Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dear Reader,

I’m in Costa Rica as I write this…and once more I’m reminded of how developed and advanced this country is—especially when it comes to its tourism industry.

The lights of the country’s capital, San Jose, twinkle brighter than the stars of the night sky. The urban sprawl reaches up to the mountains—to the temperate Central Valley, where two-thirds of Costa Rica’s population lives. About an hour and 30 minutes from here, you come to Jaco. It’s one of Costa Rica’s most popular Pacific beach towns…but by no means the only one. All along the Pacific Coast, you’ll find beach towns that throng with tourists almost year round.

It’s getting harder and harder to find an untouched corner of Costa Rica. The tourism industry has developed here like few other countries in the region.

Decades ago, when the idea of attracting vacationers was unheard of to its neighbors, Costa Rica realized that it had a special appeal: its untouched beauty that people would travel a long way to see.

Back in the 1970s, a small stream of tourists started to visit Costa Rica. They were the early pioneers—adventurers who were willing to brave a lack of access and underdeveloped infrastructure to experience the beauty of Costa Rica for themselves. Many of those who came were surfers or the original eco-tourists.

Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, the stream of tourists turned into a flood of people. The government and private businesses worked hard to attract people here. A stable government and healthy regulation encouraged foreign investment and second-home buyers.

Visitors came, not just from North America, but from Europe and farther afield. New infrastructure made previously unreachable beach towns easier to get to. More and more surfers came. As ecotourism became even trendier, more tourists started to seek out Costa Rica’s rainforests, wildlife preserves, and national parks.

Tourism is big business in Costa Rica now. In fact, the country now counts one tourist for every two locals. It’s the fourth-biggest tourism destination in all of Latin America. Pretty impressive for a tiny country—about the size of West Virginia.

Over the years, many of those tourists bought second homes in Costa Rica. That led to a real estate boom in some parts of the country. It’s great news for the country’s economy. But for real estate investors, it means higher property prices—and no prospect of appreciation or strong rental yield.

But there’s one Pacific location in Costa Rica that’s stayed off the beaten tourist track. For decades, Costa Rica’s Southern Zone used to be hard to get to—a nine-hour journey from San Jose on bone-shaking roads.

Then, a new highway was put in place. It’s now quick and easy to get here. And more and more vacationers are coming.

The Southern Zone is one of Costa Rica’s most attractive destinations. Acres of jungle roll down toward the ocean. Toucans fly overhead. Monkeys call from the trees. And the beaches are among the country’s best.

Development is heavily restricted; so this shouldn’t become as built up and overdeveloped as better-known destinations.>/p>

And those original adventurers—the ones who visited in the 1970s—will want to come here. It’s reminiscent of that untouched Costa Rica they first came to see. Competition is extremely low for accommodation. In Ojochal, one of the Southern Zone’s most visited towns, the largest hotel only has 30 rooms. If you’re thinking of buying a property in Costa Rica to rent out as a vacation property, this is a strong opportunity. Vacation properties rent out here for up to $1,500 a week.

Close to Ojochal is the development of Pacific Lots. With its mountain and jungle setting, it feels off the beaten track. Around 250 buyers have built here…but the development is spread out and uncluttered—not a cookie-cutter community packed into a small space.

I’ve gotten word of a great deal here in recent days—a once-in-a-blue-moon resale opportunity.

It’s an ocean-view lot of more than nine acres. Around 1.5 acres of that is buildable; the rest is a forested ridge. The owner needs a quick sale and he’s willing to let it go for $70,000.

To compare this to other lots, so you know how good a deal this is: The two adjoining lots alongside this one are for sale by the developer of Pacific Lots. One is two acres, listed at $125,000. The other is 1.84 acres and listed at $140,000.

That $70,000 sticker price is some killer pricing.

Homes here rent well. Occupancy is strong at weekly rates of up to $1,500-plus for a nice (but not spectacular) three-bedroom home.

As the Path of Progress finally reaches the Southern Zone, I predict prices will rise—and tourism will keep growing. And, because of those restrictions on development, I don’t see a lot more opportunity to buy at such a good price—or to home in on the strong rental market here.

I told readers of Real Estate Trend Alert about this special deal in recent times. I keep all my best deals for them. To make sure you never miss a single one, click here now.

Ronan McMahon


Chill Weekends



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