Could You Buy a Home Sight Unseen? These Two Just Did.

Could You Buy a Home Sight Unseen? These Two Just Did. 1
Bill and Becky Haren

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.

8 thoughts on “Could You Buy a Home Sight Unseen? These Two Just Did.”

  1. Congrats, Bill & Becky! Love your story, and you’ll love being on the Coral Bay side of the island. It’s a really nice community. Looking for a long-term rental – painting and repairs, no problem, I can help! Let me know if you’re interested. And WELCOME to St John.

  2. Congratulations to Bill and Becky on their own slice of heaven! I don’t think I could be so brave to buy a property only through pictures but it proves that it can work. And it is nice to know that there are some properties out there that you don’t need to be a millionaire to acquire. I look forward to receiving Gretchen’s emails everyday looking at properties.

    • Terry, it really was not all that difficult. Study the market and each new listing. Gretchen was amazing to work with. She listens and is VERY informative and helpful. It was our intention to come down before putting an offer in, but we just knew this was the one and would be sick if it sold before we got here. So we went ahead. We had a very thorough property inspection, with photos and good descriptions, which helped. After that we talked to several contractors about the meaning of each item called out to get a good idea of the cost to repair. Google Earth is also amazing. You can zoom in and rotate the view to get a good grasp on the topography. Good luck with your search, ans do listen to Gretchen. You can see what we got at http://www.TrilogyStJohn.com. ( more photos coming next week)

  3. Bravo Bill and Becky for taking a leap of faith and living the life you’ve dreamed! You are my new role models. After 28 years and probably more than 100 visits to St John, I think I’ll be joining you shortly.

  4. So happy for you……living the dream. With the loss of our jobs we just can’t spend the money to get down there. We miss SJ so badly. So HAPPY that others can make it happen. St John is heaven on earth!!! EnJoY my friends…..ENJOY!!!

  5. Congratulations. I am sure you will create many happy memories there. It looks like a great spot. Now you have me looking.

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