It has been a long time since South Pacific Costa Rica has witnessed a seller’s market and it looks like we are on our way to possibly seeing one in 2021. Buyers contacting us today are more and more often finding themselves too late to capture their first love dream property. Those who are unable to get here – whether they feel unsafe to travel or simply cannot because of restrictions or otherwise – are finding that they are losing out on the properties that they have been watching this past year. Even those who finally make it here are finding that the properties they like are no longer available.
These last two months in Costa Ballena real estate have clearly been about the bold buyers. These are the ones who decided not to wait out the pandemic or the ones who have bought or made offers based on their confidence in a virtual tour and many conversations with their local realtor. This is true for all types of properties in Ojochal, Uvita, Dominical, Tres Rios, and Chontales – all of which are benefitting from their spectacular coastal beauty, their proximity to important services and amenities, and, most critically this year, the relative tranquility and privacy, away from the madness of the world.
Underdog properties gaining popularity
For a long time, riverside properties were low on the priorities list for new buyers. People wanted ocean views because they saw this as an investment that would grow over time or make for good rental income and they weren’t wrong. But 2020 as a year changed a lot of priorities for regular people who now see the value in privacy, sustainability, and life in an environment that inspires joy. Riverside properties offer an abundance of wildlife sightings, consistent, soothing sounds, a free location to refresh yourself in natural spring water, and a source for the life-giving liquid.
Osa Tropical Properties’ broker, Kevin Champagne, has recently been working with a number of clients who are looking for great river properties in and around Ojochal. What they’ve found is that all of the ones that his buyers want to look at have sold in the last few weeks. The real estate market in Costa Rica is moving and it’s moving to sustainable, ambient properties.
Placing offers without stepping foot in the country (yet)
It may seem like the worst advice in the world and honestly, we don’t feel comfortable suggesting it, either. Regardless, buyers today have such a passion for wanting to invest in Costa Rica that they are legitimately putting in offers – without actually seeing the property first hand. The reason we understand this to be happening is that people have been in lockdown for such a long, chaotic year and as their priorities have shifted, they have realized that they want to get out of where they are or to secure an investment in a safe location. And now that international tourism is slowly opening up, those who are able to get here are snagging the great properties for sale. This has left those who are unable or unwilling to travel right now to have to resort to more immediate measures.
New OTP agent, Katherine Apsey, was wondering how to help her client from New York who is unable to travel for the moment. He really wants a riverside acreage property currently for sale but hot on the market. Fellow agent, Marcia Oro, suggested the option of letters of intent to purchase for some recent clients, which are conditional upon the client coming to see the property at their earliest ability. Without these letters of intent, the hopeful buyers could have lost their deals to higher offers that came afterwards. Both sets of buyers secured the properties when they were able to visit. In the meantime, they had transferred money into an escrow account that could be refunded if the conditions of the offer were not met. In both of these cases, virtual tours of the property over WhatsApp and long conversations helped these buyers get a feel for the property and gain enough confidence to place a conditional offer that the sellers would accept.
Recent solds are skyrocketing
Looking at the past 8 weeks compared to the same time last year (pre-pandemic border closures) and 2019, we can see that interest in Costa Ballena real estate is overwhelmingly increasing. Although it is hard to compare year-on-year in Costa Rica, which is so dependent on the state of larger economies around the world, we can still take note of the fact that even though we are in a global pandemic with many border restrictions, there are more new properties coming to the market, meaning that sellers are likely catching on to the trend of more eager buyers, and vastly more listings are being sold in this 2 month period this year as well.
Investors looking for wealth security in Costa Rica
Real estate can be a great asset to hold, especially in a high-income rentals market. Solely judging on the amount of existing rentals and those available right now, out of hundreds of vacation home rentals in Costa Ballena, there is almost nothing that you can rent this month or next. Some might think that this is surprising but we who live here know the value of the tranquility of a private ocean view home tucked into the pristine mountainside forests that this region is known for. We’ve also witnessed a rise in Costa Rican nationals visiting this region for the first time. Because borders were closed for much of the year, city-dwelling Ticos took the opportunity to visit more remote parts of their own country – and they were pleasantly surprised when they witnessed a stunning place like they’ve never imagined in their own backyard.
Marcia’s client is one of these investors who had her eye on an incredible income-potential property in Ojochal. She was not able to visit until November because of her Florida driver’s license. She put in a conditional offer in September and on visiting, she knew her intuition was correct and secured her investment. She fell in love with this region and wanted to invest because she knows that it’s up-and-coming. Marcia also helped her to secure a long-term renter, which gives her added security not having to worry about vacancies.
Speeding up the move to Costa Rica
Another client working with Osa Tropical Properties has been visiting the Costa Ballena for many years. He and his wife fell in love with the area and looked at a number of properties, even going so far as to make an offer, they couldn’t quite commit and backed out at the last minute. Being from Arizona, 2020 was an especially big change to their lives and their home in the US. As the year progressed, they noticed more and more people from out of state moving over and changing the home that they were so reluctant to leave.
The couple had predominantly visited Chontales when in the Southern Zone as they always felt so comfortable here. The neighbors were pleasant, nature was peaceful, the development was new. All of a sudden it clicked for them that this was where they wanted to be. They remembered a home that they saw being built on their last visit in 2019 and asked their agent if it was for sale. Lucky for them, it was just listed this year. Our office was able to show them drone videos, a 360-camera walkthrough with a voiceover, a video about the Chontales development, professional listing pictures. These assurances from Marcia plus the couple’s passion for a change in environment helped spur them to taking a leap of faith and making a big move to Costa Rica.
You snooze, you lose
Keith Richman’s buyer had been looking at a home all year. He had tried twice to make an offer on the property but could not come to an agreement with the seller. Together, they looked at other, similar properties (via virtual tours, photos, and more). As the year progressed, many of these properties went off the market – either because sellers decided not to sell right now or because of accepted offers. By the time Keith’s buyer was able to make it into the country, he had no other option but to return to the original listing for which he could not get an accepted offer. This time, the deal was a success, although it must be noted that the pressure of a dwindling market definitely helped.
Rebecca Rowntree’s sellers of a multi-home property benefitted from the thirst in the market. She received a conditional offer from a potential buyer who hesitated and pulled out to think it over. In the meantime, Rebecca’s client received another offer that was accepted and the original buyer regretted their choice. There used to be time in the market to think things over but that time has passed. If you see a property you love, now’s the time to make an offer.
Would you like to look at homes in Costa Ballena but you are not yet ready to travel? Contact our team of expert agents who will be happy to send you a personalized walkthrough video tour of any property you are interested in the Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, Tres Rios, and Chontales regions.