Travel and Vacation Forums >> St. Maarten - St. Martin

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Joined: 08/10/14
Posts: 56
Loc: West Chester, PA
buying property in St Martin
      #1710514 - 10/12/16 02:09 PM (

Is anyone willing to share reliable resources for potentially or eventually buying a villa in St Martin. We've really loved our trips there and thought it would be fun to explore the options. We're American and concerned about any differences with buying internationally, sourcing a realtor and local financing.

Also wondering if anyone has an opinion on the current state of the market (sellers vs buyers), cost of having a property manager for rentals and managing rental expectations.

Any feedback really is greatly appreciated.


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Joined: 09/26/10
Posts: 900
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710517 - 10/12/16 02:42 PM (

There was a couple from this board that just purchased a place on the island and they were featured on HGTV Caribbean Life. If you search for the past 2-3 weeks, you will find their thread and can send them a pm for help.

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Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11308
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710519 - 10/12/16 03:04 PM (


No personal firsthand experience but a lot of years worth of talking to those who have done this, and the reality is, we thought very seriously about doing this many years ago.

Among the the turn offs to us were the fact that rules and laws are NOT the same as those in the States, and you need to know you don't have a lot of legal protections. You really can't depend on needing rental income to help offset the expenses and costs involved - there are many rental properties available and they don't all get rented all of the time. And the big one to me is managing the maintenance of the property from such a distance. At one time we had a home in the South and being an absentee owner was not a great experience.

And of course these are just my opinions and there are many absentee owners here on the forum who may think I'm nuts for worrying about these things. We had actually considered SXM as a retirement option but after exploring the possibilities we decided WE weren't of the mindset to be comfortable with this idea. There's a small part of me that has always regretted not making that leap in faith but every time I hear of some of the issues others have had I've never regretted our ultimate decision NOT to follow our plan to make an island purchase. Well, not much, anyway.....



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat

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Joined: 03/19/15
Posts: 181
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: pat]
      #1710521 - 10/12/16 03:09 PM (

Pat, I agree with you. Being an absentee owner is very scary even with a property manager. Our property was vandalized to such a degree (and inhabited by homeless people) that we can no longer stay there. Fortunately, it seems that "they" haven't been back but it's always a scary thought when we go back to imagine what we might find.

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Joined: 10/21/09
Posts: 602
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: jamiegarrett761]
      #1710527 - 10/12/16 03:35 PM (

I think I would consider buying a property if I lived there half of the year. I might even go there once or twice in the six months I didn't live there. But I don't want to think of a property there for rental income, unless it was in someplace like the Cliff that was managed very well, and you would need to offset the monthly ownership costs, over and above the cost of the unit. But I don't know that I would retire there either, I think maybe 3 - 4 months to a different location every year might be a better option for me.

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Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 252
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710530 - 10/12/16 04:02 PM (

You have received some very good information from several people. One item, I do not think has been mentioned is the cost of upkeep in the tropics. The heat and humidity can be hard on the structure, keeping the home critter free and appliances/furniture.

Enjoy, what ever you decide to do.

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Joined: 12/15/15
Posts: 304
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710531 - 10/12/16 04:09 PM (

We opted for long term rental and have done so for the last 15 yrs. (3-12 months) and now live here full time. It takes all the worry off the table and in the hands of the Landlord. There are many places to rent long term on both the French and Dutch side...We are on the French. We know many people that purchased a place and have heard so many complaints that we decided it was not in our best interest.

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Joined: 01/22/08
Posts: 12428
Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710545 - 10/12/16 05:55 PM (

You have received many good opinions on the matter and I agree totally with Pat and the others who have decided against purchasing on the island. We have friends who have purchased and they seem relatively happy about their purchase and we have other friends who have had to confront severe frustrations now for a few years. It is a decision you ultimately have to make for yourself, but be sure before you purchase that you have a good health care policy intact, lots of money for unexpected maintenance and management and you are aware of the high cost of water and electricity on the island. You must do lots of research and go into your purchase with an open mind and the realization that you may lose money if you choose to sell and move on.


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Joined: 08/18/00
Posts: 161
Loc: Fairfield Cty, CT
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710557 - 10/12/16 08:49 PM (

Seven years ago, after using timeshares for our annual visits, we purchased a condo on the Dutch side. Security is an important factor in selecting a home. To get a good understanding of your costs and the reporting requirements you should speak with an island attorney and accountant. You can partner with a realtor who helps you find rentals and also manages the property in your absence. You will want someone who can handle the many minor items that arise.

Until you have a strong rental pattern you will need excess cash. If you buy an existing rental property, ask to see the rental history. Most rentals are Christmas to Easter. The economy has a direct tie to your income, so again, have some liquid investments.

It is a wonderful feeling to walk through the door and immediately decompress because it's your home. We only get to stay a couple of months a year right now but when we're there, it's marvelous! We've had some terrific vacations with family and friends there too.

Local financing requires lots of paperwork and everything must be documented. The banks expect a high down payment, like 40% and interest rates are higher than the states. The mortgage term is influenced by your age. Just have patience for it can take a long time to be approved.

It will be a journey that you will never forget!

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Joined: 03/31/04
Posts: 233
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: buying property in St Martin [Re: ligot]
      #1710575 - 10/13/16 06:28 AM (

So far there have been some excellent words of wisdom shared on this topic. The one concern that I would have is if at some point you decided to sell then that creates one of the biggest headaches to owning. As a renter you can simply walk away. Owing takes on new meaning. There are many properties that have been on the market for years and years. My favourite one is a villa in Oyster Pond that had been on the market for 10 years.

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