Climate Fair Atenas 2016

What a beautiful event!  Each year we love participating in the Climate Fair.  This event, sponsored by the Chamber of Tourism (CATUCA), is an opportunity for businesses of all kinds to demonstrate and share their information, crafts are displayed, talents are shared, and the oxen put on their best headgear to show off in the parade.  People from all over come to see what Atenas has to offer and eat the best traditional food around. 

Our office, with both Tristan & Newton real estate and Gomez, Tristan, & Tristan legal information, had a booth in a great location next to the talented and very funny, “Chino” who is an icon in the town.  We held a raffle with a donation of two nights for two people in the Hotel Tioga in Puntarenas and the winner was….. Maria Jose Morales Ugalde.  Congratulations to Maria Jose!

Congratulations to everyone who made this event a great success and it was a great pleasure meeting so many new people as well as seeing old friends. 

Next week’s blog will continue on more information for buyers who are looking to relocate to Atenas.  Check out the website www.tnrealestatecr.com or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tnrealestatecr/ for our newest listings.

The Best Friend a Buyer Can Have – A Buyer’s Agent

So you have determined that you want to buy and what. You are ready to get out there in the market and look.  But what’s your budget? What is the market like? Is this property a good value or will you end up with a lemon?  All these and more questions can be solved by getting a Buyer’s Agent!  Why?  To help you set a budget, know what is in the market, know the value of properties, and save you time, money, and legal hassles.

What is the function of a Buyer’s Agent?

1)      Help you set a realistic budget.  If you have a set budget, then you will not waste time looking for homes that are unattainable.  This budget may be set based on what you have in savings, in income, or by what you actually want to spend. Usually a combination of the three.  A buyer’s agent can help you look at your income and determine whether or not you need to get a mortgage and if yes, determine your monthly payments. 

2)      Check out what is in the market for you.  You may decide that you only want to spend a certain amount, but once you start looking, your needs or dreams and your budget may not match up.  How do you know what is out there?  A good first start is by checking websites and Realtor.com and in Costa Rica, http://www.realtor.com/international or mls.mls-cr.com.  You can search what is in your price range to see if your needs match up.  Also, talking to a buyer’s agent will help you adjust your budget or your dreams to match what’s in the market. 

3)      Know what is priced right and what is not.  Just because something is listed on a website doesn’t mean it’s priced well.  A buyer’s agent should be able to give you a market overview of different areas and what has sold and what has been sitting at different prices.  He/she should be able to advise on potential construction costs if you are comparing buying a home versus building one.  In the end, the right price is when the buyer and seller are both happy.

4)      Save time.  A buyer’s agent can guide you from the beginning.  You don’t have to go from agency to agency to find a property.  Good agents will know most everything that is in the market, have the tools to find what is there, and will work with other agents to find exactly what is right for you.

5)      Save money.  For sale by owners are always cheaper, right?  Wrong.  Owners usually say they avoid Realtors because they want to save on the commission, but sometimes it is because they have priced a property based on what they want to receive, not what is legitimate for the market.  Many don’t want to hear what a Realtor has to say on the value of the property or are just hoping someone will come along, fall in love, and buy the property at any price.

6)      Save yourself legal battles.  Especially in Costa Rica, it is important to know that everything is legally registered in the system before you buy.  A buyer’s agent should make sure that anything that is being shown to you is legal for selling.  The correct property size must be registered in the National Registry and have a correct “plano” or property map for you to see.  The “owners” need to be the official owners in the system.  Many times here in Costa Rica a parent or grandparent passes properties on to children without registering the change.  This means that the new owner has no right to actually sell the property to you.  Properties set up in the names of corporations have the same problem.  You must make sure the person signing has authority to sign.  If not, you are in for a long legal battle.  Get yourself a good buyer’s agent and avoid this.

A buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you anything.  The main thing is to find someone in whom you feel confident, who is knowledgeable about the market, and who is showing you what you want to see not what they are trying to push you into.  Talk to several agents to decide with whom you feel most comfortable and who is most attentive even before you start looking at homes.

See our listings on tnrealestatecr.com and on mls.mls-cr.com

IMG-20160331-WA0004 (Copy)

Determine WHAT to Buy First

Sometimes the hard part of buying is not just deciding IF to buy but WHICH kind of property you want to buy. People have a variety of reasons for buying – acquiring a personal home, buying for investing in a home/business, investing in a full commercial property, or looking for a return on the money they invest. So determining your category will help you figure out what to look for in a property.  Maybe it would be nice to live in Costa Rica, but what if you could live in Costa Rica and making an income at the same time appeals to you?  Or maybe putting your management skills to use in a full commercial business would be of interest to you.  Or perhaps investing in property, buying low and selling high is right up your alley?

Let me start with the final category first.  Making money flipping properties is not as easy as it seems, especially in Costa Rica.  It is not a matter of just buying low and reselling high because most properties in Costa Rica are not undervalued.  However, if you are into fixing, and updating properties, or like to buy lots, adding maintenance and construction and then selling, this could be an option.  In this category, it is very important that you speak Spanish or have someone that you can trust completely to help manage this endeavor.

Working our way up the list, what about having a full commercial business?  Maybe you initially thought about moving to Costa Rica to retire and relax.  But your skills can definitely be put to good use here and make you money at the same time.  Just in Atenas, there are many great properties that are up for sale for business uses.  Some of the businesses have great returns and just need a change in ownership and others will need your abilities to make them into the fantastic businesses that you envision.  All levels are available from small businesses up to ones that full corporations would be interested in investing in.

What about having a home and combining it with a small business?  Several properties would be great as bed & breakfasts or small boutique hotels.  What could be more fun than living in paradise and making money by sharing your property with other interesting people?  Hacienda style homes, where the individual rooms open up directly into a central courtyard or pool area are great bed & breakfasts opportunities.  Another option is buying properties for rentals.  The demand for great rentals is high in the Atenas area.

Finally, maybe you really just want to have your personal home and forget working at all.  Then you already have your category well defined and don’t have to put any more thought into it.

So what kind of buyer are you?  Once you have that defined, you will be able to focus on acquiring a property that fits that category and style. However, you might want to be open to the possibility of changing your category as you go.  In future blogs, we will go into what to look for and be aware of when shopping in each of these areas.  For great buys in all categories, check out our website at http://www.tnrealestatecr.com and like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tnrealestatecr/ 

Hacienda-style home in Turrucares

Preparing your house to sell

Over time, we get accustomed to things around our home:  smells, handles that take a special touch, peeling paint in a corner, a spot, special markings by your children, whatever.  But if you are thinking of putting your home on the market, have someone else who is not personally attached to your home and is not afraid of hurting your feelings (your realtor should do this for you) go through your home and point out all of the negatives that first catch his/her eye as if this person were thinking of purchasing the home for themselves.  Often when people are ready to sell, they don’t want to even think of investing more in a home that is not going to be theirs.  However, first impressions are crucial.  Even though people should be able to look past a dirty wall and see the beauty in the construction, many will not.  Many people will turn around and walk out, will be turned away by a smell or an old spot in the ceiling.  Why?  First, it just isn’t pleasing to the eye and is distracting.  Very few people see beyond the initial impression to the potential.  Second, this person is looking to purchase a “new” home, not something they have to fix up before they can even move in (there are a few exceptions but I’m am talking about the majority).  Third, this would require more time and effort to be invested after investing a large sum of money.  Now, again, there ARE people who are natural fixer-uppers and like a challenge, but that is a small portion of the buyers that are out there and they rarely are found in the $300,000-1,000,000 price range like the Atenas market.  Fixer-upper people want a GREAT deal, not a couple of thousand dollars off, but a hundred thousand or more off the asking price in order to go through the hassle of fixing up the house.  So, investing $500-10,000 to fix the ceiling, add a coat of paint and fix the doorknobs, is a small amount in contrast to losing $100,000 to someone who is willing to do the work themselves, and typically, the asking price can more than cover what you actually put into it.  So, you make more money and sell faster because you are targeting the majority of the market by having a beautiful, well-cared-for home that shows well.  Don’t think that because you have gotten used to it, that other people won’t be turned off.  Remember, this will no longer be your home and you can’t be too sentimental when preparing it to sell.  Finally, don’t put it on the market with the “plan” to fix it.  You wouldn’t walk into an interview telling your potential employer that you didn’t take a shower or brush your hair, but that you will if you get the job, would you?  No, of course you wouldn’t, so don’t let your home give that impression.  The first people to see your home may be the most eager to buy and if they are turned off, they won’t go back to see it again.  If you are really serious about selling, help the buyer see what an amazing house you have and make them want it as soon as they step in the door.  See the Tristan & Newton website for more information http://www.tnrealestatecr.com.