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Monthly Market Update for May 2018: Osa Tropical Properties’ Costa Ballena Real Estate Analysis

It may come as a surprise, but there is no multiple listing service (MLS) for real estate in Costa Rica.  Many have tried to duplicate the systems found in North America and Europe, but in a country so small yet divided by vast spaces, it is difficult to gather data and people are not always willing to share openly.  As a result, each broker in Costa Rica real estate pays to host their own “MLS” of sorts – a website with a hand-selected list of properties in the region that their office services.  In addition to listings held by their own office, most brokers go beyond and list properties listed by other local brokers, so that their sites offer the best of what is currently available on the market – essentially MLS.

 

Our team of agents at Osa Tropical Properties meets weekly to review all properties listed in our region.  We share information about any new listings that we’ve taken and we discuss new listings brought to our market by other brokers.  

 

Our office serves the sparsely populated region between Dominical and Palmar (locally known as the Costa Ballena), which has a population of approximately 20,000 and around 5,000 homes.  These are fairly rough estimates, since official statistics don’t exist for this region, and this estimate includes expat and Tico homes.

 

Our office currently has over 300 active property listings on our privately hosted MLS site.  Sixty-eight of those are exclusive to our office, with the bulk of the properties we represent located in Ojochal, Uvita and Tres Rios.  The rest of the listings featured on our well-structured website are hand-selected by our team and reviewed regularly and systematically to make sure that we are advertising the most desirable listings to our clients based on criteria like style and price.

 

Some brokers and individual agents choose to quote their clients a high valuation on their property in order to secure them as exclusive clients.  Our team refuses to take this route to get listings. Instead, we focus on constantly advising our clients on the activity in the market and making recommendations like adjusting price, changing unpopular characteristics about a home, or clearing a lot in order to sell properties for our clients within a designated time frame.  We are not always successful, but the majority of the time that our clients take our advice, we sell within the desired amount of time.

 

We understand that our recommendations may be unpopular with some, especially when compared to another agent who says that they will list a property for many thousands of dollars than we will.  We prefer to focus our energy on selling the homes that we know are fairly and competitively priced, that, as compared to all other inventory available on the market. We preview homes weekly with agents from all over our region and we know the comparables for any property that you want to buy or sell in the Costa Ballena.  

 

Homes over $500,000 are still experiencing a buyer’s marketplace in real estate, largely due to the high-turnover of clients going from buyers to sellers in our region, by the very nature of being a region popular with expats.  There are a number of reasons why expats come and why they go, and the latter often has to do with the dynamics of the family changing: new grandkids, new relationships, and many other changes that are very personal in nature and have little to do with the joy that they have experienced in living here.  Savvy buyers know that there are good property options regularly coming available that are priced well and ready to sell, and they are far more likely to make an offer on one of these.

 

Market trends for 2018

 

In this first half of 2018, we have seen an increase in the number of buyers coming through our office over the same period in 2017 – our biggest year since our region’s last real estate boom in 2011.  Below, you will find a few basic statistic and explanations from our team as to how we have come to understand this year’s trends for real estate in Costa Rica.

 

The table below shows average and total prices for sold listings in our region in 2018.  Because there is no regional MLS network, these statistics are based on our reciprocal relationships with other agencies and our commitment to informing one another about the status of our listings.  Each office does not operate in such equanimity, but we have enough data to get a good idea about regional statistics related to real estate sales within the expat community.

 

OTP Properties Listed (May 2018) 35
OTP MLS Active Listings 312
OTP Listings Under Contract 13
OTP Listings Sold (YTD) 19
Total Listings Sold (YTD) 99
Average House List Price for Sold Listings $440,673
Average Lot List Price $183,540
Total Value of Houses Sold (YTD) $35,694,500
Total Value of Lots Sold (YTD) $4,295,550
Total Value of Properties Sold (YTD) $52,138,450
Average Value of Properties Sold (YTD) $469,716

Osa Tropical Properties collected statistics for 2018 (Based on OTP MLS and information from other agencies).

 

House prices are slightly down on last year’s average of ~$455,000, although the total value of solds for our region is already nearly double on last year, as recorded by our office to be around $35,000,000 in 2017 – and we’re only half way through the year!  As a real estate agency in operation in the Costa Ballena since 2005, our office has noticed a significant drop in sales every four years due to the uncertainties surrounding a US election year because Americans make up the vast majority of expats in Costa Rica.

 

If you are curious about what a property is worth in today’s marketplace, there are a number of characteristics that determine the valuation of a home based on the current home buyers in our region of Costa Rica. Click on the link below to send us an email with a description of your property and we will follow up with you to ask additional questions about your home to give you the best estimate based on our expert understanding of today’s South Pacific Costa Rica real estate market.