Apr 132018
 

Part 3 of the series helping to understand real estateAfter venturing through the early days of real estate in Costa Rica, this is to say, the beginnings of what led up to the current market conditions in parts 1 & 2, we now embark on the boom before the crash.

Let’s say that a couple acquires their home by the usual means; scraping for the down payment and then struggling to make the payments. One day, they find themselves able to refinance their home and lower the interest rate. Along with the lower interest rate, they were able to pocket a considerable sum from the equity value of their home. (Sorry for the over-simplification of this matter, but it’s close). This resulted in the couple having an unexpected windfall of cash. “Honey, let’s take this $100k and go to Costa Rica and see if we can get us an ocean view property”. Hence, the high demand on the somewhat limited supply resulted in the spike of property values in the pre-recession Costa Rica.

I think at that time there were about 4 or 5 real estate offices in Dominical and none in Uvita. Discussions among us real estate agents were about the amazing press of buyers. Buyers were discussing the difficulty in finding an available real estate agent. Agents were discussing if there was any available inventory to show the buyers. We would joke about installing a Baskin Robbins style “take a number” system in our offices.

Over time the fincas got sub-divided, services installed and roads improved. The lots and houses got snapped up and prices continued to rise.

The majority of buyers would enter the office asking for an existing house to buy. Due to the newness of the market, there really weren’t many houses on the market. And of the few houses that there were, they were difficult to sell, at best.

The Zone was on the edge of the known universe. For those who felt compelled to venture down to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone, and who

Man in hat in a waterfall

Oh-so independent and individual

left their homeland behind, well… this was for the robust adventurer. “Individuality” and “non-conventional” are a couple of descriptors that come to mind and that I feel, well describe them (us?). It’s funny to write these words because I was here at the time, but don’t see myself in the same school as these guys. But the evidence to the contrary may be compelling.

Aside from the point above about leaving one’s homeland, once a person got to Costa Rica, they would have an arduous trip just to get to The Zone. There were 2 ways to get here: 1 by the coastal route and 1 by the PanAmerican that runs over the Cerro de la Muerte (pass of death) down the middle of the country.
Note: the name of the pass is not based on the danger of driving there but is reputed to be based on the former practice of farmers conveying their produce from the fertile San Isidro de el General valley to Cartago & San José. They would travel over the pass on horseback, necessitating an overnight stay in the elements. Some of these farmers were reputed to die from exposure. I can’t say for sure whether this tale is true but it is part of the local lore.

Whichever route one would choose, pot holes were a constant threat. On a highway, a well placed pot hole can break an axle, or at the very least, pinch-pop your tire. When you come from a developed land, the thought of not being able to auto-pilot your way down a highway was foreign – inconceivable actually. So it was always a concern as the rather smooth paved highway would lull one into an 80 km per hour rate of travel and then – WHAM! – a sharp edged pot hole would abruptly remind you that you are not, in fact, in Kansas anymore.

Map comparing coastal and central routes

The coastal route vss the centro Cerro de la Muerte route.

The coastal route was pretty good but was the lesser of the two choices at that time. This was primarily due to the stretch of “highway” between Quepos / Manuel Antonio and Dominical. It was un-paved. Depending on how recently it had been graded, you were in for a washboard bonanza of a drive. The roughly 25 mile stretch of road would take between 1 – 1 1/2 dusty hours. I always felt that some enterprising Ticos should open a plaza at either end of this stretch offering a car mechanic, a dentist and a therapist. After driving this stretch, your car would be beat to hell, your teeth would be loosened, and you would be in the preliminary stages of PTSD.

The PanAmerican route was my family’s preferred route to San José. It remains an extremely lovely drive, but a moderately dangerous one. It is 2 lane with essentially no shoulder. There are lots of blind curves. It was, at that time, the primary artery between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, so there was a good bit of semi-truck traffic hauling products through Costa Rica. Some of the curves are tight enough that the semis have to swing wide into the oncoming lane to navigate the bend.

All of this in addition to the fact that we are in a 3rd world country. The people here, especially at that time, weren’t accustomed to cars, traffic and driving. Some would acquire their drivers license by paying off a government official. Many simply didn’t know how to drive. Passing on a blind curve, despite being contrary to conventional wisdom, was a common practice. To this day, I tell my clients who ask, that the Cerro de la Muerte route is something to see, but to do so cautiously. Always expect to see someone coming at you in your lane around a blind curve.

The point being that The Zone was not a place for the faint of heart. The difficult access to The Zone served as a small-pored filter, a fine screen. The “type” of persons that would find their way down to The Zone were hardy, adventurous and individualistic. 

And so, dear reader, you came here looking for a better understanding of Costa Rica real estate. And instead, you get a stroll down memory lane for this aging blogger. Well, from where I sit, the forgoing is helpful and indeed, integral to understanding real estate here. These elements and conditions we are considering here happened a long time ago in wherever you’re from.

Let’s take San Francisco California. How long ago was it that S.F. was all large parcel holdings? Heck, I don’t know. Let’s take the historical marker of the California gold rush starting on a specific date of January 24, 1848. San Francisco was a muddy-road port town with the surrounding areas providing the produce and animal products necessary for life. Fast forward to now. What we have is every square inch of usable land is used. The intervening 170 years saw the real estate progression from agricultural large parcels to smaller and smaller properties, to where now what we see are the ultra-high-end homes, with their eaves stretching out to the property line, nearly touching those of their neighbors.

Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone is in the early stages of its real estate development. It isn’t ancient history here to recall when there wasn’t electricity to many of these areas. My family and I would come to the coast for a Dominical beach day every week. Occasionally we would consider seeing if we could get to Uvita to go to Playa Chaman or Ventanas or some other. It wasn’t guaranteed that we could get there due to having to drive through a river or two, and the road was not paved. This was in the early 2000’s.

The advent of improved access to The Zone has had tremendous repercussions on life here. The filter now has larger pores. The Zone has become much more accessible to a much broader type of person. However, the Zone’s real estate market is still very much in its… hmmm… what to call it. I can’t say “infancy” but perhaps “toddler-ship” would be apt. The Zone is perhaps the last frontier of early buy-in opportunity in Costa Rica. This stuff can be hard to see when it’s happening. It is usually in hind-sight we get the 20:20 vision on where we’re at. Consider the real estate cycle of progression in any area, and we now have our crystal ball. We can see the future.

However, some of The Zone’s appeal are conditions that continue to require that one be somewhat robust. There are some incontrovertible conditions here that will now and forever affect growth. These conditions are things like topography and conservation. For making an investment in a property, it will help to see the big picture. The large parcels have been sub-divided. The initial sub-divisions have been further sub-divided. As always, with the ways of our money-loving world, there is concern about over-development and its impact on Costa Rica’s diverse and glorious nature.  Where is this all going?

Let’s return to our pre-recession time and we’ll discuss some of these conditions.

Photo credits:
Photo by Artem Bali and Ramdan Authentic on Unsplash

Mar 102017
 

We are in high season here in the southern pacific zone. The months of November through April are typically when there are more tourists here than during the rainy months.

There is another type of “high season” happening right now as well. This has more to do with world conditions. I know, those from the States are going to think that Mr. Trump is pushing many to look elsewhere. And I suspect that this is true to some extent. I think that Mr. Trump has been good for my Costa Rica real estate business. I think Mrs. Clinton would have been as well. Such is the world that we live in.

However, our property buyers here are not just from the States. We’ve got buyers from Canada, despite their currently weak currency. These people are buying property and essentially paying 30% – 40% more due to the exchange rate on their currency. One has got to wonder – why?

France, Germany, Great Britain – all are providing us here with buyers. Again: why? There are economic, political and security issues happening in various areas of the world. I suppose that greater analytical minds would come up with the cause and effect links in trying to answer the question. But I find that there is one common thread when I talk with these people.

The Reason:
Stress
is pushing, and the promise of less stress, is pulling people to consider a life in Costa Rica. Simpler living is highly attractive. Costa Rica offers this and it (simple living) seems to be the antidote to whatever may be happening in one’s home country.

Uvita, Dominical, Ojochal and the surrounding areas that make up Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone are all seeing an influx of buyers. But there is more. There are some big-money players who are making some moves here that are notable. There are condominium complexes being constructed, and sold at a good clip. There are town homes, urbanization projects and upgrades to some of the antiquated infrastructure in some of these areas.

There is some talk of giving Uvita a facelift. This is much needed. With both Dominical and Ojochal, you turn off the coastal highway and drive into the town. In Uvita, the highway passes right through the town. Up till now its growth has happened with hardly any attention to the aesthetic and it is essentially a strip-mall, Costa Rican style.

This is a pity since Uvita could really have been (or be made to be) one of the most beautiful towns on the planet. So if these well funded entities see the beautifying of the town as in their best interests, great! Although it’s hard to imagine what can be done, short of tearing the whole thing down and starting over again.

The Envision Festival is going on currently. This has become one of the largest events of the year. Kudos to the organizers. I’ve heard that 7,000 people attended last year, but that about half that number are here now.

Uvita Costa Rica's Crunchy Envision Festival

2017 Envision Festival Uvita Costa Rica

Some of the Ticos complain a bit about Envision, claiming that the drugs, nudity and general licentiousness is disrespectful to their culture. I suspect that there is some truth to these allegations, but for me, I’ve never met an Envisioner I didn’t like and the festival provides a time of some fascinating people watching.

I’ve not  personally ever attended. I can hear the music from my home well, the bass notes anyway, and I routinely provide rides to those thumbing to the grocery store and back. There is also the complaint of them being a bit odoriferous, but I can’t speak to this having lost my olfactory sense some years back. So I get along fine with them in my car and always enjoy their upbeat spirit.

So between the time of year and world conditions, sales are good here in the Zone’s real estate market.

About Property Prices:
During the recession, there was not much of a market here. It hit hard and us realtors languished waiting for the anomalous inquiry that might result in a sale. I actually got into brokering hard money loans during this time in an effort to not only make a little commission, but to also help some land owners to not lose their properties.

Prices plummeted during the recession. This was an interesting time. The pre-recession time was a “boom”. The biggest challenge for a buyer then was being able to find an available real estate agent. I felt like I should put a Baskin Robbins “take a number” device at the door. Some of these buyers were our good-old bread and butter retirees, looking to retire to Costa Rica. However, there were lots of folks who refinanced their homes and then found themselves cash-rich and wondering what to do with it. The causes of the recession helped to fuel some of that heady boom and resulted in pushing prices up to a rather silly level.

So the fall of pricing some 40% – 50% during the recession could appropriately be called a correction.

Much of our land here is still at recession pricing. There hasn’t been a big upward push on prices since then. The demand for houses is strong and so we’re starting to see some upward movement there – all very rational though. This is no heady boom. Its simply that the inventory which was glutted post-recession, is finally starting to get mopped up. This was inconceivable in the years following the recession due to the glut.

I still get asked sometimes why it seems that everything is for sale. I find this interesting since I have to really work to find properties for some of the criteria lists I build for my clients.

Yes, I suppose everything is, in fact, for sale, at some price. However, finding what you want, finding that screaming ocean view with good access and amenities nearby, and all this in your budget, can sometimes be a bit daunting.

And then there is that wonderful amenity “simplicity”. I wonder if this could be put at the top of the list. Right up there with “ocean view”. I’m thinking that this one amenity is the primary mover of the current strong market we’re seeing here in The Zone.

May 262016
 
Whales Tail view property Uvita

Updated on January 19, 2018. This particular article can be used as a guide for available under $100,000 ocean view properties in the market. I’ll make every effort to keep it up to date but you might want to check with me for availability.

One of the things you can count on when you are a real estate agent in Costa Rica. The question: “how is the market there?” Perhaps not a daily occurrence, but almost. I was asked this today. One of the consistent qualities of “the market” here is that there are always those that are looking for the under $100k ocean view lots. If you find yourself in this category, this article is for you.

Under $100k Ocean View Lot Uvita Costa Rica

Ocean view from a $92k lot in Uvita – BV 5 SOLD

 

First off, who are you? Obviously, the budget minded buyer, perhaps limited in available expendable cash. But that ocean view is a gotta have! There are also those that already have a property here in Costa Rica and they simply want an income generating property, or an additional property for visiting friends or family. And they too, really want to offer an ocean view to the mix. Don’t want to be sticking the mother in law down in a hole somewhere with no air motion and (gasp!) no ocean view. Then there are the spec home builders. They are looking to reduce their initial investment to maximize profits. I suspect that there are some others that I’m not noting here, but I think that you get the point. This group of buyers applies to many who are interested in property here in Costa Rica.

Big Whales Tail view in Uvita Costa Rica

Shabam View – $85k ocean view. High-dollar view for low-dollar – SOLD

As mentioned in the title, in the current market here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone, the under $100k ocean view property is going the way of the dodo. I’ve checked my own inventory as well as made a search of some of the other agencies in The Zone to see what they’ve got. They’re getting scarce. I provide a list of links at the end of this article of some of these under $100k’ers.

This is the second countdown on this type of properties that I’ve experienced in my career. I think that it was in 2006. We did a countdown and I remember the day when the last of the breed got snapped up. From that point onward we simply had to say to such buyers: “I’m sorry but ocean view properties start at $125k”. Then gradually up to “$145k”. Then, the crash. Then, the recovery. Then the glut on the market of desperate sellers who have finally cycled to the “conciliation” state of the acceptance cycle and had the mindset of: “whatever it takes. Sell that thing!”

That was the period that the word “fire-sale” characterizes very well. There were lots of fire-sales. These sellers had ocean view properties on the market for years. That’s right, plural – “years”. “Do not let that prospect walk away from the table” was the common message from the buyer to his agent.

That was clearly a buyer’s market. It is now gradually shifting over to a seller’s market. There are still some good options out there, but we are in that period of time prior to when this type and price of property is simply no longer available

Currently Available Sold since starting the list
  • Bruce’s Baby
  • BV 6
  • Shabam View
  • Whale of a View
  • BV 5
  • Rod’s Dominicalito
Mar 092016
 

March 17, 2018: This article is primarily about how to buy property in Costa Rica with a limited budget, which is a timeless topic. However, there are a few dated points regarding available properties as well as my referencing one of my Tico Times articles, which has been moved or removed.

I’ve just submitted an article to Tico Times about the time we are in right now that is favorable for spec home building. Now let’s add to this another factor that is not as obvious. Well… it is actually every bit as obvious. It’s just that it is hidden, which is a gracious way of saying: neglected. And by virtue of it being neglected, it is a bit unknown.

Little House view

View from the “Little House”

The Zone is in an expansion period. There is a strong market here for existing houses. Many of these homes are in the $400,000 – $1,000,000 market and beyond. The realtors here are doing well selling these properties. When I get an ocean view house listing in the $350,000 range, I view it as solid gold, because this price point is in high demand, and relative to our market here, is in the low side of the range. It will likely sell quickly.

There is little to no financing on the purchase of a house in Costa Rica. This means that the buyer of a house needs to be liquid starting at right around $350,000. What about those that aren’t packing this amount of ready cash?

The Hidden Market:

One of my sellers of a $60,000 property has consulted with me about how he can sell his property. This man knows his way around The Zone’s real estate market. He has been involved in millions of dollars worth of property business during his time here. Why did he feel the need to consult with me? Answer: Because I took his listing.

He can’t get any of the local real estate guys out to his property to take the listing. They are not interested. Despite being low priced, his property represents a considerable amount of listing work. The real estate guy’s perspective is that he can spend his time taking a listing for, say, a $750,000 house, or for this man’s property that pays less than a tenth of the house. Duh!

I recently took a listing on a small, 1 bedroom, 1 bath house nearby to where I live in Playa Hermosa, which is a small Tico (Costa Rican) pueblo just north of Uvita. It had been refurbished by an investor. He had found an older Tico house that he fortified, re-tiled throughout, put in a small pool and generally fixed it up. The resulting house offered what many are looking for but are having a very difficult time finding: “Ocean view home, with pool for $129,000, 7 minutes from the grocery store”. Yowza! This took me less than 3 months to sell (quick by Costa Rica standards), and I continue to receive inquiries on the property. I wish that I had another dozen of these. Alas, I don’t. But, the same (or similar) effect of this property can be achieved in other ways.

Cracking the Hidden Market Nut: Buy one of the available lots on the market, build a modest but nice home on it, and you are in it for less than $300,000. You can then live in this house, or you can put it on the market in the under $300,000 range.

In my Tico Times article, I spell out a scenario where the house is priced at $429,000. Getting a house on the market for under $300k and that is well designed and well built, will result in a line at the door.

Properties similar to the Little House I had at $129k are nearly non-existent. These are so extremely rare that, even with the buy-and-build approach, are difficult to duplicate – difficult but not impossible. And this is the Hidden Market here.

If you’re reading this and wondering how you can bring a limited budget to the table and still own a home here in The Zone, you are looking into the Hidden Market. It may be that you’ve done some searching, and perhaps you’ve even found some properties that look like they’ll work for your budget. But then when you inquire, or look a little deeper into it, you find out why the property is priced as it is. It may be way out in the sticks, or the property itself may have some problems that explain why it is priced so low.

The caveat to solving the Hidden Market problem is that currently, all of the solutions I know of require buying raw land and then building. This is beyond what many are looking for or are willing to do. However, if you’ve got a limited budget, and you really want to own a home here in The Zone, consider buying and building. Your possibilities are: 1) wait for another Little House option to come on the market, or 2) buy one of the low priced, but good, raw land options and then build on it. If you are one of those that say “I can’t build in a foreign land”, then you are going to need to go with option #1. It may be a long wait.

The purpose of this article is not to go into the ins and outs of building here. That is for another article (or post your question below). Suffice it to say that there are some good options for doing so, and that some have even had good experiences building in absentia. I’m hoping that this information will help what I feel to be a rather large segment of the buying population who are frustrated by their inability to find a property in their budget.

Let’s get started. Here are a few properties right now that I feel qualify for the Hidden Market handle:

 

Uvita Costa Rica property for sale

The upper building site.

Town Uvita River Song

Ready to build, all services in, about 5 minutes to the grocery store and 10 to the beach. Ocean view, but in a very nice area.

Click to view

Inquire about this property

Price $99,000
Type Land
Size 2 Acres
Lot for sale in Uvita Costa Rica Town Uvita One half acre of nearly all usable land. Located about 4 minutes to the grocery store. Beautiful location. The services are in.

Click to view

Price $58,000
Type Land
Size 1 Acre

Ballena building site.

View of Roca Ballena from the $83,000 spec home lot.

Town Ballena South of Uvita:

Centrally located between Uvita & Ojochal. Looking straight out to the Roca Ballena configuration. This lot is ready to build. The water will need to be run from a neighbor’s well system. The electric is at the road the runs by the property. Ocean view including the Roca Ballena formation.

Price $83,000
Type Land
Size 1 Acre+
A sort of companion article with links just posted: “Disappearing Breed: Under $100k Ocean View Lots”

If you haven’t read the Tico Times article that I reference at the start of this article, do so. You can scale down the costs outlined there for construction to calculate if you can buy one of these properties and then build on it. Ah what the heck, I’ll do some of it here. (I’ve hit my 1,000 word limit. As a blogger I’m told that you, dear reader, have a declining attention span for reading such length. Let’s prove ‘em wrong.)

Let’s find you a builder who can build your house for $85.00 per foot. Let’s say that you want to build a 1,200 sq. ft. home. Your building costs will be $102,000. If you want a pool, add $15,000. And then let’s add another $10,000 for permits, landscaping and incidentals. So your costs are right around $130,000. Add the price of your property and you’ve got your Hidden Market home.

Fiddle with these numbers. Keep in mind that we are in Costa Rica for a reason. And this reason isn’t to be sitting inside watching the tele. Build your house cheap. This isn’t to say “low quality”. Just enclose & secure the bedrooms, bathrooms and (if you like) a media room. Go ahead and have plenty of areas under roof, but who needs walls? Your kitchen can even be open-air here. What we need is a place to sit, do yoga, talk with friends etc… that is protected from the sun and the rain.  That $85.00 per foot figure can be pushed down.

Or try this: buy that $60,000 property, build a decent abode on it for $70,000, and you’ve duplicated the Little House scenario, just without the ocean view.

 

Dec 312012
 
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 Continue reading »

Oct 252012
 
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 Continue reading »

May 162012
 

Has the Costa Rica real estate market hit the bottom? As realtors in Costa Rica we frequently get asked this question, so we decided to share our thoughts on why there are signs pointing toward a positive answer. Regardless of what we think, more and more people are retiring, relocating, and investing in Costa Rica real estate. Thanks for watching and if you have a minute, please comment in the section below and “Like” this video on YouTube. The “Like” helps us reach more people interested in buying and selling Costa Rica real estate.

www.hotcostaricarealestate.com

Apr 282012
 


 

The Guys In The Zone discuss the state of the Costa Rica real estate market in Uvita. What does an abundance of property options–lots, large parcels, houses, and commercial–mean for buyers? Why are so many families and retirees relocating to Costa Rica? Drawing on nearly 15 years of experience, Ben and Rod answer these questions and more.

Mar 232012
 

I have received numerous inquiries over the last few days, from sellers of property here, asking how the season is going for Costa Rica real estate. Here is my answer.

Things having to do with real estate here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone are not getting better. I make this point because I understand that there is some talk about optimism in the U. S. economy. The stock market is high right now. Here? Well, they say it is the darkest hour just before it gets light – maybe that’s what’s going on. In my view, we are in a double dip.

"alt=wave-cave-near-uvita-costa-rica"

Dip #1

The world economy fell apart in 2008.  We experienced months of not selling. We continued to work, but we were not selling.  At that time I wrote 2 articles that discussed what it was like.

Article #1: There Is No Market Here – In that article I related a conversation I had with a former Wall Street analyst.  It was written in dialogue format:
Man: “You’re probably showing property, but not selling.  The people who are looking are not determined to buy, they would just like to see what there is and open themselves to the possibility of finding the piece that they can’t live without.  If they are going to buy, it would have to be a steal. But barring those events, there is no sale”.
Vaughn: Thinking to himself “I’d say that pretty well sums up our market place over the past year.”

Article #2: Kicking Tires in Paradise – “ They are intent on buying some land, they came here to buy land, they found land that will more than 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.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We have a number of clients who purchased land during that time, and they are happy with their purchases. We find that, despite the economy, the only “regret” statements we hear are “I wish I had bought.” 

Dip #2

In a recent conversation I had with one of my competitors here, he indicated to me that his company has had 9 strong deals going since January. Of those 9, 8 had fallen out, meaning they didn’t happen for one reason or another.

Here at Guys In The Zone we have had a similar track record. Deals falling out for the strangest of reasons.  One buyer due to health problems. Another fall-out was due to a seller not disclosing a legal problem he had with a property that he had listed with us. This in spite of having motivated buyers.

There is activity, but clearly buyers are content to wait for a more opportune moment that may or may not come. That is how I would characterize the current market. Between the first dip and the second, there was a period of near normal business around The Zone.

How to Explain

What is it that causes this sort of down trend?  As I mentioned, there isn’t a lack of action. There seems to be plenty of people around looking for land.  And the reasons for buying land in Costa Rica are on the increase. (It seems that people will always find Costa Rica real estate desirable.)

Many people are wanting to escape from the unpleasant situations “back home” (e.g., political, economic, insurance, stressful to name a few).  Some are wanting to get back to nature, live off the grid.  The Internet allows many people to live where they want to in the world and Costa Rica now offers pretty good Internet access, even deep in the jungle.  Early retirees are here looking to buy, especially now while the prices are so low.

Certainly it isn’t the quality of the product.  Costa Rica has, and will likely always have, the kind of quality that causes the majority of its visitors to wonder if they could make changes to their life such that they could make Costa Rica home.

I enjoyed a comment that I heard from a fellow real estate professional the other day: “I don’t like working with the $100,000 ocean view lots.  There are just too many of them.  You can take a person out and show them these beautiful properties. They fall in love with one of them, but they will not buy because they will feel like they haven’t seen them all, and that maybe there is a better one out there.”

Interesting point of view.  He focuses more on the higher end homes because the inventory isn’t so saturated, and a serious buyer will recognize that he needs to decide now on a property that he/she has seen and loved.

Sunset view over the Pacific Ocean.

I think that right now is about the best time I’ve ever seen to buy a property in Costa Rica.  But this would require a Warren Buffet perspective on the world. To buy when no one else is buying requires a toughness that only a few seem to possess.

It is an interesting time to be in real estate here in Uvita Costa Rica. I still feel that this is a good place to be, down market and all.  The trick now is to be content with a diet of rice and beans, and some of the most glorious displays that mother nature can dish up. It is a bit tough to earn a buck, but Costa Rica is a great place to live.

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.