Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear Reader,

I'm about to take an investigative trip to the Dominican Republic. It's Pathfinder's top Caribbean island destination—I plan to cover a lot of ground, and will let you in on my discoveries as I make them over the next two days.

The big story Ronan McMahon has asked me to check on since my last trip is a new highway that's under construction. This highway will connect what is now a fishing village…to an international airport.

The road is almost complete, they say. I know what "almost" means—a lot of diversions, bumping and bone-shaking, mud and potholes. I want to see it for myself, and I've packed my boots—I'll likely end up wading through something I'd rather not try in my usual flip flops.

This is a "Path of Progress" story that's unfolding right now, and one that Real Estate Trend Alert members will hear more about soon.

As I write, there's no retail market in this area. It's a very "up and coming" place. You can't buy condos or small lots in a gated community yet. It's at the start of its transformation process from fishing village to…something much more. Its potential could be huge. I can't wait to see how it really stacks up…

My second stop will be in the southeastern part of the island. Cap Cana is much more established. It started as a resort community around 13 years ago. It's got a golf course, a marina and high-end residential communities. It looks like the perfect getaway for the international jet set.

But I've followed the Cap Cana story for nine years or so. It's gone through a series of setbacks. The multiple golf courses and many of the amenities originally promised by developers have yet to materialize. Prices plummeted with the slowdown in the U.S. economy. There are issues with bondholders.

Last year, a local bank foreclosed on one of the developers building beach condos inside Cap Cana. I want to find out if there are any distressed deals or possibly a rental income angle. I'll let you know how it goes.

My final stop will be a return trip to the little beach town of Las Terrenas. I first scouted this beach town in 2010. It offers postcard-perfect beaches, balmy ocean breezes, and green hills covered in palm trees. A large group of European expats already call it home.

The restaurants and cafes serve up great tapas, delicious pasta and French pastries. It's delightfully low key, low rise and very walkable. I walked around the stores, to eateries and to the beach. I rated it my top pick on the island back then, thanks to its unique combination of low property prices and strong rental income.

I've gone back to Las Terrenas since 2010, checking out real estate in town and in the surrounding area. On this trip, I'm hoping to find some new opportunities. And I'm hoping that the town's retained its charm, its friendly atmosphere and (of course) its profit potential.

These trips always throw up something interesting. I'll report back from the road over the next two days to give you the inside scoop. So, stay tuned.

Margaret Summerfield



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