It's official, 2010 saw more visitors and more sales on our Costa Rica property tours than any year in the past. We ran a total of 42 Discovery tours during the year and sales topped expectations and estimates on real estate sales at our developments in Costa Rica. Buyers came mainly from North America but sales were reported from a buyer from Australia, who bought 3 pieces of property in our developments. Housing starts rebounded after a slight downturn in 2008 and 2009. We expect to build 45 new homes in the coming year. Our rental market has been great and demand for rentals exceeds supply now for much of the year.
Costa Rica Blog
With the colon's increase in value this year topping 11%, it was the second highest appreciating currency worldwide. In a reaction by the central bank to control the astonomical increase in the value, the bank has announced plans to purchase up to $50 million dollars per month in foreign currency to curb the rise in value of the colon. The rapid rise in value of the colon will make both tourism and exports more expensive. The central bank has traditionally allowed the colon to float in a range between 500 and 640 colon to the dollar but this week the colon approached the upper ranges in value, at 504 colons to the dollar.
By purchasing foreign currencies, the central bank hopes to decrease the value of the colon. The higher value of the colon makes real estate and exports more costly to international investors. This is a good thing for the many North Americans who have already purchased property there, as the value of thier property increases. It does make real estate more expensive for new buyers unless the property is priced in dollars, not colon. Fortunately our prices at Pacific Lots are priced in dollars but as the dollar continues to lose money worldwide, there is pressure to change our pricing system to colons. For those who have purchased property using a self directed IRA, the gain they realize over time reflects the increase in the value of the colon as well as the increase in value of the property. As the dollar continues to lose value, more Costa Rican real estate, home sites and lots will be priced in colons.
Here is an email I recently wrote to one of our clients that wanted a tour of a few hours with little notice.
Okay I admit it, I'm really busy these days. I leave tomorrow for Costa Rica to lead our 4 day Discovery tour running December 31 - January 3rd which is immediately followed by our 10 day country and property tour running January 4th - 13th. In the meantime, International Living did another article about our developments so I've also had to answer hundreds of emails. I am not complaining. So here, for the last entry into our blog for 2009, is our UPDATED slide show. We've worked over the last week to get it finished since our new video is not yet done. Take a moment to view the show, I think you will enjoy it. When you are finished, please comment about it via Digg, Delicious or Twitter. We thank you all for your loyal support this year and hope 2010 is a great one for all of you.
Rental Property Research Tools: Thinking of buying Costa Rica real estate as an investment? When buying real estate in Costa Rica you should research first to determine if it's a wise choice. Before you decide to build a home in any foreign country for rental income, consider the following. Have you ever heard of http://www.vrbo.com/ This site, Vacation Rental by Owner, is a great place to find rental properties around the globe. It is also one of the most valuable research tools available for anyone considering the purchase of property in a foreign country. One of the best indicators of how to judge the value of a real estate investment in a foreign location is the quality of the rental market. If a strong rental market exists, you can easily judge the quality of any investment using simple math. Using http://www.vrbo.com/ you can find complete rental information, including rental rates as well as availability. Each property specifies the rental rates for short term versus long term, high season or off season as well as features and photos, square footage and number of beds and baths. It is a great tool to compare potential purchases in various foreign locations. If the rental market in an area is good, so is the resale market. If the rental market is weak, don't expect great returns on your investment, appreciation or a secondary market to sell down the road.
What to Look For: With this tool you can compare the cost of any purchase to the potential return on investment from rental income. High rental rates and low availability is the key to solid returns and appreciation. As an example, check out the rental activity in our town, at VRBO. From the home page, select Cental America, then Costa Rica, in the state of Puntarenas and the town of Ojochal. Compare our rates and bookings to any other location, Panama City, Salinas, Nicaragua, Belize, Ecuador or Mexico and see for yourself why our developments continue to outsell many others. Look through all the listings in each area you are considering, this is what smart investors do. You may see a few new listings that may not yet have much rental activity and there will always be some very successful renters as well as some who don't do well at all. Use a good sample size and then compare results to the cost of purchase to figure your potential return on investment. A good investment should always have a strong rental demand.
When we'd settled on Costa Rica the destination we planned to retire to the first thing we did was set a strategy to find a piece of property that met our requirements in terms of size, location and budget. We were pretty savvy shoppers having bought and sold close to a dozen properties in the states so we thought we knew what we were doing. We first looked for foreclosed property in Costa Rica. We quickly realized there wasn't much in the way of foreclosed homes in Costa Rica since most homes have no mortgage, with most being purchased in the past for cash. The mortgage market in Costa Rica is still in it's infancy. Typically you can't get a mortgage on land, only developer financing. In this type of financing, the developer holds the note. Mortgages for finished homes or construction mortgages typically require large down payments in Costa Rica. Banks in Costa Rica want a minimum of 20% of the value of the mortgage as collateral. Fortunately you can typically pledge land you own as collateral for a construction loan which is what many owners in our developments end up doing.