What is the REAL truth about buying property in Nicaragua and Costa Rica?

With all that is happening in the US what is the Real story about buying property in Nicaragua. There seems to be so many developments. Are these developers offering major discounts???

Who is buying??? or is there an imbalance of supply and demand?

I am looking for some unbiased information. Not interested in what the Realtors are saying. Most of them seem like young guys who got into selling Real Estate in the last few years and I feel uncomfortable with merely relying upon the information they provide. Information is sadly lacking.

What is the REAL story about buying Real Estate in these parts.

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hard to take you seriously

Hi Joshua, I took a look at your page.  You personally promise to double tourism to Nicaragua within 18 months.  It's hard to take you seriously. 

I need your thoughts

www NicaraguaLifestyles info is what I would like ot do to help put people to work, to bring tourism, to stop the hunger children,

I plan to open a Red Door Kitchen/First Aid center in Esquipulas, to feed the hunger, before the end of the year. I am but one man,  the plan is simple, lease land, take seeds and plant food, open a fruit and vegetable stand and then cook the food for the red door kitcehn ot feed the kids .  I have made contact and have received a promise of food, but have to tranport it. so a link with an airline is needed.  THis process would teach people how to grow their food, how ot process it,  how ot cook, how to feed their kids.  

The building for the kitchen will also house a Medical station with an apartment upstairs or close. I plan to ask Doctors to promise 3 days a quarter.  Where they would come and see the people and help.   You see I still believe in mankind,

 

I am a real estate appraiser in Alabama USA. business is so slow here I have had to wait, and wait...

So while I can do nothing but wait , I ask for your ideas and suggestions to improve the plan.,

www Southlandappraisers com

your heart is in the right place

Hi Patrick,

I am glad to read of your plans.  Whether you are a bit naive, or whether I and/or other posters are excessively fatalistic - actually I don't think is a vitally important question.  The purpose of this website and also this topic are to share information about Central America so that we can each have a fuller perspective to be effective at understanding and engaging with Central America.  We don't need to debate/argue as much as share our experiences, plans, analyses.

Does your property have any history of agrarian reform?

I'm also curious whether it is at all troubling to you for Ortega to say that the free market is the enemy of the people (http://www.laprensa.com.ni/archivo/2008/mayo/07/noticias/politica/258302...) - what does it mean in this context for him or other high ranking officials to attract investment?

Peter

Developer's perspective, answer to your question.

To answer your question peterchristopher about what we are going to do with the land to preserve the ecology...

First of all, we have a small development by other's standards, approximately 100 acres.  The more important part is that this piece of land is in a key location, nestled between the Cosiguina volcano itself, the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by the Cosiguina Nature Reserve.  This piece of land was stripped down from the natural habitat to make a peanut (mani) farm years ago by the previous owner.  Although I have nothing against farming and grew up in the prairies of Canada in a farming community, I think it was unfortunate to have this tract of land be stripped to the dirt in an area where there are endangered species, one of which is the Great Green Macaw parrot which is not found in very many other places outside of this area.  Of course there are many other animal species as well as the protected hardwood trees, etc.

As I said in my previous post, my goal is to help not only the flora and fauna of the area but to help the local people too.  So through a combination of numerous things I hope to be able to accomplish both.

Firstly, we are going to reforest the bulk of the property with indigenous plants.  We are going to create an interpretive center for the Cosiguina hotspring volcano to help educate people about the local flora and fauna and this will include a rehabilitation center for injured or orphaned wildlife.  During the egg laying season of the turtles we will assist the government in protecting the beaches from poachers (which is a real problem).  This was done last year by several volunteers even before we have done any development on the property.  Of course all the buildings will be as low impact as possible and will be powered by wind and solar, composting toilets will be used, etc.

To help the locals improve their quality of life without impacting their culture we are going to create a small market area for the locals to sell their handicrafts, seafood, etc.  I am currently working with Canadian baseball clubs to provide us with baseball equipment and will be building a baseball field for the local kids to play on.  We are also making a "skills exchange" area where those who purchase in our development can teach skills to and learn skills from the locals.  We want to be a part of the community, not build walls around ourselves to keep out the community.

So you can see, our ideas are a mix of helping the environment and the people.  Perhaps I am naive and there are plenty of negative people who will make comments like "I hope Ortega doesn't take your land when you are done." but if all of us were like them, nothing would ever improve.

I do wish though that people who make comments like that would understand the history of land confiscation in the distant past.  I'm not taking political sides here but if you look at the past land issues from many Nicaraguan's perspective, you will find that the ruling party before Ortega's revolution in the 80's took land from poor farmers and gave it to their friends.  People don't revolt for no reason.  To a great deal of Nicaraguan's, Ortega is a hero, he took power away from the corrupt rulers and gave the land back to the people.  Of course the friends of the earlier regime didn't like that their land had been taken back and were very vocal about it.  So as North American's all we heard was Ortega was a mad man taking away land.  That was over 20 years ago, and as I said earlier, I'm not taking any political sides but many Nicaraguans feel that returning their land to them was the right thing to do.  Now some of them have chosen to sell and that is their right.

If you talk with Nicaraguans now they would laugh if you said you were afraid that the government will take your land.  Sure they are working on straightening out some title issues, but issues like overlapping lots because of poor surveying techniques in the past happen in the US and Canada too.  The overwhelming intent of the government is to attract investment to the country.  Last week I met with many top officials in the Nicaraguan government and without exception, all were very interested in making sure that our development is a success because it brings money and jobs while being eco-friendly.  Nicaragua has some of the most protected natural reserve land in Central America and if they can get help with continuing that while helping their economy through jobs and investment they are very keen on it.

 

  Hopefully Ortega will not

 

Hopefully Ortega will not take your development from you when it's complete.

thanks for sharing your perspective

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Patrick.  Your website is attractive.  While I think your information about Nicaragua being the second safest country in the Americas is not correct, I do agree that Nicaragua is safer than Honduras and Guatemala.  How much land do you own, and how will you preserve the ecology of that land and the surrounding area?

From a developer's perspective.

I'm sure people will see my comments below as just a cheap way to advertise, but I just wanted to make a few comments from a developer's point of view.

A year ago I purchased a large parcel of beachfront land in Northern Nicaragua near the Cosiguina Vocano.  I was traveling in Nicaragua with my wife and three teenage children and fell in love with it.  The beaches are incredibly beautiful, the people are kind and Nicaragua is statistically the second safest country in the Americas.  I am from Canada and that was important to me.

I am in the early stages of creating what I believe will be a beautiful eco-friendly community and contrary to popular belief, not all developers are evil, money hungry devils who simply wish to exploit the country and leave.  My goal is not to lose money of course, but equally important to me is to have the right people purchase in our development and be my neighbors.  I have been fortunate financially in life and wish to give back in a meaningful way.  We are very focused on a number of key concepts.  Firstly, to enjoy the beauty of the beach and hotspring volcano while positively impacting the area, not exploiting it.  Positive impact comes in two forms.  Firstly, to help the environment and the natural beauty of the area be maintained.  We will have strict rules on eco-friendly homes and on our clients helping with reforestation, protection of the turtles on the beach, etc.  Secondly, to help the local people improve their way of life by having our community members pass on their skills whether they be in construction, technology or in teaching a new language.  Of course creating a new development also creates a lot of construction jobs, rental management, caretaking, etc.  I am also going to take a significant portion of our profits (assuming we have some!) and put them back into the local communities by helping improve schools, clinics and even building baseball fields which is an extremely popular sport down here.

So as I said above, many people will think I am just advertising with my comments and feel free to take shots at me, but the truth is I wanted to say from a developers perspective that not all developers are trying to exploit the country.  I am working on a partnership with other eco-friendly developers who are local Nicaraguans and they too wish to make their country better through their development, not worse.

Is the amount of interest in Nicaragua real estate down from a couple years ago, yes and no.  When the cost of land in Florida falls in half one can certainly expect an impact on Nicaragua or any other competitive location.  However, I have no intent on dropping our prices.  They are very fair.  We are well funded and have no reason to give away some of the most beautiful property in the world.  We also have the added advantage of lower infrastructure costs because as a "green" development our homes are strictly solar/wind powered so there is no power lines to the property, we are not paving over the property to make parking lots, etc.  We offer beautiful nature powered luxury living without a damaging impact on the environment which frankly saves us money upfront and saves our clients money both upfront and in the long run (no power bills, etc.)

OK, that's enough standing up for developers!  One thing that people might also find intriguing in terms of interest in Nicaragua property lately is that with the economic down turn we have noticed more interest from people looking for a retirement location.  People that used to believe they could afford to retire in the US, Europe or Canada may have found a large part of their net worth evaporated on the stock market.  So the thought of living in a luxury beachfront paradise and being able to do that in style for $1000 a month in total quite easily is very appealing.  So when I said yes and no to the question of whether interest has waned, what I have seen is some people looking for a vacation home may be holding off but others looking to retire are looking to Nicaragua more than ever.

So to answer the original question from my perspective...there may be some developers who are panicking with the economic downturn and running for the hills, dumping off their property as they go if they are desperate for cash.  But there are certainly many developments that have a long term plan with core values and may be giving some discounts now but are really focusing on the future when the economy turns around.  It is pretty hard to argue that Nicaragua is going through a very similar development pattern to Costa Rica 15 years ago, Mexico 25 years ago, etc.  And I think almost everyone would have loved to have got in on those beautiful locations then.  Both for the enjoyment of the location and for the incredible increases in the property values.

That's my two cents.  I'll put my shields up now for the responses!

Patrick.

Vaccines and School

Hi! My family is considering a move to Costa Rica.  Does anyone know what the laws are regarding schools and vaccines?  Can we live there, become citizens and still educate our children at home?  If our children are not enrolled in school - can they remain without vaccination?

Thanks! 

[WEBSITE MODERATOR ADDITION:  Please followup on this subject at the new discussion topic on homeschooling and vaccination requirements for Costa Rica schools as the post is out of place here. Thanks.]

A very interesting quote

[The Tutu quote in an earlier comment is ] A very interesting quote......

Imperialism in action....

Its always interesting to see how gringo developers/realtors advertise their agenda..

I especially get a kick out of  " friendly, smilling, gentle people"

=  easily manipulated and exploited.......

re Real Info on Nicaragua Real Estate and eco properties

Nick:

I hope you did not get into trouble for writing this. I don't believe that providing information like this will endear you to a lot of  desperate sellers...now as a buyer I may think that you are quite ethical though somewhat naive........

Which leads to my question.....

What is your experience in selling properties in Central America? Explaining the rules/laws of a foreign country not to mention that all are written in the language of he country and then trying to ovecome all the hurdles associated with purchasing/selling properties as described by other participants on this website should surely make your task difficult if not impossible.

Though I must thank you for removing some of the mystry that always seems to shrowd the Real Estate market in these parts. And you did this by being REAL and truthful.

Maybe you would like to comment on a previous poster's question regarding "the marketing angle of Eco Properties". What do you think mate??

a nice piece we saw today

Today my wife and I saw a sign with properties for sale.  Prices lowered from $4/sqm to $2/sqm.  So we called the guy, and he drove down and we took a look at what he had available.  He's got several lots, among them a 2 ha and .5 ha piece, and for whatever reason in August he put a mortgage on the 2ha piece, and it appears he needs the money (of course you can never tell).  They are moderately remote, unfortunately, and steep, - but both have bulldozed house-lots, and nice trees and good views - the 2ha lot has some huge, amazing trees.  Their development has a website - Tierras Morenas is the name of the nearby tico community and also the name of their website.  There's some contact information on the website, but it might be smarter to call the owner directly (I can give you the number privately) if you are interested.  If you look at the map of the development, the lots I looked at today are marked 'NATURE RESERVE' !!!  It goes to show just how much you can trust the developer when they guarantee that part of the lot is a "NATURE RESERVE"!!  But if you want to buy it, you can make it a nature reserve ;)

Interesting quote

You're welcome .  I hadn't heard that interesting Tutu quote before.

We're still a new website and possibly it will take some time for more people to register and post comments.  Currently (because of the problems with website spam) we only allow comments from registered users.

Feel free to also try posting any interesting pictures you might have taken in your visit to Nicaragua - it's fun to see what kinds of things other people notice and find interesting. 

real estate/central america

Thanks for the input regarding my questions about purchasing RE in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Obviously its a question of great curiosity and interest as its "read" by many but  responded  by "very few". May be its not "good for business" or perhaps I am just an unduly paranoid and suspicious individual.

So I wait for more information.....while I meditate on the words of Desmond TuTu......

"When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land.

They said."Let us pray". We closed our eyes.

When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.

 

agreed

"views" "large" and "easy" are of course subjective terms, but I think basically what Jimmy is saying matches with what I've seen.  I've seen some good price drops in the properties in my five-figure price range.  I also know about one huge property that seems remarkably cheap and a few developments with views barely out of my price range where the prices have dropped a lot.  On the other hand, in the particular development where I rent (but cannot afford to own) the two owners I talked to would rather eat rice and beans than sell the properties for less than their purchase prices.  Just to sum that up, I think in the low to mid six figure range I think Jimmy is right.  Of course this is somewhat Costa Rica focused; i think the situation in Nicaragua because of other problems doesn't share this characteristic.

 

followups on specific real estate questions

Hi Samuel, I just posted my response about Title Insurance in Nicaragua as a separate forum topic.

As for your questions - again it's hard to say specifically without having been there with you - but of course most real estate agents would want you to buy a property that gains them the most commission (you'll never know what their real commission arrangements are) or gets them out of a tight spot. 

Of course, property values have gone down due to Ortega's return to power and increasing disrespect for civility.  I just spoke with one foreigner who said that the prices are falling through the floor on foreigner-owned properties because people are leaving and also need the money.

You ask why would one purchase anything in Central America, when values have come down a lot in the USA.  Well, perhaps you could share with us why you are considering it in a separate discussion thread or blog entry; if so I will also share with you why I am considering it.

By the way, have you taken a look at the rest of the articles in our Nicaragua Discussion Forum section?  For instance, the story about confiscations and multiple owners on a farm not far from the one I owned in Nicaragua?

Re: Real estate in Central America

Thanks for your response. Finnaly some responses to the question.

What are your thoughts about...??

a) The true viability of tittle insurance in these parts.

b) Are some developments "pitched" more than others. If so is it due to the fact that a lot of the RE companies have vested interest in them?

c) Should not the current Nicaraguan "poitical environment" pose enough of a risk to make these properties cheaper??

d) If in the US one can puchase foreclosed homes for so much less than before, what would be ones motivation to purchase in Central America.?

Thanks

 

Hi Nick - Welcome

Welcome to the forum. We welcome your contributions here. 

From what I read on the other sites, there are truly still people willing to give Nicaragua the benefit of the doubt.  I remember when I first went there five years ago and felt there was some potential.  Some green gringos actually convinced me to go there in the first place.  Two foreigners with 10 years there told me that investing in Nicaragua was a terrible idea - contracts aren't enforceable, land title rights are evanescent, the "work ethic" made business impossible, etc.  I guess some people still have a need to find out for themselves.  I did.  I can't therefore make too much fun about those who still have those starry eyes.  I'll tell it like I see it, though, so that they can effectively tell heads from tails when they start to see it themselves.

How long have you been in Nicaragua?  Do you own real estate yourself or work for salary or commission?

The REAL situation with Nicaragua Real Estate

Hello all,

I am going to comment on the San Juan del Sur and southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua only, since that is the area our office covers. It seems that many North Americans have a negative perception of real estate agents in Central America, and much of that negativity is definitely justified. The lack of legislation in this industry has enabled some very unscrupulous individuals to get away with too much.

That is a conversation of its own. The bottom line is that it can be very dangerous having a do-it-yourself approach when acquiring real estate in Central America. There are reputable real estate agencies that you can work with, you just need to take the time to really learn the background of some companies before pulling the trigger on ANY transaction. And in doing so, make sure to get information from a number of independent resources (not from a couple ex-pats in a bar that have their opinion that usually is not a sober one).

To answer your question - yes, real estate values are down due to the global economy. Over the past 5 years there has been an enormous influx of foreign investment in real estate "development". An earlier poster mentioned the pipe dream. There is DEFINITELY a pipe dream factor with some of these developments, and there also can be title issues with properties if the "developer" came in and made a "great deal" and is not chopping up the property for huge profits.

We put together some helpful Nicaragua Real Estate Maps that you can view on our website www.realtornicaragua.com - so you can see how many real estate developments have popped up along the southern Pacific coast.

The biggest difference we have seen in price drops at developments has been attributed to the maturity of the development in question. Developments like Lomas de Palermo in San Juan del Sur and Finca del Mar outside of Managua have already completed all infrastructure, so they have less need for cash flow compared to less mature developments. In our dealings, we have seen much less negotiating room in places like this compared to others where infrastructure has been promised but not yet delivered.

This brings up an important point. If you are looking to purchase within a development that still lacks infrastructure, make sure to include details of deliverables in your contract! This can be written in to your legal paperwork in such a way that you protect yourself from someone else's pipe dream as mentioned earlier.

Of course there are some huge price drops occuring due to the economy. These are mostly on resales within developments, and the owner's situation will be the main driver for a discount and negotiating room. Keep in mind that even though you may find a "50% discount" on a property, it may not be a good deal. Just becasue someone paid a lot more a few years ago, it does NOT mean that the value is there...you will get what you pay for no matter what!

I hope this was helpful. We try our best to provide the most helpful Nicaragua real estate information and best options for vacation rentals in Nicaragua.

 

 

de nada ... a few more words on Costa Rica and Nicaragua

My pleasure to share whatever information I have.

About Costa Rica -

I also noticed a few links on this topic - here's a blog entry:

http://costaricablogger.com/2008/11/01/home-prices-slashed--buy-now-in-costa-rica.aspx

Here are some properties in Costa Rica not far from where I live.  I haven't seen them and assume the access is somewhat sketchy, but you can tell from the post that the seller knows that prices are going down. (posting now removed from craigslist but go look on your own to find more -jan 17, ed.)

http://costarica.en.craigslist.org/reb/938904323.html

for Nicaragua, I also posted an anecdotal story about Property Confiscation by Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Implications for Buyers of Potential Real Estate.  I'll post some more on Nicaragua in the next few weeks as I do have some things I wrote a while back if I can find them on the hard drive!

 

 

Thanks AGAIN. your forum may

Thanks AGAIN.

your forum may just be the spot.....

Sounds fishy indeed

I haven't been to SJDS for a few years (I did live in Nicaragua but hardly ever went to SJDS actually), so I am not familiar with the specific developments there.  One data point I can tell you is that for a fact I just spoke with a foreigner who lives in Nicaragua who just a few weeks ago told me that he had bought a beach property from another foreigner who was leaving.  According to the wealthy buyer with whom I spoke, many people are selling at very low prices.  In Nicaragua, it's obviously the double whammy of the global economy plus the increased power of a government whose ranks have consistently been part of property theft for going on thirty years.  The person with whom I spoke was optimistic about Nicaragua's future, but frankly I don't share his optimism.

I'm sure from your research you also learned that many developments in Nicaragua are on confiscated properties (that is how the developers there often get cheap properties), which have extremely precarious titles usually bought with bribes that left some of the former "owners" bitter and willing to take back "their" properties by any means necessary.

As I've mentioned in my article on the censored forums run by real estate agents in Nicaragua and elsewhere, I have a deep suspicion of the motives of many who post online; and obviously the same goes for real estate agents in general, especially in less-accountable places like Central America. 

Indeed, that context provides some of the motivation I originally had to set up this website.

 

thanks Peter. I travelled to

thanks Peter.

I travelled to San juan Del Sur a few months ago. Lovely little village.

I looked at many developments. But with all that is hppening in the US

and world markets I cannot seem to justify paying 50,000.00 for a lot.

Many developers are offering their "vision" of what the development will look like and offer in the long run. Can they really come through with their "perks" or is it a pipe dream?.

The Real Estate agents seem to keep stressing the fact that a lot of baby boomers will be making a move to Central America.

It appears that a lot of these developments poped up in the last few years which were considered the booming years of Real Estate.

Wish there was more transperancy/information available that did not

entiely come from real Estate companies.

 

The Real Truth........

 I agree with Peter as there is tons of supply and prices have dropped. One exception may be large parcels of real estate with views and easy access.

The real truth ... in just one paragraph... prices are down

Hi Samuel, Welcome to the website.  I can tell you that in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica many properties are 25%-50% cheaper than one to two years ago.  A few owners haven't lowered their prices at all (they don't need or want  to sell now) but most have.  I agree: there is a lot of supply, and few buyers with cash.  Prices could come down even further if the economy continues to be weak.  The total volume of actual of sales has dropped over the past year.  The number of real estate agents in business has dropped - perhaps by fifty percent.   I'm personally not involved in real estate here and don't own any here.  I've spoken with owners and sales people and potential buyers and this is how I've come to the conclusion I shared.  What have you heard?

Peter, Uvita, Pacific Costa Rica

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