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House Hunting in … St. Martin

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A FOUR-BEDROOM VILLA IN TERRES BASSES

$3.9 MILLION (3.4 MILLION EUROS)

This 3,700-square-foot house, known as Mille Fleurs, or Thousand Flowers in French, is set on two and a half walled, rolling acres lush with palms, flamboyant trees, bougainvillea and hibiscus. Situated just above Plum Bay, the villa, which has four bedrooms and four and a half baths, enjoys sweeping views of the Caribbean and the islands of Saba and Anguilla, said Lesley Reed, the broker-owner of St. Martin Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.

The eggshell-hued painted concrete villa, with sand-colored shutters and a cedar shingle roof, was built in the mid-1980s. It is reached through a large iron gate and up a circular driveway with a separate exit gate. Tall windows wrap the foyer on three sides. Steps lead down to a living room with a 16-foot vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, a terra-cotta tile floor and arched French doors opening to a columned veranda. Dual seating clusters with wood-framed off-white sofas are complemented by a tapestry and an ornate mirror. The outdoor dining room, shaded by an awning, has a 15-foot glass dining table that seats 10. The home is being sold furnished.

To one side of the living room, the fully equipped kitchen has brick-red walls, white wood cabinetry, stainless-steel appliances, a breakfast bar with a brown granite countertop and a small outdoor dining area on the covered terrace. A laundry room has two washers and two dryers.

Beyond the kitchen, the master suite opens through French doors onto a private outdoor sitting area. Furnishings include a canopied bed, a love seat and a flat-screen television.

Smoky-pink enamel tiles line the master bath, which has a tub and a separate shower and twin white ceramic sinks.

To the other side of the living room, each of three additional bedrooms has its own flat-screen television, DVD player and iPod docking station, as well as an en-suite tiled bathroom. The bedrooms are air-conditioned; two open onto the terrace. The house is equipped with high-speed wireless Internet.

The terra cotta and concrete terrace, running the length of the house, faces a rectangular swimming pool with an infinity edge toward the sea. To one side is a gazebo with lounge chairs, sofas and a coffee table.

The house rents for $4,000 a week during the low season, from April 15 to Dec. 14. The high season rate of $9,000 weekly jumps to $15,000 for Christmas and New Year’s weeks, Ms. Reed said. The property also includes a separate one-bedroom caretaker’s apartment.

The house is in the guarded, gated residential development of Terres Basses, or Lowlands, which has 320 lots of 2.4 or more acres and is 90 percent built. It is on the northern side of the cosmopolitan, 37-square-mile island, which is divided into French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten. From the villa, it is a quick stroll to secluded Plum Bay beach, and residents can also easily access the cabanas and water sports at the exclusive Belmond La Samanna resort and spa in the Lowlands area. A third nearby beach, Baie Rouge, offers a small restaurant.

The island has more than 300 restaurants, duty-free shopping and 37 white sand beaches. About 41,000 people live on the Dutch side, and 36,000 on the French side.

MARKET OVERVIEW

When the world economy soured in 2008, the market “went flat,” Ms. Reed said. “The prices didn’t drop, but nothing sold.” In the last six months, business has picked up and “is better this year than it was last year. The market is coming back.”

On the French side, the luxury market starts at $1.5 million and escalates to $17.5 million for an 11-bedroom 11-bath cliffside property on five acres. With less available beachfront property on the Dutch side, prices top out at $5 million, said Hanneke Snow, the broker-owner of Re/Max Island Properties. “There are more luxurious properties on the French side because of the Lowlands.”

Inventory is high, said Maayke Martina, the broker-owner of Antilles Realty, though oceanfront property is scarce. The strongest segment of the market is from $500,000 to $1 million. Most buyers pay cash, but for buyers with a 50 percent down payment, local banks issue mortgages with an interest rate of 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Sherrylle DeHaarte, the broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Real Estate St. Maarten, said the market on the Dutch side, which has condominiums and townhomes as well as private homes, was “more vibrant” than on the French side.

Across the island, even when homes languished on the market, the vacation rental market stayed strong. “People went on vacation, they just weren’t buying the million-dollar condos,” Ms. DeHaarte said. The pressure to sell a property is mitigated by the ease of renting it. “If you find yourself in financial distress, you put it on the short-term rental market,” where it can fetch $2,000 or more a week, depending on its location, she said. “You can’t go wrong.”

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