The worldwide economic crisis affected almost every sector in Costa Rica in 2009, and real estate was one of the areas most crippled by the downturn.
With reluctant prospective buyers and concerned consumers waiting for the dust from the financial crisis to settle, the buying and selling of property slowed to a crawl nationwide during the first 10 months of the year.
Actors in the local real estate market reported that many potential buyers had put deposits down on properties or had taken the first steps in constructing new homes prior to the crisis. But when the economic contraction struck, many of these investors suddenly were without access to anticipated funds and they took significant losses on their initial investments.
But, as in most other sectors of the national economy, the end of the year has been more kind.
According to various real estate vendors in Costa Rica, the tepid demand for real estate has caused sellers to lower their prices.
Realizing this, buyers are looking for “value properties,” or those with price tags far below their true values.
“The lowering of property value has been a blessing and a curse for the market,” said Brian Friedman, of Century 21 Jacó Beach. “It is a blessing in that we have seen a huge increase in traffic and are showing property every day as people know there are killer deals out there. However, the bad news is that it is a bad time for sellers. I have talked to many people who are in bad shape and must drop prices significantly to make a sale. Buyers are beating up on sellers right now.”
Throughout the country, realtors have seen a significant jump in the number of prospective buyers during the final months of the year.
Though the final 2010 real estate market tally remains to be seen, it appears that demand for Costa Rican property will improve as the worldwide economy recuperates.
The one seemingly unwavering positive for the real estate market is that the country is known for its educated population, its beautiful scenery and its relatively low cost of living. With that attached as a tagline for the country, it appears that, even when property demand is down, the draw of the country will always ensure buyers.
“I don’t want to give a peaches-and cream forecast, but I’d say it looks hopeful,” said Les Nunez, of First Realty in Playa Hermosa of Guanacaste. “Are people coming here? Yes. Are people still interested in property here? Yes. If anything, we know people are out there and are looking … There will always be people wanting to come live or retire in Costa Rica.”