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Known for years as the Caribbean's most exciting vacation destination, the island has now been discovered by upscale real estate buyers and is fast developing into one of the world's most prestigious locations to own a residence.
There are several competent and reliable realtors on St Maarten/St Martin, but there is no conclusive Multiple Listing Service available to the buyer. Searching for that perfect piece of property in paradise is a time consuming journey through numerous real estate offices.
The Dutch side of the island - Sint Maarten - is leading the strong real estate market. Around the coast, new luxury developments are being constructed. There are new gated communities with waterfront access, boat slips and world class amenities. Taller buildings with comfortable condominiums are becoming more common as well.
Values for home and condominium re-sales are increasing consistently; a property purchased only two years ago turns out to be a wise investment.
American buyers seem to prefer the Dutch side at this time, because on the surface there are similarities to life in the US: English is the common language, power is 110 Volts, the currency is the US-Dollar, the supermarkets carry a large selection of American products, the typical fast food restaurants are ever present, US cable TV is standard. Most importantly: many of the properties have been designed with the American buyer in mind.
French St Martin covers the northern two thirds of the island. Governed from the much larger island of Guadeloupe, St Martin is a fully European territory and follows the same standards and laws as continental France.
The French side has initially been slower in development and retained to this day more of its natural beauty. Both sides of the island depend on each other, and without the attractiveness of the French side, Dutch St Maarten would not be very successful on its own. At the same time, the non-stop entertainment and action of the Dutch side is important to residents of the French side as well.
Citizens of any member state of the European Union can settle and work in St Martin without permission. For foreigners - Americans and Canadians - owning real estate is no problem at all. Amazingly, English is the first language of most French St Martiners, and American investors will not encounter too many problems in dealing with the administration and public services.