just want to watch Judge Judy.  They call when they get flat tires or lose their keys.  They call when goats get stuck inside the fence.  They call because they cannot figure out for the life of them how to open a coconut or cook a lobster. 

The point is, they can call and we will always answer.  

Now, most people read some reviews before booking a house.  I have said it before, don’t read them!  Or do, that’s fine, they are all good.  What you cannot read before booking is the guest book entries.  That is where I find the most insightful “reviews” of their trip. 

We wanted to share some quotes from some of our guest books with you to give you an idea about how our guests feel after a stay in one of our homes.     Enjoy!

“Thank you for providing such a lovely comfortable home for our St John stay.  You were wonderful about answering our questions…we had only done Skinny Legs and Salt Pond in our previous St John visit so we really enjoyed staying on and exploring the other side of the island with your recommendations.  The fresh pineapple and coconut were amazing.” -- Dan and Kathy and Family

“Only Good times, people and experiences we had while here.  Thank you for making this possible for us.  We love you for that!” -- The Kucher Family

“Words can not begin to describe the amazing time we have had on this beautiful island.  The villa was magnificent, convenient and comfortable.  This will be such a memorable experience for our whole family.  WE will definitely be back.”  -- John, Jill, Eric, Tom, Linda and Samantha

“Our first trip to St John will not be our last.  The villa was perfect and so relaxing.  Heading back to the snow with wonderful memories” --The New Hampshire Goodwin's

“Once again, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring this absolutely beautiful island!!  This is the kind of house you want to stay in forever.  This trip was particularly special because we shared it with out 22 month old son and his grandparents” -- The Frank Family

“Had the best vacation ever!  You have thought of everything right down to the comfortable bed and top notch bedding we will be back”  --  Jenny and Jon

“The house was perfect.  The gardens beautiful.  This place will always be special to us.  This week we start our new journey in life as an engaged couple.”  -- Stevie and Jenna

“It has been a rough 3 years and our stay here has helped bring us closer together and we feel so united and at peace.  Thank you for providing such an amazing villa for us”  --  Tom, Karen, Jason, Kylie and Tucker

Let us know if you would like to get the chance to write in one of our guest books... Or call us to fix the TV .... or just catch a drink at happy hour and talk about Real Estate....or whatever.   Talk to you soon

 

2016 St John Real Estate Market in Review

This stunning home was practically stolen.  Sold for $1.65M, this beautifully built 4 bedroom 4.5 Bath has a total of 6500 square feet on over a half acre with 180 degree views, and this amazing pool deck.  We had so much fun helping these buyers find this home and get through the closing process. 

What a whirlwind of a year!!!  2016 was an exciting and busy year for us.  More and more buyers are starting to show interest in purchasing Real Estate on St John and 2016 proved that.  We saw some amazing deals go through and last year proved to us that although things are certainly picking up, deals can be had keeping it a Buyer's Market.   The number of homes sold in 2016 was up 39% to 53 total sales from the previous year!  Sold Volume was way up as well up 35% to a total of over $55 Million. 

With 53 home sales in 2016 the market showed a lot of strength.  2016 matched the 3rd best year for Real Estate in the history of St John in number of homes sold.

Total volume of homes sold on St John increased by 35% over 2015 sold volume. 

It is still a buyers market with plenty of inventory, and more affordable homes on the market then ever before.  The deals to be had and affordable homes available helped keep the average price of homes nearly flat for the last 4 years.  It should be considered that some of the big blips in this chart can be attributed to extremely large sales, like the $14M sale of Presidio Del Mar in Peter Bay in 2011, a year that saw only 27 sales, the next closest being a home for $3.5M.

When looking at other segments of the market we also saw some positive trending and significant sales in the Condo, Land and Commercial Markets. 

CONDOS

Although the total number of condo sales was down in 2016 from 12 to 10, the total sold volume rose 30% with average sold price rising 56% to $569,300

LAND

Similarly, land sales in total number were down 13% in 2016 over 2015, but the total volume rose 28% and the average sales price rose 48%.

COMMERCIAL

Much of the commercial transactions this year were non MLS transactions.  One major transaction not on the MLS in 2016 was the sale of Wharfside Village.  Many bars and restaurants, including the Beach Bar also changed hands in 2016.  Overall the story from MLS data about commercial listings is that the median sales price rose over 113%.  People are moving here and buying businesses, and they are paying more for them by nearly double from the previous year. 

The substantial multi use waterfront commercial complex known as Wharfside Village on St John sold in 2016.  This quiet sale will undoubtedly be the most significant Commercial Real Estate transaction on St John for some time.

Overall, when looking at the 4 main segments of the St John Real Estate Market (Homes, Land, Condos, Commercial) combined, we saw a total increase in transactions up 6%.  Total Volume was up 32% to $74.2 Million.  Average Sales Price was up 25%.  

All data presented is for MLS sales.  Deals done outside of the MLS were not included. 

This stunning home on the East End closed at $2.35M.  Worth Every penny!

One of the best deals this year, at $530,000 the new buyer of this home got not only a charming multi unit rental with a great view, the property also had a significant foundation and cistern in place for the buyer to finish the "Main Home" on the property.

Even at well below the average sold price of a home on St John, one lucky buyer got into to this home for just $800,000 with huge views, a great pool and a masonry built home.  Deals are out there!

We look at the market every day on St John and have been in nearly every home currently listed.  See a property you are interested in and need more information?  Contact us today or call 340-626-8229 to reach Jared directly on his cell to schedule a live Face Time tour. 

Information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. © 2017 MLS and FBS. Prepared by Jared Warren, Real Estate Broker on Monday, January 09, 2017

How This Entrepreneur Took the Road Less Traveled Straight to Paradise | The Huffington Post

Jared recently was interviewed for Inc. Magazine and the story was picked up by the Huffington Post.  You can see the full article by following these links or check out the graphic story they created about it below.

 

Let us know if we can help you become an island entrepreneur too.  Check out these businesses and commercial listings for sale on St John right now

Choose your View!!

On St John, in the US Virgin Islands, there are too many views to count.  Everywhere you look is stunning and magical.  There simply is no way to capture it all on camera.  Only being there, in person can burn into your mind the permanent glory of all of the vistas.  I got a chance to go take some pictures yesterday, this post is only about the views. 

Why a vacation rental that is properly managed is better then an Air BnB.

Staying in a vacation rental has many benefits over a hotel stay.  Connect with your family, more space for everyone, cook your own meals (or have it catered) privacy at the pool etc.  Make sure your Villa is managed or cared for professionally before booking

People love Air BNB. Well, they love the idea of it. They think they are getting a better deal. They think they have stumbled upon a gem of a unique hideaway that makes their trip special. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are stuck in a poorly cared for the spot with a green pool.  Frequently, they are hiking up the hill with their luggage searching for the spot on an island with no street signs. 

Occasionally, they run out of water and can not get the Air BnB system to load so they can communicate with the owners leaving them without showers and toilets for the night. 

 

On St John, sometimes the view is just enough to book your villa.  Make sure if you have an issue during your stay, it wont distract you from that view.

 

I get the call all of the time. “um yeah, hello, we are on St John right now and are wondering if you have any availability for the next three nights…” Eventually, I pry as to what happened that they ended up here without a place to stay and get the stories above. Stories like Jake from last week.  Jake flew in on a balmy August night to find him self-waiting on the ferry dock for his Air BNB host.  The person decided to text him directions rather than assist in finding the place. That was just the beginning. Jake then proceeded to arrive at the villa to find damaged screens allowing mosquitoes to eat his girlfriend’s tasty fresh skin. Then the internet went out; the hot tub was not working.  Again, trouble communicating with the host, due to the Air BNB method of managing the conversation between guest and host. Eventually, Jake gave up called us and checked in.

 

Not all Air BNB hosts are bad. Some are great. But there is a real difference between a professionally managed or operated vacation rental and an Air BNB property looking to catch extra cash through casual, friendly business (supervised of course by a large corporation). For me, these un-vetted rentals are an issue. They degrade the quality product that many vacation rental properties have strived for decades to do well. The homes that we manage are run like well-oiled machines.  That is not to say issues don’t occur. But rather, that when, or if an issue arises, it can be solved instantly, and we can be reached immediately on the phone for good old fashioned personal service.    

 

 

Reviews are not enough.

We have terrific reviews from guests, hundreds of them between all of the homes – Don’t base your decision on them. Don’t choose a home based on anyone else's reviews either. In the hotel business, the guest experience is extremely personal. One guest dream room is a nightmare for another. I suggest a direct phone call with the property manager or the owner. Air BNB discourages this; they are wrong. From an owner/manager perspective, this is ideal for me. 

I can tell if the customer is right for a home or not, and if not, lead them to the home that is better. Communication, in advance of booking, is crucial to satisfaction upon arrival. Having a corporation in between an owner/manager and a customer is a barrier to success. For the guests, this phone call will allow them to ask critical questions about the property and get honest answers back. 

Texting and emailing eliminate inflection and tone. The call is key. 

Here are some samples of questions travelers should ask to help them better understand the property and the management of it before they arrive:

1.    Is someone available if we have an issue? How long is the typical response time? Can we contact you directly? - This will tell you a lot about how the home is cared for and how you will be cared for as guests.

2.    Is everything on the property working right now? – If something is wrong, its probably been wrong for a while and won't be fixed before you arrive. Deferred maintenance results in adjacent failures I can assure you. 

3.    If we arrive late, will someone meet us? For me, when people ask this, I can give them the comfort that I am there for them 24 hours a day if needed

4.    How often is the pool cleaned? - If it is less then weekly, you know your dealing with a casual program.

5.    Do you own or manage any other properties and if so, are you licensed for business? Knowing this will differentiate between the casual operation and a professional company. Technically, anyone taking bookings and collecting money, especially advanced deposits should be a licensed Virgin Islands Realtor.  

Overall, especially on St John, you will probably be taken care of either way. St Johnians have pride in our island and want you to have a great trip. However, professionally managed and cared for properties can provide a far better experience, while still offering you the extensive benefits of staying in a Vacation Home rather than in a hotel. On St John, people had been renting vacation homes professionally for more than 30 years before AIR BNB came along.  Take the time to find out who your hosts are and how they care for a place before putting down a deposit. 

 

 

 

7 St John Activities You Can't Book Online and Can't Find In Any Guidbooks

1.     Grilling fresh Caribbean lobster.  With Lobster, its not what you know, It’s who you know.  Some people can catch lobster, most cannot.  My guess is most of you can’t catch a lobster; some of you think you can and may try, but it is a talent hard learned.  The Caribbean spiny lobster is aptly named, for its very sharp spines.  It tends to hide among sea urchins and fire coral.  Snaring one is an art… if you can find one.  If you can find one and you can get it without being cut or burned or poked...  Fortunately for you, we know the where and how and can deliver you a live one and show you how to cook it.

This 9 pounder had a tail that fed 6.  The legs were like king crab. 

2.     Full Moon Drum Circles – The Danish Sugar Mill ruins are magical and full of a dramatic and dark past.  A daytime visit will only begin to fill your appetite for the long and complicated history of St John and the Virgin Islands.  At night, some ruins become a gathering place for drum circles under the full moon.  Entering the cavernous halls under a monstrous stone sugar mill in the moonlight will be intimidating, magical and transcendent if you carry with you an open mind, respect for the scene and the freedom to participate. 

The Danish Sugar Mill Ruins provide a resonance both for the drums and for weight of the history that occurred

3.     Private catered dinner with live music – Honestly, how many of us have had a world-class chef over to cook us dinner in our house for our friends and family?  On St John, this opportunity is easily arranged and could be one of those meals you remember forever.  Make it truly special by hiring a local musician to entertain you between courses.  St John has some amazing talent, a personal house concert in a villa over the sea with a skilled chef to cook and clean up…  I am sold are you?

4.     Sky tour of the night sky – Many of our guests cannot even see the stars from where they live.  Others simply don’t have the time to look up.  On St John, the light pollution is so minimal in some places that the milky way can be seen as easily as recognizing your wife’s voice from the upstairs bedroom when your watching TV in the man cave.   Take the time to tour the night sky, whether with a guide who comes and can explain the galaxy to you or just simply sitting on the beach in the dark with a good star guide app.  Don’t miss a meteor shower if you’re on St John at the right time.   If it's cloudy, or too much moon, look around for Night Blooming Cereus flowers.  They are as big as dinner plates and full of complexities. 

This Night Blooming Cereus on St John.

5.     Boat trip to unknown cays – Sure, you have read about taking a boat to the BVI.  Going to Jost Van Dyke and Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and the Willy T and Soggy Dollar.  You should go.  It will be the best day of drinking you ever had.  But you should also take a boat trip that is just for snorkeling to some little uninhabited Cay you have never heard of.  The 100 foot visibility and large animal crossings through pristine ancient reefs will give you a story to talk about on the booze cruise, but it will burn in your memory what the power of untouched nature really can be.

This picture looking west from the top of one of the larger Cays off of St John

6.     Movie night at the ruins – Some Fridays, not all, but some, they show a movie up in Susannaberg.  The stunning setting among quiet locals is not advertised except on a spray painted board, or sheet or barrel on the day of.  Cult classics like Ghostbusters, and Jaws.  Sitting outside among these recently uncovered ruins and drinking from your own cooler is as easy as it gets. 

7.     Contribute to our community – St John has 4000 residents, we are hardy, talented, overworked and hungry for fresh food.  We all contribute to our community.  Lately, I have noticed more and more visitors contributing too.  We need your help.  With 100’s of thousands of visitors each year (600K just in the Virgin Islands National Park estimate annually) we residents simply can not keep up with all that is needed to serve our population if you include visitors.  Some ideas that help us a lot.  Volunteer at the park – trail cleaning clubs and the Friends of the VI NATIONAL PARK are always looking for help.  Teach a class at School of the Arts – Our kids (and kids at heart) are screaming for more immersion in the arts.  If you have a talent, contact the SJSA to share it with us.  Attend a benefit – There are so many benefits on St John throughout the year.  These events are fun, usually with live music and other performances, raffles, games, competitions and more.  Not only will you have tons of fun and meet some locals, you’ll be helping out a cause or a person who is truly in need. 

Contact us today to book your trip and get the skinny on any unknown goings on on St John.  The good news is, you can also just do nothing on St John and love it.

 

See you soon

 

 

How to Grow a Pina Colada

As I lugged 5 gallon buckets of water around the property to wet down my thirsty plants, I passed under the big coconut tree and realized that we have these Coconuts hanging over our pineapple plants, and thought "this is the pina colada section of the yard". 

 

How clear the impetus for this drink became and I wondered if some pineapple farmer like myself came up with it.  I then walked around the corner, and realized we have the sugar cane growing right nearby.  So I got to get a rum still going, and start making our own rum because we are literally growing our own Pina Coladas here on St John at Starlit Escape.  It reminded me of this story an old salt told me a long time ago about Foxy, on Jost Van Dyke.  Foxy is this idyllic islander; barefoot, dreadlocked, smiling and way laid back.  He is famous now for lots of reasons, but to me it was for singing these reggae/blues/Jost Van Dyke swing songs at his tamarind bar on the beach.  Gripping the guitar with work worn hands and making tourists laugh with innuendo and anecdotal songs about politics.  He has this knack for knowing a song about anywhere in the world that someone is from.  Well this old sailor was telling us the other night beneath the shade tree about how when Foxy first opened his bar, he stocked whiskey, rum, and beer.  Confiding in the old sailor shortly after he opened he says "I don get it, I got de whisky, i got de beer, you knows i got de rum, but dese tourists come and all deh wan is de peeeNya colAAAda"  he drags through the words pina colada with specific tone of being unfamiliar with a word "what i ask IS a peeeNya colAAAda?"   I am sure he knows now, but I am going to have to start working on my yard-ladas.  Maybe I can bring one over to Foxy and remember that time that a tourist introduced him to the drink.

Contact us today to Book Starlit Escape in the Summer time for a homegrown Pina Colada!!

SeaRock Teak Panel Restoration

The feeling of being perched over the sea from this artist built home is priceless.

SeaRock is a stunning artist built villa on St John where the big blue ocean views pour into every room.  Being artist built, the home has tons of delicate and detailed features.  The solid Mahogony french doors are finished with a multi layered faux finish with blues and yellows.  All of the paint on the home has a intended washed look that creates a peaceful feel.  The tile is inlaid with handpicked stone and shells.  The walls are painted with stress lines and fractures to look like they are made of solid marble. 

One of the Mahogany Doors being refinished with a multi color layered faux finish.  A regatta calmly passes in the background. 

One of the features of the home is these huge hand carved teak panels which are used for doors and walls.  The original builder and artist Kat Sowa had cleaned and painted these panels.  After about 7 years in the sun they started to look a little worn.  Our property management team restored them to their original color.  At times, to repeat the detail, we were using brushes as small as 1 cm wide.  The paint had to be mixed on site for color.  It was then applied and rubbed into the wood with a damp rag.  The process was tedious and fun and we caught a few photos which you can see in the slideshow below.

Property management can mean a lot of things.  For us, it means taking care of your home like it was our own, no matter the level of detail it requires.  It means keeping the value of your investment intact.  It means creating the guests experiences that make people want to book your home year after year.  It means offering homeowners the comfort that any task can be completed on your property with detail and perfection.  We take a lot of pride in caring for these special villas on St John.  Come see what that feels like by booking one of these homes today.

 

 

Swimming With Sea Turtles and Taking Toirtoise Walks

Swimming With Sea Turtles

A Hawksbill Turtle, also found around St John regularly, but we swam with Green Sea Turtles.  Photo by Ariel Kaufman, a previous guest of ours and excellent photographer.

 

I have to say that as of recent turtles have become a hot topic around our household.  Not only sea turtles but also local indigineous red footed tortoises.  Our 3 year old daughter, has had the blessed experience of interacting with both types of these creatures and it has made a huge impact on our daily lives.  It seems every children’s book we open or children’s film we watch has turtles and tortoises in it ironically which delights our daughter with never ending amusement to connect her experiences with turtles.  We have two red footed tortoises, Lilac and Tulip, that live on our property that she cares for, walks, sings to and feeds every day.  She has learned all about their physical bodies, scientific facts, biology terms, and habitats all from a little tortoise that walked down our country road and wandered in front of our white picket fence.  The tortoise found a loving home with our kid and will one day be set free back into the wild.   A magical pet for a child.  That is our turtle story on land. 

Lilac, the smaller of the two tortoises with our Daughter

 

 

This is our turtle story from the sea.

 

On a beautiful warm sunny summer afternoon when the sun just lingers for hours as it slowly sets in the west Jared and little A went on a father daughter adventure.  The best kind of bonding experiences.  They went for an early evening swim in Maho Bay and with little A riding on Dad’s back they swam out to the deep water of the Bay where the sea grass beds lie and there before them awaited an unsurpassed magical experience with nature.  6 giant sea turtles were feeding on their dinner of sea grass diving down and coming back up for air inches away from our daughter’s face.  She was elated and giggling with joy as turtles popped up all around her.  She truly felt like a mermaid, one of her favorite mythical creatures.  They were the only two humans around in the pristine warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and shared that unforgettable experience together. 

St John Life in a quiet valley

 

 

They came home and told me all about it and I was so happy for them.  This experience happened all by chance and that is what makes it magical.  They even wrote a sea chant about it!

 

There is no better way

to finish the day

then to swim with turtles

in Maho Bay!

Island Hopping - 10 islands in one week

Island Hopping - 10 islands in one week and why St John is still the Best.

 

This week, I was fortunate enough to get a little time off and get in some Island Hopping and had a chance to compare islands and research Caribbean service styles.   I could title this article “Why you love to hate Caribbean Service Style”, but I am not grabbing headlines with click bait.  I will tell you why that when you arrive, you think the service is lazy and when you leave, you think it was amazing and why you can not wait to come back and get some more.

 

An amazing week is easy to have with St John as a home base.  Wednesday, we went boating in the British Virgin Islands.  Leaving St John on a calm sunny morning, and heading out to sea is breathtaking.  The cool breeze coupled with the warm sun as the clear blue water slips beneath you under the boat.  It’s transcendental.  That day I took us to Tortola, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke and a quick stop at Flanagan Island to finish the day.  The dark green steep hills of Tortola, the Rugged outpost and mind boggling clear waters of Norman Island, the beach life of Jost Van Dyke and the lonely majestic reefs of Flanagan Island all offered in one day what some people are not lucky enough to experience in a lifetime.  Still, at the end of the day, we wanted to come home, to St John.

 

Friday, we literally hopped our way to Nevis, another tiny island 158 miles South East of my home in Coral Bay.  That trip took us by Car to Cruz Bay, by Boat to St Thomas, by Taxi to the Cyril King Airport, by Plane to St Maarten, By Plane to Antigua, By Plane to St Kitts and by Boat to Nevis.  What a day!  St Thomas, a necessary evil for St John was hectic and practical. St Maarten was brief on this trip, with it’s looming over development and multi national culture clash all ready to bring luxury to the beach.  Antigua proudly embracing it’s European roots and preparing for cricket matches with cheese on baguettes whilst a regatta begins just off shore.  St Kitts with its fiercely proud history and independence (independent since just 1983 – a moment in history too large and so recent that men reminisce about it with a twinkle in their eye…because they lived that midnight moment.) And Nevis, with it’s small island feel and it’s single peak, a symbol of natural pride and self reliance.

 

So what did I learn about in such brief glimpses?  Besides that we are lucky to have the opportunity to travel and experience such beautiful places.  Besides that you can find diversity and kindness everywhere?  Besides that each place can be so close and so far from each other; geographically, culturally, practically and most important that ever subtle VIBE?  What I learned is that although Caribbean Service style may sound like an oxymoron, in fact, I believe service in the Caribbean to be some of the best in the world.   To be fully served without pretentiousness and with casual style takes a talent unknown to the modern fast paced world.  It is this key combination of casual attitude and full attention to detail that creates a world class experience.  Day after day, travelers arrive carrying stress and quick judgment.  It takes unbelievable talent to turn that around, a talent found throughout the Caribbean, but mostly on St John.

 

Even with my visit to the 10 very different islands this week, St John remains the best.  I can say this with the confidence of experiencing hundreds of islands and destinations across the globe.  St John has the unique quality of being the best of everything.  The best beaches, the best food, the best service, the best accommodation options, the best access, the best infrastructure and the nicest people. 

 

I will continue to travel with an open mind, and hope that one day, I may find a better place, but for now, St John remains on top.    

St John Vacation Rentals vs St John Long Term Rentals

The Enduring Strength of the St John Rental Market

 

Even as the economic roller coaster permeates real estate and financial markets globally, here on St John, the real estate rental market refuses to burst.  Both long and short term rentals on island continue to command high prices in what seems to be a reflection of the steady stream of demand and extreme shortage of supply. 

Gorgeous St John Rentals are in high demand, both for short and long term.  This stunning short term rental has sold out for Nov - June for the last 10 years.   

Short term rental villas have solidified their position in vacation accommodations on St John.  Even with as many as 900 properties available for weekly vacation rentals on island, occupancy for this season was strong and projections for next season are strong from a poll of booking agents and owners, with most properties already booking up or nearly sold out for the 2017 high season.  With short term vacation rentals, owners who have good property management can expect nearly 100% occupancy for Nov 1 - May 1.  And it does not turn off like a switch.  The summer months can see as high as 80% occupancy on average for June and July.  August and November average at about 50% occupancy.  It is no wonder that investing in real estate on St John has it's advantages.  The short term market provides a viable stream of income to the owners who also want occasional use of their homes and can be the best option for owners who want their home professionally maintained and cleaned weekly. 

 

Getting a long term rental with a view like this isn't cheap.  Many simple homes such as this rent for as much as $2000/month for a one bedroom apartment with a year lease.

Long term rentals are difficult to come by.  The extremely high demand, coupled with the limited inventory have set monthly lease rates (on year long leases) to an average of $1800 for a one bedroom apartment plus utilities.  Furnished apartments go for even more.  With rates this high, many owners have built small apartments below their homes or on their properties to capitalize on the additional income stream.  Some have developed small apartment buildings or condos on vacant lots to target this lucrative market. 

 

All in all, owners and buyers can take comfort in the fact that properties on St John can and will continue to provide real income from rent, be it year leases or weekly guests.  Get in touch with me if you would like to further discuss the rental possibilities of properties here on St John.

 

6 bedroom Beach Front Villa on St John

6 bedroom Beach Front Villa on St John for Large Groups and Families

The Virgin Islands, especially on the island of St John, has always been a gathering place for big families, weddings and groups of friends.  It is a place to celebrate, to re-connect, to relax and to experience.  But, finding a rental home on St John that can hold groups of 12 or more can be a challenge.  There are only a handful of homes capable of holding more then 12 guests and many of those are really expensive - up to $30,000 per week!  Villa St John is an exception.  This 6 master bedroom, 6 bath (plus 2 half bath) beach front home on St John's Chocolate Hole Bay can sleep up to 18 guests, and for almost 1/2 the price of some of the other homes of this size.  Close to Cruz Bay for easy access, the home boasts a large pool and 2 hot tubs.

With a large pool, 2 hot tubs and a staircase to the beach, this 6 bedroom St John Villa is ideal for your group of 12 or more

With 6 equal Master bedrooms, each with tons of space, a giant bathroom with his and her sinks, jetted tubs, showers, separate water closets and walk in closets, views from everywhere and covered balconies, the home easily sleeps 12 guests.  Use the 2 pull out couches with memory foam mattresses or add additional air beds to sleep up to 18 guests.  With each room equal, you dont have to worry about your cousin Hal complaining about being stuck in the basement or grandma Celia needing to be close to the kitchen.  Situated as a guest house and a main house, each with their own full kitchen, you can book this home knowing that even relative strangers will have enough privacy, but you can still be all together.  

One of 6 master bedrooms at Villa St John

Planning a wedding or family reunion on St John?  Be sure to reserve Villa St John early.  Now offering wedding parties of up to 65 guests, the home easily can be a home base or easy solution to your planning hurdles.  Put the whole bridal party in there, or book this house for your whole side of family.  Super kid friendly, this home is the perfect place for your grand kids, nieces, and nephews. 

The grand entry view from the main villa.  With 6 bedrooms, Villa St John has the space you need for large groups and families on St John

Contact us  today to ask more about your big group or family getting into this amazing 6 bedroom villa on St John.

St John Real Estate Market Conditions

The Real Estate Market on St John is ACTIVE.  I have been out showing quite often lately.  Buyers are from across the spectrum; People looking for retirement homes, people looking for investment vacation rental property who might do a 1031 exchange, locals looking for a homestead, buyers looking to re-locate to the Virgin Islands, land speculators.   This among a mini boom in construction meant it was time to get some statistics to quantify the feel of the market.

The Facts

There are 156 homes currently on the market.  Average listing price is $2.011 Million

In the last 12 months, 42 homes on St John sold at an average of $1.023 Million.   

Compare this with when the market was slowest; the same period May 2, 2010 - May 2, 2011 when 21 homes sold for an average price of $1.4 Million

Average Price, Number of Sales and Percentage of Sales Price for Sold Homes on St John between May 2, 2003 and May 2, 2016

 

What we are seeing is two main important factors.

  1. The average sales price is near its low point over the last 12 years
  2. The number of sales transactions is on the rise, in fact has doubled since the low point on the market if looking at volume.  

What does this mean for the market?  What I see on the ground is playing out on paper.  There are deals to be had, and buyers to take them.  Ultimately, there is currently 3 years of inventory of homes for sale on St John.  What we can expect is that, if buyers keep taking advantage of deals, as we are seeing with near bottom end average sales prices, inventory will dwindle, which will drive up prices and demand.  You can not build the homes people are buying for their sales price!  So when people ask me if there are any deals, I affirmatively can say YES.  There are deals and they wont last if the market continues this trend.

Now, a lot of buyers are not in the $1 Million range.  To be clear, 20 of the 42 homes sold in the last year were under $750K, and 12 of those were under $500K. 

Serious buyers should be prepared with financing and allow a licensed realtor such as myself answer all of their questions.  Reach out today to let me set you up with a MLS portal so that you can scan St John Real Estate Listings on your own

Jared Warren
Associate Broker    
Re/Max Island Paradise Realty, Inc.
PO Box 646
St John, VI 00830-0646
Cell Phone -  (340) 626-8229
Office Phone - (340) 775-0949
jwarren@remax.net
Www.stjohnhomesandvillas.com

Treasurer - St John Board of Realtors

Voted "BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY ON ST. JOHN 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015"

St John Real Estate, Villa Rentals and Property Management

For 17 years, we have been "working" on St John collecting experiences and getting to know the island.  We have been "working" on getting to know all of the beaches and hiking trails.  We have been "working" on learning the best places to anchor for snorkeling, the best bays to sail to, the best remote islands to visit.  We have been "working" on trying all of the restaurants.  We have been "working" enjoying the views from all of the best homes on the island.  We have been "working" on creating the best vacations for our friends, families and guests. 

Hawksnest and Gibney(Oppenheimer) Beaches from Peace Hill

 

After all of this work, we want to take the time to share what we have learned with you.  Let us help you find your perfect piece of real estate on St John.  Or we can help you find the perfect St John villa for your Virgin Islands vacation.  Let us help you care for your property with our expert property management.  Let us help you get all that you need on St John.

Most importantly, come back to this blog often to get all of the best info on St John Real Estate, St John Villa Rentals and St John Property Management.