Buyer Info

Sunset over boats in Cruz Bay

Buyer Information for St. John Real Estate

The Virgin Island real estate featured on this site is intended to reflect a cross section of the market in price and location. We have a wide selection of properties throughout the island.

For a complete information package about purchasing St. John real estate or if you wish to receive specific information about our listings, please contact us. As REALTORS and members of the multiple listing service (MLS), we can provide you with access to the entire St. John real estate and Virgin Island real estate market.

Property Taxes

Below are the VI Government’s mil rates for calculating property taxes

Land – Unimproved non-commercial real property at .004946
Residential – Residential real property at .003770
Commercial – Commercial real property at .007110
Timeshare – Timeshare real property at .014070

More information is available at the VI Government Property Taxes web site


Available through banks and lending institutions; including First Bank of Puerto RicoCitiBankBanco PopularScotia BankMerchant’s BankFirst Liberty & Merrill Lynch. Most banks require the buyer to pay for the title search, title insurance, surveyor’s certificate, perimeter survey and the bank‘s attorney fees. Second home buyers can qualify for up to 70% loan to value mortgages.

Title Insurance

Available and recommended.

Transfer Tax (Stamp Tax)

There is a sliding scale government transfer tax (stamp tax) on residences and land at closing and is based on the purchase price.
A.) 2% for property valued up to $350,000
B.) 2.5% for property valued from $350,001 to $1,000,000
C.) 3% for property valued from $1,000,001 to $5,000,000
D.) 3.5% for property valued over $5,000,001

Windstorm / Earthquake Insurance

About 2% to 3% of property value for masonry/stone, more for wood frame construction.

VI Zoning, Building & Housing Laws & Regulations

Tropical Properties Real Estate has created this document outlining the zoning regulations for St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Click here to view the St. John zoning regulations:

Building Specs

All new buildings must withstand a minimum wind speed of up to 110mph and zone 4 earthquake provisions.

Building Costs

From $300.00 a sq. ft. to $450.00 a sq. ft. A VI licensed architect or engineer must sign off on house plans. Building specs may be obtained from Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) at (340) 774-3320. Permits take 3-6 months for approval.


Supplied by underwater cable from St. Thomas. A backup generator is located on island that supplies Cruz Bay only.


Collected from the roof and stored in a cistern. Required capacity is 10 gal. of cistern for every sq. ft. of roof on single story homes and 15 gal. for a two story home.

Taxes & Business Information

USVI residents taxed on worldwide income according to standard (IRS) tax code. Non-resident US citizens taxed on income from USVI sources only. Corporations have a 10% surcharge on income with the exception of those enjoying investment incentives. Businesses pay 5% gross receipts tax on money earned from all transactions including services and may not deduct expenses. Ask about EDC and other tax incentives.


A maximum of 6% of invoice value of foreign goods, there is no local duty on US made products.

Excise Taxes

The range is from 2% to 15% of the net invoice value plus a markup of 5% on items brought into the islands for business use or resale. 1993 government imposed 4% excise tax on imported personal goods (large appliances and furniture) valued at $500.00 or more.


The US government purchased St. John from Denmark in 1917. A Naval governor ruled until 1931 when the Dept. of Interior assumed control. We are an unincorporated territory. Residents of the Virgin Islands vote for a local governor. We cannot vote for president of the United States. We do receive all other benefits awarded the (mainland) United States.

USVI National Park

In 1950 Lawrence Rockefeller purchased more than half the island from the Dutch West Indies Company, developed Caneel Bay Resort and donated the remaining acreage to the US Government as public park land. Over the years the Park Service has purchased more land, and now the Virgin islands National Park is 7200 acres of land plus 5650 acres offshore.


The island is 1075 miles East South East of Miami, 50 miles East of Puerto Rico, 3 miles East of St. Thomas, with exact coordinates being 18.3368° N, 64.7281° W. To the North is the Atlantic Ocean, to the South is the Caribbean Sea . St. John is 19 sq. miles – 9 miles long and 2 miles wide. The highest elevation is Bordeaux Mountain at 1277 ft.


The 2010 census was 4,170. The St. Thomas census was 51,452.


The average rainfall is 43 inches, this coming mostly through Sept.-Oct. and May-June. The winter temp. is 77-84 degrees and the summer temp. is 82-93 degrees.


The private schools are the same tuitions as on the mainland. Parochial schools are less.

Schools on St. John : Cruz Bay to 9th grade (public). St. John School on Gifft Hill, Pre-K to 12th grade (private), St. John Christian Academy Pre-K to 4th grade .

Schools on St. Thomas : There are 4 private schools and 7 religious schools, Antilles School and VI Montessori SchoolThe University of the Virgin Islands is located on a 175 acre campus with both bachelor and master degree programs.


Service provided through the US Postal Service as well as UPS, Fed Ex, DHL and American Airlines.

Cellular Phones

Cellular service is available from Sprint, ATT/Cingular, T-Mobile and Centennial.


Connections can be made through AOL, ATT, Worldnet, CompuServe/AOL, Innovative, Broadband VI, Choice and Virgin Islands Paradise Freenet (free online service). Western Union, World Communications and AT&T provide international telex and telegraphic services.


Air Service insurance is $260.00 annually for a family. Myrah Keating Smith Clinic on St. John (with helicopter pad) and Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas (via ambulance boat) & private medical practices in all specialties.


The Daily NewsTradewinds and the St. Croix Avis are the local papers. USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and several US metropolitan and Puerto Rico newspapers are flown in daily. News of St. John also provides regular news via an email newsletter.

Vehicle Shipping

From West Palm, FL to St. Thomas costs approximately $1,000. Cars made in the US are duty free, if made outside the US there is a 6% duty, if made with foreign parts there is a 3.5% duty.


Grocery prices are 25% higher than in the Washington DC area and 20% higher than in Puerto Rico.

Trunk Bay in St John

Investing on St. John


Real estate prices for land covers a large spectrum. You can still find high quality (good view and breeze) building sites for around $300,000. In general, building sites range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 acre. Price is more a reflection of the location than size in the lower price ranges. As demand for larger sites has increased over the past few years, several developers have designed developments with acreage that affords privacy. Most new developments have covenants and conform to building codes that are intended to insure high quality development in your area. Waterfront starts approximately at $500,000 and up per site and sandy beachfront is rare and, needless to say, in high demand and very expensive.

Real estate on the North Shore is a rare and valuable product. The development at Peter Bay demands the highest prices. You can expect to pay $1,750,000 and up for a site in lower Peter Bay . Tropical Properties has several exclusive listings at Peter Bay and we would be happy to show these to you. In addition to Peter Bay , there are several other “in holdings” within The National Park that are available or that we can make available for you. Look for our “For Sale” signs on some of our North Shore properties.

Our approach to real estate sales is very basic: Look for value. It exists in all price ranges.

In the event that you decide to purchase land, you will want to build. All agents at Tropical Properties have built their own homes on St. John . As you might imagine there are ups and downs associated with construction and you can benefit from our collective experiences. We know the market in rental homes and in owner-occupied homes and we can show you what works and what does not. Building is actually getting easier and we can steer you towards people who are capable of making your building experience a very pleasant one.


Prices range from around $400,000 (for a fixer-upper) to over 12 million dollars. The average price range in today’s market is from $800,000 to $950,000. Homes in this range represent a dwelling with wood frame construction and some masonry or possibly all masonry construction. Some homes feature exotic hardwoods, stone walls, pools or Jacuzzis. Almost all homes for sale on St. John take advantage of water views and depending on the location, constant breezes. Again, depending on the location, a significant portion of the properties currently for sale make excellent short-term rental homes and this market is strong.


Tropical Properties has experience in the sale and management of businesses on St. John . We have a strong track record of sales of successful businesses that have continued to succeed under new ownership. All of our agents have or continue to own businesses on “the rock” and we can help you develop new businesses that we believe will prosper. We have commercial and residential tracts available for sub-division as well.


We have a wide selection of units available to suite every style and budget. On St. John prices range from $210,000 for an “in town” studio, to $990,000 for a two-bedroom unit overlooking the ocean.

If you’d like to explore real estate ownership on St. John , or just talk about trends in the market, feel free to call the Tropical Properties office or one of our agents directly. As members of the MLS, we have a wide range of properties to show you. We can assist you in arranging for financing, insurance and construction, too. Tropical Properties can help make your dream of investing on St. John become a reality.

Sunset from St John