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Settler's Guide To The VI
U.S. Virgin Islands Street Atlas $34.95
Settler's Guide To The VI
Settler's Handbook for the USVI $14.95
Franko's Map of the US Virgin Islands
Franko's guide map of the U.S. Virgin Islands $9.95

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October 31, 2005

Change to Mortgage Interest Deduction Could Drop Home Prices By 15 Percent, NAR President Warns

This is a press release, so take it with a grain of salt. It sounds a little alarmist to me:

To: National and Business Desks, Political Reporter

Contact: Lucien Salvant of the National Association of Realtors(r), 202-383-1176 or lsalvant@realtors.org

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Home prices, particularly in high cost areas, could decline 15 percent if President Bush's tax reform panel's expected recommendation to convert the mortgage interest deduction (MID) to a tax credit gets implemented, said Al Mansell, president of the National Association of Realtors(r) (NAR).

Speaking at the opening session of the 2005 REALTORS(r) Conference & Expo here, Mansell said that if the MID were changed, the typical homeowner could lose $20,000 to $30,000 in housing equity.

"Housing is the engine that drives this economy and to even mention reducing the tax benefits of homeownership could endanger property values. The tax deductibility of interest paid on mortgages is both a powerful incentive for homeownership and one of the simplest provisions in the tax code. It should not be targeted for change," Mansell said. "NAR will continue to tell Congress that Realtors(r) strongly oppose any attempts to alter the current tax treatment of mortgage interest."

Eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would hurt middle-income families the most, he said. According to IRS tax return data from 2003, 52 percent of the families who claim the mortgage interest deduction have household incomes between $60,000 and $200,000.

More here.

October 30, 2005

Coral Bay residents attack plans for affordable housing community

The V.I. Daily News is reporting:

"ST. JOHN - A group of Coral Bay residents strongly opposed a developer's plans to build a $24.8 million affordable housing development in Estate Calabash Boom at a St. John V.I. Coastal Zone Management Committee public hearing Wednesday night.

Residents said that the development could adversely affect the Johnson Bay area's environment; that hundreds of new residents could increase pollution and traffic congestion in the area; and that the project fails to secure affordable housing for St. John residents.

Representatives for Florida-based Reliance Housing Foundation said Wednesday that they have made every effort to design affordable housing that has the lowest impact on the environment."

More here.

October 26, 2005

U.S. Senate panel to consider repeal of 1936 statute on V.I. property tax

From the VI Daily News:

V.I. government officials will testify today before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on legislation to repeal a 1936 federal statute that prohibits the territory from setting its own real property tax policy.

Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and Tax Assessor Roy Martin are expected to begin testimony at 10 a.m. The hearing will be webcast live at www.energy.senate.gov.

In 2003, U.S. District Court ruled that the method the V.I. Tax Assessor's Office used to calculate property taxes was unfair and violated federal law and ordered the government to reassess all real property in the territory. A complaint against the government was brought by 11 plaintiffs whose commercial properties assessments were based on estimated replacement costs, not the estimated actual value.

The court ruling is based on the 1936 federal statute that imposed severe restrictions on the local government regarding property taxes.

Without the repeal, the V.I. property revaluation could result in a significant increase in residential property taxes, Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen said in a prepared statement released Monday.

According to Richards, the ruling prevents the offering of homestead, veterans, agriculture and all other property tax exemptions. It also struck down a local law that provided that no residential tax bill can increase more than 10 percent over the previous valuations.

"It ties the hands of the government of the Virgin Islands with respect to property taxes," Richards said Monday. "This has become an increasing concern for local property owners, especially on the island of St. John," where property values have skyrocketed in the last several years.

In mid-July, data collectors began visiting estates on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Data collectors must visit every property in the Virgin Islands - some 50,000 residences, which will include condominiums and timeshares.

Commercial property assessments were completed in May, and impact notices were issued in June. About 2,100 commercial properties in the territory were assessed.

The largest increases were: Cruz Bay, central, 297 percent; Cruz Bay, outlying, 266 percent; Coral Bay, 36 percent; general commercial, 56 percent, on St. John; and Red Hook, 58 percent, and Tutu, 33 percent, on St. Thomas.

Tax Assessor's Office representatives have said that only after a detailed analysis of real estate sales between 2002 and 2005 could tax assessors be able to determine how new homes will affect property values.

For more information about the property revaluation project, visit www.vipropertyrevaluation.com.

October 10, 2005

Residents fear revaluation will bring tax hike

From the VI Daily News:

ST. JOHN - The V.I. Tax Assessor's Office will begin reassessing property values of St. John residential properties in January, and government officials fielded questions and concerns from island residents Thursday night about the process.

The revaluation, which could take until mid-2006 to complete, is part of an ongoing territorywide project. The Tax Assessor's Office is currently doing residential property revaluations on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and commercial property assessments were completed in May territorywide.

More here.

Archive link for this entry: Residents fear revaluation will bring tax hike | |

October 05, 2005

First BanCorp exec shakeup pounds stock

This company does a lot of mortgage business in the Virgin Islands, from the AP:

OCT. 3 12:47 P.M. ET The already scandal-plagued Puerto Rican financial services industry was rocked further Monday after First BanCorp said both its chief executive and chief financial officer stepped down amid an accounting investigation.

The company -- which operates about 40 branches in Puerto Rico and a dozen in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands -- said Angel Alvarez Perez resigned as CEO, and will retire as chairman at the end of the year. Additionally, the company said that Annie Astor-Carbonell resigned as CFO, and will leave on Oct. 31.

The management shuffle follows similar moves taken by Puerto Rico-based mortgage banker Doral Financial Corp. and R&G Financial Corp. The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining accounting practices at all three financial firms, who also continue to share PricewaterhouseCoopers as their accountant.

Click here for the rest.

Archive link for this entry: First BanCorp exec shakeup pounds stock | |

Coldwell Banker, Stout Realty, St. Thomas


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