74.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeNewsArchives@Work: Buyers Agent VI

@Work: Buyers Agent VI

Feb. 25, 2007 — In real estate circles, the Latin term "caveat emptor" can mean the difference between purchasing a dud or pristine acres.
The term, which means "let the buyer beware," was actually the property-law doctrine that controlled the sale of real property after the date of "closing." Under this doctrine, the buyer could not recover from the seller for defects on the property that rendered it unfit for ordinary purposes.
Times have changed, however. Enter Buyers Agent VI, an exclusive buyers' agent under the ownership of Gotts and Associates.
"Our fiduciary responsibility is to the buyer, and our clients get a complete and true picture of the property they're acquiring," says owner Carl Gotts. "We try to give them as much information as we can so they can make an educated, informed offer."
Buyers Agent VI, which is affiliated with the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, is the first such company in the Virgin Islands.
The company, which serves as buyers' agent for St. Thomas, St. John and in the Caribbean, is also affiliated with the St. Croix Board of Realtors and the V.I. Territorial Association of Realtors. Its offices are at 1138 King Street in the Penthany Building.
Once a potential buyer contacts his company about property, Gotts says, Buyers Agent VI conducts a search that may include finding out what the property sold for in past sales, whether there are liens on the property, if it's in probate court and whether improvements were made to the property.
What they find can mean the difference in the asking cost and the property's real worth. On average, Gotts says, using a buyers' agent saves the investor about five percent of the asking cost. The seller and the buyer of a property both want to serve their client's best interest, he says.
"If two sports teams are playing each other, they wouldn't want the same coach — and that is the idea behind the traditional Realtor and a buyers' agent," Gotts says. "Our loyalty is to the buyer, and the more traditional agent's responsibility is to the seller. They put the seller's property in the best possible light to get the asking costs."
Another difference is that traditional real estate agents have real-estate listings and buyers' agent firms do not.
"We have absolutely no listings," says Gotts, adding that there will never be a conflict of interest in trying to sell property and working for a buyer who may want to purchase the property.
Gotts runs the company with assistance from four employees. The notion of a buyer's agent, while new to the Virgin Islands, has been around for some time, he says, explaining it dates back to the origin of some of America's biggest firms.
"Corporate companies would hire people to research property that they were interested in for business investment," he says. "And this later extended in the corporate realm, to relocation."
For example, Gotts says, when someone in a company had to set up affiliate agencies elsewhere, an agent would research housing and office needs for that person and the company.
"People would want to know what a good school district is, or, 'Can you find me a place near the beach?'" says Donna Ackerman, a researcher with the company.
Ackerman is responsible for title searches and discovering information that would help the buyer make an informed decision. The searches take "anywhere from a couple of hours to a day," she says.
The notion of a buyers' agent is as popular as real estate agents who work on sellers' behalf, Gotts says.
"It's a growing trend, because consumers are becoming much more educated," he says. "They want this information — they know this information is available and they want to know, for instance, whether a property is in foreclosure, or it may have a lien on it."
The searches Ackerman conducts are an essential component of any work that Buyers Agent VI does on behalf of its clients, both she and Gotts say.
Ackerman has discovered liens, foreclosures, encroachments and a host of other potential problems for buyers. Both she and Gotts emphasize that the information given to their clients "do not prevent them from purchasing the property," but rather give them more information so they can make the offer.
"Because we've done the research, we can point out hidden defects — not that the owner is trying to hide them — but we know such things before it becomes a problem," Ackerman says.
As an example, she says, some properties may not be on par with the Uniform Building Code of the Virgin Islands, adopted after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. The seller may not know that.
To that end, Gotts encourages each client to get a professional home inspection and hire a surveyor and an attorney skilled in real-estate law to assist during closing.
"You are making one of your largest investments, and it's a fraction of the price to get a professional inspection and go the other extra mile," he says.
Buyers Agent VI gets a commission based on sale of the property, Gotts says. Other times clients pay the firm for research up front — either an hourly or flat fee — based on the job specified. Gotts sees the venture keeping pace with business growth in the Virgin Islands.
"The market dynamics affect us, just as it does the real-estate market," he says, "but people who call us tend to be more experienced buyers of real estate. Often this is far from their first home they're purchasing or far from the first time using a buyers' agent. We recognized a niche to fill, and we've filled it."
The "we" is Gotts and his wife, Marti. She runs a sister company, Vacation St. Croix, which rents vacation villas to customers.
"It is the premier villa rental and largest on the island," he says. "And because Vacation St. Croix is a sister company, we are uniquely qualified to advise on vacation properties if they choose to purchase investment property or a home."
As an example of how the two companies work together, Gotts mentions a couple that had been renting a villa for the last 26 years from Vacation St. Croix and recently purchased a home.
Gotts says he sees Buyers Agent VI becoming a staple in the Virgin Islands, working with real estate agents to get his clients the best-possible investment.
"The clients who seek us out are serious buyers," he says. "They are not just looking around. We are professionals bringing qualified buyers to the sellers, and this has worked well."
Above all, Gotts says, he wants to leave buyers satisfied.
"We want them to have a good experience with us, and we will negotiate the best terms and best price for them," he says.
To reach a buyer's agent, call (340) 719-4065 or click here.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.