A New Type of Property Buying Option in Costa Rica

Uvita Costa Rica Walk-to-the-Beach development Villa Del Sol

Video done by Chuck Chastain of Aerial Media Typically the type of property that I have sold over my years in Costa Rica real estate have been multi-acre, ocean view properties. These have been sold to hardy individuals that have deemed themselves up to the task of taming these jungle laden acres to their will – and then … Read more

Big Interest in Moving to Costa Rica

Earth coming apart

Traveling around the US, the interest in Costa Rica that I encounter is universal. While talking with visitors to Costa Rica, we frequently hear: “everybody is talking about Costa Rica. It’s a real buzz-word in (wherever they are from”. This they say to a guy while there in Costa Rica – to a guy that lives in Costa Rica – while they are discussing the possibility of moving to Costa Rica. Hmmmm, are these statements truly unbiased and objective? My recent travels around parts of the States answers these questions.

A Costa Rica Evening

Ben's talk How to Live in Costa Rica at Avid Reader

I have just returned to Costa Rica from my regular visit to Davis California. This trip was predicated by the fact that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. The preparations for the trip were rushed. My mother’s surgery to remove the cancer from her throat was scheduled on Monday, so the Monday prior, my sister Audrey made the arrangements and I spent the week getting things in order to fly.

Ben's talk How to Live in Costa Rica at Avid Reader
Here is the setting. I have retouched the photo to insert my head onto the guy who was actually in the pic. We didn’t take any pics at my event. 🙁 But, it gives the setting 🙂

My mother had specifically requested that I come before her surgery.  She didn’t say, but we suspected that she was scared. Also, since her surgery was to be in her throat, she would likely not be able to talk for some time after the surgery.

We had a couple hours on Sunday and then the surgery was on Monday.

When the doctor went in to do the incision, he was a bit taken aback. There really wasn’t much cancer to speak of. So he just did a biopsy. The next day, Mom was up walking around, talking and eating.

All of which resulted in the point of this article, which is to tell you about my evening giving a talk at a bookstore, The Avid Reader in Davis. But first I should probably finish the lengthy lead-in part.

My mother had been diagnosed with

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State of the Market – March 2013

There might be a b… b… A b-b-b… Hmmm I can’t quite bring myself to say that word, maybe later. Let’s just say that we seem to be experiencing a hot time in the real estate business in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone. I feel like we are at a new beginning of sorts here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone.

State of the market Costa Rica real estate
Get it while its hot! The latest on what is going on in the real estate market in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone.

From where I sit, overlooking the industries of real estate and hospitality, I’d say we are at the beginning of a new day here. What exactly this means for real estate is a bit hard to say.

Hospitality Sector: Vacation rentals and restaurants are enjoying a brisk business. ICT, the Ministry of Tourism for Costa Rica says that the overall numbers are up. However, the numbers for Hotels are down. I find this interesting. Hotel occupancy is generally the indicator of how tourism as a whole is doing. Costa Rica may be an exception since so many find alternate lodgings, such as vacation rentals, B & B’s, hostels and so on. Pam, over at the Flutterby House (beach hostel) in Uvita says that they are having a swell year.

From Frank Walker’s March Newsletter:
Where Have All The Tourists Gone???
– If you listen to the ministry of tourism people are flocking to Costa Rica.  However, figures from the hotel industry tell a different story.  Figures indicate that the occupancy rate for 2012 was just slightly above 54%.  That’s below 2011 figures.  Industry wide the breakeven point  is 74% occupancy.   A recent survey by the Camera National Turismo which is separate from the ministry of tourism revealed that for the two months of December 2012 and January 2013 which are supposed to be the height of the tourist season occupancy rates ranged from a low of 22.1% in the central valley to 45.3% in Guanacaste. 

Real Estate: There have been a number of sales here on luxury homes above the $2 million mark. One fellow come into the area and has so far purchased a hotel and a number of high-end homes. Reportedly he pulled out of his homeland entirely and has chosen to work with his available resources in this way. Not to discuss the merit of his strategy, but the effect of his acquisitions – they can skew the trends a bit. He is one buyer that caused a number of high-end sales.

In recent discussions with realtors, across the board they are BUSY.

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February News

Property Tax Assessments – There is an interesting article in amcostarica about maritime zone property tax assessments being made by Aguirre.  Not mentioned in the article is the amount of the assessments being made either by inspection by the canton or when an individual goes in for the five year value declaration.  If the property is on the beach side of the road the valuation is made at 50,000 Colones per square meter, 30,000 for the mountain side of the road. A meter is 3.2 feet.  The tax rate is either 4% of that amount for residential property and 5% for commercial.

Speaking of property tax assessments.  Karen and I just went through the five year declaration.  Relatively painless.  Carlos, the individual we dealt with at the municipalidad, was very helpful.  Everything is computerized but Carlos had to access, adjust information on, and then print six separate forms.  The assessment rate,

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January News for the Zone & Costa Rica

I have invited a new guest author to my blog. Frank Walker puts out a newsletter once a month that I have subscribed to now for some time. I always find his depiction of the news enlightening and fun to boot. Plus I wonder just how the heck he finds all this stuff out.
~ Ben

Matapalo police station.
The new police station in Matapalo Costa Rica, just north of Dominical.


Police Station – The police station was dedicated earlier this month in typical Tico fashion with speech after speech from various officials.  There was really a nice turn out from the local community.  As promised the station is manned.  The other day I actually saw two police at the beach. They were chatting up two young Ticas whose shorts and tops were so tight it looked like they used spray on spandex.  Guess the two young officers were engaging in a community outreach program.

Loss of Businesses – Word has it that this will be Susanna’s last season to be open.  Under the new liquor law the municipalidad is hitting her up for something like US$250.00 per month for her liquor license.  Word also has it that Phillipe will be closing down.  Whether or not he is going to sell his pulperia or close it down is unknown.

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Hungarian Goulash and the New Costa Rica Drivers License Law

This question just in from a client.
Question: As you probably know Tarminda (name changed) and I are perpetual tourists.
There is a driver’s license article in the new Ballena Tales. I think it basically says that you can’t get a CR license w/o a Cedula (residency card). And, that if you are pulled over w/o a valid Costa Rica license, your vehicle can be impounded and your insurance is null and void, even if it is paid for.
Police will check your drivers license for validity.
Do you know if this is accurate?  If so, it does not appear that there is a way to stay in CR past 90 days and drive legally.  Thoughts?
We can talk about this when we get together too.  It is just a little disconcerting to think I may be driving w/o insurance even though I have a policy that was just paid for this month.
My response:Hello Dingmeister (name changed),

Your foreign driver’s license is valid here for 3 months at a time. 

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Is The Zone at the Tipping Point?

One of the screaming ocean views in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica.

The place is packed. More and more people who bought land in the past are building or have built (and are happy about it.) Travel & Leisure put The Zone as the #1 place to visit for 2013. What the heck is going on?

I was invited to a house christening last night by Richard & Debby up at Costa Verde Estates. It was a small gathering, made up primarily of migrators, most of whom have just recently built a house or are in the process of doing so. I observed and heard some rather interesting indicators of a tipping point there.

One of the screaming ocean views in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica.
Richard & Debby: Living the good life in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone. The view is partial, and is from their home in Costa Verde Estates.
  • numerous statements of an obvious love of Costa Rica and The Zone in particular
  • they were happy with their builder and the process was relatively smooth
  • comments about the resources now available to a home builder in Costa Rica
  • comments about how many people are talking about The Zone back home
  • comments on how many people there are vacationing in The Zone
  • how packed the hotels and vacation rentals are
  • guesses as to what the next 10 years are going to be like here
  • the reality (or not) of the international airport going into Palmar Sur (majority – NOT)
  • the effect of the highway being paved between Quepos and Dominical

There was a palpable feeling of “we are at the tipping point” here.

The facts that alcohol consumption

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State of the Market – October 2012

Houses at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

What is the current market like in Costa Rica real estate?

I get asked this question quite a lot these days. Well, actually that is probably the question that characterizes the life of a real estate agent anywhere – and probably at any time, except when it is clearly known that there is a recession or a boom, neither of which describes the time we’re in right now.

Houses at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

We are currently in the depths of the rainiest time of the year here in The Zone (read: Costa Ballena), the area of the towns around Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal. For some reason this is the “low season” for tourism here. For those of us that live here, it is a delightful time of year. Sure, there are lots of days filled with rain, and at times unbelievable rains. But this is part of the appeal that brought us here in the first place. These rains are also what make the rest of the year so appealing. The southern pacific zone of Costa Rica is one of the lushest areas of Costa Rica, largely due to the fact that it truly is rain forest.

If I were to shop for property here in The Zone, I think that I would consider looking in October. You’d have no problem finding an available realtor, and you’d get to see what life is really like here, as well as be able to see how a potential property handles the rain.

Current Market:
The months leading up to October saw a surge in house sales. There was considerable activity in real estate, almost all of it in the house sector. Lots, on the other hand, not so much.

My crystal ball says

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