The Market Is Heating Up in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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USVI Sotheby's International RealtyVilla Whydah, a nearly four-acre estate on St. Thomas, recently sold for $8.9 million at auction.

With cold weather brewing across most of the country, getting away to a warm spot like the U.S. Virgin Islands sure does come to mind.

Single-family home sales on the island of St. Thomas are up 25 percent year over year in number of units sold, Lee Steiner, president of USVI Sotheby's International Realty, told AOL Real Estate. Condos on St. Thomas are up 19 percent in number of units. On St. Croix, condos are up 70 percent with single-family homes up 30 percent.

"St. John has not caught up quite yet, but is poised to experience similar recovery over the next 12 months," Steiner said. "After bottoming out in 2013, our market is experiencing a recovery led by high-end buyers, where sales over $1 million in the last 12 months have exceeded the four previous years combined by roughly 500 percent."

One homebuyer recently snatched up at auction what sellers called a pirate-themed property on the island of St. Thomas. Platinum Luxury Auctions, a specialized auction firm with a long track record of multi-million dollar property sales, announced recently that Villa Whydah, a four-acre property sitting on the westernmost tip of St. Thomas, sold well in excess of the auction's $6 million reserve and set a record for residential properties on the island of St. Thomas. The company's web site pinpoints the sales price at $8.9 million.

Villa Whydah consists of seven buildings spanning more than 15,000 interior square feet and 4,000 exterior square feet. The structures include a main residence with an in-law suite, an outdoor entertainment complex, a stone gazebo, two guest cottages, a stone tower, caretaker's quarters and a four-car garage. There are a total of eight bedrooms, nine full bathrooms and two half baths, in addition to three outdoor showers.

Villa Whydah, St. Thomas
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The Market Is Heating Up in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Although Platinum planned for the auction to be held at the property, all of the bidders elected to participate remotely. The buyer purchased the property sight unseen, a scenario the firm said is exceptionally rare, especially for a record sale. The virtual bidding process lasted only 15-20 minutes, the firm said, and included four bidders who were scattered throughout the U.S.

"This is an exceptional testament to the potency of the luxury auction process, and to the power of the purchase motivation it produces for even the most unique real estate assets," Trayor Lesnock, Platinum's president and founder, said in a news release.

The previous owner, Tom Hudson, a financier and founder of the investment firm Pirate Capital, named the property after a treasure-filled pirate ship that sank off Massachusetts in 1717. The ship was found about 30 years ago.

"This is a huge sale for both St. Thomas and the broader USVI market," said Steiner, the USVI Sotheby's president. "Along with a number of other high-priced transactions this year, this auction sale demonstrates the strengthening luxury market in the USVIs."

Villa Whydah amenities include:

  • Stone clad walls throughout the home, including in the master bedroom and great room.
  • Custom-designed double bunk bed in children's room with four sleeping chambers and a center ladder leading to a hatch and secret play area.
  • Antique and designer sofas and chairs in the great room, which also features historic chests from the era of pirates.
  • Twelve place settings of china made especially for Villa Whydah.
  • Entertainment room decorated with an extensive collection of pirate-themed miniature statues and bookends.
  • Ship's wheel on the veranda.
  • Wall-to-wall fishing rod storage system.
  • Stone tower with brick floor patterned after a compass rose.
  • Home office created to look like a captain's command center.
  • Antique firearm collection.
  • Guest suites, including a dungeon with a locking gate and antique torchieres.
  • Outdoor entertainment area featuring pool, spa and a working cannon.

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