Another ‘Banner Year’ for Real Estate Sales on St. John

St. John experienced record-setting real estate volume sales in 2005, and this trend is likely to continue. As of Dec. 19, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reported 160 real estate transactions, with a total of $140,935,520 of property sold.

Last year, there were 177 real estate transactions for a total of $115,177,550.

Despite a drop in transactions, the increase in overall volume points to higher-priced properties being sold.

“This tells you that the average price has increased on St. John yet again,” said John McCann of John Foster Real Estate.

Good Press, Quality Homes
McCann credited the positive publicity St. John has received this year for the continuedupward trend in real estate sales.

“All of the positive accolades that have been in several different magazines this year drew more tourists to the island,” he said. “More people are coming here on vacation, and, in turn, more people want to invest here.”

The rise in the total volume of sales is an indication of the quality of houses being sold today, said Miles Stair of Holiday Homes.

“The homes being built today are far different from the homes being built 15 to 20 years ago,” said Stair. “The houses that are being built today, and that come back on the market after ownership of four or five years, are more expensive because they’re built to a higher standard. The underlying value is greater.”

Real estate agents have seen an increase in people interested in moving to St. John, which some say is a result of baby boomers retiring, as well as technology.

Technology Helps Sales
“Technology has clearly made a difference,” said Joan Sparling of American Paradise. “With the abundance of technology, including cell phones and the Internet, people can actually work from a different location than a big city like Chicago.”

“We’re seeing more people who can spend quite a bit of time working here, unlike years ago,” added Sparling.

Baby boomers are approaching retirement age and are looking for a place to retire, said McCann.

Gretchen Labrenz of Cruz Bay Realty also cited baby boomers for the rise in people interested in living on St. John.

“We are seeing more people who want to relocate here and perhaps retire here,” she said.

Land sales, however, were slightly down this year, said Sparling.

Land Sales Down
“That is because people prefer the instant gratification of purchasing a home rather than going through the building process, which could take a minimum of two years,” she said.

“We are in such a building boom on the island, that contractors and architects are booked up and can’t commit to sitting down with someone and getting a house plan right away,” Sparling continued. “Many customers want to look at homes first, rather than land.”

The type of customer buying land has changed, said Stair, with more people buying with the intention of building rather than purchasing land to hold to as an investment.

Overall, it has been a good year for real estate sales on St. John.

“It’s been a banner year,” said Labrenz. “It ended up being a very, very strong year.”

McCann said he expects the trend to continue.

“It has been another banner year for St. John real estate, and we are already seeing signs that 2006 is going to be even bigger and better,” he said.