A closing in the Virgin Islands is not something to fear. You take title to the property you have contracted for in exchange for money. At the closing table with you will be the following parties: The seller, the seller’s attorney, the realtors (you should recognize one of them but in the Virgin Islands both are considered agents of the seller), your attorney, and a title insurer. The seller’s attorney is responsible for drafting the deed, submitting it to the cadastral (unless it’s a condominium) the government agent who pre-approves a deed for transfer of property, acquires the tax letter required locally to record the deed, tax receipts to show the title insurer that the property is current in taxes, and prepares the closing statement, providing the parties with funding requirements and disbursements.
Your realtors assist with all activities before closing, usually contracting for the property (although I suggest consultation with an attorney before executing such), scheduling your inspection, and helping establish your local household. The buyer’s attorney will advise on how to take title, order the title insurance, review the documents related to closing, and ensure minimal exceptions on the title insurance policy. Often in the Virgin Islands, one or both of the parties are absent from the closing and their attorneys will act as attorney in fact for their respective clients.
Purchases are often financed. Local lenders finance property and are represented by their attorney. The title company will expand its policy (for a small price increase) to insure the lender. The lender’s attorney will take over the preparation of the closing statement, and prepare the note, mortgage and loan documents and represent the lender at closing. Borrowing locally is similar to stateside borrowing, but with fewer available loan products. The United States Tax Code is locally applicable, so remember those deductions when borrowing.
The behind the scenes players who will not be present at closing include the inspector, whose report may cause you to reconsider the contract; the appraiser to establish value for your lender or to establish that your purchase justifies the costs; an insurance agent, and a surveyor to provide an “As-Built” survey which will reveal any encroachments to or from your parcel. If you are buying a condo, a condo letter is needed, the cadastral is not, and no survey will be required for closing.
Be warned, because of certain restrictions, money needed for closing must be wired with some lead time built in. It takes at least a day for funds wired down to show as received in a local account, so plan ahead on wiring funds and include some cushion just in case. Stay in touch with your broker and your attorney as to the status of the closing. Consider copying all actors on your behalf with messages, so everyone is on the same page with assigned tasks and outstanding questions. Never hold questions until the closing, make sure your issues are addressed so business can be concluded without delays.