There is no doubt that the impact of the financial crisis in the United States and now Europe has had a direct adverse effect on the Costa Rican real estate market. The majority of purchasers and developers of Costa Rican real estate during the boom years came from the United States.
The hardest hit area are the beaches of the province of Guanacaste which coincidentally was the area that had the largest price increases during the boom.
In this article I will set forth a sampling of real estate sales prices that I have obtained from viewing different property listings to get an idea of real estate market conditions in different parts of Costa Rica.
Some of the most popular destinations in Guancaste are Ocotal, Papagayo, Conchal, Potrero, Flamingo, Tamarindo, Avellana, Junquillal, Marbella, Nosara, Samara, Carillo, Punta Islita
If we look at a sampling of condos in Tamarindo Beach many are about 50% of what they were during the boom with prices ranging from $1,706 to $2,254 m2 ($171 – $225 Sq.Ft.) Further south in the beach town of Samara we reviewed listings for homes and condos that range from $1,225 m2 to $2,067 m2. ($122-$207 Sq.Ft.). As for building lots we found the following sampling.
Nosara Beach Area. Lots from 700 m2 to 5,000 m2 were listed at prices which range from $9 m2 to $60 m2.
If you go further out from the coastline you can find some gated communities with large lots (5,000 m2 or more) where prices start in the $6 m2 range. One listing advertised a 9,506 m2 lot (102,325 Sq.Ft.) for $53,500 ($5.63m2).
Given current market conditions there are deals in the area if you dig deep.
The Central Pacific lies in the Province of Puntarenas. The two main cities in the area are Jaco and Quepos further south. Jaco is known for being a party town and its close proximity to San Jose make it an attractive destination for weekend visits. In Jaco real estate prices vary significantly. Studio apartments start at around $50,000. Condos in high rise buildings are in the $150,000 range.
Before the town of Jaco there is Playa Herradura where you have the very high end real estate such as Faro Escondido and Los Sueños Marina and Resort.
As you head further south you have beach communities in Playa Bejuco and Esterillos until you reach Quepos which is the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park.
Also part of the Province of Puntarenas which stretches to the border with Panama. The most popular destinations are Dominical, Uvita, Bahia Ballena, Ojochal and the Osa Peninsula.
During the real estate boom (2005-2008) when real estate prices rose significantly in Guanacaste the Southern Zone became the affordable alternative. Since the crash of real estate in Guanacaste you can now find comparable prices in both areas. As such the decision to choose one area over the other is really a matter of personal preference. The Southern Zone is greener and less developed. On the other hand the rainfall and humidity are higher in the Southern Zone.
The Caribbean (Atlantic) Coast of Costa Rica is often shadowed by the more popular beaches of the Pacific. A must see in the area is the The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. The vibe in this area is very different than other beach towns. You have a large cultural mix of Afro Caribbean Ticos, Europeans and North Americans.
The most popular destinations are Puerto Viejo, Cocles, Playa Chiquita. Most of the residents in the area are ecologically and nutrition oriented so you don’t have any large resorts in the area.
You can find properties in the area form the $50’s and up depending on the location and the structures.
The Central Valley
The Central Valley is where 80% of the population of Costa Rica resides. The cities of San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago which are the provincial capitals have the largest populations. For the year 2010 74.11% of all construction permits granted were in San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia while the remaining 25.89% came from Guancaste, Puntarenas and Limon. Source: Camara de Construccion
Some of the favorite expat communities in the Central Valley are San Jose: Escazu, Santa Ana, Ciudad Colon, Puriscal, Curridabat. Alajuela: Poas, Arenal, Sarchi, Naranjo, Grecia, San Ramon. Heredia: San Rafael, Santa Barbara, Barva, Santo Domingo. Cartago: Orosi, Paraiso. The most populous city in the province of San Jose is Desamparados.
Prices for real estate vary significantly in the Central Valley. There has been a significant slow down in the sale of properties over US$250,000. However, we have not seen large price reductions in the Central Valley area. As such, prices of real estate still seem higher then they should be given current market conditions.
Part of it is the tightening of credit for developers and the prolonged and tedious process required to develop planned communities and urbanizations. The Costa Rican water company A y A consistently denies permits due to lack of potable water infrastructure. With less affordable housing coming on line the prices of what is already built remains high