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CRFirst

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  1. Kahuna, I apologize that my post appeared to be attacking in nature. Your posts are thoughtful, well written and polite and you do not deserve to be attacked. Thoughtfully questioned -YES, attacked NO. As a real estate professional, I feel personally attacked regularly on this BB. I service my clients with integrity and genuine friendship, and nothing is more painful to me than having my integrity questioned - especially from nameless folks who don't even know me. As to using a name on the internet, I also understand where you are coming from. My thought is, when I use my real name it is because if the world sees what I write - Great. I am not ashamed of my words or actions. But I do understand the apprehension. Although, I do know every one of those alias names that you mentioned- and as far as I can tell they don't have anything to hide either. I agree that Scott's book is not perfect, full of self promotion, and not for everyone. So to your main opinion I agree with you. I simply think that the book is still helpful for some people - if they can read between the ads for his website. I'm unaware of Scott's rant on this BB. However, I do know Scott and I know how he runs his operation. He is a stand-up guy who really takes care of his client's needs. To me, that is the most important thing. Real estate is tricky business here as you know. As someone who works this industry, I wish you were right that good deals can be found through Tico networks. Our Tico partner is the property acquisitions guy to help discourage Ticos from jacking up the prices on us gringo agents. They still request much higher prices than the market is bearing. Ticos know that foreigners will pay more money and they are beginning to ask super inflated prices (in my area anyway). In my opinion, a foreigner would have to be extremely lucky to find a good deal through Tico channels. Further, many scams can occur to unsuspecting foreign buyers using that method. So even though I disagree with you that the traditional method will work for the average foreigners - you're right that in a 'How to Buy' book should include the traditional method. Unfortunately, the traditional method is becoming obsolete for many reasons: Ticos want more for their properties from foreigners, Foreign buyers have limited time to search and research (not that they are 'lazy' or don't want to learn the customs), Buyers want to have a sense of true market values, Finally they don't want to be a victim of a scam. Kahuna - please accept my apologies. My name is Jeff Hickcox, 31 years old, married with 2 boys and one on the way (in 3 weeks). I am a Buddhist, avid reader, writer, political activist, and family man - and clearly have nothing to hide. I hope we can agree to disagree from time to time - peacefully. Pura Vida
  2. Kahuna, I had no idea you had a past history of animosity with Scott. I sort-of guessed that you did. Wow, you're pretty bitter about it. I said it is "laughable" to suggest that your method is SAFER to find a good deal for the average "tourist" buyer. Not that the method isn't handled by experienced people. I already told you that I agree that retaining a good attorney and learning values on your own can work for some people. Just not the ones who have limited time. When I say I look at New listings everyday - I mean a Tico seller calls our company to list their property for sale. In the last few months the majority of those listings have been grossly overpriced. It would be very difficult to find the true values of property in 1-2 week property search. Honest agents list properties for exactly what the seller tells them to list it at. How does that fit your "inflated price" model when using realtors? Much mud has been thrown around on this post at realtors. There are honest and dishonest people in every profession. Those of us who service our customers with integrity somehow get thrown in with the rest. I have heard as many bad lawyer stories, scams etc.. happening while trying to avoid using a realtor, as I've heard about dishonest agents. Here is my opinion: A vacationer/foreign retiree is more educated after buying Scott's book - not less. With limited time to search they are better off retaining a HIGHLY recommended agent to help them find, purchase, protect, and befriend. They will save time, money, and headaches The client will find a home that is priced the same as if the Tico taxi driver showed it to them and maybe LESS! I'm sorry you do not like Scott Oliver or his book. Yes his book is not perfect, but at least he has put his reputation on the line to try to educate potential buyers. I suppose that Scott and I must think alike: when someone likes to criticize other people and then hide behind an alias, they seem disingenuous. Kahuna is the resident "know-it-all" on ARCR. We must not criticize or disagree with him. For he is the big Kahuna. Pura Vida
  3. Kahuna, It is clear that you do not work in the RE industry in Costa Rica. I look at new listings everyday, mostly from Ticos. They are asking rediculous prices for their property. The idea that a gringo is going to find a better deal from a Tico network is laughable. That may have been true in the past, but now ALL of the Tico sellers are beginning to ask absurdly inflated prices -especially when they see a gringo. The reason Scott does not put that method in his book, is not because it doesn't serve his wallet, it is because it is a foolish and careless way to find a GOOD SAFE deal. The only people who know true market values are the ones in the trenches everyday. A buyer who retains an honest agent will get honest views of values. That, my friend, saves people money. Scott has put his name and face behind his words and reputation. You pretend to be an expert and yet you hide behind "Kahuna". Who is to trust your knowledge and why? Sincerely,
  4. Kahuna, I agree with Becky's main point: For the average tourist a realtor offers a valuable service. Sure there are agents that will tell clients anything to get them to buy, but so will nearly every Tico who offers to show them around. You live here in CR and understand values, the system and the laws. Most people in the States don't even know where CR is. Once they become interested in CR and do a bit of research, you would HONESTLY recommend your purchase method as a safe way to find a good deal? Your method of mingling with Ticos and finding a lawyer, you must admit, is hardly the safest approach. Obviously if you live in CR for some time your method is do-able. That is not the reality for the majority of foreign buyers. Scott's book tries to inform people of the pitfalls that can occur. Scott Oliver is trying to protect and educate unsuspecting buyers to the point where he recommends renting for a year before purchasing a house. If they follow that advice, more than likely they will use your purchase method. Yes, Scott does profit from the RE industry, but I don't understand how you can fault him for trying to educate the "average" buyer - who may only have a week to search for a retirement home. He recommends realtors that he has personally screened for their legality, language skills, and intergrity. I think we can agree that Scott's approach of being overly cautious is not a bad thing for the average foreign buyer. Further, hiring an honest buyer agent will save the buyer time, money, and headaches in the long run. Can't we agree that that is the case for someone who only has a week or two to search for a home? Paz and Pura Vida! Jeff Hickcox
  5. One particular book on purchasing real estate in Costa Rica that claims to that it is a guide on how to purchase property without loosing your shirt does not even mention anything about purchasing property Tico style. To the contrary, the author incessantly promotes his own services and basically claims he is the only one an investor can trust with their real estate investments. I find this doubly offensive and deceptive. Kahuna, While it is true that to a savvy person Scott's book does contain alot of fluff and self-promotion, it is disingenuous to say that it does not mention Tico homes. In fact, it covers them extensively and even has exact instructions on how to find Tico listings in La Nacion and other Spanish publications. My partner, Terry, is a contributing author in that book, and her section on Atenas/Grecia also covers Tico homes. I understand you have bad feelings about Scott, but please do not misinform the board. Pura Vida!
  6. Kahuna, Grecia Bound & Others, It seems that many of prospective buyers are leary of my post and they should be. Many agents are dishonest about how they make money. We do charge more to be a buyer agent. We are not ashamed of that. The fact is that having a buyer agent saves the buyer money! We are straight forward with our clients about the "real" asking price and we represent only the buyer's interest in the deal. This is in addition to the full transitional services offered. There are some honest hard-working realtors on this site and others. But they are few and far between - and those realtors will tell you the same thing. It is easy for a gringo realtor to sell a gringo project to a gringo. The commission and price is set in stone and all parties agree. The problem is that those projects are the ultimate in retail and not many good deals can be found. Also, these realtors are looking out for the gringo project - not the gringo buyer. The problems occur when a Tico seller is not offering a commission. They simply state the price they want and tell everyone to market it at any price above and beyond what they want. Many agents take advantage of such properties and add their desired profit. Many crazy things occur in the Costa Rica real estate market. The laws are different, the commission culture is different, and legal recourse is non-existent. Therefore, it is always better to hire a professional who is looking out for the buyer's interest only. For this we (and many others) charge an small additional commission which we are completely upfront about. In fact our main competitors in Grecia work the same way. Buyers may be opposed to paying an additional percentage, especially because they are used to a uniform structure in the U.S. That structure does not exist here in Costa Rica. It is very important to point out that - Regardless of how the commission structure is worded, only one person pays the commission in any transaction - THE BUYER! If the realtor claims to only make 5% seller commission, does the buyer not pay that commission through his funding of the sale? Who is to say that the realtor did not raise the actual asking price in that deal? No one. And that happens everyday in Costa Rica. The buyer feels good because according to them they got what they wanted and didn't have to pay "extra". Some may disagree with this approach and that is fine. We are protecting our clients during the transaction - and yes we charge a buyer commission for the variety of services that we offer. It has been our experience that this approach saves the buyers alot of money in the long run. We have a long list of happy clients to bolster our claims. As always - Good Luck & Pura Vida Jeff Hickcox CRFirst@yahoo.com
  7. Hello Everyone, No offense taken! I'm glad that you found good people to represent your deals. I knew this would draw some conversation and some controversy. The main point that I failed to make is that the scale is what is used Primarily with buyer agents that also facilitate transitional services. There are many people using the mark-up method and people need to be informed that this does happen and that they need to ask how their agent is getting paid. Of course everything should be clearly stated in the purchase contract. And certainly a good lawyer is imperative to handle every purchase. Also, I would suggest that every buyer request to speak to the seller directly about price and terms and if the agent is hesitent to make that happen then you may have a problem. The agent should have nothing to hide. Further, some sellers do not offer a seller commission. The buyer needs to be notified when such a house exists and the buyer is charged the 5% commission. I apologize if I offended the honest agents who work with a code of ethics that work off of a shared 5% seller commission. This was not my intent. Good Luck!
  8. Hello Everyone, Many of you have bought property or are looking to buy property in Costa Rica. When a real estate professional is involved in the transaction they will make money. The question is how should they get paid? Since there are no regulations or an organized MLS system in Costa Rica, the real estate agent has no standard payment protection for their business. This can lead to some unsavory practices. First, it is important to note that your real estate agent in Costa Rica has a much more difficult task than their counterparts in North America. Finding properties to market is their first challenge. Without a MLS, the agents must cultivate their own listings. Next, the agent must market to and communicate with buyers who may not be familiar with Costa Rica. This step can take up to a year to familiarize a potential client with the laws and characteristics of a given area. Only when the client comes to Costa Rica does the agent take on the traditional role of showing their listings. If the buyer is interested in a home the agent then leads them through the maze of red tape to protect the buyer during their closing. Finally, a good agent will translate everything and help the client establish utilities for the property, bank accounts, post office boxes, and all transitional needs. I think we can all agree this person deserves to be paid for these services, perhaps more so than the agent in the US simply showing an MLS property. There are two main ways agents get paid when they sell a home in Costa Rica - the ‘mark-up’ approach and the ‘commission’ approach. It is not uncommon for a Tico seller to say to an agent “This is what I want for my property and anything you can collect over that price is yours”. The seller is actually in agreement in the ‘mark-up’ of their property. You don’t have to be a genius to imagine the problems that occur with this method. You may see the same property listed for different prices on multiple sites. Sometimes the mark-up exceeds 50% - 100% of the actual asking price. The agents that use this method are not looking out for the seller and they certainly are not looking out for the buyer. It is a lose/lose situation for everyone but the agent. Also, the seller may need to sell the property and it is not doing him any favors by marketing the home at twice the asking price. Luckily the agents who use this method are in the minority. These agents make a quick buck but also make two enemies with each sale, unless all of the parties are in agreement with the agent making such a huge fee. Usually in these cases the agent’s take is not reported to either party. Even though word travels quickly about these brokers, unsuspecting clients arrive in Costa Rica every day for these agents to prey on. The “Board of Real Estate Brokers” is the only government recognized association in Costa Rica. They prohibit the practice of “sobre precio” or “net pricing” which has been described here as ‘mark-up’ pricing. It is their recommendation that their brokers charge 13% commission. You are probably thinking 13% - that is crazy! I’m not paying that. Well it is a bit high, but these brokers have a code of sharing as opposed to the cut-throat methods of brokers that try to hide their fee. The most common way that agents get paid is a sliding scale commission method. This method is based on price and primarily used by buyer agents. After all, your agent should be representing and protecting you, the buyer. The sliding scale is based on price and is as follows: Commission Rates Scale: Purchase Price Rate $1.00 - $100,000 10% $101,000 - $200,000 9% $201,000 - $300,000 8% $301,000 - $400,000 7% $401,000 - $500,000 6% Over $500,000 5% Honest agents will market properties at their actual asking price and notify the buyer of their commission. Also, these agents should state in their marketing of a home if the seller has agreed to pay a seller commission. In the case that the seller has agreed to pay a 5% commission, then the buyer will only be responsible for the amount on the sliding scale minus this 5%. For example: If you buy your dream home for $200,000 from a seller paying a 5% commission to the agent, then you would only be responsible for 4% or $8,000. Your total cost would be $208,000. Some buyers from North America and elsewhere are not used to having to pay more on top of the negotiated purchase price. However, you should be aware that no matter how the sale is structured only one person is paying the agent’s commission and that is you, the buyer. The alternative may be an agent asking $250,000 for the same property and not disclosing anything. When you negotiate the price down to $235,000 you may feel that you did well in the deal, but clearly the agent is the only one who did well in this example. You should always have an experienced real estate professional represent your interests when buying a property. Just be sure to ask – How do you get paid? Good Luck! Pura Vida!
  9. I agree 100% with that assestment. The overwhelming majority of the 77 million baby-boomers are working-middle class. Many of them are seeking a retirement area with a lower cost of living out of neccesity. I don't know how long before the cost of living will reach US pricing (if ever). But a good example is in Panama where the cost of living is much higher than in Costa Rica. That did not happen over night and they use the US dollar which inherently drives up costs. But I agree, the cost of living increases will lower the demand from the working class retirees. The sticker shock of houses is a strange concept. Someone from California or New York may look at a spectacular $350K 4000SF home in Costa Rica and say "What a Bargain!". At the same time, a wealthy doctor from Mississippi may be shocked at such a high cost for a home in Costa Rica. Everything is relative to the eye of the beholder. Some may scoff at these prices and vow to never pay that much in a Third World Country. That comment bugs me the most. I ask them how many third world countries have great public health care, a higher life expectancy than the USA, a literacy rate of 97%, clean public water, cell phones in the hands of nearly every young adult, high speed internet available almost everywhere, public transportation to rival any country, and all the rest. North Americans require good infrastructure (electric, internet, clean water, etc..) to be comfortable. If some of that comes at a higher cost (which is still well below what they are used to), they will still gladly pay it. The real savings for these retirees are in the cost of food, hired help, health care, taxes, insurance, and many other areas. Although these costs are rising - they do still remain attractively low. Also, if expats are willing to live a simple life, there are many live-able Tico homes in the country that can be found for around $50K. With another $5K - $10K you can add many of the ammenities that you are used to. We live in a new Tico style home with on-demand hotwater in the shower only. The shower is located in the only bathroom in the house. We do not have a dryer for our clothes - we hang them up like the Ticos. We do not have a dishwasher, AC, and we rely on only one car (a luxury here, but a huge change for our active family). Our simple life allows us (family of 4 w/ one more one the way) to live for about $1000 - $1200 per month. Pura Vida!
  10. Speculators will continue to make money until they drive prices higher than the financial fundamentals of the average "end-user". This happened in the States during the bubble, most notably in areas like Vegas and Florida, where development got way ahead of demand, and way ahead of financing fundamentals. Now the Financial institutions are taking a beating, the buyers are foreclosing, and the development has halted. I do not think we are even close to that yet in Costa Rica - and particular Jaco/Tamarindo. The bubble is still blowing up and lenders are scrambling to offer products in CR. The availability of Financing (or Capital) is the biggest indicator of up or down RE cyles. With sub-prime lenders collapsing in the States, and the prime lenders proceeding with extreme caution, Capitol is leaving the U.S. market, thus continuing to suck the air out of the bursting bubble. And this could just be the beginning... In Jaco there is capital flying everywhere, albeit alot of it is quasy-private capital, it is still just the beginning of this terrific up-cycle. The fundamentals are starting to look erily similar to US in 2001-02, where capital was everywhere, development was exploding, the cost of building was rising daily, and buyers were lining up. With those fundamentals much money was made even during the next 4 years. I believe there is money to be made in almost every facet of real estate in Costa Rica. I just think investors should be aware that when investors outway "end-user" buyers on a particular project - they may be assuming more risk. At this point, these pre-condo sales and buy & hold strategies should remain solid for at least a few more years. 90% of the demand (end-user) - that I have experience with - is looking for a home under $250,000. Certainly, the 10% crowd is actively involved in Costa Rica, but the 90%(middle-class buyers) are what will sustain this up-ward drive for years. So, in my view, I would really scrutinize any investment over $250K. Like I said before, money is being made way above that pricing and will continue to be made. You are right about the party crowd. They do exist and they do have money. I'm just not sure what percentage of overall demand they represent in Costa Rica. I don't know the tourism numbers well enough to have an educated opinion - although, I have heard that inventories of hotel rooms and condo rentals are also way above demand. Have you heard any statistics to prove or disprove that?? I am hungry to find some hard data on that. Jeff Hickcox
  11. The central Pacific zone is still developing like crazy - especially Jaco. The problem that I have noticed is that about 80% of the buyers for these condo pre-sales seem to be investor/speculators. The traditional end-user like the average retiree or the vacation home buyer wants nothing to do with Jaco. This is what I fear for that area. Investors/speculators are driving the growth, but ultimately they will need an end-user or buyer for their investment. Many of the retirees from the USA or Canada that I speak with will not buy in Jaco. The supply is already outgrowing demand. I have learned of church groups that used to visit Costa Rica annually. They always stopped over for a couple of nights in Jaco. Last year, the teens in the group were approached numerous times by drug dealers trying to sell them crack. That church group has now canceled their annual trip to Costa Rica. This is just one of many stories that are turning off the average retiree from this area. The overwhelming majority of foreign retirees want a peaceful and safe retirement. Jaco simply can not provide for that. The developers are making big dollars, but I would suggest to the investor/speculators to put their capital into other Costa Rica markets that DO attract the average retiree. Clearly there are many areas offering good investment fundamentals. Good Luck! Pura Vida! Jeff Hickcox
  12. Kahuna, I am the author and I always have been the author. Forgive me for trying to inform people on multiple sites. Jeff H
  13. Smiles, Go to www.WeLoveCostaRica.com. The founder of the site - Scott Oliver - wrote How to Buy Costa Rican Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa. He can provide you with honest recommendations for that area. Good Luck! Jeff Hickcox Costa Rica Land & Property www.RealEstateCostaRican.com
  14. Your dream of early retirement may seem like a far-fetched idea. With the prices of healthcare, medicine, fuel, food, and retirement area properties rising at historical rates in the United States and elsewhere, it can be frightful even thinking of retirement. You may be even more anxious if you are one of the millions of ‘middle-class baby boomers’ just starting to seriously consider your retirement options. If you look at the typical options like Florida or Arizona, where the cost of living has been climbing, you would have to work MORE years to afford it. Early retirement then becomes unthinkable. We have done some thinking about your dilemma and designed a program that allows you to RETIRE EARLY in paradise. A NEW rent-to-own real estate program, combined with knowledge of transitioning to Costa Rica, and the substantially lower cost of living here are the keys to this innovative program. If you cannot afford to buy a house right away because you are 1-2 years away from receiving your pension or Social Security, or you are waiting for your house to sell in your base country, this lease-purchase program offers you a solution to retire early. With a lease-purchase you will build equity in a rental home of your choice, and you will lock in today’s real estate prices without making a large financial commitment upfront. At the rate the value of Costa Rican real estate is growing the future appreciation may be quite significant. Whether you decide to purchase the home or sell your option, the value of your equity will be realized. In Scott Oliver’s informative book, How to Buy Real Estate in Costa Rica without Losing Your Camisa, he offers the smart advice to rent before you buy. A rent-to-own is an excellent opportunity to get to know Costa Rica and your desired area while receiving financial gain from your rental home. You can rent-to-build or rent-to-look at other properties and either way you will build equity. You no longer need a large chunk of money to retire early. The program requires a deposit of at least 3% of the purchase price that will be applied to the price when you buy the home. However, each property is different and they may require a larger deposit. This deposit guarantees your exclusive right to purchase the property during the term and secures the current market price of the home. The deposit is non-refundable if you decide to walk away from the property or if you default on your lease. Sample Rent-to-Own Property Option Purchase Price- $200,000 Monthly Rent - $1,000 Monthly Equity Credit - $500 Deposit Required - $10,000 (5%) Term - 1 year When your one-year term is up, assuming the real estate value has gone up 10%, the deal will be as follows: You will have a house worth $220,000 where only you owe $184,000 ($200,000 OPP - $10,000 deposit - $6000 equity credits). That is $36,000 ($220,000 - $184,000) in real equity. Managing your transition to Costa Rica is nearly as important as finding the right home in order to retire early. Issues ranging from residency, banking, healthcare, bureaucracy, travel, and real estate need to be handled properly and efficiently. Navigating through these issues requires local knowledge and experience dealing with the labyrinth of red tape in Costa Rica. The final key to realizing an early retirement to Costa Rica is the low cost of living. The costs of average monthly bills are; electric $40, phone $25, cable TV $35, garbage removal $5, and the internet bill is $15. One of those bills in a typical North American suburb may equal those expenses combined. Healthcare and food costs are where the most dramatic savings occur. In her book, Living Abroad in Costa Rica, Erin Van Rheenen estimates that one can live for about 50% less than in North America. And depending on the type of car and property you desire, you may experience even more savings. This program is an excellent opportunity to explore a tropical retirement area and realize the financial benefits of this hot market. The most difficult aspect of this program is finding or negotiating this type of real estate deal. Although it is a relatively simple transaction for you (the retiree), it is essential to have a qualified team to facilitate your deal. Finding a knowledgeable local agent and a trustworthy lawyer with experience in real estate and transitioning to Costa Rica is vital. Your dreams of early retirement to tropical luxury can be achieved. Now – is the time to lock in today’s real estate prices to achieve the benefits of this rising market. Jeff Hickcox Costa Rica Land & Property www.RealEstateCostaRican.com CRFirst@yahoo.com
  15. Many of you are considering building a home in Costa Rica. First, you must measure the pros and cons of building versus buying in order to make the best choice. The large majority of people looking to retire or relocate to Costa Rica chose to buy an existing house instead of building. Clearly this is the easiest choice of owning a piece of paradise. From the standpoint of time it is much faster to buy an existing home. Buying an existing home requires finding an honest bilingual agent who has extensive knowledge about your chosen area of Costa Rica. Your agent should represent YOU and only YOU during the buying process. In some cases, agents will have their pet ‘kick-back’ listings that they primarily push. Most of these agents are nice people except that they aren’t working for you. Once your agent helps you locate the perfect property you must be referred to an honest lawyer. This can be an even bigger challenge. Your lawyer will be responsible for doing a Title search and arranging all of the documents necessary for closing. If your lawyer does not speak English then your bilingual agent should translate your documents for you. Your lawyer is also in charge of recording your property at the Registro Nacional (National Registry). You may have heard that the process has been manipulated by a few unsavory lawyers to sell properties three and four times without any of the “owners” knowing. Incidentally, the recording procedures are very important to your closing. The lawyer should provide detailed instructions of how to confirm your clear title on the Registro’s website at www.RegistroNacional.go.cr (which is in Spanish only). The real estate agent should provide an affordable attorney with integrity who will be open and clear with you. With all that said, if you are paying all cash the whole process can be accomplished in 7 – 10 days – depending on how long it takes to find your dream home. Of course you would save a lot of time if you narrowed down your search by location, size, price, and amenities before you venture out with an agent. You must understand that the convenience of buying a beautiful new home comes with a higher price. A North American style 2000SF home on a nice one acre lot may cost over $275,000 in central Costa Rica. With the cost of luxury building attractively low, buying a build-able lot and building a custom home is a far less expensive. You can achieve quality and luxury (turn-key) for around $65 per square foot. The same 2000SF home would cost around $130,000 to build. The average cost of a great lot with all utilities and located in a secure community is $70,000. You will have the exact house you want loaded with luxury for around $200,000. The up-charge of $75,000 is how developers make their money. There are many things to consider when building your home in Costa Rica. Obviously, you must find a suitable building lot with good access, utilities, security, and killer views. Again, your search should be done with an agent who is an expert in real land values and familiar with local zoning regulations. Next is locating a reputable builder or architect. Your choice of this person will be crucial to making the building process enjoyable. This person will make or break your experience and possibly your bank account. As Ben Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Your contractor will be in charge of organizing the entire project and it is vital that you chose wisely right out of the gate Contractor Duties: 1. Organizing custom building plans for your approval. 2. Organizing all documents necessary for obtaining the proper permits to build. (This duty is critically important. Although the rules are black and white during the permit process, the people facilitating the permit process create the red tape. You need someone who has mastered the permit systems and has built relationships with the “right” people.) 3. Purchasing materials to begin construction. (Your builder should be in good standing with suppliers in order for you to trust the material costs.) 4. Your builder will be in charge of facilitating the entire construction of your home. Buying and existing home versus building comes down to a decision of time versus money. In my opinion, the massive savings that come with building make it a far better option and investment. Not only do you save money, but you get the exact custom house that you have dreamed of. You may say that the headaches associated with building should also be considered. However, having a good team will eliminate the majority of headaches. Bilingual Builder Brings Quality and Integrity to the Atenas/Grecia Area I was delighted when Pedro Sibaja, a general contractor from Cartago, asked me to spend the day with him to view his work. I was not only seeking a bilingual builder for myself, but for future clients as well. Pedro was dressed professionally, spoke beautiful English, and had an engaging smile that rarely left his face. We pulled up to his first completed home in Atenas about mid-morning. There to greet us at the door of their brand new home was a sweet retired couple from Atlanta, GA. Nearly a minute went by before I was introduced as these happy clients smothered Pedro with their embrace. Of course, my keen eyes were focused on the high quality and craftsmanship throughout their house. However, it was their genuine affection for Pedro that really impressed me. They thoroughly enjoyed the building process with Pedro at the helm. Next we visited 2 more job sites. Both houses were over 2500SF, on great lots, with gorgeous custom swimming pools. Each home had decorative clay tile roofs, vaulted exotic wood ceilings, track lighting, granite countertops, custom doors and windows, and all amenities to modern living. Each building site was bustling with about 8 workers including a foreman. Many contractors in Pedro’s position of managing multiple projects would just check-in with the foreman and bail. However, Pedro said “Como estas?” to every laborer as he shook all of their hands. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but this personal care of his entire team is such an important characteristic of good management. I was now sold on Pedro. His character and quality of work was far superior to his local competition. He charges $65 per square foot. This price is “turn-key” which includes the plans, permits, materials and fixtures, construction, and basic landscaping. Only the best quality materials are used and all cabinets, doors and windows are custom made in Pedro’s workshop. Further reducing the headaches involved in building, Pedro handles all of the excavating and land preparation needs of your building lot. Pedro also builds custom pools which may include artistic waterfalls, solar heaters, resistance jets, and gravity Jacuzzis for an additional cost of $10,000 (on average). Pedro has been building custom homes in Costa Rica for 14 years. He is a designer as well as a builder. A house architect works with him to solidify and sign off on his plans. His daughter Natalie, who also speaks perfect English, helps to manage all aspects of their projects. Pedro, his terrific team and his low turn-key price make the building process easy for you, the client. In roughly 4 – 6 months you can have your custom dream home completed. You will save a large sum of money and the process will be painless. The end result will be a high quality house which will also be a solid investment. Good Luck! Pura Vida! Jeff Hickcox Costa Rica Land & Property www.RealEstateCostaRican.com
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