By: Greg Salley, Equity Residences Managing Director and real estate investor.
Our Equity Residences’ acquisition team is guided by investor input when selecting locations for our new homes. The 2017 Investor Survey showed Costa Rica to be a preferred vacation destination and in early 2018 I set out to find a home or home site in the Guanacaste Province of the country. My search led me to acquire a Playa Potrero beachfront home. This was a fun week-long adventure that I am sharing below.
Because we have concentrations of investors on both U.S. coasts and major airports on both coasts have direct flights to Liberia’s international airport, the Guanacaste area was a logical target destination. We knew this easy access would allow our investors to spend less time in transit and more time enjoying Costa Rica’s stunning natural wonders.
Guanacaste is also home to a major luxury resort located on the Papagayo Peninsula and small beach towns like Potrero and Tamarindo. Both offer something unique to the region: Papagayo Peninsula, home to Four Seasons, dazzles with manicured golf courses and a luxury beach club, while the small towns of Potrero and Tamarindo offer authentic Costa Rican experiences and opportunities to enjoy local flare.
After landing in Liberia, I spent a week searching for the perfect new home for the Equity Platinum Fund. Many hours of research and due diligence preceded the inspection tour and our analytics team had identified the best areas for our target price range, as well as the best realtors in Guanacaste.
Traveling to multiple locations that are far away from each other proved to be a challenge.
Some roads in Costa Rica are dirt roads, like the infamous Monkey Trail. The Lonely Planet writer remarks that it “is famous for eating cars.”
My 30-minute drive on the Monkey Trail felt like riding an extreme roller coaster, only without the benefit of safety measures. The rented Toyota 4×4 shook so violently that it felt like it was going to fall apart. And dust flying from the wheels of passing cars blinded me for the duration of my journey.
Pick the wrong road in Costa Rica and an apparently short distance on the map may take 1-1.5 hours of driving. If a GPS gets confused, your trip may extend far beyond this time. The challenge in getting to places is magnified by a lack of official addresses.
There are no street numbers or house numbers – just GPS coordinates to find your destination. So, going from an appointment in the Papagayo Peninsula to an appointment in Potrero can easily consume two hours. Going from Papagayo to one of the local restaurants in Playas del Coco can take just as long, especially if you are not good with directions.
Another challenge in buying homes in Costa Rica is that there is no multiple listing service. It’s up to the buyer to find a good realtor and rely on the expertise of this professional. No amount of due diligence performed in California can replace networking with local connections and discovering homes that do not show up in search results.
I started my search for the perfect Platinum Fund home in the Papagayo Peninsula where I met with a local realtor responsible for selling the Four Seasons Residences at the resort. The realtor, Steve, showed me coveted homes at the resort that started at $1.8 million and went up in price from there.
While the Papagayo Peninsula is a stunning and well-maintained gated community, it can feel like a gated community that can be found in many other locations. Equity Platinum Fund already owns houses located at beautiful beach resorts like Cap Cana and Mauna Lani that offer self-contained, high-end amenities and beach club access. Additionally, all the available Papagayo Peninsula homes were located far from the beach. Some offered ocean views, but none had direct beach access.
I was looking for a luxury home that was directly on the beach in a safe but less structured environment. So, I continued my search in Playa Flamingo, a bustling beach community known to for its great restaurants and white sand beaches.
Led by my local realtor Melanie, I visited the vibrant new Las Catalinas community. All the options I was shown were appealing – they had luxury finishes, good construction quality, and views. But they lacked the all-important immediate beach access that is so valuable when you’re only staying in the country for a week.
Then a local property manager pointed me towards a new beachfront home under construction on nearby Playa Potrero.
Hidden behind a gate, this house was just a concrete frame at the time, but it had everything the Equity Platinum Fund was looking to buy:
– Direct beach access
– Beautiful architecture
– Solid construction quality
– Deeded land (in another blog we explain how important it is to buy deeded land vs land lease in Costa Rica)
– Attractive price point
– Appreciation potential
In addition to sitting right on the beach, the house is located within walking distance of local restaurants and hotels and is a short drive to Tamarindo. A new marina is going to be built in the area, which will increase property values in Potrero and benefit our Equity Platinum Fund investors when we sell.
Our new Playa Potrero beachfront dream home was built by a Canadian lady who has lived in Costa Rica for many years and created a solid business in this corner of the world. When I looked at the two adjacent homes she built, one of which she occupies, I immediately realized that her eye for luxury and attention to detail would add to the value of our investment and to the enjoyment of our investor vacations.
And so, the deal was done and construction of our new Equity Platinum Fund home was completed in four short months. It was comforting that an Equity Platinum Fund investor, on vacation in Costa Rica while the house was being built, inspected it and gave his enthusiastic approval.
Our hospitality team has just returned from launching this home and they are excited about this new investment. The home is ready to welcome Equity Residences investors who will undoubtedly enjoy this luxurious oasis. It’s right on the beach and less than an hour’s drive from the Liberia airport – no Monkey Trail adventure required!