Who needs Netflix when you have all these great videos??!!

We have a new video out today for one of our favorite homes SEAROCK. We have Searock listed for sale and also manage it for vacation rental. Take this tour with Angie to get a peak at what makes it so amazing.

You may also enjoy some of these other videos. Let us know if you like them and if you want more.

2B Peter Bay

Villa Colorado

Cliffhanger

El Caribe

Some other fun drone work

ENJOY!!

 








The 5 Highest Priced Homes on St John, USVI

It’s no wonder that Real Estate on St John in the US Virgin Islands is expensive.  The island is simply unbelievably stunning.  Besides it’s amazing natural beauty and pristine beaches, the island’s people, culture, restaurants and vibe make it a must see destination. The fact that it is part of the United States and that 70% of the island is protected by National Park is the icing on the cake. 

We thought you might want to look at the top 5 highest priced homes on St John, but first, here are a few statistics for you.

PETER BAY 8 out of the top 10 highest priced homes on St John are located in Peter Bay, a rare private enclave within the Virgin Islands National Park which boasts a pristine private white sandy beach.

There are 17 homes on St John listed over $3M.  124 Homes are currently on the market island wide with an average list price of $2.04M

Without further delay, here are the 5 Highest Priced Homes Listed for Sale on St John

1 Peter Bay $14,250,000.00

Do you love sitting on Trunk Bay or Hawksnest. How would you like living there? That’s what this house offers – supreme best beach in the world type beachfront.

12 REM Peter Bay $10,995,000.00

With an infinity pool that really looks out at infinity, this luxurious 5 bedroom home features a poolside marble wet bar and an oversized grand king master suite with home office and an en-suite Italian marble bath with jetted tub.

17-2&17-1 Peter Bay $10,950,000

Peter Bay Beauty is the newest home on this list (never lived in). The Mediterranean style villa is situated on over 2 acres and features a curving marble staircase, 12 ft ceilings, classic Tuscan columns and a stone fireplace/hearth, pizza oven, grill, smoker and wet bar built into the custom hand laid stone wall

3-1 Catherineberg $7,750,000

Le Chateau’s 360 degree views and top of the world privacy is what dreams are made of. The blend of classic and modern in this artist built home with blue views spilling in is… pinch yourself…yep, it’s not a dream, it can be yours.

6E Peter Bay $6,550,000

Villa Sunspot was formerly owned by Kenny Chesney but it’s current owners have made substantial improvements which include a 50ft infinity pool with a pool side wet bar and new pool cabana. It is a short easy walk to Peter Bay Beach from this Lower Peter Bay Villa.

Want more details on purchasing or staying at one of these homes? CONTACT US

This article was originally published on 1/9/19, information is subject to change.  For an up to date list or information, contact us directly

2018 Year in Review for the St John Real Estate Market

2018 was a wild year for St John and all of the Virgin Islands.  A year of recovery, rebuilding, and regrowth.  The island started 2018 with a positive note with electricity being restored to most of the island in late December of 2017.  Things just kept going up from there.  The magic of the recovery and the energy of the people to make that happen was simply astounding.  Within our small company alone, we rebuilt or recovered 16 properties, which now have a combined market value of over $30 Million.   Without our team’s immense and dedicated effort, many of these homes would not have recovered their value.  Our pride for the recovery of these properties is great, but there are hundreds of other people who took the same initiative and helped get the island back together.  We are proud that our homes were 100% open for business by May of 2018.  You might think that this would lag the St John Real Estate Market, but instead, the market took a lot of people by surprise with the significant increase in the volume and number of sales for 2018. 

“While we saw a lot of sales on properties that were sold as damaged, what we also saw was a large number of transactions on properties that were previously a bit dated and got a facelift after the storm, making them more attractive to the hungry buyers that circulated during 2018”  –   Jared Warren – President of the St John Board of Realtors

Check out the stats below or contact us for in depth details about the history of the market and where we think it is going. 

THE STATS

RESIDENTIAL SALES

·      There were 60 home sales on St John in 2018.  The only year with more sales on record was 2002 with 62.  This is huge jump from 2017 when there were 38 total sales.  Click here to see the Listing for the 60 sales in 2018

·      The total dollar Volume of Residential sales increased by a whopping 86% from $33.9M to $62.9M!!

·      The average home on St John sold for $1.049M in 2018

 

LAND SALES

·      31 total land sales in 2018 compared with just 19 in 2017

·      Average sold price of a lot increased from $203,000 to $286,000 for a 41% gain

·      The increase in building activity post storm has bolstered the power, skill and availability of  builders on island.

 

CONDO SALES

·      The Condo Market remained fairly flat with 5 units sold in each of 2017 and 2018 and a decrease in average sold price by 13%

 

CURRENT ON THE MARKET

·      There are currently 122 homes on the market on St John with prices ranging from a Storm Damaged home that needs a new roof for $375K to a stunning private beachfront estate in the exclusive North Shore enclave of Peter Bay

·      There are 18 condos on the market from $415K for a small studio to $2.1M for a 3 bedroom/3.5 Bath condo with a private pool.

·      There are 204 parcels of land on the market ranging from a ¼ acre with no view of the water for $45K to $8M for a commercially zoned 4.5 acre lot within the National Park at Maho Bay

 

To Scan the MLS for the perfect property for you or just to dream a bit, try our ADVANCED MLS TOOL

 

 

Tips for the First Time St John Visitor

You’re finally about to come to St John. You’ve stared at pictures of your Villa’s pool for months, and now, you need to ask those last couple questions before you come…

St John is the kind of place that forever holds the hearts of those who visit.  Because of that our guests find themselves coming back year after year or more.  Their vacation photos and videos get plastered to their social media accounts.  A picture of the clear blue water decorates their desk at work.  Their screen savers feature a sunset or a view of Trunk Bay, and their stories become dominant with that burned in memory of what this stunning island gives you.

All of this makes each St John visitor a little travel ad for all of the people they know.  Its old school viral advertising and it works!  People who would not otherwise come to St John or even know about it, suddenly find themselves staring at websites and facebook groups about St John and find their way to get here.  A lot of times they tag along with previous guests.  Sometimes past travelers plan weddings or big events on St John, bringing down 50-100 newbies.  But, what happens next may be unexpected.  Suddenly these people who may not have originally gravitated to travel to St John on their own are booked and coming.  Most have a lot of questions.  Some do a TON of research, join the rabid facebook groups, read every website they can find and of course, if they book with a good property manager, get to ask those questions to us. 

But for those that need something quick to share with new guests or those that are just new themselves and might have some questions, here are the Basic things you need to know when planning your first trip to St John. Of course, we welcome you to call us at anytime during your planning with any questions that you may have, be it about the house, the island, what to do or how to make it work.

1.     AIR TRAVEL – You will fly into St Thomas (STT).  There are daily direct flights from New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Philidelphia and more.  – We use googleflights. https://www.google.com/flights/ for a quick way to find the best deals on travel. As with all travel, prices change constantly

2.     GROUND TRANSPORT– No Worries!!!  Getting a taxi is easy, riding the ferry is easy. On St John you will be met at the dock and guided to your place by our greeters  We can also easily arrange private ground and water transport if you would prefer. 

3.     CAR RENTAL - Rent your car early! – It may look from pictures that you can walk across the island in 5 minutes barefoot, but… you can’t. We recommend renting your vehicle on St John. Try www.courtesycarrental.com, www.coolbreezecarrental.com, www.rentajeepstjohn.com www.aquablucarrental.com

4.     THE STORM (IRMA is a 4 letter word!, use it wisely) Yes, the island is recovered from the storm – as a first time visitor, I’d be surprised if you noticed.  The beaches are stunning, The restaurants are open, the natural beauty never left.  One thing you can count on is that we would not be open for business if we were not operating at 100%, and we’ve been back open since March 2018.

5.     CASH OR CREDIT- The Island takes credit cards most places. Cash may be hard to get if ATM’s are down or not nearby bring both

6.     GROCERIES - Its funny that some people ask if we have grocery stores, but we get the question all the time. There are many grocery stores on island and you can get most of the items you are used to getting in a typical Stateside store.  We don’t reccomend that you travel with food unless you really need to eat that venison your brother got last fall on this trip.  Food will not be hard to come by, and there are fantastic restaurants on island. We recommend having the home provisioned so that you do not have to shop after a long day of travel.

7.     DON’T LOOK AT THE WEATHER! – its always beautiful.  70% chance of rain means that there is a 70% chance it will rain in that 24 hour period, probably briefly at night or early in the morning, possibly a passing squall.   I would bet the the heat in the main server at weather.com from trying to process the variable weather data on St John is directly contributing to global warming. When boating in the Virgin Islands we always follow the rule to “never cancel on the weather”

8.     PACKING - All of our homes provide beach towels, beach chairs and coolers. The bathrooms all have hairdryers.  The Kitchens are all fully supplied. So PACK LIGHT.  You will not need to dress up unless you are in a wedding or something.  Island Casual means a light weight pretty dress for a lady with flip flops and for a man it means shorts or pants with a short sleeve button down shirt and flops.  Typically though, you are going to dress really casual. Flip Flops are worn because you can easily take them off before you go in the house and help keep sand OUT which we will get to later. 

9.  SAND – No one asks about this, but we thought it would be helpful to share. When you leave the beach, take an empty water jug, fill it with saltwater and give yourself a rinse BEFORE you get in the car.  Your rental car company will charge you for excessive sand.  Your house may too, but ultimately, you’ll find it so much nicer at home not to walk on sandy floors inside.

10.  WATER – your home may have UV filtered water which is safe to drink and ultimately any water you are served on island is safe to drink.  Will you prefer the taste of bottled water?  Possibly.  Either way, DRINK A LOT OF IT.

Check out Our Island Beach and Dining Guide here

Have more questions, we are happy to help with answers. Just give a call 340-626-8229 or email anytime to discuss.

 

Hiking the Reef Bay Trail on St John

Hiking to waterfalls in lush tropical forests under blue skies is just one of the ways to spend your day this winter on St John

The Reef Bay Trail in the Virgin Islands National Park on St John is arguably the most well known hiking trail on the tiny island that boasts well over 30 well managed trails, but much like the even more popular Trunk Bay, you can find yourself alone here in the pristine tropical jungle despite it’s popularity.

Most well known for the Petroglyphs sitting under the waterfall and for the National Park Ranger guided hike, this trail takes you 2.2 miles down the dense tropical forest, past specimen trees along and across small streams. But you don’t have to do it with a guide and a group, you can easily do the trail on your own. For those of you who hike, the trail is fairly typical in elevations and quite manageable. For novice hikers, you may consider arranging a boat ride back from the bottom, which is what is offered with the guided hike, but can also be set up privately.

We hiked the trail this weekend on a clear blue day after a rainy evening and it was nothing short of stunning (again!). The sometimes dry creeks filled the air with running water sounds, the flowers had all squeezed out for our pleasure and the lush canopy provided iridescent green shade. At the famed Petroglyphs, the waterfalls (both upper and lower) were magnificent and filled the air with a rainbow mist.

The Petroglyphs were carved as early as 500 AD, but archeologists suggest that some may have been carved over different periods of history from Pre-Columbian times all of the way to the Taino Indians that once populated this stunning rock.

Want to know more about hiking in the Virgin Islands National Park? Contact us anytime!

Beyond the Key Drop - What Property Managment Service Means to Us

When every detail is covered, checking into a well managed vacation home can make all of the difference. Management companies like ours, that go the extra mile for their guests, serve not only the home with exceptional detail, but also the customers that stay there

On any given day, we have guests arriving to one of our stunning homes.  Sometimes for our company there are more then 10 arrivals in one day meaning more then 50 people need to be collected, directed and checked in to their vacation rental.  What that means is that our entire staff is aware of all of our guests travel plans; Flight info, rental car info, cell numbers, special requests etc.

 Last week we were expecting an arrival.  Guests were on American Airlines flight 943 supposed to arrive at 1:19 pm.  About 20 minutes before the flight took off I checked the flight status – DELAYED.  We do this so that if we have to juggle our schedule to prioritize what homes get cleaning first we know.  But we also do this so we can help our guests in the event of a delay. 

 I called and checked in with the guests sitting at the airport.  It was not looking good.  The initial delay was 2 hours.  We all know that airlines are optimistic with the initial delay.  Long story short, the flight ended up being over 9 hours delayed. 

Now, even the bubbliest of people can complain about their day of travel and in fact, almost every first conversation with our guests is about the time of day they had to wake up or whatever in a long list of possible inconveniences might have occurred in their travel day.  Our greeter’s job is to immediately erase that experience, which is pretty easy when people walk into their stunning vacation rental with big blue views of the Caribbean. 

 On this day though, the guests had a pretty legitimate horror story.  The extensive delay could have really been awful for them, forcing them to stay in a dingy hotel or worse, in the airport given that the flight was now going to arrive after the last ferry and hotel rooms are rarely available at that hour. 

The view from the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock is Stunning, but even this may not be enough to shake off a day of travel. Our greeters are experts at melting away the stress of travel and will take care of you before and after you walk across this dock and realize how special the view can be

 Knowing this, once the flight actually took off, we sprung into action.  The flight was now due to arrive at about 10:30 pm.  10:30 is pretty late in the Virgin Islands, but we orchestrated a VIP arrival for these guests all while they were in the air wondering what would happen to them that night.  We called a local taxi driver and set up a private taxi to take them to the dock.  The last ferry was at 10pm so we knew they would miss that so we called our water taxi contact and arranged for the boat to be idling on the dock with cold drinks on board.  We went to the car rental agency, which closes at 6pm.  They let us take the car for our guests and we arranged for our greeter to meet them at the dock on St John with their rental car ready.  To top it off, we swung by the grocery store in advance (they close at 10 as well), got some basics for the morning, some beer and some snacks and put it into the fridge. 

 A little after midnight, we walked our guests into their vacation rental, the moonlight reflected off the sea, we popped open a beer for them while we moved in the luggage and said good night.

 At first, this did not seem like that big of a deal to me.  We have helped guests with delays for close to two decades.  But, when I woke the next morning to a simple thank you from the guests, I reflected on the enormity of the process that occurred on a remote island in the middle of the night with a lot of pride.  My entire staff did this without any hesitation and I couldn’t be more proud that someone in this chain of events on our end didn’t complain or even grumble. 

The next day as I did a final walkthrough on a home prior to another check in, I noticed that our well oiled machine was giving this same attention to detail that we had given our arrival the night before to the cleaning and maintenance of that home. 

 Any vacation rental company can find you a reasonably nice place to stay. However, that's where the service stops. We believe it's not enough to just drop off a key when you arrive. We want your stay to be memorable and we believe in going the extra mile to make sure that happens.

Want to Book a St John Vacation with the comfort of knowing you will be taken care of? Contact us today to start planning

St John Real Estate Market Update

At $2.9 Million, this property currently sits as the highest priced sale of 2018

The Real Estate Market Continues to be hot on St John.  As of August 25, 2018, with the final quarter of the year yet to come, 35 homes have sold year to date!  This is compared with 38 in all of 2017.  When looking back at the low points of the market over the last 15 years we saw just 20 total sales one year (2010) among a 5 year span of 30 or less sales each year from 2007 to 2012. 

Even more significant is that the average price of sold homes is back up over $1M at $1.05M from a 15 year low last year of just under $900K.  You could attribute some of the low points in 2017 to the storms for sure, but you can also attribute the increase in transactions and volume to the storm as well. 

Another key data point is that there are currently 13 homes under contract at an average listing price of $945,500.  If these homes close at an average of 10% off of listing price, and no other homes go under contract or close prior to the end of the year, this will result in a total volume of nearly $47.5 Million.  That would represent a whopping 40% increase in volume over just one year!

You can see the 35 homes that sold here HOMES SOLD 2018

Like looking at numbers?  Contact us today to discuss and analyze the market or take advantage of our Return on Investment (ROI) calculator to look into how an investment in St John can make your money work for you while you drink painkillers on the beach.  

Use our MLS tool to search the St John MLS

 

 

St John Carnival Parade 2018

There is something truly special about the Carnival Parade on St John.  Technically St John's Carnival is called Festival, but it's nearly impossible not to call it Carnival.  Residents of the Virgin Islands walk around and tell each other "Happy Carnival" during, before and after the week's long celebration (which is actually one dense week ending on the 4th of July plus other events spread over a month).  The coincidence of our emancipation landing on the same day as the US celebration of freedom helps solidify the festive spirit and is shown in an apt blend of Virgin Islands culture and national pride.  Here is a short clip of some of the parade highlights. 

The Health and Future of the St John Real Estate Market 9 Months after the Hurricane

This home lost 90% of its roof, all of it's interior walls and the floors were terminally damaged.  Unique Island Assets proudly oversaw the restoration and completed a $1M remodel in just 4 short months, 2 of them without electricity and challenging supply logistics.  The home re-opened for business March 17th with celebration.  We have tremendous gratitude to the over 100 local workers who assisted in this heroic effort and its contribution to our economy.

BIG NUMBERS

A lot of big numbers are being thrown around the Virgin Islands, and that is a good thing.  In March, FEMA announced that federal funding for disaster relief in the Virgin Islands had topped $1Billion.  That is a pretty big number for a population of 120,000 - its $8333.33 per person.  Then in April HUD announced $1.6 Billion more.   Despite my cynicism for the government, it is without question that the federal response helped us in the wake of the 2 category five hurricanes; Getting the power restored and having a bulk of the trash and debris handled to name a few helpful tasks that were funded. But these funds have really not started to be spent here yet and some people and businesses are already nearly back to normal.  That leaves the Virgin Islands in an amazing position to make some long coming large scale infrastructure and government level improvements that otherwise likely would not have occurred.  Now, am I skeptical that the funds will be well managed?  Of Course!  The mis-use of public funds is the rule, not the exception.  Again even with my most cynical eye on this, the affects will be very real and very visible.  

How does this affect the Real Estate Market?

The real estate market has remained very active.  23 homes have sold since the storm between $225K and $2M.  That is pretty healthy given the circumstances and not far below the same periods in previous years. (22 in the same period between 2014 and 2015, 29 for 2015-2016 and 33 for 2016-2017) .  See the 23 sold homes HERE.  There are also currently 15 homes under contract and preparing to close between $395K and $3.1M.  See those homes HERE.

This activity is probably not based on the future of federal funds, but more on people taking advantage of the opportunities in the St John Real Estate marketplace. 

Federal monies coming in can have nothing but an additional positive effect on the property values with new and improved infrastructure and the economic benefits of cash injection into a society.  It seems that some buyers are either going to luck out with this, or they were savvy enough to see it coming.   More likely, Buyers may simply have seen this is as the chance they have been waiting for with some slightly depressed values.  The average sold price of homes is slightly down from 2017 when compared with 2018 Year to date.  However, total volume and number of homes sold are on pace to be at or just above 2017 numbers.  Sellers may also feel the same way with their chance to get out.  I can state with confidence that showing traffic is way up.  On one of our listings Bordeaux Gardens;   We had over 40 showings in 30 days with 2 offers.  That kind of traffic is unprecedented on St John. 

Vacation Rentals

The vacation rental market is filling in well with our homes operating pretty much at historic levels for this time of year. Of the 12 homes we manage, we have fully restored 11 of them and they are open for business as usual.  In May we will enjoy about 75% occupancy.  This feat was nothing short of heroic, with over 100 local people working on our projects at some times.  We rebuilt roofs, walls, floors, repainted, refurnished, replanted and remodeled.  The results are stunning and all of the properties feel new.  The steady stream of rental guests is welcome and income is very real for homeowners who have recovered.  One important takeaway I have from the rental market is that St John continues to have high integrity in the vacation rental product.  Travelers seem to wonder and often ask if homes are open or functioning fully and it occurred to me that the marketplace has the same or higher integrity that it had before the storms.  Simply, if a home is listed for rent on St John, I have very high confidence that it is in excellent condition and fully functional.   Of course there are some self managed or friend managed AirBNB types of rentals that do not have the same level of care as professionally managed homes, but even amongst that group, I feel that the pressure of the marketplace created by professional management brings these rentals up in quality, cleanliness and service. 

Insurance

8 months later, insurance claims are starting to settle.  About 70% of our clients have completed their insurance negotiations and have received their checks.  These funds are also breathing life into St John’s Real Estate Market.  Everywhere you go, you see homes being refit and put back together for the hungry vacation rental market.  Older homes that likely would not have seen these kind of remodels are getting the makeovers they needed.  Newer homes are taking the opportunity to improve on the lessons learned during construction.

We have spoken with the insurance industry leaders here in the Virgin Islands and also learned some very positive realities.  About 7 years ago, windstorm insurance rates averaged about 2% of the replacement cost of a home.  Over the last 7 years this rate has steadily declined to a territory wide average of 1.8%.  The good news is, these insurance companies expect rates to simply return to the 2% level for now.  In real terms, this number is pretty manageable and quells the fears many had about insurance going forward.  For an example, take a home that sells for about $1M, the replacement cost would likely be about $750K.  What that means is that last year you would have paid about $13,500 for an annual windstorm policy.  This year, a new policy on that same home would be $15,000.  No doubt, that is an increase, but its far less then what most of us feared, and those who simply renewed their policies in many cases saw no increase at all this year, even whilst collecting large settlement checks.  Check out this Washington Post Article which sited Unique Island Assets as experts.

All told, we see opportunity, stability and improvements in the economic future of St John.  We feel confident in the Vacation Rental marketplace and the insatiable commitment to St John from our visitors.  We feel comfort from our federal government's oversight and funding.  We feel relief that our insurance rates are not going to be attacked.  Mostly we feel stronger and better despite the immense hardship we have endured. 

Contact us anytime if you'd like to discuss any of these topics further.

What did the hurricanes do to St John’s Real Estate Market?

St John's Real Estate Market has literally had it's doors blown off.  Contact us to talk about what that means for what you are looking for. 

Originally Published OCTOBER 23, 2017

Hurricane Irma followed by Maria has permanently left her mark on St John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The destruction is nothing short of emotionally and physically exhausting.  Many are still without homes.  Our small island community has literally been scattered thousands of miles apart.  People have evacuated to all parts of the globe.  Families are separated, lifelong childhood friends will not have holiday dinners together this year.  Electricity will likely not be 100% restored for many months.  No single property on St John escaped without some degree of damage. St Johnians rose up from the rubble to care for ourselves first, but we are thankful for the immense outpouring of support that has come from all over.  People online remain eager to help.  Homeowners struggled to get information about their damage with no communications.  Travelers with vacations planned panicked about their deposits and worried how they could help their favorite vacation spot.  The effects were wide reaching.  The road to recovery is going to be long one.  Yet still, people remain very interested in Real Estate on St John.

Take a look at this BEFORE AND AFTER.  Many homes were hard to approach on first check.  This home appeared totaled.  However, after hard work and a big crew from Unique Island Assets, we got the interior fully cleaned out and recovered. 

5 days after the first storm, I flew into San Juan and found a supply boat heading to St John from Puerto Rico.  After loading it and 3 additional boats with water and other supplies we began making the crossing only to unload again.  On the boat, I met a homeowner trying to get back to St John to assess his property.  He had $750,000 in cash and was ready to buy distressed property.  In the first emails I received, buyers were already contacting me.  The day after a few more; after that even more.  Here I was trying to find a way to communicate with my wife and daughter that I was OK and that all of our friends were alive and people wanted to know if there were any deals out there.   I was still in shock.  My arms were still vibrating from 12 hour chainsaw days.  The shift was happening.  The opportunities were being shuffled in a power play.  The drool was starting to pool in the streets. I had to figure out how to answer people, but I also had to figure out how to get fuel, water and food.   You adjust to the life of challenges, and if you have been on St John for a while, you adjust relatively easily.  You get comfortable with the crazy, and then you realize, damn, I need to get to work.  Not only getting back to being a broker, property manager and boat captain and musician as I have been for the last 19 years but now even more hats are added to my island closet.

So I searched for the answer over the hum of our generator and came up with these 5 steps of Real Estate Market Recovery after a Hurricane for a small resilient island with undeniable draw, desirability and beauty.

 

Step 1 – “When There is Blood in the Streets, Buy Real Estate”  - I had heard this saying years before from a respected real estate investor.  It’s vivid, awful and insensitive, but if you strip off the harshness, it has some wisdom in it for the hard ball investor.  It makes sense to think you can score big in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.  People are confused and desperate, wholly uninformed and emotionally unstable.  Those who are not see the weakness and want to strike. Sellers may very well want out with the task ahead seemingly unbearable.  These deals are most likely done outside of the typical real estate market, cash only.  It is simply not possible to immediately close unless you are prepared to buy before the storm even hits.  Even then, the government is shut down.  Still, there are historic deals that occurred in this phase.  The Peter Bay development for example, is said to be negotiated on the heels of a major storm.  For sellers, keep your wits about you and try to keep emotions out of it (use a Realtor to help).  For buyers, you can try to strike with a quick offers, you never know how someone values their property until you make an offer.

 

Step 2 –“Insurance is a Dirty Word” -  Windstorm (Hurricane) insurance is an unpleasant product to buy. It’s bank required so if you have a loan, you probably have it.  It’s expensive, running at three or more percent of replacement cost with very high deductibles (5-10% of replacement cost). Often people don’t insure for loss of use or loss of business in the case of rentals.  In addition, people don’t insure “other structures” like fences, electrical monuments, car ports, garages etc.  This leaves the insured technically underinsured and most owners short on cash for recovery.  When claims get settled, many owners will simply look at those numbers and then call their realtor to get out.  This second phase market will be busy and is where most of the hurricane transactions will take place. Buyers will cash in on great deals for their new “projects”. 

 

Step 3 – “Company Town” – St John is now in a housing crisis!  Homes that once were vacation rentals are now occupied by as many as 15 relief workers.  Soon though, the relief workers will leave and the construction crews will arrive.  Where will they all live?  The island’s housing economy will have to adjust to recover, but vacation villas are unlikely to get involved in long-term rentals.  Contractors will be forced to buy or rent employee housing to be able to get anything done.  The already weary manpower pool will only dwindle if we cannot house them comfortably.  Homes that can immediately provide housing will collect big on this and savvy buyers will capitalize on long term housing first with vacation rental goals in the long term.

 

Step 4 – “Flip Flop” – Flipping homes is one of those things that sounds like gold coins dropping in the bank to the novice Real Estate Investor.  It looks easy, and for many people in the States, it may be.  On St John, it’s another matter.  On St John, flipping a home is no (johnny)cake walk and experienced investors on island will tell you, there is no cheap way to do it.  There will be plenty of people looking for deals on project homes.  They will pour their life into it.  They will write a blog about it.  Then they will add it up and list it for sale on the market for more then their broker suggests.  This could clog the market with inventory.   

 

Step 5 – “Chiropractor Visit”  - It’s time to adjust!  An embattled real estate market and a hurricane are a recipe for adjustment.  I have been pacing back and forth trying to calculate the complicated web of economic effects on the micro real estate market that is St John.  Here are my adjustment predictions

 

·      Land – land sales will increase with values remaining stable or increasing from pre-storm values.  The only real effect this storm had on Land is that it did some of the excavating and land clearing for you.  Now you can see the view that Realtors have been telling you about and trying to sell you all these years.  Yes, it was always there!!

·      Unrepaired Damaged Homes – Damaged homes sadly will have damaged values.  Simply, it will be hard to recoup the inflated price point that some poorly constructed homes once had, and those that were well constructed but must be sold damaged now come with a scar that will be hard to shake from the record for a long time.

·      Repaired Homes – These homes will be slow to come to the market. Many of them will come on with inflated prices.  Read your seller’s disclosure forms well buyers!  Homes that are built to withstand will have value.  Those pieced back together will remain stagnant. 

·      Un-Affected Homes – Homes that escaped relatively unscathed will see an immediate drop in activity.  It is unlikely buyers right now are thinking about buying a full price home, but they should be.  In time, these homes will boast their resilience to Irma and Maria and will come out ahead.  Masonry homes with rafters poured into walls, back up(i.e. full time) generators, and quality shuttering systems will reign the marketplace when the Market recovers.  These will champion the final stage of the recovery and define the new value of St John.  Buyers would be wise to consider these homes while demand for them is low. 

 

Looking to get in on the action?  Look to your savings not to your lender.  Cash deals are king right now and lending will be a challenge especially with the unknown insurance realities, which are fast approaching.   Search the MLS here as listings get updated with new info about post storm conditions.

CONTACT USto talk about your real estate goals and see if you can find the deal you have been waiting for.

 


 

 

 

 

Recover, Rebuild, Rejoice, Relax

Hurricane Irma massively affected the vegetation on St John.  She stripped all of the leaves and bark from the trees that she left standing leaving an otherworldly look that was stunningly beautiful in a awe inspiring way. 

It was 9/6/17.  My Wife’s Birthday.  St John was about to get hit by the eye of a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 200 mph.  Hurricane Irma blew over us leaving disaster and destruction behind.  Later that day, St Johnians went outside to see what was left of their beautiful island paradise. Sadly, not much. But amazingly people survived, we are ALL ok. A few deep breaths, tears of despair and loss, and utter shock at the mass of devastation. Then just 14 days later Whoosh! Another category 5 hurricane brought more rain, more destruction to the barren island and more exhaustion to our community. Wow, what did we do that made Mother Nature so angry? Whatever we did or didn’t do does not matter; she showed up and blew us down. However, we are strong and she cannot knock us out. The rebuild is real, it is happening and we began just moments after the first storm.

This Haystack was once a lush jungle.  This photo is from 5 days after Hurricane Irma.  Now, this hillside is green again, just 6 weeks later!!!

The people of St John are of unique character and everlasting resilience. We are a close knit community that knows how to come together and rise above the problem. We are dedicated, kind, capable, smart independent folk that pull together as a team when the going gets rough. And with huge amounts of people that care deeply about St John that live off island, the love is flowing right back to the beating pulse of LOVE CITY. This community both on island and off is going to save this place and St John will be rebuilt in more beautiful ways than before. The warm turquoise waters that we all live there for will still be as clear and breathtaking as they were. The flowers and trees are growing fast and it will be paradise once again soon.

One of our operations captains Keith, Sets plywood to cover a blown out door.  Our company motto "PROBLEM SOLVED" proudly displayed! 

Rebuild - think about that word. Anytime you build something again it usually gets built better, smarter, stronger. The things that were weak before will now be built with greater ingenuity and materials to hopefully make it through the next storm. Things that owners didn’t like about their homes get to be redesigned to fresh updated modern styles. Furnishings will all be new and budding interior designers will have their chance to be inspired again and give homes a new look. Clean energy and renewable resources will hopefully become the norm and solar powered systems will make our island greener. We must look toward the light in this disaster and get excited about what it really means to rebuild. A second chance, a reinvention. If I were a tourist I’d be excited to see some of the rebuilds of your favorite villas and resorts. Just think, if you are the first guests to stay in some of these places it will be completely brand new!

Our crew has some friendly competition (more like cooperation) with other groups here on island.  Great momentum has already begun with teams put together by Kenny Chesney and the Bloomberg group. They have cleaned up a great deal of Cruz Bay and the North Shore and have helped lots of small business owners begin to get up and running. The National Park has crews in place clearing the hiking trails and cleaning the beaches. St John is alive and well and working feverishly to make it back and hopefully have a tourist season by winter.

Here at Unique Island Assets we have an amazing crew on the ground and are committed to rebuilding stronger and better. Our team's tiresome love for St John and the community keeps them going and pushes them to work harder even under the worst conditions. Our company is also eager to grow with this challenge and is seeking new properties to manage and help overcome this road ahead with dedication, knowledge and spirit. We believe in the power of St John and in all of us and we are going to rebuild toward the light. See you on St John soon.

Me in my temporary office on 10/23/17.  The island is already green and the water is clear and blue.  Time to start thinking about a trip to St John in February or March!!

 

 

 

Mid Year St John Real Estate Market Report

The St John Real Estate is full of deals right now and Buyers are catching some sweet ones.  SeaRock, pictured above is on the market for $1.6M

June on St John is nothing short of stunning.  Every fruit tree in our yard droops with heavy fruit and a different color flower is everywhere you look.  It takes patience to wait until the sweetness is just right to pick.  The real estate market seems to be the same; lots of low hanging fruit.  There are more homes on the market on St John under $1 Million then there have been in recent history and buyers are snatching them up.  Over all, these deals have dominated the first half of the year in an unprecedented way.  If you are one of those buyers that has been waiting for the moment to get into the market on St John, this may be your time to finally buy that little villa you have dreamed of.  It seems like the surge of smaller, more affordable homes may be linked to the short term market which remains incredibly strong.  People have taken advantage of the ease of renting smaller homes and brought a new market to St John - the villa under $1M!!

An all masonry home in Chocolate Hole with water views under $1M has been unheard of for the last 15 years.  This one with 3 bedrooms big westerly views and a hot tub is on the market for $819,000

MARKET SUMMARY - All told, it remains a buyers market, but the inventory is moving at an increased rate.  So far in 2017, 19 homes have sold and 16 are currently under contract.  There were 11 land closings, 2 commercial and 2 condo sales.  There are 8 lots currently under contract and 2 commercial listings pending closing. 

The Charts above show the last 10 years of sales data on residential properties on St John.  The volume and number of sales continue to rise, but the prices are going down.  In the last 12 months, the average price of homes sold was down to $1.005 Million from a high of $1.604 Million in 2010/2011(June -June).  However, the average price of homes sold in the last 6 months was a shocking $737,000, less then half of the 10 year high.  15 of the 19 sales in the first 6 months of 2017 were under $1M!! 

So why all the low sales and where did these cheaper homes come from?  This is good question, when we bought our home 12 years ago, it was one of a couple of homes even listed under $1M.  Today, there are 49 actively listed homes under $1M!!  It seems like there was a combination of a few things to bring these homes to the market; sellers who have owned homes on St John for a long time are getting older, homes that were built cheaply during the boom years coming to the marketplace and homes that have been rescued from deferred maintenance to serve the insatiable short term rental market which are now marketable for sale and now have fancy things like "certificates of occupancy". 

Anyway you shake it, buyers have responded by snatching up these cheaper homes in a noticeable way. 

Have questions about a home that's under $1M on St John?  We know them all, so don't hesitate to contact us for more details

You can also try our advanced MLS tool to search on your own.

 

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.