Talk Show Episode 8

Guys In The Zone Talk Show – Episode 8Uploaded by GuysInTheZone. – Discover new destinations and travel videos. Episode 8 was a bit delayed by Ben’s well-publicized mishap. Rod goes it alone (and does a darn fine job of things I might add.) Rod gets us up to speed on Ben’s recovery, the current state … Read more

The Memo

Disclaimer: the following is not necessarily what some sellers of Costa Rica real estate want to hear.

It was sometime in 2008 when the world changed.  Our globalized economy demonstrated, for the first time, the extent to which we (all us humans) are interconnected.  When one falls, we all lose our balance.

Some of the bigger economic minds in the US got going with an illusionary slight of hand called “derivatives” and in so doing, yanked the rug out from under the U.S.’s, and then the world’s economies.

Costa Rica land sales stopped.  Here in the southern pacific zone many of the agencies have closed up shop, and the surviving agencies went 9 months with no business.

Why “no” business instead of “low” business?

2 reasons:

  1. High prices
  2. No credit

The fall of the world economies was rather sudden.  The prices on our real estate here in The Zone were high.  All of a sudden our prospective buyers were standing flat footed with not much money, no real way to get money, and even if they could get money, land was expensive.

The above 2 reasons that explain our 9 month freeze on the real estate business here in The Zone have both seen some activity and change.   Prices have come down by 30% – 50% across the board, and this has stimulated the market. If this isn’t obvious to you, dear reader, it may be that you have been cruising websites and listings by sellers that don’t want to lower their price, but instead wish to wait for the market to come back up.  (or you may have seen one of the numerous and un-maintained sites from now defunct Costa Rica real estate agencies)

About the “Hold Out” or  “Old World” Sellers:

Their listings in the various real estate agency’s web site databases likely pre-date the fall of the world markets.  Sellers who insist on pre-fall pricing are finding it harder and harder to find an agency to list their property.  (One of my peers at a competing agency told me recently that they had rejected 9 listings in 3 days.)

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Costa Rica Real Estate Chit Chat

Training for Costa Rica real estate certification.

The Guys just got themselves certified! Rod & I are now card carrying Costa Rica real estate agents. Imagine that.

I know – you’re saying: “I didn’t know that there was such a thing”. Well, in fact there isn’t, yet, but there is about to be, and so we have joined a number of our peers in anticipating the coming change to the U. S. (and elsewhere) model of licensing for real estate agents.

Training for Costa Rica real estate certification.
Rod being attentive at the Camara de Bienes Raices course in San Jose Costa Rica.

The organization is called CBR or “Camara de Bienes Raices” (Chamber of Real Estate).  Perhaps you’ve seen the CBR logo around on various websites. You’ll be seeing it on ours as well now.  It is a 4 day course of 8 hours a day.  We did it, enjoyed it (for the most part – butts are a little sore.), met & networked with lots of people and now feel just that much more entrenched with our chosen industry in Costa Rica.

CBR has proposed a law that they feel will become adopted this year of required licensing of Costa Rica real estate agents.  Our position is that this will be

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Did Taxes & Tourism Blow Costa Rica Real Estate Out?

Costa Rica Real Estate Listings

I just received an e-mail from a reader that shamed me into sitting right down and writing.

I have read your face book page and articles on the tax issue there.

I had been planning to take a trip in March in the hopes to travel to Domincal and Uvita nd look at some land that over looks (has view of) the playa. But with all this discussion of election and no tourism and the tricky tax factor it sort of puts a damper on it.  Was this a major blow to the real estate and tourism market, and did it blow you out?

I’m sorry but I’m not aware of the negative effect that the election could have on a land purchase in Costa Rica so I’m not able to address that.

As for tourism – well now that’s an interesting topic.

Tourism has been as hot here over this last holiday season as I have ever seen.  With the new road from Dominical to Quepos, I think that we’re really in for it here.  I understand that the status of tourism is currently anybody’s guess.  Around here it feels like we are in a growth mode. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of media recently and I don’t have a TV, so as a news source I’m limited to what I see and feel.

Over the holidays Uvita was caught by surprise.  The grocery shelves were bare and we spoke with people everyday looking for a place to stay.  I think that everyone found a bed and it felt like one big party around here. I think that it is notable that the beer supply seemed to hold despite what appeared to be a gargantuan demand.

Although the crowds have left, the festive feel continues with a good strong tourist presence.  So, without reading an article to the contrary, I’d say that tourism is alive and well in Uvita and Dominical Costa Rica, and that the prospects for the future are bright, especially with the two new segments of road making the drive from San Jose to Dominical a 2 hour and 40 minute affair now, instead of the former 4+ hours and some of that on teeth loosening dirt roads.

I have not seen an article written from your blog or website in February on your website so I want to know if you are still in business down there?

Well, I thank you for getting me off of my butt to get this article posted.  I sure don’t want to give the impression that we’re out of business.  Our lack of posting is a testament to our being busy.  Rod and I have been doing quite a bit of real estate business.  We’ve done some deals, and more are coming our way.  All of the agencies are reporting the same, some with best ever numbers – (I heard this last part through a third party, but I hope to confirm it shortly.)

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2009: In The Rearview Mirror

Rod & I have decided to write a few words about the year just past. We did so without consulting each other or giving any clues regarding what we’ve written.

First off is Rod

If you subscribe to the idea that life is a series of ups and downs, then last year was a harsh reminder of how challenging the “downs” can be.

  • “Unemployment soars to highest level in 16 years.” – New York Times
  • “U.S. Foreclosures to Reach Record 3.9 Million in 2009.” –
  • “New car sales a ‘disaster,’ says Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler/Fiat.” – NY Daily News

While people were losing their jobs and houses in record numbers, they still had the time and interest to search for Britney Spears and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, which is fake wrestling, right?) making them the top two search terms on Yahoo! for 2009.

Although I have no idea what Britney was up to in 2009, I do know that most of us here in Costa Rica felt the impact of this economic downturn.  After a decent start to sales in January and February, most real estate companies saw offers dry up during the following 8 months.

Like many people around the world, the Guys In The Zone shifted gears to “beans & rice mode” (luckily, we both like beans and rice). We tightened up the expenditures and found new streams of income. [Ben deserves some kudos here for his quick mastery of the hard money lending business.  He, (leveraging his experience, contacts, and bilingual-ness) saved more than a few local families from economic disaster.  This lending experience taught us that putting good food on the table is important, but to literally save someone’s table (and house it sits in) from foreclosure is a genuinely rewarding experience.] While we didn’t sell any property during the middle of the year, we did put a lot of time and energy into new listings, our websites, and the Talk Show feature which we will continue to work on in 2010.  Ben also started writing articles for Montana al Mar, a new monthly magazine focused on health, sustainability, and community.

The old adage “When you love what you do, the money will follow” proved true in 2009.  The end of the year found activity picking up noticeably.  Three excellent deals

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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:

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The Question on Everbody’s Mind

How would you describe the current “crisis” impact on the local economy and on Costa Rica real-estate in general?

Yesterday I made the trip up to San Isidro de el General to take care of some things. I was to meet Rod and Lindsay for lunch at “Mexico Lindo”, an amazing genuine Mexican food restaurant there, run by a bona fide Mexican Armando and his lovely wife. I have known them for years and used to frequent their little taco hole in one of the off-the-beaten-path streets of San Isidro years ago. Now they are located right on the central square and my, how things have changed since those days of long ago. I don’t think that there was a single empty table there, and at least 50% of what I heard was English – my, how things have changed.


Running the gauntlet of greetings as I made my way back to Rod and Lindsay, I looked up to see a couple who are particularly good friends, but that I have not seen for awhile. I greeted them with something like “how are you guys doing in this new world in which we live?” (reference to the economy), to which they responded, “what is going on?”. Working in real estate provides one with an interesting position in life. I didn’t realize it for a long time, but it is now clearer than ever. This industry is at the very foundation of life. We all need to live, play, and work somewhere. I received the above question in an e-mail from one of my clients just yesterday, so I heard the question a total of 2 times over the course of the day, and that wasn’t an unusual day.

Here’s what I think

We have lost a lot of buyers due to the economic crisis. We are gaining some buyers that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. It may look something like the graphic there to the left. It means a slow down for us here in Costa Rica, but not death. I have a client/friend/partner that is a high output kinda guy. I’ll call him Steve, a lawyer in Florida. He purchased a piece of land from me 3ish years ago. Subsequent visits have given us the opportunity to forge a friendship. Steve had a plan.

  • Sell his beach condo that he bought for investment
  • Sell his main home
  • Let the lease on his Porsche run out
  • Finish up obligations at the firm
  • Set up some means of income in Costa Rica
  • Move to Costa Rica

Steve LOVES Costa Rica. This is home to him. Every visit here confirms it to him. He just needed to get the ducks all lined up in a neat row prior to making the move. This is a common scenario. Life was fine. Plans were being made. Then, it all changed.

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