Kicking Tires in Paradise

We’ve had a week full of working with buyer-type clients, but they definitely fit into what the “Man Says There’s No Market here” article says below.  I’ll call them the Schmuggerdoos.  They are intent on buying some land, they came here to buy land, they found land that will suit their needs and budget, but that extra spark of “I think I’ll buy this property now” is lacking. They are going back home so that they can return in a few months, maybe, and buy something then. It’s been a great week though.  Rod & I enjoyed getting to know the Schmuggerdoos quite a bit and hope they realize their dream of moving to Costa Rica.  We also are enjoying the ever expanding cooperation between the real estate agencies here.  It is proving to be a real value-add for both buyers & sellers, and it’s improving the quality of life among us real estate professionals. Prior to the Schmuggerdoo’s arrival I had sent their criteria to the other agencies in the area, who responded by sending links to listings on their websites that fit the criteria.  Here is their criteria:

We would like to have a property with ocean views in the Dominical to Ojochal area. We do not want to be in a development we are looking for more seclusion with a natural environment.  We would like to possibly farm a little(garden), have some horses, build a house with a few casitas that we would use for our family and perhaps rent out. I guess we would like to have a small private retreat, perhaps 3 plus hectares. It would be nice to pay Tico prices. We have traveled to Costa many times over the last 4 decades and have some familiarity with the country,the people, and feel this is the place we will retire to. We would be open to suggestions.

This is a pretty good example of a helpful profile.  So, for all those of you out there who are about to send me an e-mail to set up an appointment – take note.  The only thing lacking in this profile is the budget but we had already determined that raw land would be around $500k and house $800k. The Schmuggerdoos and I went through the listings I had received from the other agencies together and picked out the ones that they wanted to see.  The “listing agents” from the other agencies rode along with us to their respective listings and so were able to answer all questions about a given property on the spot. I had to marvel at what all this means for our industry.  This type of a property showing experience is not the norm for me in my Costa Rica real estate career.  However, I think that it will be soon.  What is represented by this cooperative presentation is huge.  Land buyers in our zone will now, thanks to all this cooperation, see every listing that is appropriate to their criteria. I know, this sounds like it would be a lot of land looking but it’s not.  A well defined criteria/profile really helps to filter the appropriate properties down to just the real contenders.  We did do some traveling and I would have to venture that the Schmugerdoos definitely felt that they had seen what there was to see. Here are links to the listings we looked at.  I was blown away by a couple that my “competitors” showed us that I don’t yet have listed to my site, so I’ll add those listings later. River Runs Through It, Uvita Finca Uvita, Uvita John, Daveed (Coldwell Banker) and I are now in contact regularly throughout the week, collaborating, cooperating, and analyzing the market.  There are about 3 agents there in that office, all of whom are busy showing property and this pushes the overflow over to where even the owners of Coldwell Banker are out in the field with clients. Here is what we are seeing:

  • Qualified buyers
  • Incredible inventory
  • The lowest prices in years
  • Few sales

I don’t know what it all means.  It may just feel like one can wait for another day to pull the trigger, and so they wait.  When things were booming, it would have been a luxury that would cost you getting the property you wanted if you were to wait.  There was always someone there to snap it up. Some feel that this coolness in the market could thaw with a vengeance and that we will experience another “boom” type of situation here.  Getting to the zone just got amazingly easier with the paving of the road north to Quepos / Manuel Antonio.  So the thinking goes like this:

  • Access to the zone is vastly improved with the paving of the road from Manuel Antonio / Quepos to Dominical.
  • We have properties on the market of the quality and value that haven’t been seen in the zone for years.
  • There is a perception of a recovery in the economy.
  • There is a growing demand for low energy to off-the-grid properties.
  • “Nature” is becoming a necessity, versus being a pleasantry.

There are several different types of sellers right now. There are those that tell us to lower the price on the property until the thing sells.  There are those who say to lower it a little bit and just know that “we’ll negotiate from there”.  And then there are those that simply don’t have to sell and are willing to wait. I don’t think that we’ll get back to the former high levels of land pricing any time soon.   It is definitely a buyer’s market that invites the maverick to come and make an offer.

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