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.

Two “Below Market” Ocean View Properties

What a glorious rainy season it has been. After a few years of lighter than
normal rains, we’re having a season now that fits the descriptions old-timers here give to what rainy season “used to be like”. Rains starting in the early to mid-afternoon. Going into, and perhaps through, the night. Partly cloudy but clearing glorious mornings with Costa Rica’s plethora of wildlife providing the background symphony for the morning’s coffee. Ahhh!

Whales Tail view property Uvita

The Whales Tail View from Bella Vista #5.

OK, enough of that life enjoyment stuff. Let’s get to business. By my reckoning, the high-season started 2 days ago (Monday, the 7th of November, 2016). I have been enjoying the typically slower time of September and October here in The Zone. Not nearly as many visitors here, glorious weather (a well kept secret is the rainy-season here in Costa Rica) and the demand on us real estate agents gets a bit lighter during these months as well.

Monday, this changed as though someone had thrown a switch. Numerous e-mail inquiries coming in regarding various properties, sellers wanting to list their properties and buyers that are here wanting to see properties.  So for those who are wondering when the high-season begins here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone, it is during November. And if this year is any kind of determining factor – early November.

I mentioned in a previous post that we are doing a countdown on the number of under-$100k ocean view properties. There are still some left, but they are getting mopped up at a rather quick pace.

Somehow, amidst all the business that is going on, there are a couple of ocean-view properties that are priced below market value – that haven’t yet sold. These have been topics for repeated discussion between myself, as the listing agent, and both buyers and agents from other agencies, in recent days.

One of the properties is located here in Uvita and has a wonderful Whale’s Tail view as well as a soul-touching mountain range view that is frequently shrouded in tropical mists. It is essentially a 270° sweep from the ocean to the mountains behind.

The other is located in an area south of Uvita that is called Ballena, which is Spanish for whale. Ballena is an area where the coastal mountain range comes down to very near the beach. So the ocean views in the Ballena area are frequently quite nice.

Whales Tail vew property in Uvita

Panorama of Bella Vista 5, the primary building site. The ocean is off to the right and also the lower building site.

Bella Vista #5 (click here to view the listing)
The first one is lot #5 in a development called Bella Vista (I fear using the term “development” due to the mental image it conjures up from other countries. This is “development” Costa Rica style. Large, private parcels tucked into the jungle and that look out at the ocean.) All of the properties in this development have sold over the past 10 or so years. This is a re-sale. As mentioned, it features a sweeping ocean to mountain view. It has a primary building site and a separate smaller building site for a guest house. The seller paid considerably higher than his asking price of $88,000. And in fact, he has recently lowered the price from $119,000 (also lower than he paid) to move it.

Why this one is on the market still is a mystery. I had a real estate agent from another agency call me this morning. He has an inquiry on the property. He asked me why it is so darn cheap. “Is there something wrong with it?” he asked. “Nope. Nothing wrong with it, and a lot right with it.”

I wonder if the price can actually be too low. Maybe the prospective buyer is thinking that there must be something wrong with it that’s not being disclosed. Relative to comparable properties on the market, this one is lower than it should be. In fact, I told the seller this when he told me to lower the price. He stuck to his guns and said that he’s got other interests in his home-land and he’s ready to sell.

Roca Ballena View (click here to view the listing)

View of the Roca Ballena from this property located between Uvita and Ojochal

The view out to the Roca Ballena

As for the Ballena property, it is in a great location and looks right out at Roca Ballena. It also has lots of usable rolling land where several other cabinas can be built. The asking price on this one is $83,000.

Here’s the data on both properties:

Bella Vista #5

  • Price: $88,000
  • 8,125 sq. mtrs (just over 2 acres)
  • water & electric
  • ocean, Whales Tail & mountain views
  • 4WD access
  • located about 7-8 minutes from Uvita’s core
  • Annual road fees: $450.00
  • Annual water fees: $520.00 in 2017
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value

Expenses to get the property ready to build: There is no tractor work done on the primary building site. The entry drive will need to be cut in. This is not extensive work. The area for the drive is already cleared so it is just a matter of some tractoring and bringing in material. I’d say around 40 meters in length or less.

There may be some tractor work necessary to flatten the primary building area. I say “may” because of the various building methods that don’t require a flat building site.  The natural lay of the land is flat-ish already. The smaller building site is ready to build. Overall, very little tractor work necessary.

The water is to the property so there will be whatever the pipe costs to run the short distance to hook it up. The electric is about 200 meters away and will need to be run underground to the property. This is a slightly higher than normal expense for hooking up electricity, but not prohibitively so.

The Ballena Property:

  • $83,000
  • 4,525 sq. mtrs (just over one acre)
  • electric (water explained below)
  • ocean, Roca Ballena & jungle views
  • 2WD access
  • the rolling areas apart from the primary building site have no ocean view. But, they are in a nicely shaded and accessible area.
  • located about 10 minutes from Uvita and 12ish minutes to Ojochal
  • Annual road fees: as needed. The community pitches in. This fee is low on this property.
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value, same as any other in Costa Rica

There is no tractor work necessary for the building pad. There will be a very little bit needed for the entry, mainly to put in a cement tube (culvert) that passes under the drive alongside the road. This may be done by hand.

If the large area between the primary building area and the creek is to be developed with additional cabinas, this will require additional tractor work.

There is a creek that runs by the property. There is also a spring. There is no community water (ASADA) in this area so a concession is needed for water from the creek & spring. The cost of such a concession is $1,000-$1,200 at this  writing. The labor and materials to set up the water system: catchment, pump and pipes, will probably be less than $2,000.

The electricity runs right by the property so the hookup is standard.

This article was inspired by my conversation with another real estate agent this morning. He said “Ben, it seems to me that these properties are priced quite a bit lower than they should be”. Indeed. So, I thought I’d share.