One of the big attractions of coming to Latin America was that land and properties were inexpensive. For the past couple of years I have been speaking with people and doing research online about El Salvador and Nicaragua and how there was tons of inexpensive real estate.
When I say inexpensive I was thinking Ocean front lots for $20,000. I was also thinking you could buy ocean front houses for $50,000 to $100,000. While we were in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua we happened to meet a local real estate agent and spent a few days driving around looking at land. There was a ton of supply, but I was shocked at how expensive it was.
A few of the areas we checked out were Playa Coco, Playa Maderas, Playa Colorado, Playa Yankee and Pacific Marlin which directly over looks San Juan Del Sur bay. Most of the land that we checked out was owned by developers who purchased huge chunks of land years ago and for the past few years have been carving it up into 1/4, 1/2 acre lots and are selling them for 50-250k depending on location, proximity to the beach and most importantly view. The developer usually has a master plan for the “project” and will put in electricity, water, and sometimes a community clubhouse, pool, gym and a few even had planned golf courses.
We did check out a couple lots going for around $20k, located in Las Colinas de Miramar. Another lot that we show in the video below was located overlooking Playa Maderas and it was going for $14,000. This lot was interesting because you could potentially walk or quick ATV ride to the surf beach, but the lot was very steep and you would need to build a major retaining wall in order to build here.
We saw tons of lots in all different sizes, shapes and conditions. Most of the developments “projects” we visited the lots were not being built on, extremely overgrown, very remote and not even close to being flat. About 50% of the lots we looked at were on sides of hills and would need huge retaining walls built and filled with dirt. Some of the lots have been purchased, but nothing is being done with the lots. It seems that speculators purchased lots here a while back looking to flip this land and now since it is worth less than what they paid for, they are just sitting on them. We were told that some of these speculators never even visited Nicaragua and purchased these lots at trade shows and different real estate events.
A lot of these had good views, but were up in the hills and were not walking distance to the beach or the town. Also, you needed 4x4s just to get to some, and even if you had a decent vehicle you need to be an experienced driver to reach your property. We check out one lot that was so steep you could not even walk on it.
Like I have mentioned in prior posts, we immediately fell in love with Nicaragua and were very seriously considering buying, but at these prices its a tough decision. If prices were around 20k, walking distance to a surfing beach and near a town we could justify the purchase and it might be worth the risk. We did not have a chance to go look, but we were told that there is oceanfront in the 20′s in northern Nicaragua.
The other major thing you have to consider and this could be a completely separate blog post is the government. We were in our hotel and the president happened to be giving a speech. Due to my limited Spanish, I kept asking Debbie what he was saying. She translated some of it, which did not give us a warm and fuzzy feeling. He kept referring the the USA as those Yankees and how we come in a screw up everything with our capitalism. This does not give me a ton of confidence. I would be willing to bet that as long as you get clean title you will be ok in Nicaragua, but who knows.
We are not totally discarding the idea of purchasing, but we need to spend more time in Nicaragua. It is a fantastic country and when you can rent for $500-$1000 a month instead of putting down all cash for a property, our money might be better invested in the USA.
Please leave comments below with your thoughts and experience on buying property outside of the USA?
Also, check out the video that shows a few of the projects that we visited: