Becky Haren first visited St. John in the late 1960s. She visited for the second time last March along with her husband Bill. This past Thursday, Becky arrived on St. John for the third time. But this time, she and her husband came with a purpose – They came to close on a home in Coral Bay.
What makes the Haren’s story interesting is that they never actually stepped foot in their new home prior to purchasing it. They had never even done a drive by. Heck, they had never even stayed on the Coral Bay side of the island prior to last Thursday.
So how exactly did this all transpire? Well it began late last year while Becky was planning their March 2013 trip – Bill’s first to St. John. She began by perusing the rental market, but soon found herself checking out the MLS real estate listings online.
“The Internet has opened up a whole new way to shop for (St. John) real estate,” said Gretchen Labrenz of Cruz Bay Realty. “Our website, digital photos, videos, Google Maps, and rental sites and reviews for homes makes the research easier.”
And that’s exactly how Becky did it.
“Every single morning from last December on, I was looking at the MLS, just looking at the market for something new,” said Becky, a retired teacher who lives in North Carolina. “We started looking and I was calling myself a bottom feeder. We were looking at the bottom of the market. We’re just normal people. We’re not grand financial people who can just come here and buy stuff.”
They knew that a million dollar home was out of the question, so they searched for something more practical. After months of reviewing every new listing, scouting neighborhoods via Google Earth and conferring with Gretchen, what seemed like the perfect property listed for sale. Trilogy is a three bedroom home in the St. Quaco & Zimmerman estate. It has expansive views of Coral Bay Harbor and out toward the East End.
The home was perfect for the Harens who hope to someday retire on the island. (Bill currently works in North Carolina as an engineer.) They spent their first night in the home, also their first night in Coral Bay, last Thursday.
“The first night, the night sounds were incredible. It was just beautiful,” Becky said. “Going to sleep was just peaceful. We never had that peacefulness on the Cruz Bay side. It was just nice. And there is some night life over here, but it’s not like Cruz Bay. It’s just nice.”
So many of you might be wondering how exactly they were able to buy a second home in paradise..
“The way we managed to do it is that I just never allowed somebody to tell me you can’t do it. We just figured it out,” Becky said. “We never had any trepidation. We just had good feelings the whole time. It was just meant to be.”
The Harens decided it would be less expensive to purchase their new home with cash, rather than through financing. To do so, they refinanced their North Carolina home and used that money to purchase the St. John home. In doing so, they were not required to buy hurricane or earthquake insurance. Becky said that saved them thousands of dollars, thousands of dollars which they plan to use to strengthen the home’s structure.
They’re now working on making minor upgrades throughout the home like painting and such. They plan to split their time between St. John and North Carolina over the new few years until Bill’s retirement. They expect Trilogy to hit the rental market sometime early next year.