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We Bought Land in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua!

buying land san juan del sur

– Champagne Toast: Barrio Frente Sur, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – February 10, 2017

Gordon stands on a lot at the edge of town. He surveys the view of town and the bay of San Juan del Sur. A cool breeze comes off the surrounding hills. The plot of land isn’t large, but plenty big enough to build the oasis him and Elisha have talked about.

This is a no brainer. The location is good. The view is good. The price is right. And the investment potential? Amazing! Done deal. Let’s go to the lawyer’s office.

Elisha stands next to Gordon. Off in the distance she hears roosters crowing. A dog barks loudly in protest to the intrusion. The barrio is a little rough around the edges; far from picturesque. The view of town and the bay is partially blocked by a tree in the neighbor’s yard.

I don’t know. Am I ready to live with the noise and hustle in-town living brings? Do I really want to start from scratch and go through the process of building a home in a third world country? I need to give this some serious thought!

Gordon was ready. Elisha gave it some serious thought. And on February 10, 2017 (with good friends and champagne) they toasted to buying land in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua!

…to be continued…

Our View on Nicaraguan Real Estate

Admittedly we have limited experience, but in our opinion there are three types of real estate for sale in Nicaragua.

Our View on Nicaraguan Real Estate

– San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

#1
NOT REALLY FOR SALE

These are properties where the owner advertises an outrageous, out of market price and says, 

“If someone will pay “x” amount of dollars, then I’ll sell it”.

Here’s an example:

Two homes in Granada are side by side, have the same exterior (aside from color), the same square footage and were built by the same developer. The interior lay out is slightly different, but comparable, as are the finishings.

One house recently came on the market for $149K. The other house has been for sale since we started looking at real estate in Nicaragua 3 years ago. It is currently listed at $229K.

Without MLS (and no practical way to track comparable sales) this situation is more common than you might think. We’ve come to learn that real estate – especially in Nicaragua – is worth what ever someone will pay for it.

#2
THE MOTIVATED SELLER

Sometimes properties owned by motivated sellers never actually make it onto a real estate agency’s website because agents already have buyers waiting in the wings for this type of deal to come along.

Also in this category are a number of developers and single property owners that prefer not to work with real estate agencies.

There can be some really interesting properties to be found in this particular category. But unfortunately – since they aren’t actually listed anywhere – they can be challenging to find.

Word of mouth is great for these types of deals, but if you aren’t living here finding these hidden gems proves to be very difficult.

#3
THE DESPERATE GRINGO

We’ve often thought about starting a website called desparategringos.com.

Every once in a while we hear about a Nicaraguan expat who wants to leave immediately and needs to liquidate everything.

This is a great way to make a purchase if

  • The type of property you hear about happens to be one that interests you
  • You have readily available cash
  • You actually hear about it in time.

This category is by far the smallest market segment.

We’ve been focusing our search within the second group. We live in Nicaragua and have good connections, so it’s been our hope to find a property that wasn’t listed.

We recently found a great example of this type of real estate.

The development is called Congo Hills

We met with our friend Irish Seamus for coffee and he told us a little bit about the history of the project.

Seven years ago the real estate market was booming worldwide. Nicaragua was no exception. Many developers were selling properties before water, electricity or even roads led to the lots.

Seamus Fitzgerald and his business partner Bendt Bregstein wanted to have a project they could be proud of so they built roads, dug a huge well and installed underground electricity. They even built a club house with a pool and hot tub before starting construction on their spec homes.

With the infrastructure in place, some lots cleared off and a handful of homes built Seamus and his partner started selling properties.

But unfortunately this time frame coincided with the global financial crash and all construction came to a standstill. Seamus and Bendt decided to lay low for awhile. Thankfully their project was not leveraged with bank loans, which meant they could afford to wait for better times.

These two Irishmen were confident the market would eventually bounce back so they’ve had a cuidador (property caretaker and security guard) on-site maintaining the existing homes, clubhouse and pool.

And with the luck of the Irish on their side the market in Nicaragua is starting to heat up again.

Seamus thinks the “time is now” and we think he might be onto something.

The crazy thing is that we can’t even get a sneak peak. Congo Hills isn’t listed with a real estate company and – as of this post – doesn’t have a website. We’re pretty sure this won’t be the case for long so our plan is to check out this development ASAP! 

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