Which Island to Live on in the British Virgin Islands

When choosing to purchase a home in the British Virgin Islands, take time to explore and find the island that suits you best as each island has its own unique character, vibe, size and landscape. There is a possibility to fall in love with an island you might have never thought of. Below we highlight the uniqueness of the 6 main islands that are a part of Nature’s Little Secrets here in the BVI. Go out, explore and live the life you imagined! It might be just a ferry-ride away…

TORTOLA

Living on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands
Diversity and natural beauty: from majestic views on tropical hill tops to a seemingly untouched North Shore with secluded white sandy beaches to the shops and restaurants of Road Town. Most residents stay close to Road Town and enjoy living in the surrounding hills, but there is so much more. The sailing enthusiasts aim for the view of Sir Francis Drake channel on the South side and proximity to world renowned marinas, while beach and surf lovers enjoy country life on the green hillsides from West End all the way to Josiah’s Bay.

VIRGIN GORDA

Living on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands
An exquisite way of life amidst the rich & famous, with pristine white sandy beaches and extraordinary sailing, whilst enjoying the privacy and tranquility of a small island community. The areas of Windy Hill, Coppermine and Spring Bay with pleasant, rolling hills, provide tranquil living with close proximity to the Baths. From the west side up towards the exclusive resorts on North Sound, the focus is on refined, exceptional and luxurious living, which makes it one of the most coveted islands in the world. Richard Branson, amongst others, put Virgin Gorda on the map and now attracts wealthy new neighbours from all over the world.

SCRUB ISLAND

Living on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands
Luxurious living alongside a world class resort & marina on an island, which has provided sanctuary to world travellers since Christopher Columbus first visited. Scrub Island offers superb amenities along with the flexibility to create your own oasis. Although it is a relatively small island, all the amenities are readily available such as restaurants, bars, gourmet market, beaches, health club and various water sport activities. Its central location offers close proximity to the airport but more importantly to various hidden treasures, all just a short boat ride away.

JOST VAN DYKE

Living on Jost van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands
Timeless Caribbean island life with your toes constantly touching the sand. Enjoy your cocktail at one of the many world famous beach bars on the west side. White Bay Beach, which is one of the BVI’s premier vacation destinations, was made famous by Kenny Chesney in his song “No shirt, No shoes, No problem”. The hillsides provide magnificent views of nearby islands including St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Choose to live on the eastern side for the spectacular views, and more importantly, proximity to Little Jost Van Dyke, Diamond Cay and the picturesque islands Green Cay, Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay.

GREAT CAMANOE

Living on Great Camanoe in the British Virgin Islands
A daily ride in a small runabout is part of the joy of living on this unique island, helping to fulfil the pleasures of this glorified Robinson Crusoe existence. With almost no amenities and back to basics mentality you will truly unplug from daily life. What sets this island gem apart are the incredible views, often allowing you to see from Anegada to St. Croix. The other captivating differentiators are the “big skies” at night and during the daytime the protected and cosy feeling you get from looking down on the reef of Marina Cay.

ANEGADA

Living on Anegada in the British Virgin Islands
A world apart, with luminous sandy beaches, miles of unspoiled reefs all around the coral island and, unlike the other islands, almost flat. Not many choose to live this secluded life, but those who can and do, remain as close to nature and its glorious beauty as one possibly can. Plus, the chance to indulge daily in eating, reputedly, the Caribbean’s best lobster.

Tips for Selling Your Caribbean Home

Selling your Caribbean home
The ultimate goal is to make your Caribbean home attractive for the specific requirements of the potential buyer, thereby facilitating a successful sale. How to make that goal a reality? Here are some insider tips for selling your Caribbean home.

Setting the right price

As a seller, it is important to price your property according to the present real estate market. Asking too much—especially during a slow market—could scare potential buyers and the longer the property is on the market, the more negotiable the price becomes. Therefore, it is wise to price accordingly, especially if interested in a quick sale. The alternative option to lower the price could attract several offers.

Talk to how real estate agent and ask the right questions. How is the real estate market in general? Are things moving quickly or is the market sluggish? Does the home still require a lot of work and what are the possible costs for the buyer? All of this is important to consider in setting a price. Now, it’s time to prepare your Caribbean home to increase the chance of success in selling it.

Creating curb appeal

The first consideration in preparing a property for sale is ‘curb appeal’ – when approaching a property, how does the exterior look? Is there debris in the yard? Is the landscaping overgrown? Does the doorway and front of the building need a coat of paint? Sometimes the cost of improving a property is minimal and just requires some effort. When arriving at a property, a potential buyer develops a first impression, so let it be a positive one. A property with attractive curb appeal will definitely assist in facilitating a sale because it immediately instils confidence of the interior’s appearance in the potential buyer’s mind.
Creating curb appeal for selling your Caribbean home

Spring cleaning

The next step is to create an interior that matches the allure of the exterior. There are many aspects to this, ranging from paint colours to furniture positioning. Review your home and begin with the less costly adjustments.

To start the process, eradicate clutter – throw away items that are unnecessary. If you are unable to part with certain objects, store them – preferably off premises. Clear surfaces and counters in all rooms, especially in places where clutter accumulates easily such as the kitchen, family room, bathrooms and closets.

Clutter makes a home appear smaller and can be a primary deterrent to a potential sale as many buyers cannot visualise the residence properly when items from the previous owner are in the way. A buyer should be able to envision themselves in the home, so depersonalise the residence as much as possible while still giving the home island character and charm.

Using the right paint colours

Take a look at the interior and exterior paint colours. Are any of the walls painted an overly dark or vibrant colour? Most buyers prefer to see neutral colours such as pastels with off-white tones. Occasionally, dark or vibrant colours give depth to a room, but if you are not sure, get a professional opinion from a trained interior designer as this seemingly simple visual element can change everything, from the appearance of the size of the room to altering the buyer’s decision.

Making the necessary repairs

It is wise to check for structural defects and if necessary, to get professional guidance. In the tropics, some structural defects that often need to be addressed are adequate hurricane clips, rusty bolts and brackets, mould and mildew, peeling paint, leaking cisterns, grass in gutters, drainage issues, and rotting wood, especially on decks and siding. If you want the best price for your home, rectifying and repairing these issues is a must. Every potential buyer should leave the home with a feeling of security and safety.

Staging the home

Once the above issues are addressed, the final step is to stage the property. Think of staging as preparing your property for a photo-shoot. Furniture may need to be arranged in a specific way and sometimes accents such as plants, pillows and vases with flowers are added for balance. Peruse interior design magazines for some ideas. You may need to hire a professional to help with this aspect as some agents do not like to give their input for fear of offending their clients.

Once these changes have been made, have a thorough look at your home from an objective standpoint. View it as a potential buyer to see if there is anything else that would help with the presentation of the home.

Staging a Caribbean home

Choosing a real estate agent

In the end, it all comes down to matching your home to a potential buyer. Choose a real estate agent that has an international reach and clientele, as often the buyer will come from abroad. Choose an agency that you feel comfortable with and provides honest and direct advice. Remember that an agent works for you as a seller, and not for the buyer. Their job is to sell your Caribbean home for the best price possible and assure a smooth process.

You have the option to go with multiple agencies through non-exclusive contracts. This could increase your chances of reaching the most potential buyers. But often, real estate agents are inclined to give preference to their exclusive listings. This is also true for their marketing efforts. Non-exclusive contracts provide more risk for the real estate agent as the sale might not go through them and they get no commission.

Creating visuals for marketing

High quality photography and video are integral to a successful sale. Especially, as most potential buyers in the Caribbean will do their research online. You put so much effort in preparing your home, you don’t want to diminish that by having average photos and video. Also, if you have great visuals, the real estate agent is more likely to use the home in their (international) marketing efforts.

Often, we find that these photos and video also serve as a memento for the seller, providing an extra value to the investment in professional real estate photography and video.

Negotiations

The decision on at what price to sell a property is subjective. The focal concept is it has to work for you. Nevertheless, it is always best to come from an informed position with a thorough consideration of the entire scenario in order to make the wisest decision.

When an offer does come in and it is lower than the asking price, do not be deterred – the potential buyer may just be investigating the situation and your response. Come back to the table with an offer close to what you would accept as your bottom line and see what happens; it may be surprising how much the potential buyer may raise the offer.

A very astute real estate methodology is simply, “Let’s meet in the middle and you’ve got a deal!” after both buyer and seller have presented their offers. This concept works well and places finality to the negotiating process.

Design Tips for Your Caribbean Island Home

Design tips for a Caribbean island home
As real estate agents, we are often granted the rare opportunity to bask in the loving details that make an island estate truly a Caribbean home. All these experiences inspired us to share a few of the visionary design ideas that have charmed us over the years, and we hope they will inspire you too!

With execution of just a few of these design ideas, your Caribbean island home will take advantage of the tropical climate and lifestyle, allowing further enjoyment and satisfaction of a move to the islands.

Tropical garden

Taking time to cultivate your own private oasis is always a sound investment. Lush gardens full of texture and color will transport you and all who enter your home to a tranquil world where cares melt as the flowers grow. The BVI is blessed with rich tropical vegetation, so choose plants and trees that speak to you. Shade gardens painted with orchids, or tropical fruit trees are excellent ways to tempt the senses and keep you at ease throughout the year.

Remember to create shade through canopy. Sunshine in the tropics is a wonderful thing until you cannot escape it – get some shade.

Planting tips:

  • Aloe for the inevitable sunburn and key limes for the ever-popular pie and margaritas
  • Fruit trees such as coconut, mango, papaya, and breadfruit
  • Herb garden with rosemary, basil, and lemon grass for an exotic botanical feast at meal time

Bird watching might be a new hobby you want to take up with your property. Install Hummingbird and bananakeet feeders and use a bird identification book such as Audubon or Sibley guide.

Handcrafted, local elements

handcrafted local caribbean elements
Incorporating décor elements that are labors of love and skill, crafted by hand to provide more than mere functionality always trumps the conventional and mass-produced. For select features, consider commissioning local artisans to craft authentic or one-of-a-kind pieces to incorporate into your design scheme.

Make the most of the view

Caribbean island view from hammock
Establishing your own personal relationship to nature’s best offerings is why owning a Caribbean home in the BVI is so alluring, and this is undoubtedly due to its world-class sweeping vistas. Giving attention to endless sapphire seas, and neighborly nods from surrounding islands make for an excellent way to while away the hours. Make the most of your view by planning your gardens and lounge areas so they enhance your viewing experience. If possible, arrange multiple viewing angles so you and all your guests can relax, kick up your feet, and savor the splendor of island living.

Pro tip: buy some binoculars and a telescope to admire the passing sailboats in the daytime and at night, and revel in the majestic starry sky.

Tales of travel

Tell your life story by peppering your home with artifacts collected from travels afar. These conversation pieces will provide a glimpse into your past and are the perfect way to fill your home with memories while inspiring you to make new ones.

Colorful Caribbean

Add appeal and accentuate your own unique style by incorporating a bit of color into your home. Caribbean estates traditionally wear vibrant tropical hues to great effect, but even if you prefer natural tones, consider adding accents to enliven your space. Use the allure of the BVI as inspiration, and let your inner artistry take over.

Choose warm Caribbean colours and soft ambient lighting to accentuate the inviting atmosphere.

A space for socializing

Socializing space for your Caribbean home
If you buy a home in the Caribbean, you will most likely be entertaining guests and the idyllic social space is crucial in forming a comfortable and welcoming setting. A spacious and open floor plan allows for movement, mingling, and conversation to flow, as well as for comfortable breezes.

Offer comfortable deck seating for viewing the white sandy beaches and idyllic blue waters. All the beautiful colours of the late afternoon sunset when the heat subsides and the sun’s glare dims are often the most sought after cocktail hour locations in a private home or villa. Approximately 12 feet of outside covered deck space offering views and breezes toward an eastern sky are optimal.

A combination of outside dining and BBQ with sinks or stove tops near the entertaining areas are a plus. Often the chef enjoys joining the revelry while their guests amuse themselves at the bar.

Pro tip: use all-weather wicker outdoor furniture that can handle the elements of the tropical climate.

Caribbean home must-haves

Outdoor shower Caribbean

  • Hammock, rocking chair and/or porch swing: there’s nothing like sitting in the breezy shade sipping your favourite beverage. a nice spot to relax after dinner, talking and stargazing in the warm Caribbean night
  • Wooden louvered shutters: functional to keep the home cool and beautiful with a classic traditional look and feel with clean, rhythmic lines (screens and mosquito nets are also helpful to enjoy bringing the outdoors inside without the bugs)
  • Plunge pool: if you don’t have the space or resources for a full on swimming pool, a plunge pool goes a long way to help spend those sultry days relaxing at home
  • Outdoor shower: it is refreshing to bathe in the natural elements while enjoying the view
  • Hurricane shutters and a hurricane tracking chart: hurricane season begins in June and extends through till November. Winds can be very strong. Protect your windows from flying objects such as coconuts and branches
  • Snorkel gear and a fish identification book: the Caribbean is recognised as one of the top dive and snorkel destinations in the world. Explore!

BVI Purchasing Process for Real Estate

BVI Purchasing Process for Real Estate
The purchasing process in the BVI remains a gentle process, just like learning to relax, learning to appreciate people and their heritage, culture and conversation, like learning to say “Good mornin”, “Good afternoon” or “Good night”.

Island rhythms

A Caribbean vacationer’s first impression of the islands is often focused on the unspoiled natural beauty, but as time passes they realize there is more to these enchanted islands. After a few days of gazing at the stars at night through pure fresh air, floating silently on crystal clear waters of various shades of blue, stretching sun-soaked bodies across warm soft sand, cruising to various white sandy beaches, or diving/ snorkeling amongst a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, one gradually begins to finally relax and let go of the “rat race” mentality often found in Western or European cultures.

There is the feeling of family, that can not be found elsewhere easily. It is a “lay back” charm, which is part of an island culture that one grows to appreciate over days, weeks and months. The people of the islands have a genuine desire to connect on a more personal level, and once that connection is made, unique “island family” ties are formed. A quality of life, influenced by relationships with others within the island’s indigenous community, becomes the core of their existence. As these genuine ties are formed, foreigners eventually decide to purchase a home or land to build on, as they wish to join this island community, their “home away from home.”

Why the purchasing process takes time

Purchasing will usually take about 3 to 6 months, provided the paperwork is all in order, and most efficiently brought to completion by having a BVI Solicitor help process the paperwork alongside an experienced real estate firm, who can help channel and chase.The application process is not really complicated, it just has various steps required along the way. Part of the process is designed to help protect the island people and their inheritance, wherein the property will be advertised for 4 weeks in a local newspaper at the negotiated price, so a BVIslander (Belonger) will have the opportunity to purchase their country back at a price that the owner was willing to accept. If no Belonger comes forward, then the application is submitted and the process begins.

Non-Belonger Holding License

All foreign investors, including citizens of the United Kingdom are required to obtain a Non-Belonger Holding License (NBLHL) to purchase property in the BVI. Agreements to purchase property are therefore made contingent upon a license being obtained by the purchaser. A License gives entitlement to own a specific property. An overseas investor who wishes to rent their property will need permission to rent granted on their NBLHL, thereafter one can apply for a Trade License to commence renting their property. Neither Purchaser nor Vendor need be present in the BVI at any stage of the transaction.

Taxes

At closing, a Non-Belonger Purchaser is required to pay 12% stamp duty on the Purchase price or the appraisal price (whichever is higher) for both leasehold and freehold property. A Belonger will pay a 4% stamp duty which is less because they are already contributing in other ways to the government employment taxes. This one time stamp duty is used by the BVI Government to provide for various forms of infrastructure within the country, such as police, social services, roads, waste management, schools, etc. This stamp duty is reasonable for all the services a Purchaser(s) will be benefiting from, over the course of time they own their home.

Annual land and house taxes are nominal. Land Tax is assessed annually at the rate of $50 for sites up to 0.5 acre, $150.00 for sites between 0.5 and 1.00 acre and $50 for each additional acre or part thereof. House Tax at the rate 1.5% of the assessed annual rental value, are levied. In practice this means that for an average 2 or 3 bedroom house the annual taxes will be less than $500.00 per acre.

Leasehold and Fee Simple

Leasehold property are taxed at a lower rate with various terms and conditions. The majority of land in the BVI is owned in fee simple. A purchaser will normally acquire absolute title which is registered in the BVI Government land Registry. Registered titles relate to a detailed cadastral survey which defines legal boundaries. No transfer of land can take place unless the boundaries of the property have been determined to the satisfaction of the Registrar of Lands. Property in the BVI may also be held on long lease from the Crown or private individuals. Most often the duration of such leases is 99 years. For practical purposes a purchaser of such a leasehold interest will enjoy all the benefits of an absolute title for the duration of the lease.
Residency Status BVI

Residency status

Purchase of a property in the BVI does not in itself establish resident status. However an identification card is available to a person who holds a Non-Belonger Land Holding License which will allow the holder to be granted leave to land in the BVI for a period of up to six months. A certificate of residence, entitling the holder to land or embark in the Territory for an indefinite period, may be granted to a person who intends to reside permanently in the BVI.

Development

Development in the BVI is governed by Land Development Control Authority who are concerned with planning matters and by the Building Authority who are responsible for ensuring that the building conforms with the building code guidelines. It is preferred that working drawings submitted to these authorities are prepared by architects based in the BVI.

If you are ready to consider a purchase, we are here and ready to help guide you through the process, making your dream a reality, your “home away from home” in the BVI.

Why Use Professional Property Management in the BVI

Professional Property Management BVI
If you are considering renting your property in the BVI (long term or short term), comprehensive property management by a professional service will help protect your investment in the BVI. This type of amenity is designed to provide peace of mind and relieve the commitment of being a full-time on-site landlord.

Increasingly, property owners and tenants are requesting managed properties as it allows a third party perspective, streamlined toward a successful business relationship.

Property Management services

Property management packages include services such as collecting rent, handling simple and complex administration, and the provision of a 24-hour emergency helpline. Corporate and high-calibre private villa tenants expect 24/7 service when they rent a property and as a landlord it can sometimes be challenging to fulfil their demands and expectations.

Each managed property is given individualised attention and property management fees can be extremely reasonable with sufficient research.

Property management can help to ensure that both your tenants and property receive the essential professional care required. Utilising a property management service brings the following:

  1. Extensive expertise and knowledge of local BVI laws
  2. Comprehensive marketing to a targeted audience
  3. Finding and securing the right tenants
  4. A professional on-going relationship with the tenants
  5. Obtaining references
  6. Efficient collection of rent
  7. Managing the tenant check-out process
  8. Arranging tenant notices and evictions when and if necessary
  9. Arranging payment of outgoings: mortgage, property taxes, insurance or other payment as instructed
  10. Detailed records, accounting reports and quarterly statements provided
  11. Easy transfer of utilities
  12. Key-holding services
  13. Arrangement and payment of repairs, maintenance, cleaning and gardening services
  14. 24-hour emergency call-out service
  15. An annual property inspection with full reports to ensure proper maintenance

Property Management company

Essentially, a property management company alleviates the headaches and minor details of the process and protects your investment – a very useful tool for off-site property owners. It can be a key component in supervision and maintenance of your assets; adopting this time efficient and effective measure might even be the security necessary in your decision to buy a property in the BVI.

BVI Sotheby’s has a sister company Caribbean Realty that provides professional property management services in the BVI.

property manager in the BVI