Would You Buy Land in St. Kitts?

Old Apr 6th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Would You Buy Land in St. Kitts?

My wife and I spent a week in St. Kitts last week and just for kicks, decided to stop into a real estate office to find how much land cost. Being a little naive about land prices in the caribbean, we were surprised at how affordable a piece of land is. A 1/4 acre lot on the side of mountain, with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, mountains and a constant breeze is around $60,000. St. Kitts looks to be an up and coming island, so we figured it would be a wise investment to purchase a piece of land and sit on it for a few years. Maybe someday we will build a house and rent it out to vacationers. Before we pull the trigger, are there any other islands in the caribbean that would be a better investment?
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Old Apr 6th, 2005, 08:16 AM
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Not if they still have that 18% fee on top of the limited amount of time (and it is enforced) that you have to build.

Your "someday" to build a house comes along very quickly, and then they have the authority to force you to build or make you sell.

Also, a 2 or 3 BR house will run you about $450,000 (to build) for something halfway decent and take about a year to build and end up costing you about a 20% overrun.

Building is MUCH more expensive than in the States and takes forever - no Lowe's or Home Depots.

Then you can tack on a few hundred a month for the pool guy, the housekeeper and the property manager.

In case it's not abvious, we looked into building on SKB/SKN.
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Old Apr 6th, 2005, 09:21 AM
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St. Kitts is an up and comming island and Real Estate prices are beginning to climb. Many people have built retirement or second homes on the island. I have a home on a neighboring island and one thing you should not do is think of it as an investment - it's more like a second home which if it appreciates in value over time will be a good thing but one should not count on it. As far as renting out your house, most of the people I know who do (I don't rent mine) barely manage to cover their costs and don't make a profit. Normal maintenance and upkeep on a Caribbean home is much more expensive that you are probably used to seeing due to exposure to strong sun and salt air and if you rent out your home you can expect that number to be even higher (renters rarely take good care of things that don't belong to them). Another thing you have to consider is St. Kitts, like most islands, does not have zoning laws so you never know what might be built on the vacant land next door or down the road.

Also, I'm not sure if you are aware but on St. Kitts (and on just about every independant Caribbean Island) if you are a non-belonger (i.e. a St. Kitts Citizen) you must begin building your house within 18 months of purchase of the land otherwise you risk losing title to the property (this pretty much . This law exists to primarily prevent land speculation and while some people disregard it, non-belongers ought not to take that risk.

As for the purchase price you have to add in your closing costs. You will be required to obtain an Alien Landholders License at a cost of 10% of the price of the property and pay a Stamp Tax equal to 6% of they purchase price and a 2% Transfer Tax (total 18%). I seem to recall hearing that one of these taxes either has been or will shortly increase an additional 2%).

If you are planning on borrowing money to purchase the property, you should know that most non-St. Kitts banks will not grant a mortgage on Caribbean land and the St. Kitts based banks banks will usually only lend up to 50% of the purchase price and to top it off, interest rates are about double what you are used to seeing "back home" (the same holds true for construction mortgages).

Building your house is another "labor of love". Make sure your lot is serviced by roads and utilities otherwise you will have to pay to bring the services to the property (it can get expensive). Expect to pay your contractor between $125 and $150 per sq.ft for for 4 concrete block walls, a basic wood roof and holes for your doors and windows. You will have to purchase everything else (doors, windows, floor tiles, roof tiles, wall tiles, hardware, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, cabinets, hardware, appliances, paints, stains, etc., etc., all of which you will have purchase "off-island" and import to St. Kitts. These purchases are subject to anywhere betweeen 30% and 40% duty on the cost, insurance and freight. How much you spend on those items will depend on your particular tastes but they will easily add $100 per sq. ft. to your building costs and much more if you want designer finishes.

I am not trying to sound negative but rather hoping to give you a relistic picture of what you can expect if you are contemplating a home in the Caribbean. As I said many people own an island home and are very happy with their decision (I'm one of them) but there are probably an equal number who tried it and found it it wasn't right for them.

Do your research before making any decision. I strongly recommend you get a copy of The Settler's Handbook. It was written for people contemplating a move to the USVI's but it contains a lot of generic information that applys to just about any island. You can buy it at www.vimovingcenter.com (it's $15.95). That website has lots of great information about building and living on an island.

Finally, as to your question about other islands, most of us Ex-Pats spent time visiting numerous islands before making our individual choices. You really have to find a island where you'd like to live and that has a property that suits your particular needs.

Old Apr 8th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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You have both given us a lot to think about. Thanks for taking the time to write a response.

Norm and Eileen
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:15 AM
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For more information on buying land in St. Kitts you should contact Ricky at www.stkittsrealty.com

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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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One island that you might also want to think about is Vieques. The island is very underdeveloped touristically (it's certainly not for everybody - yet), is absolutely wonderful (wild horses and stunning beaches), and is very easy to get to from virtually anywhere in the US (via San Juan). The US Navy pulled out 2 years ago. They owned something like 80% of the land including most of the best beaches. All of their property is now a nature preserve, the largest in the Caribbean. To top it off, it's a US territory, so you don't have to deal with some of the bizarre St. Kitts rules.
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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I agree Vieques and Culebra will be very soon the chic caribbean destinations. I can see them easily giving competition to the other tiny caribbean islands that focus on luxury tourism only.
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