country is in the midst of a real estate boom and experiencing
the effects of a maturing influx of construction projects
and foreign investment. Though real figures are hard to
come by in each region, a spot check with realtors revealed
prices have risen around the country over the past year
by as much as 20% or more, and buying trends are shifting
to previously less sought-after regions, both because of
a simple lack of availability in some areas and as a reaction
to soaring prices.
There is a movement away from the beachfront in the northwestern
province of Guanacaste because most of the land has been
bought and is not for sale. What is available is astronomically
priced compared to nearby lots several street blocks from
Ron Douglas, owner of Surfside Properties (www.surfsidepropertiescostarica.com,
654-5567) near Playa Flamingo, on the northern Pacific coast,
estimated the average price for a lot at $100 per square
“ There’s a major difference between title property
and concession property,” Douglas said. “Your
average lot value is $550,000 (for 1,000 square meters)
if you can find one that’s titled.”
Property titles and concessions are amongst the greatest
issues plaguing real estate purchases, especially in the
rural and coastal areas away from the seat of national government.
Zoning plans have not been made for much of the country,
and the strip of coastal land 50-200 meters inland from
the high-tide mark cannot be owned; it must be “borrowed”
in a sense, through a concession. Without zoning plans,
however, neither titles nor concessions are granted. The
titling and concessions process is slow and bungled by bureaucracy
and a lack of government funds, which sometimes leads prospective
owners to pay for the zoning plans themselves. Lots in Tamarindo,
south of Flamingo, go for $950,000, Douglas said, “if
you can find one.”
That “if” is his caveat for most beach front
properties.“ Flamingo has no beachfront lots available,
just condos at the back end,” he said. This, combined
wit the scarcity in the midst of such high demand, has led
to major subdivisions, such as hillside ocean-view lots,
springing up to fill the void.
“ It concerns me, the number of subdivisions coming
in,” Douglas said. “That might undermine the
value of the existing ocean-view lots. I would recommend
not investing in an ocean-view lot,” unless the purchase
is not an investment, but something for the buyer to enjoy,
Lately, he said, more buyers are in this category, meaning
fewer buyers are speculators. He estimates the shift has
been from 75% speculation a year and a half ago to 50% now.
This clientele is bolstered by retiring U.S. citizens who
shy away from the high prices in Hawaii and hurricane danger
in the Caribbean.
“ People are looking to invest now and relocate when
they sell out of where they are in North America,”
he said, “There is a big demand for condos –
There are zero available in surfside, for example (because
they are sold out).”
Off-the-beach two-bedroom condominiums cost about $175,000-250,000,
and beachfront condos run from $475,000.
Buyers are primarily from the United States, predominately
from California and Florida, judging by who looks at Douglas’
offerings online. He estimates the demand is 85-90% North
for Affordable Homes in Guanacaste
By María Gabriela Díaz - Tico
northwest province of Guanacaste has been highly coveted
for its endless pastures, spectacular beaches and orange
sunsets. These days investors of all nationalities want
a piece of the pie – and the pie is not cheap.
Over the past two to three years, property in Guanacaste
has soared. According to Scott MacDougall, owner of Century
21 at the Beach in Playa Hermosa (672-0273, email@example.com),
on the northern Pacific coast, ocean-view lots in Hermosa
ranged from $85,000-115,000 in 2003. Today, the same properties
are valued at $255,000-400,000.
“ (Guanacaste) property value has increased with a
decent consistency in the past two years; it’s directly
related to the Liberia international airport,” MacDougall
said, referring to Daniel Oduber International Airport,
which started receiving international flights in December
2002 (TT, Dec. 6, 2002).
The opening of the luxurious Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula
Papagayo in January 2004 also “helped to bring in
a different clientele,” added MacDougall, who has
13 years of experience in the real estate business.