THE northwestern province of Guanacaste has been highly coveted for its endless pastures, spectacular beaches and orange sunsets. These days, investors of all nationalities want a piece of the pie – and the pie is not cheap.Over the past two to three years, property value in Guanacaste has soared. According to Scott MacDougall, owner of Century 21 at the Beach in Playa Hermosa (672-0273, email@example.com), on the northern Pacific coast, ocean-view lots in Hermosa ranged from $85,000-115,000 in 2003. Today, the same properties are valued at $275,000-400,000.“(Guanacaste) property value has increased with decent consistency in the past two years; it’s directly related to the Liberia international airport,” MacDougall said, referring to Daniel Oduber International Airport, which started receiving international flights in December 2002 (TT, Dec. 6, 2002).The opening of the luxurious Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo in January 2004 also “helped to bring in a different clientele,” added Mac-Dougall, who has 13 years of experience in the real estate business.DESPITE this boom, diligent searchers can still find affordable housing in the region. Family homes in Guanacaste can start as low as $50,000, realtors say, with perks such as ocean views and proximity to towns adding to property value.For those in search of the cheaper options, the area is teeming with relatively affordable multi-unit developments that sell very quickly, MacDougall warned. Bahía Pez Vela, a development south of Playa Ocotal, near Hermosa, is sold out already, he said. The 45 oceanview, three-bedroom villas sold for $125,000 each, and include two pools, a restaurant and built-in property management. Plenty of attractive developments are in the making in the region, however.“The market is so active and new, not a lot of built product is available,” MacDougall said, adding that investors can purchase units in the making by paying deposits and later making payments following construction. MacDougall cited the example of a new 70-unit project in its planning stages, in Ocotal. The development, which will have a pool and common areas and should be finished in two years, has two- and three-bedroom units from 90-150 square meters starting at $140,000.JENNIFER Cosey, assistant to the general manager at RE/MAX Tres Amigos Real Estate (www.remax-tresamigos-cr.com, 672-0255), also in Hermosa, said she considers Hermosa the “higher end of the four-cove region,” which includes Playa Panamá, Ocotal, Hermosa and El Coco.According to Cosey, El Coco offers the cheapest properties, with ocean-view lots under $100,000. However, she warned, “Always in life we get what we pay for.”Among the more affordable options in Hermosa, Cosey cited the Hermosa Village, a development of 16 condos within eight two-story villas – one per floor – worth $159,000 each.The first round of these two-bedroom condos, located 200 meters from the beach, should be completed within two to six months, Cosey said. Each unit in the “village,” which will have community areas and a pool, can be customized by its owners, who get to select their own paint, countertops and high-end tiles.RE/MAX Ocean Surf in Tamarindo (www.remaxoceansurf-cr.com, 653-0073), south of the four-cove region, offers houses ranging from $100,000 for homes five minutes from town, to $3.5 million for a beachfront luxury property, according to office manager Courtney Borquet.Borquet highlighted Vistas de Tamarindo, a 46-condo development five minutes from Tamarindo, as an affordable and beautiful housing option near the ocean.The condos have two to three bedrooms and sell for $115,000-169,000. The development includes a pool and 24-hour security.
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