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.


Costa Rica Real Estate Chit Chat 8


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 yet another upgrade for the real estate industry.  Many times has it been said that “everyone is a realtor in Costa Rica”. This will change with this law, and in the process help to protect the interests of buyers and sellers alike.

Ben at the Camara de Bienes Raices or Costa Rica Chamber of Real Estate course.

Proof that I was there. I was actually quite impressed with the professional presentation of the CBR.

But that’s not all.  There’s more.
This Friday Rod & I are going to be attending the first of several required courses being offered in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone for the newly formed, and widely embraced Costa Rica Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  The service is privately owned and appears to be well funded and organized.  I personally visited their offices in San José and got to see the workings there and was truly impressed.  More on this as it develops but needless to say, us Guys are enjoying the spate of improvements to the real estate industry in Costa Rica.

About Trusts, or the lack thereof:
I spend a certain amount of my time in putting together hard money loans.
There is a growing need for this service since credit is hard to come by in the current global economy.

My attorney has always advised my clients to use a Costa Rica mortgage for their loans, and so we have.  I’ve heard the reasons for this position of his a number of times and would say that the benefits of a mortgage outweigh a trust, but only marginally.  So, today I was working on a loan with a lender whose needs I felt would be better served with a trust.  So I called my lawyer to ask that he set up the deal using a trust.  He informed me that there are currently no trusts being formed in Costa Rica.

It turns out that in the car industry in Costa Rica, the trust has been used to avoid paying taxes on the sale of the car.  So, the governmental agency called SUGEF, which is like the SEC in the States, says that, in order for any Grantor, or Custodian to be recognized by them as legitimate, the Grantor or Custodian must be registered in the National Registry, which now conveniently takes a prohibitively long time to happen.  In other words, there aren’t any officially recognized financial custodians to act as the necessary 3rd party in a trust.  So, this leaves just leaves us with the mortgage in the loan business, which is fine with me anyway, but I found it interesting.

I’ll post more about Costa Rica mortgages in a future article. It’s a bit dry, but for those interested in using a Costa Rican mortgage, its a fascinating read.  Click here for a Spanish language article that explains the law.

About reading stuff in Spanish on the web:
There is no reason to shy away from going to a Spanish language web page anymore, especially if it has information that you want.  Google has got a great page translation function now.  We have installed a translation widget on this site and the www.GuysInTheZone.com site as well.  It makes translating the entire site a simple mouse click and takes just a few seconds.  Amazing.  I use Google “Chrome” browser and it asks me if I’d like to translate any non-English page for those websites that don’t have one of the fancy translation widgets on them.

Anyway, ours is over there on the right of the page.

It doesn’t always translate well.  I found this translation kind of humorous from an article on the new traffic laws on that same site:

Much has been made of the famous law of traffic, however this IS NOT A NEW LAW transit, but a 7331 amendment to the Act, but appears to be confusion among the general population, be it drivers, pedestrians and transit authorities themselves . Just as this little-known offenses, I also penalize pedestrians for risky actions, but they have not received enough publicity. Doubt also exists about the application of certain sanctions for lack of regulation, as is the case of baby chairs. Would be prudent to count on the full text with the reform that is already built and to clarify to the people whether or not the promulgation of a regulation necessary to apply some sanctions. Many thanks.

Oh well, such services will serve to offer yet further motivation to learn Spanish.

By the way, I’m writing a series of articles that will help you to learn Spanish over at my Dominical website.  Click here to view. There are just 2 articles there at the moment, but I’ll be posting more progressively.

 

Certified and Official Costa Rica Real Estate Agents

The Guys, Rod & Ben, proudly display their Costa Rica Camara de Bienes Raices certificates.


8 thoughts on “Costa Rica Real Estate Chit Chat

  • RCH

    It would be nice if a licensed RE agent, member of NAR, could get licensed in CR without spending 32 hours…but of course that's not going to happen.

    Nice article Ben, nice to see the progress, it's going to make more than a few people unhappy if this becomes law. But it's a good thing imo.

  • RCH

    It would be nice if a licensed RE agent, member of NAR, could get licensed in CR without spending 32 hours…but of course that's not going to happen.

    Nice article Ben, nice to see the progress, it's going to make more than a few people unhappy if this becomes law. But it's a good thing imo.

  • Ben

    Hello RCH,
    The advent of licensing and an MLS all at the same time bodes very well for the real estate industry. We have made some serious strides towards cooperation between the agencies that has resulted in a number of shared commission deals. Seller's are getting representation, and buyers are seeing all that is appropriate for them in the zone. All good. Now we could just use a healthy economy. Can you help with that?

  • Ben

    Hello RCH,
    The advent of licensing and an MLS all at the same time bodes very well for the real estate industry. We have made some serious strides towards cooperation between the agencies that has resulted in a number of shared commission deals. Seller's are getting representation, and buyers are seeing all that is appropriate for them in the zone. All good. Now we could just use a healthy economy. Can you help with that?

  • Real Estate

    and finally there is a real MLS in Costa Rica, which offers real estate professionals the ability to co-broker, but it also provides education, contact management, internet data exchange, exclusive listing tools and much more…

  • Real Estate

    and finally there is a real MLS in Costa Rica, which offers real estate professionals the ability to co-broker, but it also provides education, contact management, internet data exchange, exclusive listing tools and much more…