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.


Is The Zone at the Tipping Point? 1


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 was moderate, and that these people have extensive Costa Rica experience (some have been visiting since the ’70s, ’80’s and ’90s), and that most of them have gone through the building process, lent credibility to the Tipping Point indicators.

Also, the fact that these people, for the most part, were migrators helped. They have a fresh and “outside” view of what winds are blowing here in The Zone. Not like me. I live here full time. Sure, I leave Costa Rica a couple times a year and come back with a fresh view of how lucky I feel to be able to call this place “home”. But I think that my situation is a “can’t see the jungle for the trees” scenario. In my routine here day to day, I don’t see the far reaching trends. Sitting up on that beautiful terrace overlooking the lights of the coastline and out onto the pacific ocean, my evening of conversation with these friends was enlightening to me.

These folks have a life elsewhere. Many of them are returning soon to their homes, families and jobs. Many of them have plans, some up to 10 years down the road, of moving to Costa Rica full time, others just months away.

Richard & Debby designed their house to accommodate their now-grown kids and their families in the hopes of attracting said kids to the family Costa Rica home (the report is good for this strategy.)

Others have built a small villa on their large property that they can use in the interim years as a vacation home and then rent out when they aren’t here. They will then live in the villa when the time comes to build the main house. Occupancy rates for vacation rentals were impressive.

One of the exceptions to the migrators was a client of mine that purchased a lot in Costa Verde Estates some 5 or 6 years back. He was an attorney in southern California and has now built, retired and moved to Costa Rica full time. He and his wife have been in-country now for about a year, and I have run into him once during that time (now twice.) When I commented on this, he said “I don’t get out much. I have a hard time coming down from my perch and am really quite happy here.” I didn’t get much of a chance to talk with his wife aside from the hug greeting. But every time I looked her way she was smiling.

I don’t know if this type of thing is of interest to my readers, but to me it was noteworthy. Could it be that we are at the threshold (read: tipping point) of rather large and rapid growth here? One gal mentioned that she was really excited to see what the next 10 years is going to bring.

I was encouraged by some of the good comments about this blog, thank you very much.

In my recent article on State of the Market, my year-end review and guesses for 2013, I state that this season may be the last time to take advantage of the residual effects from the recession on land prices here. Houses are selling, spanning price ranges from simple to luxury. The over $1,000,000 mark is now being hit with regularity. My guess is that the $400,000 range is the bread-basket. As I state in the above cited article, I believe it is a great time to buy a lot (raw land.)

Costa Verde Estates currently has 4 lots available for sale. I’ve got one as a re-sale. As fine homes and some small interim villas are going in there, the vision of Terry, the developer, is coming into focus, and it is a grand thing. The views rate a 10 on a global scale (I don’t think they are topped anywhere. Maybe from the peak of Everest but, its cold there and they don’t get an ocean view :o), plus the quality of the infrastructure is the best in the area.   Now we can add to this a “community” feel. Certainly nothing intrusive. These folks are here to quiet down. It is a formula that suggests that these four lots are not going to last.

Rod and I are available to show them as well if you drop either of us a line. Rod is working with United Country and I am working solo on select properties.

The form below is for me. Click here for Rod.

Finally, if you ever are lucky enough to be invited to a dinner by Richard & Debby, don’t delay – accept! Richard is a phenomenon in the kitchen, Debby is the hostess with the mostess – and then there is that view…

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