It's no secret that a homebuyer with an excellent credit score, perfect credit history, timely payments, no collections or canceled accounts, no bankruptcies or foreclosures, and a low debt-to-income ratio can get a mortgage when buying a home in the United States. As an expert in the field of real estate and mortgages, I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bonnie Rapine and Nathan Purdome from Schaffer Mortgage Corporation to learn more about the homebuying process in the US Virgin Islands. Mortgage lenders in the US Virgin Islands offer similar loan options to those in the continental US, such as Conventional, FHA, USDA and VA loans. However, there are some differences between getting a mortgage in the continental US that you should be aware of to make the process smoother.
First of all, the homebuying process is much slower here due to the limited number of title companies and appraisers, so be prepared for a realistic closing time of around 75 days. The appraisals alone can take about a month to complete. Keep in mind that you're on an island and “island time” is a real thing here. Additionally, a lawyer is required for the closing process in the US Virgin Islands. To make the process easier, it's best to get prequalified over the phone before you start looking for a home.
Real estate agents prefer to work with pre-qualified clients and their prequalification is valid for 90 days. Bonnie also recommends that you be eligible to get the most you can qualify for AND that you feel comfortable paying for a home before you start buying. It may seem like common sense, but don't get carried away and fall in love with a house you really can't afford. Before you start buying, and especially before you make an offer on a home, come to St. John and make sure that island life is really right for you.
Check out the neighborhoods and explore different areas of the island before buying so that you can compare prices with your real estate agent. It's also important to hire an attorney before signing a home purchase agreement and then hire them during the closing process to ensure that your contracts are in order.
Contrary to popular belief, foreign citizens who want to invest in real estate in the US Virgin Islands may apply for a mortgage. Owning a home is an important part of the American Dream and there are resources available to help you buy, maintain and keep your home. Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, including the United Kingdom and EU member countries who wish to visit the US Virgin Islands for holidays or business must apply for an ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization System) before departure. The US Virgin Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world such as Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay.
US citizens can freely move to the US Virgin Islands without needing to submit any new documents such as work visas. Foreigners can buy property in the US Virgin Islands and the Government welcomes investments from foreign buyers. The US Virgin Islands are considered one of the best places in the region where American buyers can easily buy a second home. International flights arrive at Cyril E King Airport which is located just west of Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas' capital.