May 172018
Understanding Costa Rica Real Estate part 4

Understanding Costa Rica Real Estate part 4This article can serve as a stand-alone read, but if you’d like to read the preceding, sequential articles in this series, please click for: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. The scope of these articles starts roughly in the 1970’s up to the present.

The idea here is that we are living in, working in, visiting or whatever – a foreign land. In this context, the word “foreign” can be understood to be synonymour with the words “learning curve” to the prospective buyer. Your chosen real estate agent can be a tremendous help with the curve (key-phrase “can be”).

This blogger is a real estate agent. I am writing this series for the above stated purpose. There is no satisfaction in selling a property to a buyer who’s eyes are not wide open. Costa Rica is a delightful and enamoring place. But is it right for you? Maybe. Let’s see.

Up till now we have considered some of the early conditions of real estate in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone. This is from a time when property here in Costa Rica essentially didn’t have a dollar value. It was a given that a family would have property. They would have either inherited a large piece of land, or they would take advantage of a land-grant program with the Costa Rica government, or they would arrange to buy a property at, what by today’s standards, would be considered a pittance.

We have arrived at the year 2007. The market is at an irrationally high
level. There are no more under-$100k ocean view lots. We did the count-down of those and now have to say that ocean views start at $125k. Then this went on to $150k. The demand for properties was high.

Despite being pre-Facebook times, word seems to have gotten out to the world’s investors about the hot market in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone. Investors were showing up with $1 million in their pocket, wanting to buy a finca (large parcel). Our answer? “There are none”. At least, none in the area around Dominical, the then center of commerce & society. There were no more properties of the caliber of Escaleras and Lagunas.

The next mini-frontier was Uvita. And Uvita held a lot of promise. At that time, Uvita was comprised mainly of an excellent soda called El Viajero, and La Naranjita, a pulperia. If you are not familiar with these terms – a soda was and is a typical Costa Rican restaurant, although it wasn’t a “restaurant” in the legal sense. There was a distinction made between the two, and I suspect, still is. Restaurants charge tax and sodas don’t. Sodas all had/have a similar menu. Restaurants vary.

A pulpería is/was the neighborhood store. These were frequently just a person’s home where they had dedicated the front, street side of their home to stocking general wares for sale to the public. You could acquire rice, beans, toilet paper, rubber boots, aspirin, a hammer etc…

Nearly every block in Costa Rica at that time had at least one. Someone would simply hang out a shingle and stock these things and they would then become the local source for life’s necessities. They would also become like a switchboard operator of all the local gossip. There were usually chairs out front, where you could sit and shoot the breeze.

My thought on this is that the ubiquity of the pulpería was due to people not having cars. They had to be able to walk to where they bought their staples. As the number of cars has increased over the years, the demise of the pulpería has resulted. The town centers now feature the Costa Rica equivalent to Big Box stores. Pulperías are now rare.

Anyway, Uvita had one of these and it was all there was for miles around for acquiring such things, so it was a good one.

Due to the influx of investors chomping at the bit to buy large parcels, their inquiry had a repeating response – go south. You could stand on the corner of the one intersection of Uvita on any day, and watch the realtor’s cars, with investors, first driving down the coast, and then later on in the day, back up the coast. There were lots of large parcels south of Uvita, down past Ojochal and on down to Palmar.

I surmise that there were roughly 18 months of the “finca grab” period. A time when the large parcels on the southern edge of the zone were snapped up, and rather high figure sales were taking place. The prices were cheap for what you got, but the properties were large. The investors were determined. The crazy gains on investment that happened in The Zone were sure to continue, even if they bought on the fringes, or extremities, of The Zone. There were some rather questionable buying decisions made during this time.

So what we’ve got now, just as the recession is becoming a reality is a market of some houses, some lots, and lots of fincas in the southern regions. Oh, and it should be mentioned that the area north of Dominical, between Dominical and Quepos had some appealing parcels as well, but they were on what we called “the road from hell”, as that stretch was unpaved. I used to joke that there should be a car mechanic, a dentist and a psychiatrist on both ends of that stretch. Your car would be in tatters, your teeth loose, and you needed therapy. It was those conditions that pushed us to use the PanAmerican route over the Cerro de la Muerte as the primary path to San Jose.

Then came the crash. It seemed to have a delay on it here in Costa Rica. We heard about the abrupt effect of the fall of the U. S., and then by extension, the world’s economy, but we were still doing business. In looking back on it all, it seems that this same lag applied to the “recovery”, later on. We heard about the recovery but didn’t see it for about a year after hearing reports of it.

The recession days were the time of the “there is no market here” statement. My then partner Rod and I would dutifully go to our office in Uvita and be open for business. If anyone walked in during the day it would be a seller. The seller would inexplicably be unaware of the fact that there was no real estate market here in The Zone, and so they would list their property with us.

How to price a property in a no-market market was the hot topic of the day. The general technique employed by the sellers was to take what they paid for the property, consider the expenses of selling, add a little bit for negotiations and voila! you’ve got your price.

This is where we observed the cycle-of-grief in practice. Absolute DENIAL of the fact that their property was worth considerably less then what they paid for it. This simply could not be. Many of our sellers had bought during the irrational spike just pre-recession. The crash was well named as the actual value of their property had declined, almost overnight by 40% – 60%. IMPOSSIBLE!

Well, our task was to enlighten these sellers – or not. After denial comes anger. The anger part of the cycle was no fun, so we would prevaricate, and position ourselves in whatever way possible to avoid it, even at times simply accepting a listing at the irrational value established by the seller.

For the more insightful sellers we would at times get backed into the corner of having to tell them the actual value of their property and then have to deal with the results of telling the truth.

The funny thing is, we look back on those days with fondness. Those were oddly some good times. There was a sense of community amongst the realtors as well as just the community at large. We would hear stories of the travails of various investors. Investor groups with their feet-on-the-ground guy here in The Zone putting the pressure on him/her to make it right. Working together in the various situations that presented themselves with what we now know the outcome to be: we survived, but I wonder sometimes at how we did it.

I was funding the running of my office from my own personal means. The landlord of our office was sympathetic as he too was experiencing the brunt force of the recession. So we could negotiate and bargain for various arrangements to keep the doors open and the lights on for one more month.

There were a few times when I would enter the office and say to the crew – yes, there were several of us meeting there and working whatever diverse angle on anything we could find to do – I would say “if nothing happens this month, it will be our last”. Then, something would happen. An anomalous sale, or some other thing that would result in funding for yet another month.

In the next installment, I will outline some of what I did to get through the recession and then continue up to modern times.

Apr 162018
Costa Rica real estate sales process part 4

This is part 4 of a 4 part series. Click for: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3

Due Diligence

The term for due diligence is normally 3 weeks, and closing is usually in 4. Due diligence starts when the deposit is made, which follows the the written Offer to Purchase having been signed by buyer and seller. This document will have the contingency points detailed out. Some properties have no contingency points, some have several, it depends on the property. This is one of the more important areas where you, the buyer, have to rely on the expertise of your broker. Continue reading »

Feb 212018
Buy a property in Costa Rica for a vacation rental

Below is a copy and paste from an e-mail inquiry regarding buying a property for the purpose of investment initially. It needs to be an existing rental property that the buyers intend to move to and live in at a future time. They need for the property to, at the very least, cover its expenses during the time they own it prior to moving to Costa Rica. This is a good example of a rather typical scenario here for a buyer’s criteria.

Thanks for writing. I’ve interspersed my comments below.

Hi Ben, my name is Meltown Bradwinkle (name changed). I found your blog and have really enjoyed the articles I have read so far, thank you!

​Thank you for the encouraging comments.​

The reason for my email is to ask you for your opinion of the purchase of a home in the Dominical to Uvita area, whether or not the right home can show a good enough ROI to carry the debt against it.

Short answer: yes.​

My wife, Melvania, and her family are from Costa Rica. My wife and I currently live in [US State] with our 3 kids, but plan on retiring to Costa Rica in 10-15 years. In the meantime we come down once or twice a year to visit family and vacation in your area. We have visited most parts of the country, but keep coming back to the southern pacific coast, where the jungle/mountains meet the sea! The blog post of yours I just read talks about the “low” season, and I agree completely with the theme of your piece. We were just there this past September and spent a wonderful couple of hours in the middle of the day having lunch, beers, and watching the downpour, beautiful!

Meltown, you sound well suited to your intention. There is a learning curve to investing in Costa Rica. Your comments indicate that you have already traversed a good bit of the curve and have a rational basis for your interest in this area of Costa Rica. 10-15 years allows for a lot of possible movement, up or down, from the conditions that you buy in now. The indicators right now are that we are heading into a time of property values increasing. I know that you’re asking about rental ROI and I’ll get to that in a minute. Initially I’ll address…

Property values:
Having endured the toilet flush of values in 2008 we have seen how dramatically the market can move. We are currently in a time of stasis. There hasn’t been much movement price-wise since the recession, but I would characterize the conditions as follows.

During the recession there was essentially no market for real estate in our area of Costa Rica, and perhaps in the whole country. There were a few anomalous sales that happened, but they stood in stark contrast with the reality of the the sleeping market.

Then, we passed through a time of buyers showing up and us realtors were in a bewildered state of “a buyer???” Our inventory had been languishing for several years and now we had buyers. The sellers were wondering if they would ever be able to sell their Costa Rica property(ies). We passed through the “fire sale” phase where these dejected sellers would take 40 – 60 cents on their dollars to move their property.

The fire sales are now gone. But the asking prices have not gone up. Well, maybe a little now and if so, more so with houses than raw land. Houses in the $300k – $500k range are the bread basket of our market and if they are reasonably designed and have an ocean view, they sell rather quickly. When I say “quickly” I mean by Costa Rican standards.

I just had a couple of clients that came to Costa Rica, bought a small hotel and a riverside residential piece for the future. They put these properties under contract knowing that they had to sell their home in San Francisco prior to closing. The market in SF is such that an immediate sale was expected. When they didn’t get an offer on the first day of the listing going public they panicked. It took 3 days to sell and they were a little disappointed that they only got $100k over asking price.

Costa Rica is not this way. The norm here is that the property will sit on the market for a few months at least, and then there are negotiations of roughly (and this varies) 10%.

As for raw land – lots that have ocean views and services & access in place, there was a glut. This is slowly changing to where we realtors are now having the occasional request that challenges our ability to come up with some options. But overall there are still a good selection of lots available.

The message of all this is that the prices are good for buying but they are firmer than they were as the market establishes it’s equilibrium.

Sorry rambling on a bit. I have equity in assets of my business, and am contemplating using that equity to purchase the “right” home in the area. But it will be borrowed money, so I don’t want to jeopardize my business related assets, hence the need for the property to carry itself. Is this realistic or just a dream? I have researched the property rental business in the area, but it has been impossible for me to come up with good hard numbers, occupancy rates being the most critical, and what is the right price point for a specific property to rent for weekly.

I’m inclined to respond to your inquiry about a financed property’s ability to cover its own costs in the positive – but of course, with caveats.

About Rentals:
Rentals in this area are strong. The area is growing in its prestige as a global vacation destination of choice. There are not a lot of hotels here and just the nature of tourism here leans towards the “destination” accommodation instead of the “bed” accommodation. By this I mean that visitors to the area seem to prefer having a multi-bedroom home, complete with kitchen and amenities that make the rental where they are staying a part of the stay. A pool is important. They may spend a day or days just hanging around the home.

Vacation rentals offer some enticing numbers. You’ve probably done a search on VRBO for the Dominical area. The homes here get a good penny for a weeks stay.

I think that long term rentals are the sleeper rental opportunity here. Most buyers are romanced by the high vacation rental numbers but fail to calculate the end-of-the-year numbers.

Comparison of short and long term renting:
Short term: your per-week price is considerably higher. Your maintenance and marketing costs are also higher, as is the hassle-factor. Your occupancy is lower.

Let’s say that you get $2,000 per week for your vacation rental home. To calculate a monthly on the same property, you’d end up somewhere close to the weekly. Let’s say $2,400 per month. Now calculate the costs associated with having the occupants change every week or 10 days – laundry, cleaning, re-stocking, administrative etc…

Occupancy rates vary depending on the property and the owners ability to market the property. I use the following and won’t argue with anyone that comes along with different numbers. This is just my take.

First year short term, shoot for 35%. The next couple of years your objective is 50%. Some reach 60% and higher with an exceptional property and exceptional marketing and probably years of history.

​Long term, you’re looking at 100% occupancy and the costs are very reduced when compared to the short term.

Take the above scenario as a loose guide only. Look at what your money costs you, your level of investment, and what you need in order to have the property cover itself.

There are times of the year when there aren’t enough beds in the area to accommodate the demand, and there are times of the year when there unoccupied beds.

Any input and guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Meltown Bradwinkle

Thanks for reaching out to me. I appreciate the confidence and I hope this helps.

I may post an edited version of this e-mail to my blog as I think that you address concerns that many others have as well.

Please keep me in the loop as I’d love to know what you decide to do and how it turns out. And of course, if I can be of assistance with your real estate concerns, I’m available.

The above e-mail was written in January of 2016. Many of the statements regarding current property values have proven to be accurate and what I like to call a rational market prevails. Also, my estimates on occupancy percentages remain as stated.

Oct 152017
Costa Rica History in knife metaphor

I’d say that about 1/10th of my time spent with people looking to buy property in Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific zone is spent in the actual buying/selling of property. The other 9/10ths is a mix of conversations regarding what’s involved with living here, as well as discussing the business of real estate in Costa Rica.Understanding Costa Rica real estate

At its core, the lack of an actual MLS (Multiple Listing Service) colors all aspects of the business here, and I’ll go into that later on in this series. To really understand the business of real estate here, I have found it helpful to go back in time and see the progression of events up to the present. This helps to not only understand the current market but also, to project what is to come.

Early days:
I got into real estate in Dominical in 2004. It felt like the day I got into real estate was the day that someone threw the on-off switch to “on” in the market. Since then I’ve heard some tales indicating that the market was already simmering and poised to boil.

I made a sale on my first day in the business. A $60,000 gorgeous ocean view property sized at around 2 acres.  The property featured Uvita’s Whales Tail front and center. That property has gone on to have a lovely home, guest house and pool built on it. It has been re-sold and enjoys a stellar vacation rental history (link to rental page on HomeAway)

Quick overview of The Zone:
The Zone is made up of a string of 3 towns with Dominical at its northern end. The northern boundary is not a hard line but is decidedly fuzzy, easily extending up to Hatillo and at times, up to Portalon. (link to Hills of Portalon Development).

From Dominical heading south on the coastal highway you get to Uvita and then further south, to Ojochal. The area between Dominical and Uvita has a nicely laid out mountain range that runs parallel to the ocean. Hence the handle “coastal mountain range”. This means that you can travel inland from the beach just a short way and get to elevation where it is breezy and cool and offers expansive views of the ocean and coastline, attributes which make this area extremely desirable to investors, relocators and migrators (part-of-the-year residents).

More History:
Before the incoming press of foreign interest in The Zone, the Ticos (Costa Ricans) owned all the land, and their land holdings were always in the multi-hectares (1 hectare = 2.48 acres. Think 2.5 to make it easy).

There was a time in the not too distant past when land in Costa Rica was nearly value-less. There were land-grant programs whereby a man simply had to be willing to take responsibility for a property and the government would “grant” him the land, with conditions.

At that time it was not known that “nature” had a lucrative aspect to it. Instead nature was largely viewed as “in the way” and needed to be tamed, subdued, or eliminated. So, one of the conditions to receiving a land grant was to cut the trees down and raise cattle.

I suspect that this era may have coincided with the “McDonalds” explosion. This is an arguable point, so let’s just say it coincided with an extreme demand in the U. S. (and world) for beef.

After some time of cutting down enormous canopy trees and attempting to raise cattle in former rain-forest environs, there was a shift in our world’s appetites; nature became (and is) an important commodity. Granted, beef has continued to be an active commodity, but it was also learned that former rain forest land doesn’t necessarily make for the best pasture land.

Raising cattle in Costa Rica was a daunting struggle. The farmers found themselves up against nature. Having to maintain former rain forest jungle land in “pasture” condition presented its trials, as well as the fact that the beef business (exporting meat, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and 3rd world infrastructure or lack thereof) made a guy scratch his head and wonder if having all this land was such a good idea.

The Tico culture was/is multi-generational. These large, granted tracts of land, would end up being populated by the man who acquired the land, his now grown sons & daughters and their families, and the grand kids (soon to also have families.)

So despite having lots of land, a condition that in first-world countries equates to being wealthy, these farmers were “subsistence”. They lived off of what their land produced. As a child would grow to adulthood, Abuelo (abuelo = grandfather) would simply build them a house and apportion off some land (or not) and they would continue on contributing to the sustenance of the family. The land itself was not thought of in lucrative terms. It was a simple fact of life.

Abuelo just happened to acquire a land grant on, let’s say, 60 hectares of land that reaches from the inland side of the maritime zone on the coast up to the highest point of the coastal mountain ridge. He’s not thinking “oh boy! I’ve got some ocean view land here.” No, he’s thinking: “man I hope this land is fertile.”

Enter foreigner:
One day Bob, a tourist, is exploring the area and decides that he’d like to buy Abuelo’s property. Bob offers Abuelo $60,000 for the land. Abuelo has never even considered the remote possibility of maybe someday having such a sum. In fact, he’s never even seen that much money. He talks it over with his family and they (very understandably) feel that this would be a wonderful thing for them to do. So, they sell their land.

Bob is a visionary. He sees what is likely coming and so he stakes his early claim. Now, keep in mind that there is no electricity to this property, the access is horseback and the water is from an onsite or nearby spring that is bubbling out of the ground. Abuelo has run a pipe from the spring to an elevated storage tank near the family homes. Bob qualifies for the handle “visionary” in that – what foreigner in their right mind would possibly want such a remote and forbidding piece of land?

To understand this is to understand the element that is credited with making the world go round. We all have different likes and dislikes. I wonder at the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s and their focus on the personal home computing idea at the time that they had that focus. I’m not of this ilk and so my hat is off to such ones. I view the early investors here in The Zone as being made of the same stuff.

In looking back over the history of the first wave of investors here, I marvel at their foresight. My then wife and I looked at some Whales Tail view property in Uvita around 2002 and, despite its being gorgeous and nicely priced, I felt that it was simply too remote. This was in the same area where 2 years later I sold my first property.

Ok, so I said that to understand the real estate market here in Costa Rica, it helps one to know a bit of the history. Granted, we’ve gone back to what I appropriately call the first-wave of intrepid and visionary investors – The Visionaries. We’ll continue on in the next article with Bob’s next steps and incredible gains on his visionary act.

Nov 232016
Whales Tail view property Uvita

What a glorious rainy season it has been. After a few years of lighter than
normal rains, we’re having a season now that fits the descriptions old-timers here give to what rainy season “used to be like”. Rains starting in the early to mid-afternoon. Going into, and perhaps through, the night. Partly cloudy but clearing glorious mornings with Costa Rica’s plethora of wildlife providing the background symphony for the morning’s coffee. Ahhh!

Whales Tail view property Uvita

The Whales Tail View from Bella Vista #5.

OK, enough of that life enjoyment stuff. Let’s get to business. By my reckoning, the high-season started 2 days ago (Monday, the 7th of November, 2016). I have been enjoying the typically slower time of September and October here in The Zone. Not nearly as many visitors here, glorious weather (a well kept secret is the rainy-season here in Costa Rica) and the demand on us real estate agents gets a bit lighter during these months as well.

Monday, this changed as though someone had thrown a switch. Numerous e-mail inquiries coming in regarding various properties, sellers wanting to list their properties and buyers that are here wanting to see properties.  So for those who are wondering when the high-season begins here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone, it is during November. And if this year is any kind of determining factor – early November.

I mentioned in a previous post that we are doing a countdown on the number of under-$100k ocean view properties. There are still some left, but they are getting mopped up at a rather quick pace.

Somehow, amidst all the business that is going on, there are a couple of ocean-view properties that are priced below market value – that haven’t yet sold. These have been topics for repeated discussion between myself, as the listing agent, and both buyers and agents from other agencies, in recent days.

One of the properties is located here in Uvita and has a wonderful Whale’s Tail view as well as a soul-touching mountain range view that is frequently shrouded in tropical mists. It is essentially a 270° sweep from the ocean to the mountains behind.

The other is located in an area south of Uvita that is called Ballena, which is Spanish for whale. Ballena is an area where the coastal mountain range comes down to very near the beach. So the ocean views in the Ballena area are frequently quite nice.

Whales Tail vew property in Uvita

Panorama of Bella Vista 5, the primary building site. The ocean is off to the right and also the lower building site.

Bella Vista #5
The first one is lot #5 in a development called Bella Vista (I fear using the term “development” due to the mental image it conjures up from other countries. This is “development” Costa Rica style. Large, private parcels tucked into the jungle and that look out at the ocean.) All of the properties in this development have sold over the past 10 or so years. This is a re-sale. As mentioned, it features a sweeping ocean to mountain view. It has a primary building site and a separate smaller building site for a guest house. The seller paid considerably higher than his asking price of $88,000. And in fact, he has recently lowered the price from $119,000 (also lower than he paid) to move it.

Why this one is on the market still is a mystery. I had a real estate agent from another agency call me this morning. He has an inquiry on the property. He asked me why it is so darn cheap. “Is there something wrong with it?” he asked. “Nope. Nothing wrong with it, and a lot right with it.”

I wonder if the price can actually be too low. Maybe the prospective buyer is thinking that there must be something wrong with it that’s not being disclosed. Relative to comparable properties on the market, this one is lower than it should be. In fact, I told the seller this when he told me to lower the price. He stuck to his guns and said that he’s got other interests in his home-land and he’s ready to sell.

Roca Ballena View

View of the Roca Ballena from this property located between Uvita and Ojochal

The view out to the Roca Ballena

As for the Ballena property, it is in a great location and looks right out at Roca Ballena. It also has lots of usable rolling land where several other cabinas can be built. The asking price on this one is $83,000.

Here’s the data on both properties:

Bella Vista #5

  • Price: $88,000
  • 8,125 sq. mtrs (just over 2 acres)
  • water & electric
  • ocean, Whales Tail & mountain views
  • 4WD access
  • located about 7-8 minutes from Uvita’s core
  • Annual road fees: $450.00
  • Annual water fees: $520.00 in 2017
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value

Expenses to get the property ready to build: There is no tractor work done on the primary building site. The entry drive will need to be cut in. This is not extensive work. The area for the drive is already cleared so it is just a matter of some tractoring and bringing in material. I’d say around 40 meters in length or less.

There may be some tractor work necessary to flatten the primary building area. I say “may” because of the various building methods that don’t require a flat building site.  The natural lay of the land is flat-ish already. The smaller building site is ready to build. Overall, very little tractor work necessary.

The water is to the property so there will be whatever the pipe costs to run the short distance to hook it up. The electric is about 200 meters away and will need to be run underground to the property. This is a slightly higher than normal expense for hooking up electricity, but not prohibitively so.

The Ballena Property:

  • $83,000
  • 4,525 sq. mtrs (just over one acre)
  • electric (water explained below)
  • ocean, Roca Ballena & jungle views
  • 2WD access
  • the rolling areas apart from the primary building site have no ocean view. But, they are in a nicely shaded and accessible area.
  • located about 10 minutes from Uvita and 12ish minutes to Ojochal
  • Annual road fees: as needed. The community pitches in. This fee is low on this property.
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value, same as any other in Costa Rica

There is no tractor work necessary for the building pad. There will be a very little bit needed for the entry, mainly to put in a cement tube (culvert) that passes under the drive alongside the road. This may be done by hand.

If the large area between the primary building area and the creek is to be developed with additional cabinas, this will require additional tractor work.

There is a creek that runs by the property. There is also a spring. There is no community water (ASADA) in this area so a concession is needed for water from the creek & spring. The cost of such a concession is $1,000-$1,200 at this  writing. The labor and materials to set up the water system: catchment, pump and pipes, will probably be less than $2,000.

The electricity runs right by the property so the hookup is standard.

This article was inspired by my conversation with another real estate agent this morning. He said “Ben, it seems to me that these properties are priced quite a bit lower than they should be”. Indeed. So, I thought I’d share.


Feb 012013

I got asked the other day what the opening of the new Matapalo Police station has to do with real estate, and by extension, why is it mentioned in my “Costa Rica real estate” blog? Well, I’ll tell you – it all starts with land.

I was told some time ago about a dinner party here in The Zone where the host got up on to a table and announced: “I would like for all conversations about real estate to stop. If you are unable to comply, please leave.” It is reported that the room went quiet.

Costa Rica Real Estate and a few of its influencing factors

A few of the the “non-real-estate” factors that affect the value of “Costa Rica real estate”

Granted, this was back in “the day” – back when fortunes were being made on the buying and selling of land here in The Zone. Such conversations are not nearly as prevalent now as back then, but they are certainly a daily occurrence in my life, and I suspect that many here would make the same statement.

I contend that all news comes around to affecting, or being affected by land. If you are interested in moving here, migrating, retiring, or simply, to visiting here, the topic of property and its value will enter the picture. The managing of crime has a direct impact on the value of property.
As do:

  • tourism
  • currency
  • climate
  • water
  • taxes
  • animals
  • roads
  • laws
  • residency
  • language
  • culture
  • etc…

I don’t want to have this bulleted list go down through your floor, so the”etc…” embodies all the rest. This list is based on my time spent talking with people who want to move or migrate to here.

Returning to Matapalo: it is receiving a steady flow of foreigners moving in as re-locators, migrators, and investors. They did not have a police station there before, so it could be reasoned that any self respecting thief would view that area as the place to be and to ply their trade. The presence of a police station has a positive effect on this scenario. One would then surmise that the value of land there will hold steady or perhaps increase.

Along with some of the other appealing amenities: screaming views, proximity to both Manuel Antonio and Dominical, proximity to a gorgeous, unpopulated and miles long beach, quiet living in Costa Rica’s tropical jungle, you can now add “enhanced security due to the presence of a police station”. My question: how can a Costa Rica real estate blog not mention such a thing?

Currency: The exchange rate of the colon versus the dollar. One of the hot topics going on right now in many sectors of the globe is what the effect of the “recovery” is having on tourism. Continue reading »

Jul 122012

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s beyond obvious, Mr. Guy In The Zone.” For those who tune into this blog on a regular basis, I agree… BUT, did you know that the search term “Where Is Costa Rica” gets over 13 million global monthly Internet searches? Two things came to mind when I saw this statistic—

  1. The Pura Vida Buzz, a phenomenon I will expand upon below
  2. Rising Interest in Vacation and Retirement

Searching for Costa Rica…?

The Pura Vida Buzz — The last time I asked the question “Where is Costa Rica?” I was waaaaay back in college.  My roommates were surfers, and they mentioned Costa Rica as a possible surf destination.   Search engines weren’t as populated with information in the early-90s, but there were a few travel books in the local bookstore.  The thing I remember jumping out at me was the color green.  Whether it was the frogs, the jungle, or the aerial views… Continue reading »

Jun 242012

Yes, we moved… from our office in Uvita to a new, larger space in Ballena, just a quick drive down the Costanera Highway. Ballena and Uvita are both home to the Marino Ballena National Park, an area that is vibrant with wildlife, as well as, electric green and blue hues.

Ballena is only 7 kilometers south of Uvita, at kilometer marker 169. Our new office is in the same building with the used clothing and furniture boutique Adorable and the Roadhouse 169, the hottest new restaurant and bar along the Costa Ballena. If you want to find us on a Google Earth map enter: 9° 7’23.84″N by 83°42’4.88″W.


Courtesy of JP Cudahy, Aerial Photog

Why did we move?

The landscape of Costa Rica real estate continues to evolve.  As wonderful as a prime location with big windows sounds, 99.9% of buyers do not window shop and buy.  In fact, plunking down $100,000 for an ocean view lot while on vacation (a phenomenon that was a frequent occurrence as recently as five years ago) is more rare than a Resplendent Quetzal at the beach.  The three primary ways potential buyers contact us are–

  1. Google “Costa Rica real estate” or “Dominical (or Uvita) houses for sale”, or some version thereof, and find this blog or our listing website.
  2. They view one of our property videos or Talk Shows on our You Tube channel.
  3. Visit while planning their vacation Dominical and areas south like Uvita.

If you need to sell your property here on the Costa Ballena, please contact us by phone at 011-506-2786-5407 or email us at  If you want a little more information on the best way to list your property, including our new Modified Exclusive program, please watch this video.

For those sellers who are already taking advantage of this service, do not worry.  We are in constant contact with the other agents in the area.  They are aware of your Modified Exclusive Listing. In fact, I am showing three of these exclusive properties today!

KM 169

If you follow the kilometer markers south out of Uvita, you will quickly arrive at km 169.  The building (pictured above) is just before the turn for the Crystal Ballena Resort; on the right (or beach) side of the highway.  So… come on down, grab a beer from the bar, and let’s talk real estate.


See you soon!

Interested in Costa Rica real estate as an investment. They primarily live somewhere else, but they own property in Costa Rica for the asset appreciation potential as well as possible rental income. Some just buy and hold (land-bank). For developed properties, the investor has a vacation home to visit as desired.

Migrators spend a regular amount of time in Costa Rica during each year.

Re-locators are those that are looking to move to Costa Rica from wherever they are. They will live full-time in Costa Rica.