MANAGUA – During the past six years, developers in Managua have been responding to Nicaragua’s monstrous housing deficit, calculated at more than 300,000 homes, with gated communities to fit all budget ranges.
Since the capital city’s residential development boom started less than a decade ago, some 57 gated communities and condominium projects in various stages of development have popped up in and around the capital, according to data collected by realestate development and marketing leader, Grupo Sooner.
Gated communities are a relatively new model of urban development in Managua, where residential areas were traditionally divided into “repartos,” or open neighborhoods without any controlled entrance or uniformity of construction. But the concept of gated communities has caught on quickly in a sprawling city where first-time homeowners are looking for security, cleanliness, order and a little bit of green area to call their own.
The increase of gated communities in Managua has gone hand in hand with private banks starting to offer financing options that didn’t exist here before. Though the terms of those options still would not be considered competitive in other, moredeveloped housing markets, it’s a start that has allowed more people to buy a first home here in recent years.
Though the market has been in a recession here since the end of last year, many are confident that the trend has turned the corner and is starting to recover (see separate story).
Gated communities and condominium developments in and around Managua are aimed at all income brackets, from lowerand middle-end families in the range of $14,500-$150,000, to higher-end condominiums in the $240,000 range.
The majority are on or along Carretera Masaya, as the city with no center has grown in a predominately southeastern direction toward Masaya and Granada during the last decade.
Still, there are several newer high-end projects now located in Managua proper, including the city’s first condominium tower, Parque del Club Condominios.
When the project is finished, there will be a total of 40 two- and three-bedroom condominiums in two five-story buildings in Villa Fontana, an upper-scale section of Managua.
The condominium units, which sell for $217,000-241,000, bring a “totally new urban concept to Nicaragua,” according to Héctor Somarriba, the director of marketing for Sooner Real Estate, part of the group developing the project.
Parque del Club Condominios has already sold out and finished construction on the first of its two towers. Now it’s in the process of constructing the second tower, which has already sold half its units in pre-construction, Somarriba said.
In a housing market that is driven by the demand of Nicaraguan buyers, usually young couples buying a first home, Parque del Club Condominios is also unique in that it has attracted somewhat of a foreign clientele who live and work in Managua, according to Somarriba.
Sooner Real Estate also markets another upper-end Managua development, Portal San Cayetano, a cluster of two-story condominium neocolonial homes that start at $159,000 in the wealthy neighborhood of Las Colinas.
Outside the capital, Grupo Sooner is launching the super luxurious Portofino Condominium project on the hillside overlooking the bay of San JuandelSur. The 21 apartments at Portofino are selling for $600,000.
When it comes to future residential developments in Managua, Carlos Amador, of Discover Real Estate, thinks that the predominant model will continue to be horizontal rather than vertical.
Though most people want gated communities for security reasons, he said, the Nicaraguan buyer, which represents the main market in the capital, is generally looking for an individual unit with a yard and a patio.
“There is a lot of land in Nicaragua,” Amador said. “This isn’t like El Salvador, where things have to be built vertically.”