LIBERIA’S recently renovated international airport has attracted a flood of new flights from the United States – 12 from major airlines and seven charter flights – which are expected to increase the already-healthy tourism industry in the northern province by 300%.
The flights have impacted more than just the tourism industry, say Guanacaste realtors – property-shopping traffic has never been higher.
“We’re pretty busy right now,” said Jogi Gerner of ABC Real Estate in Tamarindo. “We’ll be completely sold out in two to three months.”
Most agencies in the area are experiencing periods of high sales, and although no one could say for sure exactly how much prices have gone up, most agents claimed they have.
“Prices certainly haven’t dropped,” said Deborah Marquand, of Emerald Shores Realty.
Larry Albright, of Pacific Coast Realty, compared Guanacaste to Hawaii or Cancun 20 or 30 years ago, saying the area will soon house several major resorts and property value will only increase.
“BY the end of the year, prices are going to substantially increase,” Albright said. “Whether it’s 10% or 50% I can’t say.”
Why is Guanacaste real estate so sought after?
“It’s really beautiful down here.
Every month has its redeeming qualities,” Marquand said.
Several agencies have sold all beachfront property and anything within walking distance of the beach. Albright warned that beachfront buyers have to be ready to pay top dollar; two quarter-acre lots in Tamarindo recently went for $900,000 each, he said.
From 1997 to present, prices for oceanview lots have tripled, and they will at least double again in the next two to three years.
“There’s some mystique about that place, and I have no idea why, but it has really taken off, starting about five years ago,” Albright said of Tamarindo.
PROPERTY is still available, though. Pacific Coast Realty is managing a lot in Reserva Conchal, still under development, that will eventually have luxury condos from $250,000 (for a one-bedroom) up to $800,000. Albright said he took a deposit on one condo before workers even broke ground.
Albright said the agency will also soon have 17 luxury homes for between $250,000 and $500,000 each.
“This seems to be a substantial market, especially for gated communities,” he said.
Marquand said EmeraldShores is exclusively managing a site that will have 120 condos and another 25 properties in the area that will have homes that will sell for a minimum of $500,000.
EmeraldShores will also be managing property in the Flamingo Marina, which she said should soon have a new concessionaire. The new concessionaire was supposed to be announced last month and although she is not certain when, exactly, it will happen, it should be “within the next quarter.”
Gerner said that even though her agency, ABC Real Estate, will be sold out shortly, there will always be “re-sales and other little things on the market.” The company manages properties for 80 homes, 112 farms, 44 businesses and between 600 and 700 lots in Tamarindo, she said.
GUANACASTE also is home to the rapidly progressing and highly controversial Papagayo Peninsula Tourism Development Project, a large swath of land managed by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute which will eventually house nine hotels, an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, and luxury condominiums.
Pro-testors say developers of the project have illegally restricted public access to beaches and prohibited camping on them (TT, Jan. 23).
Another major development project called Hacienda Panilla is under way just south of Tamarindo.
Cynthia Duran, real estate manager of the project, said Hacienda Panilla will be the most exclusive private community in the country.
The community spans an area of 1,800 hectares, 40% of which will be developed. The remaining 60% will be home to a tropical dry forest. Duran said developers have already planted 150,000 trees in the area.
Luxury town homes in the area sell for between $375,000 and $450,000, while larger homes will sell for between $565,000 and $1.4 million.
Duran said work just finished on an 18-hole golf course, basic infrastructure projects such as electricity and water are complete, and negotiations are under way with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) to lay fiber optics in the area.