The Costa Ballena real estate market is seeing a lot of attention from international investors. People are continuing to dream about living their best life as an expat in Costa Rica. And as the world begins to discuss reopening businesses and borders, more and more people are visiting our website and social media channels and contacting our office with questions about how they, too, can make a change for the better.
We have been seeing the same amount of website traffic as last year since the start of the pandemic and a growth in the last two weeks. Our team at Osa Tropical Properties attributes the growth in interest in Costa Rica real estate to a number of factors, the first of which is Costa Rica’s low numbers for coronavirus cases and deaths. Not only was the national response swift and robust but the natural geography of the region allows for a strong separation between regions, as well as within communities. Those who are currently thinking about moving abroad are looking for an escape hatch and a place with minimal safety issues.
The Effects of COVID-19 on Costa Ballena Real Estate
After three months of tough restrictions, Osa is now free of active COVID-19 cases and much of the country’s case load is in decline. As a result, Costa Rica is planning a very gradual reopening for international tourists over the course of the next year. It may be months before international tourists can freely book flights to Costa Rica and there will be many guidelines for tourism businesses in the meantime. The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) is promoting domestic tourism during the coronavirus crisis, though outbreaks in the Northern Zone have led to reapplied measures.
In 2019, Costa Rica welcomed 3.1 million foreign visitors, 4.1% more than in 2018. The United States is the country from which the most tourists visit Costa Rica — almost 1.3 million people last year. The 2020 end of year figures are likely to see a sharp decline; however, we are excited by the number of new inquiries, offers, and property closings for the year to date.
Comparing Costa Ballena Real Estate Figures to Last Year
May of last year was one of the slowest months for real estate closings in Costa Ballena, with three reported closings. Compared to May 2020, we have seen 7 property closings totaling over $2.5 million USD. June was one of the busiest months for closings last year, with around 20 closings grossing around $7.25 million USD. This figure was so high because of the Capital Gains Tax being implemented on July 1st of that year. But in the first 2 weeks of June this year, the market has grossed around $3.5 million USD over 6 property deals so far.
Our office has had two closings this month and is expecting a third before the end of June. A number of closings have been delayed due to escrow companies and banks closing, as well as slow real estate markets around the world. However, with banks and businesses reopening, we are seeing deals move forward again.
Who is Dreaming About Moving to Costa Rica?
The majority of our office’s recent inquiries have been for large acreages, especially those with the best views and for the best price. The most typical requests for property viewings, both virtually and in person, have been for houses with over 10 acres, an ocean or mountain view, somewhere near a river, and at a budget of around $500k. Cool altitude and privacy are two big features being highlighted by recent property seekers. These typically pre-retirement buyers want to be more sustainable and have access to their own food and water. Families are also preferring the large acreage to provide more space for their children to run around.
A growing desire to work remotely is also invigorating interest in tropical properties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce, and half of all “information workers”, are able to work from home. Though the number of people working partially or fully remote has been on the rise for years now, the COVID-19 pandemic may have pressed the fast-forward button on this trend.
It’s no secret that people value freedom of choice. The vast majority of people recently polled would like to have the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers. “A lot of people have gotten comfortable that they don’t have to squeeze a nine-day vacation into six. They can take the extra days and maybe work a couple half-days remotely,” said vacation-rental company Vrbo president Jeff Hurst. “I do think we’re going to start to see people be more creative on how they think about working from any house, as opposed to just their own house, or any destination as opposed [to] from just their office.”
Investors Continuing to Think About Costa Ballena Real Estate
Real estate investors are taking advantage of this slightly quieter market, having more opportunities to preview new listings before the rest of the world. Even with less buyers currently in the country, great listings that are well-positioned are receiving fast and full price offers. Investors are getting the sense that now is a good time to buy great rental properties because as soon as the borders open, those properties are likely to be booked to capacity.
The desire to travel has not gone away with COVID. In a recent survey by Skift Research, the research arm of the travel trade publication, one-third of Americans said they hope to travel within three months after restrictions are lifted. People will instead be looking for getaways that sense of freedom with personal control. Road trips, private vacation home stays, and prime nature destinations are all forecasting as the most popular near-future travel plans. More than half of American travelers say they plan to avoid crowded destinations when they resume traveling.
Costa Ballena is the Perfect Post-COVID Travel Destination
The pandemic has created a greater demand for experiences away from crowds. Until a coronavirus vaccine is found, that preference for private travel will probably continue. And Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, with its many national parks, nature reserves, and private preserves, will continue to be a destination that is favored by those who want to “get away from it all.”
In April, Airbnb added a new feature on its homepage advertising “monthly stays” to accommodate the growing interest of long-term travel. At the peak of the pandemic shutdowns, about 40 percent of Airbnb’s bookings were long-term. The long-term travel trend will be more beneficial for home rentals than hotels, as they offer travelers a more comfortable stay at a more affordable price. An Airbnb with a kitchen and a garage is more approachable for day-to-day living than a 400-room hotel where a traveler is bound to room service and outside restaurants.