The U.S. Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island - is an unincorporated territory of the United States. When you purchase property in our beautiful islands, you take and hold title in the same way and with the same guarantees and Constitutional protections that you would have in any locality within the United States. Real estate is owned fee simple and the deed is recorded and filed at the Recorder of Deeds.
The Virgin Islands enjoy beautiful weather year round. Blessed with powdery white sand beaches and sun-drenched skies, the average year round temperatures range in the 80s during the day and 70s most nights with summer somewhat warmer. Gentle easterly trade winds keep the humidity low. St. Thomas lies 18 degrees north latitude and 65 degrees west longitude in the Lesser Antilles 1,600 miles south, southeast of New York City, 1,100 miles east, southeast of Miami and 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. St. Thomas and St. John lie between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. St. Croix, 40 miles to the south of St. Thomas, is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. St. Thomas is 32 square miles in size. But the island appears much larger due to the mountainous terrain. The highest elevation is Mountain Top at 1,550 above sea level.
You'll find the following financial institutions doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands: First Bank, First Liberty Mortgage Company, Bank of Nova Scotia, Banco Popular and Merrill Lynch. Banks require the buyer to pay for title search, title insurance, property appraisal, written surveyors certificate, an as-built survey, structural and pest inspections, any fees associated with securing and recording a mortgage loan and related documents, bank attorney fees as well as the Buyers own attorney fees. Second homebuyers can qualify for up to 80% loan to value mortgages.
Property taxes levied in the Virgin Islands are very reasonable compared to many localities around the country. Residential and commercial properties have been revalued recently and newer and lower mil rates have been established. For residential property, the new rate is .003770 x the assessed valuation; for unimproved non-commercial real property, the new rate is .004946 x the assessed value; for commercial property, the rate is .007110; and the timeshare property rate is now .014070.
All real property transactions require a 2% to 3.5% government transfer tax (stamp tax) customarily paid by the seller; all property transactions over $350,000 require a 2.5% government transfer tax. For property transactions over $1,000,000, that rate goes to 3%. Recording fees are approximately $1.00/$1000.00 of the transaction value and paid for by the Buyer.
Hazard Insurance, which includes windstorm and earthquake coverage, is about 2% - 3% of replacement value for masonry/stone construction (wood frame may be higher).
If you are building your own home, consult with your Realtor or the experts at the building permit office in the governments Planning and Natural Resources Department. Your architect or builder can facilitate getting your plans and permits through the government process.
Quality concrete home construction will run around $350 or more per square foot depending upon the interior finishing materials used. Expect to pay much more for travertine, granite, high end cabinetry and all other upscale improvements. A licensed VI architect or engineer or draftsman must sign off on house plans. Building specs can be obtained from Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) at (340) 774-3320. Permits take 3-4 months for approval. All new buildings must be engineered to withstand a minimum wind speed of up to 110 mph and zone 4 earthquake provisions. The VI building code has been revised to stringent Dade county guidelines in the wake of Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. Mitigation, shutters, reinforcement to roofs, etc. also affect insurance rates.
Most of our resort condominium complexes are located on the beach. Amenities usually include swimming pool(s), tennis courts and restaurants on site. Studio condominiums start at $80,000; one-bedroom units are priced from $80,000 to $379,000; two bedrooms range from $150,000 to $645,000; three and four bedroom condominiums are available at Palm Gardens, Skyline Drive Village, the Anchorage Beach Villas, Cowpet Bay East and West condominiums, the Elysian Beach Resort, Caret Bay Villas, Watergate Villas East and Pineapple Village (located on the grounds of the Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham which is currently under construction). Prices for 3-4 bedroom condominiums range in price from $325,000 to $999,000 depending upon location, view and quality of interior design and materials - i.e. remodeling and refurbishing of the unit.
If you are thinking about starting a business, please contact the Industrial Development Commission at (340) 774-8104 to obtain a copy of the USVI Business Guide. This guide describes the tax and investment incentives available in the Virgin Islands. Check to see if your business is eligible.
Businesses pay a 5% gross receipts tax on money earned from all transactions including services and may not deduct expenses. If you earn $120,000 or less per year, you must file annually at the Internal Revenue Bureau. If you earn more than $120,000 per year, you must file monthly and are entitled to a $9,000 per month exemption. Businesses with Gross Receipts of $225,000 or more pay a 5% tax on all Gross Receipts.
Income taxes are the same as U.S. Federal taxes. There are no state or city taxes.
Maximum duty rate 6% of invoice value of foreign goods - no local duty on U.S. made goods.
10% surcharge on the income tax of all corporations with the exception of those enjoying investment incentives.
Excise taxes range from 2-15% of the net invoice value plus a markup of 5% on items brought into the islands for business use or resale.
1993 - Government imposed a 4% excise tax on imported personal goods (large appliances and furniture) valued at $500.00 or more.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) produces and distributes electricity and desalinated water for all three islands. Most homeowners use cisterns to collect rainwater from their roofs. If you live in a condominium, water collected in your cistern is usually metered at approximately 5 cents per gallon.
Internet connection can be obtained through AOL, ATT WorldNet as well as Innovative Telephone and Choice Communications as well as many other computer online companies. Western Union, World Communications & AT & T provide international telex and telegraphic services.
Mail is provided through the U.S. Postal Service as well as Federal Express, UPS, DHL and American Airlines.
Grocery prices are approximately 25% higher than in the Washington, DC area and 20% higher than in Puerto Rico.
And please remember that we drive on the left.
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