Home Looking in Costa Rica: A Slice of Oceanside Paradise for $1.1 Million
A modern three bedroom villa on the Costa Rican coast
$ 1.15 million
This modern three bedroom house is located on a hill in Dominical, a beach town in the Province of Puntarenas, on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Built in 2016, the 3,500 square meter house is oriented to maximize sea views. There are sliding glass walls in every room.
The mountainous area known as Escaleras, “we sometimes refer to them as the Hollywood Hills – they are home to some of the most amazing properties in the area,” said Tim Fenton, president of Blue Zone Realty International, who has the listing. “The mountains are very close to the sea, so these houses are in the first row with a view of the ocean.”
The single story house is built of steel and concrete on just over half an acre. The front entrance on the opposite side of the ocean opens directly to the living area with vaulted ceilings that are up to 15 feet high. The tiled floor extends beyond the retractable glass wall and forms an outdoor terrace with space for dining under a roof overhang. Clerestory windows above the wall let in more light.
Built-in Spanish cedar cabinets and shelves in the living area match the cabinets in the adjacent kitchen. The kitchen also has a quartz waterfall island with space for three and high quality stainless steel appliances. A separate outdoor kitchen has a gas grill, wet bar, and wine cooler.
The master suite with teak flooring is on one side of the living area and has a double vanity and a glass shower in the bathroom that can be opened to the outside. Two more en-suite bedrooms are on the other side.
All three bedrooms open to concrete slab terraces separated by soft pebbles. An infinity pool in the middle of the lawn has a ledge area to sit on.
The attached two-car garage is at the front of the house, which is paved with a section of lawn.
The property offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, including a natural phenomenon popularly known as the “whale’s tail” in Uvita’s Ballena National Marine Park, Fenton said. The rock and sand formation that extends from the beach in the shape of a whale’s tail is also the place where humpback whales congregate twice a year, he said.
The property is about 10 minutes from the center of Dominical, a ‘typical surfing town’ with shops and restaurants on the beach, and equidistant from Uvita, the region’s commercial center. San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city, is about three hours north, as is the international airport.
Despite the fast-paced tourism industry – Costa Rica took in more than 3 million tourists for the first time in 2018, according to the tourism authority – the country has struggled with tax problems in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the recession. Border closings have hit the tourism sector hard and unemployment has soared to over 20 percent. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting a 5.5 percent decline in GDP this year.
Costa Rica, with a population of about 5 million people, had managed to control the spread of the virus in the first half of the year, but a surge in infections in recent months caused the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advise against travel to the country. As of December 28, the country had reported 162,990 Covid-19 cases and 2,086 deaths, according to the New York Times’ coronavirus world map.
The real estate market in the capital area of San Jose has suffered significantly from the poor economy and inventory levels. However, the same is not true of the market on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. The region is far less developed, and some existing homes and land went off the market after the pandemic when sellers changed their minds.
Given the low supply in the area, “it’s almost starting to become a seller’s market,” said Kevin Champagne, owner of Osa Tropical Properties in Puntarenas.
Inquiries from overseas buyers remained stable even after the borders closed last spring, and some properties bought were not seen in anticipation of a move after the borders reopened, Champagne said.
Americans were allowed back in from November, and the pent-up demand was so great that it turned out to be “our busiest November in the eight years we’ve done business down here,” said Fenton.
Both agents said many buyers are looking for a newer three bedroom home with a pool, possibly with an ocean view or within walking distance of a beach. Properties under $ 400,000 – Costa Rica operates on the Colón, but US dollars are widely accepted – moves the fastest, but buyers are generally looking in the $ 300,000 to $ 800,000 range, Champagne said.
His office has also seen unusually strong interest from locals planning to move out of the capital region, where the infection rate is higher. “Their purchasing power is a little lower or they don’t need that much, so they buy more in the urban areas,” he said. “Some are buying something like a house to live in during the pandemic, but most are buying to live permanently down here.”
This particular property is average for prices in the Escaleras area, with the exception of houses in Costa Verde Estates, a gated community higher up the mountainside, Fenton said. Prices at this community, which has many acres of wildlife sanctuary and numerous amenities, run up to $ 8 million, he said.
Who buys in Costa Rica
The Americans, who, according to the tourism authority, made up almost half of all tourists in Costa Rica in 2019, make up at least 80 percent of foreign buyers there.
The rest come mainly from Nicaragua (which shares its southern border with Costa Rica), Canada, and Europe.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Costa Rica. Business is usually done in US dollars.
All transactions require an attorney / notary. It is common for a notary to handle the transaction for both buyers and sellers, said Rodolfo Herrera, a real estate attorney in the Dominican region. However, buyers should be careful to find someone who speaks their language fluently.
“I’ve seen a lot of problems with buyers using a lawyer they couldn’t even communicate with,” Herrera said.
Mr Herrera said the properties need to be carefully checked to ensure there are no issues with access to or proximity to a utility pole. In addition, buyers are required to provide evidence that their water is from a legal source as specified by the government water board.
Since real estate agents are largely unregulated in Costa Rica, buyers are likely to be better off partnering with an established agency with a good reputation, Champagne said. “You have people who tell a restaurant owner, for example, that they are there to buy, and suddenly that person shows them a property,” he said. “Surprises happen here.”
Languages and currency
Spanish; colón (1 colón = $ 0.002), with the US dollar being widely accepted.
Taxes and Fees
Closing costs, including transfer tax, trademarks, and legal fees, typically add up to 3.5 to 3.8 percent of the purchase price, Herrera said.
Annual property taxes on this home are approximately $ 2,000.
Ben Rutherford, Blue Zone Realty International, 011-506-8318-7591; bluezonerealty.com
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