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:
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.

Relocation FAQ 3

I just received some questions from a connection that I made in the Social Media site LinkedIn. I am reprinting these here due to the increase in these types of questions lately. I’m sure that these questions, and their answers, will be of help to a number of our readers.

Location In The Zone:

  1. We don’t want to feel like we’re living in the middle of nowhere, but we’re not looking to live in a large city like Seattle! What is The Zone like?
Costa Rica Real Estate

One of many developments above Dominical.

As a starting point, you picked a good one. The Zone, as we like to call it down here in the southern pacific zone of Costa Rica, is definitely a bit removed from things.  The developments are typically more spread out than North American developments, so in most cases your neighbor will not be right on top of you.  Access to The Zone is possible via two regional airports (both approx.40 minutes from Uvita) and the Costanera Highway.  Thanks to the new San Jose-Caldera Highway, the trip to San Jose is now 3 hours.  That said, it is difficult to say if this area would appeal to you with this point, and I would recommend a visit before making that determination.

Costa Rica Real Estate

You can buy or build your dream home.

Buy or Build:

  1. We are also trying to decide between building a home or buying existing… Do you have any suggestions?

This is one of the more common questions that we deal with. Here is an interesting data point: the majority of people that walk into our office want to buy an existing house. Yet, the majority of people that buy from us buy raw land & build.  Why is that?  Here in The Zone, we have been outside the main flow of tourism.  This was due to the bumpy, dirt road between Dominical and Quepos.  It is now paved, and we are more in the flow.  Historically, those visitors and relocators who found their way down here were a bit… well, let’s call it eccentric… might be the way to put it. These are truly individualistic individuals who built their house as an expression of that individuality. These houses are not easy to sell. Now, I should clarify that this building approach is ancient history.  There are very nice homes available in The Zone; however, there just aren’t that many of them.  The inventory continues to evolve, and home sales are up.  That said, I suspect that it’ll be a while before we hit the 50/50 mark of house/lots sales.  Our recommendation is to take your time and look at everything.  After you go through this process, you can compare those houses with what it would cost to buy & build on a similar piece of land, keeping in mind raw land is plentiful.  You might find that $450,000 house can be built for $350,000, and you’ll have it the way you want it.  Conversely, you might find a great house for less than what it would cost to buy and build.  In today’s market place, and with the economic crisis, you never know what you might find.  Building in Costa Rica can be a daunting and frustrating task.  For this reason alone, some people simply refuse to go through the process.  This question really is best served in a face to face consultation.

Costa Rica Real Estate

The ARCR is one of many sites with good info.

Groups and Associations:

  1. I have heard to be very wary of some places being over priced for foreigners who don’t know any better. Any good groups or services to retain?

Hmmmm, well I am inclined to think that you’ve found all you need right here with me. 🙂  A not so self-serving answer would be, “yes.”  There are actually PLENTY of options for information, so many in fact that I wonder at how one can really know what the straight story is.  Residency, taxes, zoning, business and so on, in a foreign land, requires that one be on his toes. I like the Costa Rica Living news group at Yahoo groups. Also, the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR) have been a helpful residency and insurance resource for some of my clients.  Ultimately, I think that what you are doing is a good idea.  Talk with individuals who have done what you want to do.  When I get new clients in the Dominical and Uvita area, I set up lunches with my previous clients who have moved here, built, learned Spanish etc.  It seems that everyone is more than happy to share their experience, and from these tidbits you’ll get a very good idea of what to do and, often more importantly, not do.

Starting A Company:

  1. Did you find it difficult to start a company there? I will be looking to work, but understand I will need to start my own business to get paid. At least until we were able to become residents.

Starting a business, or buying an income generating property, or both, used to be oh-so-easy in Costa Rica.  Business owners would only complete the necessary steps to get a business license if someone from the Municipality came and bugged them about it.  And, income generated by businesses or rental properties was reported even less.  In today’s Costa Rica it has become a bit more difficult, or maybe I should say involved, to operate without them.  For better or worse, Costa Rica is growing up and finding ways to enforce laws that they have had on the books for years, in some cases, decades.  The simple fact is, to do any kind of work in Costa Rica, you need to be a resident.  Otherwise, you run the risk of being deported.  We know people who can help with residency and setting up a business, among other services.

I hope these thoughts help to answer your questions, although it is my experience that they usually bring up new questions.  Safe to say, The Guys here to help.

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