Real estate: buy or build?

It's the age old question.  For businesses looking to expand or for folks looking for an island home away from home.

Lynn Giovanna, an agent at Islandia Real Estate, answers the question by firmly saying "Buy."  On the Islandia blog, she writes, "I just don’t think you can build for less than an existing structure."

"Don’t get me wrong, if you want to invest in a piece of land to hold on to, well this is clearly the time to invest in land," she says.  But that's assuming you have a long time horizon to breaking ground and completing construction.

With almost 125 villa properties on the market, she believes there are good buys to be had at reasonable prices, at much less, per square foot, than the cost of new construction.

Furthermore, if the villa you're considering is already with a rental management company, and has a track record, its value is certainly enhanced.  With a new house, you'd be a start up in an-already competitive business.

Disclaimer – and opportunity! 🙂

Our own villa, Blue Tang, has just been listed for sale by Cruz Bay Realty.  See the listing here.  Two bedrooms, AC, pool, located in upscale, convenient Great Cruz Bay neighborhood.

11 thoughts on “Real estate: buy or build?”

  1. Based on all the STJ building blogs I have read, with one exception, being a contractor on STJ seems like a license to steal. I am sure there are good companies on island but the way some of the bloggers present their sagas, it seems like the builders have no interest in keeping the projects on time and budget.
    Buying existing must be a better option.

  2. If you buy the right land at the right price, and can do a lot of the work yourself, it might be smarter to buy land and build. That said, there are some tremendous bargains in houses right now, particularly under 350K; there is some real value available now.

  3. The biggest problem is STJ property taxation is completely out of whack with reality. The government sees it as a cash cow. I won’t go into the reasons why STJ property owners (well, many but not all, if you carefully look at the records) are being gouged with inflated values, but . . . SOME people can go in and get an immediate abatement. OTHERS get sandbagged. Meanwhile, the undercurrent move to push all taxation onto “non-natives” remains alive and well. Ah wee! What we pay for “paradise”!

  4. Not a very helpful remark for all the architects/contractors etc on the island. Where the economy is right now, everyone should be helping eachother out. Isn’t that always been the St John way!

  5. Alan:
    I’ve covered real estate on this blog for years. Look at the Real Estate category link on the right. I am most certainly, personally involved – as are many of our readers and advertisers.
    Lynne Giovanna at Islandia raised the topic on her blog, I passed it along – as I do lots of items.
    As for Blue tang for sale, yep! Perfect: two bedrooms, AC, pool, veranda, five minutes from town, paved roads, stable secure upscale neighborhood, Catered To’s best two bedroom rental property … what’s not to like. See it at http://www.cruzbayrealty.com/details.html?list_number=10-395

  6. Why are we offering Blue Tang for sale?
    We have loved the island for more than 30 years. We’ve owned property and villas for 25 years. Blue Tang is Catered To’s most successful rental villa and that’s enabled us to afford to spend time on the island.
    A few years ago, we vacationed in Maine for a few weeks in the summer. And we fell in love with Maine, just as we did with St. John. Now, we spend the summers up north.
    And since we have both stopped working (We’re ‘Relaxed’.), we have been doing more traveling. And there just doesn’t seem time to be everywhere.
    Simply put, at this point in our lives, Maine and Europe are calling, and we wanna go.

  7. Frank, So it ain’t so!!! What if the new owners aren’t as great as you? We can’t make it back ’til probably 2013 but were already planning on staying with you again. 🙁
    MCDomzal (Meg)

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