BREATHTAKING mountain views, a mystical rain forest with thousands of plant and animal species, sunsets illuminating the Pacific Ocean… imagine having all this in your backyard. For those looking to own a dream home, Manuel Antonio is hard to beat.Thanks to a recent building boom in the area and an active real-estate market, there are now more options than ever for owning property in this town along Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. Good appreciation of property values expected in the coming years makes Manuel Antonio a lucrative area in which to invest.Whether you’re looking for the perfect house or condo, an empty lot on which to build or an investment property, real-estate specialists in the area are ready to guide you through the process of making your dream a reality. Here are a few of the experts and what they offer:Bienes Raíces PortasolPortasol is a unique development project comprising 1,300 acres of land to be built in stages over the next 10 years. Portasol uses the concept of “ecological land development” to minimize impact on surrounding forestland, said sales agent Manrique Salas. The houses’ roofs, for example, use a special type of non-reflective zinc that does not distract birds in flight.Located between Manuel Antonio and Ballena national parks, Portasol offers three-acre and five-acre lots ranging from $40,000-48,000 per acre. Each lot has either a mountain, river-basin, ocean or rain-forest view.Several different floor plans are available for houses to be built on these lots, including a four-bedroom, two-story model and a smaller two-bedroom house.Portasol employs an interdisciplinary team of architects, engineers, lawyers and business administrators to help you through the process of buying and building. Additionally, an advisory group of biologists, artists and economists is on hand for consultation.Salas said now is a great time for investors to become involved in Portasol. The Manuel Antonio area is expected to experience a land-price value appreciation with the construction of the southern coastal highway, scheduled to be completed in the next few years.For more information, call 278-1257 (San José main office) or 777-3426 (Quepos airport office), e-mail [email protected] net or visit www.portasol.net.Century 21Century 21 specializes in development parcels as well as house and condo sales. Its “full-service” team of agents, builders and land planners will take you through the process of buying land and building a home.The company is involved in some of the most popular development projects in the area, said realtor Kurt Hocker. El Salto offers one- to two-acre estates with mountain views ranging from $150,000-200,000.La Reserva is another hot development property. Lots with spectacular ocean and mountain views range from $225,000-275,000.Century 21 also sells luxury houses all over Manuel Antonio. The view determines the price – ocean-view houses range from $650,000 to $1 million, non-ocean-view homes from $100,000-500,000.For information, call 777-0673, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.century21cr.com.Latitude 9Latitude 9 sells houses, condos and development parcels including farms, beachfront lots and commercial properties. Prices vary dramatically depending on location. Due to Manuel Antonio’s coveted views, real estate gets more expensive the higher you climb in elevation, said Latitude 9 owner Paul Lambert. Lots start at about $150,000, and two-bedroom condos can range from $550,000-750,000. Houses cost anywhere from $250,000 to $3 million, depending on size and location.For those looking to build, Latitude 9 offers a team of experts including brokers, investors, consultants, engineers, architects, permit expeditors and land planners. Lambert said buying real estate in Manuel Antonio is an excellent investment because of the area’s popularity.“Manuel Antonio is the number-one visited area in the country because of the national park,” Lambert said. “Your investment will definitely appreciate.”One of Latitude 9’s most unique development properties is Tortuga Landing, a rain-forest community nestled in a cove with its own secluded beach. Preserved in its natural state, the area is home to three types of monkeys, sloths and parrots. Individual lots just under three-quarters of an acre go for $450,000.For information, call 777-1197 or 777-5277, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.latitude9.com.Manuel Antonio Estates Located around the first curve on the road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, this development project is within walking distance of the town of Quepos and all the restaurants, shops and services it has to offer. Currently under construction, Manuel Antonio Estates will include houses, apartments and condos. High-end houses range from $645,000-799,000, with two- and three-bedroom floor plans available.For those looking to build, Manuel Antonio Estates has one-acre lots ranging from $125,000-190,000 with either a mountain or ocean view and paved road access.The property also has its own biological reserve, including 30 hectares of private tropical forest with hiking trails and an observation tower providing hikers spectacular 360-degree views of the mountains and ocean.Manuel Antonio Estates’ own bilingual architect and contractor work with clients throughout the building process, and clients receive weekly reports on the construction process.In addition to luxury houses, Manuel Antonio Estates will also include two apartment buildings that can serve as vacation properties or investments. The agency estimates that each unit, with 700 square feet of living space and two bedrooms, can be rented for $500 per month.For information, call 777-3339 or visit www.manuelantoniocostarica.com.Pacífico Colonial CondominiumsFor those looking for a top-of-the-line condominium, Pacífico Colonial is an excellent property to check out. The luxury units in this four-floor building have elegant touches such as Brazilian granite countertops, porcelain floor tile and vaulted ceilings. Accented with a range of quality hardwoods, the spacious units offer great ocean views. Two- and three-bedroom units are available, as well as two luxury penthouse units. Condos start at $775,000 and range from 2,200-3,900 square feet.There is no lack of modern amenities in these condos, which come equipped with high-speed Internet, two phone lines, Jacuzzi tubs and indoor garden terraces. Owning a unit in here also entitles you to enjoy all the perks of the building, such as the pool, saunas, sun deck and enclosed parking.For information, call 280-4455, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.pacifico-colonial.com.