Articles

April’s Q&A

Q: Tell us about your background and your company, Newland Real Estate.

A: As a second-generation Newland Real Estate Broker, I grew up in beautiful St. Thomas and had an early

exposure to the skills and know how of the US Virgin Islands luxury real estate market. I crafted my

expertise by the age of 18, making me the youngest real estate agent in the area. My last 40 years in the

field have garnered the respect and credibility for knowing the ins and outs of this industry and niche

market. There are a very limited number of brokers who sell high-end properties in the Caribbean in the

$20M plus range, so I pride myself on being the exclusive broker for private islands sold under the US

flag and high end commercial and residential properties.

Newland Real Estate was founded in 1957 after my parents moved from Long Beach Michigan City,

Indiana to St. Thomas. It was then that they founded the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Realtors and

the Territorial Association of Realtors. Newland Real Estate has been family-owned since then and my

mission is to keep it a successful Newland family business for generations to come.

Q: Who is your target audience?

A: My properties are all very exclusive and high-end, geared towards those who can afford it and plan to turn

them into something longstanding. My buyers are, more often than not, well established, wealthy, and

have the luxurious freedom to invest in business opportunities, or splurge on a second, or third property

just because they can. It really takes that special billionaire that has the funds to own his/her own island.

There are only 2 islands left in the US Virgin Islands for sale, so once they’re sold, they are maybe gone

for good. There is also a sense of legacy building for some of my buyers. They are interested in purchasing

as to keep the property in the family for many generations. This means that the turnover for these

properties is very low, so once an exclusive island comes on the market, potential buyers have to be quick.

There are many types of buyers for such large purchases: individuals, investors, and development

companies. I prefer to sell to individual owners than to developers for the fluidity and seamlessness of

transactions that come with it. I recently closed on two islands to individual buyers very quickly because

we negated the long process that would otherwise come with developers, including: permit application;

obtaining investor funds; and abiding by zoning laws. However, if that is the desire, I know exactly what

has to be done, who to go to, and so if that is absolutely the direction my future buyer wants to go in, I

become an essential part of that and make sure it is executed in the most efficient and expedited way

possible.

Q: What are some challenges you face in the market?

A: Getting the word out to clients can be a challenge because these prominent properties are not publicly

marketed so many buyers may not be readily aware of my listings. I choose not to market through

advertisement because these are special locations that many of the high profile sellers would like to keep

private and confidential, and I honor that discretion.

Many of my buyers find me through referrals. I make sure no one knows the people I am working with

and who is buying what property to respect the privacy of my buyers – AND sellers. This builds my

credibility and the trust level clients have in my team. Many people are aware of my major recordbreaking

sales even though I don’t talk much about what I’ve done—somehow people just know.

Q: How are you changing the landscape of the US Virgin Islands?

A: I am very dedicated to keeping the landscape of this area as in tact as possible, being sensitive to the

natural environment. Many individuals are very thankful for what I do to contribute and give back to our

community. There was a beach property that the US Virgin Islands Government wanted to keep

undeveloped and proprietary, but it was too expensive to gather the funds. What I was able to do was go

to a Senator, who helped the Government find the funds necessary in order to buy it and keep it in its

natural state. The community is still very thankful to me to this day for that sale.

Q:Who is your ideal buyer?

A: The ideal buyer is not only financially capable, but also able to make swift independent decisions. I am

also interested in finding someone who is environmentally sensitive (can understand how – and the

importance of – to keep the water, corals, and reefs in tact as much as possible); someone who is willing

to view the property in person – the sign of a real buyer; and finally, someone who understands that these

are high quality properties that need to be treated with respect.

Q: What is your mission?

A: Now that my son has joined the company, I am focused on building the Newland Real Estate Company

to be a family business that will stay with us for generations. My mission is to maintain the high level of

integrity and loyalty amongst our current and future clients through our growth. Some of the most

successful businesses in the world are family-owned and I believe that building a company that survives

many generations is special.

Create A Real Estate Portal

With a portal you are able to:

  1. Save your searches
  2. Get updates on listings
  3. Track listings
  4. Add notes and messages
  5. Personalize your dashboard
  6. Stay up to date

Relocate a Business

The United States Virgin Islands is the ideal location for doing business and maximizing your company’s profits. We offer a very unique tax incentives program for qualified businesses relocating to our shores through the Economic Development Commission, or the EDC program.

Qualified businesses are eligible for a reduction of up to 90% of personal and corporate income taxes and up to a 100% exemption on excise, business property, and gross receipt taxes.

Our pristine beaches, wonderful sunshine, great duty-free shopping, intriguing historic monuments, and protection of the U.S. flag and U.S. courts combine to make our islands the ideal destination.  Read Why the USVI, take a look at the what you could save through the EDC program, and then contact us.

We are ready to welcome you and help you get started.


Many visitors to the Caribbean dream of owning a little slice of tropical paradise. Particularly as the region is one of the most sought after destinations for vacation and retirement homes. So if you are considering purchasing a home in the Caribbean for vacation or retirement here are 10 tips to ensure the purchase goes smoothly.

1. Do your research
Your five-day vacation may have felt like a little piece of heaven but that is not enough time to tell you what you need to know. If you’re buying for investment, i.e. you plan to rent the home, be sure that the property is close to amenities and facilities such as shops or the beach. If you’re looking a property for retirement, find out if adequate health and support services are available. Look beyond the postcard experience to find out how developed is the infrastructure (roads, water, electricity, phone and internet). Issues like safety and emergency response should also be taken into account.

2. Secure a lender early
Before you go searching for property you should be aware of how the purchase will be financed. If you intend to secure a mortgage, seek pre-approval from your lender before you go house hunting. Some Caribbean islands require that you have all the funds needs to purchase. Whereas in some location, you can get a mortgage. Getting a mortgage from a Caribbean lender varies only slightly from the institutions in your home country, as you will still need to show documentary evidence of your ability to repay the loan.

3. Hire a real estate agent
Real estate agents working in the Caribbean are usually well versed on the property laws and regulations that vary from island to island. They will be able to help you find the dream property and steer you to the shortcuts to bypass red tape that can frustrate the process. A good real estate agent will have in-depth knowledge of the island, is well connected and able to recommend you to other professionals and services you will need to complete the purchase.

4. Hire an attorney
When you decide on the property you will need to make an offer to purchase. However, the laws surrounding the purchase of property by overseas residents vary in the Caribbean, so it is prudent to have an attorney to help you interpret these laws. When choosing an attorney, try and get a referral from a fellow expat who has gone through the process and currently lives on island.

5. Make sure you are eligible to purchase property
Some countries like St. Lucia require you to be on the island to sign the conveyance documents for purchasing property. In Jamaica, you must have a unique taxpayer registration number issued by the Tax Administration Department before the purchase can proceed. Other islands have mandatory requirements for overseas property buyers.

6. Get a surveyor’s report
In addition to registering your tax obligations, you will need a valuation and survey report. The valuation should provide information about the property to determine its true market value. The survey report will determine the legal boundaries of the property and whether there are any encroachments.

7. Prepare for the true cost of buying
Buying property does not only involve the cost of the land. There are attorney’s fees, real estate commission fees, the cost of valuation and survey, land transfer taxes and other fees that some islands require upfront. For example, some countries ask you to apply for a residency permit or pay a non-national fee before you can purchase land.

8. Be patient!
Cultural differences and government bureaucracy can turn your search for a dream property into a long and drawn out process. It is important that you be patient, keep in constant contact with your attorney and real estate agent to be sure that things are proceeding according to plan

9. Learn about the foreign exchange rate
Exchange rates vary in the Caribbean, and as such you will find many properties priced in US Dollars or British Pounds. You should be aware of the exchange rate as you may be required to pay some fees in local currency. Though this will likely be handled by your attorney, it is wise to keep track of your finances.

10. Protect your new asset
After the purchase of your property is complete, be sure to include it in your existing will. If you do not yet have a will, now is the perfect time to get one.


5 Financial To-Dos for First-Time Buyers

First-time home shoppers come to you eager to buy, but there’s a lot they need to do before they start touring listings and submitting offers. Make sure you keep them on track so that the path to closing is smooth. Here are a few items you can remind them to do to make sure their finances are in order.

1. Determine total monthly housing budget. 

What can your clients really afford? The total should include estimated taxes and home insurance costs, too. After all, in some places, that can double your mortgage payment. Buyers should be encouraged to talk to an insurance agent to get an estimate of the costs in the areas in which they’re looking to buy. Mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae recommends home buyers spend no more than 28 percent of their income on housing. Buyers may start to struggle financially when housing costs take 30 percent or more of their income, financial experts warn.

2. Factor in the closing costs. 

Buyers shouldn’t be blindsided by the cost of a transaction. Be sure you explain everything from origination fees, title and settlement fees, taxes, and prepaid items (such as homeowners insurance or homeowners association fees). They’ll get more precise numbers from their lenders as they get through the paperwork, but a general estimate will help them ensure they’re shopping within their budget from the onset.

3. Examine creditworthiness. 

Will your client even be able to qualify for a loan? Buyers should get a free annual credit report and look for any errors or unresolved issues. They should contact the credit reporting bureau immediately if they spot any errors. They also might want to determine their FICO credit score, which many lenders use to help determine an interest rate for financing.

4. Prepare documents. 

Buyers will need to be ready to show a lot of documents when applying for a home loan. These include pay stubs, bank account statements, W-2s, tax returns for the past two years, statements from current loan and credit lines and names and addresses of landlords for the past two years. Gathering these together ahead of time will help make the process smoother and faster.

5. Get preapproved. 

This not only helps buyers get a better understanding of what they can truly afford, but it also puts them in a better position to submit an offer when they find a home they love. Also, financial planners say applying to multiple lenders in the same month may help boost a buyer’s chances of getting a loan approved at the best rate possible without dinging their credit score too much.


US VIRGIN ISLANDS (USVI) IS THE VACATION DESTINATION FOR THE TOP 5%

CBS Money Watch and a recent survey conducted jointly by Resonance Consultancy and The Luxury Institute has reported that the wealthy choose the US Virgin Islands as one of the top 10 vacation choices in the world.

But what if you could make that vacation last forever? Yes. Forever.

The USVI offers a luxury lifestyle from the white sugar sand beaches to gorgeous views and gourmet restaurants. Enjoy boating, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, hiking and more—with no passport needed.

Not only will you be living in paradise, you’ll have many of the amenities that you were accustomed to in the states—your favorite grocery store brands, the latest music & movies, big name retailers and much more.

This month’s newsletter covers market trends and includes a selective list of our featured luxury properties.


USVI REAL ESTATE MARKET TRENDS AND INSIGHTS

Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or seasoned veteran, buying in the USVI has an array of opportunities available.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

The last major construction boom in St. Thomas was in the 1970s. This period saw many USVI waterfront locations developed including a large portion of its rentals. Afterwards, the pace of development in the U.S. Virgin Islands slowed considerably even though its global reputation as an incredible vacation spot continued to grow. This has created a situation where hotel room market supply in the USVI is 2,500 rooms below ideal capacity. Adding new units by converting residential properties into timeshares or short-term rentals is a sensible way to make the most of the current market and earn a great return on initial investment.We foresee a steady demand for new long-term (corporate), multi-family, and short term (Airbrb, HomeAway, or VRBO) rentals well into the future.

LUXURY REAL ESTATE MARKET

The wide range of luxury properties currently available along with a temporary slowdown in demand means that right now is a great time to check out the unique opportunities available within the USVI luxury market. We expect demand to increase sharply once the USVI government finishes retooling its Economic Development Commission Tax Incentive Program.

THE CONDOMINIUM LIFESTYLE

For those looking for the luxury lifestyle without the luxury price tag, condominiums in the USVI are an excellent place to start.