The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Costa Rica Real Estate Investment sector seeing strong indicators through 2012 and 2013 and predict a good year in 2014.
Costa Rica real estate sector in the mid 90’s all the way through 2006 was considered an emerging market. Investors were buying prime beach, mountain, and metropolitan real estate at extremely low numbers and this produced a large number of millionaire developers and investors during this period, fueling one of the hottest real estate markets on the globe.
Since, with the global and especially American economic meltdown, Costa Rica struggled 2009 through 2011. Many low and mid tier real estate investors were forced to dump their properties or completely abandon them. While smaller investments at $200,000 to $400,000 were no longer being picked up, interestingly, higher end luxury real estate actually saw an uptick during this period.
In 2012 real estate agents and brokers all reported positive signs that 2013 was going to see a return of strong real estate investment in Costa Rica. A historical number of tourist, 2.34 million arrived in Costa Rica in 2012, resulting in International tourist receipts rising to US$2.4 billion. Tourism is a definitive pre-cursor for real estate sales, and was the first big indicator that 2013 would see good real estate investment growth.
A second indicator that 2013 was a going to be a turnaround year for Costa Rica real estate investment was that mortgage rates in America were at record lows encouraging buyers to leverage assets and many of these buyers were and are considering moving their investment assets into the more lucrative markets of Latin America.
The third factor actually started in 2011 and has continued to date with Costa Rica on a publicity blitz, spending millions on TV advertizing in North America, promoting Costa Rica as a destination of choice for travel, retirement and investment. This initiative was reflected in the record number of tourist in 2012 as well as the uptick in real estate sales in 2012 and so far in 2013.
Currently a little over mid through 2013, we are seeing a significant rise in interest throughout the real estate market segments including condos, vacation rentals, luxury real estate and large development projects both commercial and residential.
A 15 year veteran as a real estate investment consultant in Costa Rica, Daniel Yepez said, “People get optimistic at the end of recession and 2013 really marks the end of the recession. So people have higher expectation and are excited to invest in growing economies like Costa Rica.”
Continuing he said, “Another driving factor is that banks have opened credit lines again, to buyers as well as developers and investors. As well, Costa Rica has made it even easier for foreigners to move, invest and retire in Costa Rica, so it’s a promising time for those looking for brighter future live abroad in countries like Costa Rica.”
Mr. Yepez was the first to fusion call center telemarketing and real estate in Costa Rica and generated over $22 million in real estate sales for large flag ship development such as Ramada.
Daniel is also part of The Costa Rica News Real Estate Team, which includes investment and real estate consultants, real estate agencies, legal services, topography services and developers that assist foreigners investing in Costa Rica real estate.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica
by: Epoch Times
Happiness is a combination of high life expectancy, a feeling of well-being, and a low ecological footprint, according to Nic Marks, founder of the Happy Planet Index (HPI). According to this definition, people in Costa Rica are the happiest in the world.
What creates a pessimistic outlook on life? Austerity measures and recession, according to Gallup. Greeks thus have the gloomiest view of their futures, followed by Czechs and Slovenians, found Gallup in a poll released July 18.
In a similar poll from 2012, Gallup notes: “Optimism is often found among those with low current life ratings, as is the case in less developed nations. In countries where residents generally rate their lives poorly, people tend to expect their lives to improve.”
Although some European countries are among the most pessimistic about future prospects, Gallup found many Europeans confident that the future will be brighter. The poll found that in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Israel, three out of four people rated their current quality of life as high, and people in many wealthy nations view their lives as “thriving,” meaning they have a positive evaluation of their lives at present and in the future.
According to the HPI evaluation of happiness for 2012, released June 14, Vietnam and Colombia follow Costa Rica as the happiest places on earth.
The inclusion of ecological footprint in the happiness equation gives a hand-up to the developing world. Of course, the top three countries on the HPI and those that follow—Belize, El Salvador, and Jamaica—are also graced with warm climates and beautiful beaches.
Applying a single method of evaluating happiness across a diverse globe presents its difficulties. For example, in Thailand, 20th on the HPI, the climate is warm, so the ecological footprint is decreased without the need for winter heating.
Family values are also different in Thailand than in some other nations. Extended families live together under one roof—also contributing to a decreased ecological footprint—and the elderly receive more care from their relatives, with limited medical care, perhaps affecting life spans. Thailand’s ecological footprint is 76th out of the 151 countries evaluated. Its life expectancy is 74.1 years, 62nd out 151.
Life expectancy is the highest in Japan at 83.4 years, followed by Hong Kong at 82.8 years, Switzerland at 82.3 years, and Italy and Australia both at 81.9 years. In terms of ecological footprint, however, these countries have some of the highest resource consumption rates per capita.
Life expectancy is the lowest in African countries—Sierra Leone at 47.8 years, followed by the Congo at 48.4 years, Central African Republic at 48.4 years, and Afghanistan at 48.7 years.
To determine a feeling of well-being in the various countries, the HPI had people rate their overall well-being on a scale of one to 10. Denmark was highest at 7.8, followed by Canada at 7.7, and Norway at 7.6. At the bottom of the list were Togo at 2.8, Tanzania at 3.2, and Botswana at 3.6.
The United States ranks 104th on the HPI, with a life expectancy of 73 years (33rd in the world), a sense of well-being rated 7.2 out of 10 (17th in the world), and with a high ecological footprint (145th out of 151 countries, meaning only six countries rated consume more resources per capita than Americans).
The smallest ecological footprints were found in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Bangladesh.
“Countries that do well on the HPI suffer many problems and many high-ranking countries are tainted by important human rights issues,” notes the HPI.
China, for example, ranks 60th, ahead of Canada (65th), the Netherlands (67th), and Australia (76th). Yet, as Amnesty International notes: “An estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial, and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances. Harassment, surveillance, house arrest, and imprisonment of human rights defenders are on the rise, and censorship of the Internet and other media has grown.”
Cost Rica, the happiest place on earth by HPI standards, established an unarmed democracy in 1949 which has endured to the present day. Then-leader José Figueres Ferrer gave voting rights to all, including women and minorities, and abolished the army.
Currently, Costa Rica gets 90 percent of its energy from renewable resources, cited by U.S. President Barack Obama as a success story. If it reaches its 2021 goal of becoming 100 percent carbon-neutral, it will be the first in the world.
After a long wait, the neighboring communities of Tamarindo, Villarreal, Langosta, Huacas, Pinilla and surrounding areas finally have a new gas station near touristic and residential sites.
Enrique Rodriguez, owner of the gas station, told the Tamarindo News months ago, that after a long and cumbersome permitting process, the entry into operation of the gas station would be delayed. And it was! The service station was built months ago and it was not until mid-March that it started selling fuel.
Tamarindo News has been giving coverage to this important news, as it is an essential service for the development of the area. In Costa Rica, requesting a permit to sell fuel through a gas station is considered by businesspeople a “real ordeal” and, although all agree that the procedures should ensure the safety of the inhabitants to the danger posed by the storage of flammable materials, the fact is that obtaining these permits can take years.
Efforts are made to various public entities, until finally obtaining a site inspection by the Directorate of Hydrocarbons (Ministry of Environment and Energy).
Rodriguez told the Tamarindo News months ago that “this is the most difficult process” and he was right. The gas station was expected to open in high season in December 2012; then, in January 2013, but it was not until mid-March 2013 that they were granted the operating permits.
Previously, residents of coastal communities of Tamarindo, Playa Langosta, Avellana, Playa Negra and the communities of Huacas, Villarreal, Pinilla and neighboring sites had to travel up to 30 km to fill the tanks of their vehicles.
Tamarindo is a resort community and the absence of a gas station was really difficult for tourists and for the operation of businesses such as hotels and restaurants.
The only two closest options for residents were the gas station in El Llano and the one located in Belén; there is another one 40 km away in Santa Cruz.
Twenty years ago, there was a gas station operating in Brasilito, on the way to Flamingo but it was closed and has not been reopened.
Besides the sale of fuel, the new gas station has a convenience store
Among other blessings, Costa Rica’s geography, climate and natural resources provide various options for the generation of renewable energy. A project considering nuclear energy in this country would be far out of scope, not only due to its cost, and the fact that the population would reject anything that might threaten nature, but also due to its lack of need when hydroelectric power plants, windmill camps, geothermic plants and, now, the first solar power plant in Central America are alternatives.
Grupo ICE, a public institution, has led the development of the energy producing infrastructure in the country for over 60 years. The first projects done were hydroelectric plants. Since then, volcanic activity, wind activity and sun have been exploited. All of these sources are found in our province of Guanacaste. Thanks to a donation from the government of Japan, a power plant located in Bagaces, Guanacaste, opened last November. It will provide the yearly power for around 600 homes and it is the first of its kind in Central America.
Power supply has always proven to be fairly stable in all of our territory. That I remember, we experienced just once one month with important blackouts due to a temporary energy crisis, and that was several years ago. Also, our power supply expansion is always being planned with clean energy sources. Every new project is always designed to have the least environmental impact and, when a project is executed, actions such as reforestation are taken to mitigate its impact.
If you want to learn more about power generation in Costa Rica, you can visit www.grupoice.com.
Expats have long been attracted to Costa Rica for many reasons; accessibility, safety, low cost of living, beautiful beaches, modern inexpensive health care, some of the best real estate opportunities in Central America, good infrastructure, lush tropical rainforests, ocean, mountain and valley views, weather unparalleled, theaters, art galleries, and so much more.
Currently by some estimates there are more than 150,000 expatriates living full time or part time in Costa Rica and in many of established expat communities throughout the country.
These numerous and growing expat communities have been a major factor in the growth of the Costa Rica real estate market especially in the past 10 years.
In Costa Rica you will find rich coastal areas along both the Central Pacific and Caribbean, metropolitan lifestyle in the Central valley, adventure and biodiversity National Geographic calls the richest in the world.
Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s dream. The country has a very pro-active philosophy towards conservation and its extensive bio-reserves, ensuring that its jungles, with their renowned biodiversity, continue to be home to a truly stunning assortment of species, from birds to butterflies, monkeys to wild cats, and spectacular flora.
The marine sanctuaries of the Caribbean and Pacific oceans and the rich “bio-corridor” of Costa Rica although being a very small country packs in 5% of the worlds biodiversity.
Costa Rica the largest middle class of all the Central American countries and as well the fastest developing economy, with a long standing tradition of democracy; this could be the biggest driving factor in the Costa Rica real estate market being consistently attractive for the past 2 decades.
Expatriates from all over the world already living in Costa Rica, enjoy one of the most diverse environments and highest standards of living in Central America.
The Costa Rica life expectancy at birth is one of the worlds highest, topping both the U.S. and the U.K.
Tourist services are extensive and with English as a second language, Costa Ricans consider themselves “cultural cousins” to the USA, making the country very visitor-friendly.
The expat population is expected to see tremendous growth over the coming decade with 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day in North America; many are looking to Costa Rica, “The Jewel of Central America” as a place to call home.
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Nearly Half of Latin American and Caribbean Economies Adopt Reforms to Improve Business Climate in 2012
Washington, D.C., October 23, 2012—A new IFC and World Bank report finds that 15 of 33 Latin American and Caribbean economies implemented regulatory reforms making it easier for local entrepreneurs to do business from June 2011 to June 2012.
Released today, Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises also reports that of the 50 economies improving business regulation the most for local firms since 2005, six are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Colombia stands out in the region as having done the most to make its regulatory environment business-friendly during this period. Costa Rica excels for its improvements in the past year.
Doing Business 2013 recognizes Costa Rica as among the global top 10 improvers during the past year. The country implemented regulatory changes in four of 10 areas measured by the report. The report shows Chile as the regional leader in the ease of doing business, ranking 37 among 185 globally.
Colombia made starting a business easier over the past seven years by allowing electronic submission of documents and eliminating the need to have signatures notarized, among other initiatives. A case study in the report features reform efforts by Colombian authorities using the Doing Business framework.
The five other regional economies recognized for improving their regulatory environment the most since 2005 are Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, and the Dominican Republic. In the past year, Peru strengthened investor protections and dropped requirements for several preconstruction approvals.
“We are very encouraged by the progress in Costa Rica, where the authorities showed that focused efforts can make a difference in the business climate, even within a relatively short period,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of Global Indicators and Analysis at the World Bank Group. “Furthermore, the strides made in recent years in Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico—with performance in some of the indicators tracked by Doing Business already at levels seen in rich industrial economies—suggest that the rest of the region can also narrow the regulatory gap.”
Singapore tops the global ranking on the ease of doing business for the seventh consecutive year. Joining it on the list of the 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulation are Hong Kong SAR, China; New Zealand; the United States; Denmark; Norway; the United Kingdom; the Republic of Korea; Georgia; and Australia.
Topping the list of economies that registered the biggest improvements in the ease of doing business over the last year were Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Greece, Serbia, and Kazakhstan.
About the Doing Business report series
Doing Business analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and protecting investors. The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators and cover 185 economies. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure the quality of fiscal management, other aspects of macroeconomic stability, the level of skills in the labor force, or the resilience of financial systems. Its findings have stimulated policy debates worldwide and enabled a growing body of research on how firm-level regulation relates to economic outcomes across economies. This year’s report marks the 10th edition of the global Doing Business report series. For more information about the Doing Business report series, please visit www.doingbusiness.org. Join us on http://www.facebook.com/DoingBusiness.org.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.
Could this be too good to be true!? Finally, the 81 municipalities in Costa Rica have come to an agreement and, from December on, will start operating a fully-unified electronic platform for building permits that should help you obtain your building permits in a maximum of 30 days.
From the “Proposal for Regulatory Simplification and municipal procedures for obtaining building permits,” the government intends that the municipalities be more competitive. According to studies in some municipalities, obtaining building permits could take up to a year depending on the speed with which the interested party delivers the requirements.
“Before, the same requirements needed to be presented in several places; for example, the copy of the cadastral plans were delivered to the municipality, then another copy to fire department, another to Water and Sewer and the Ministry of Health, and in some cases to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. From now on, there will be a copy of such plans in digital format, which will be on the web so everything can be done online. For this, the engineer responsible for the project will have an access code and a secret key,” said Juan Marín Quirós, Decentralization Minister and President of the Institute of Municipal Promotion and Advice (IFAM). Marin added that if a government institution fails to resolve the request within the one-month limit that the Streamlined Procedures Act gives you, then the engineer responsible for the project may claim “positive silence,” which means that government entity will be obligated to grant the permit immediately, even if they have not finished reviewing the requirements.
So far, the only institution that is not within the simplified procedures is the Environmental Technical Secretariat (Setena), which must find a way to meet the technical requirements of the law to be part of the system by December.
Carlos Alvarez, President of the Association of Engineers and Architects (CFIA), said he is very pleased with this great step, since the issue of paperwork has always been one of the main points that delayed the execution of a construction project.
In addition, this professional body (CFIA) will run and maintain the system; so, this is the only place project engineers need to visit to begin the project and deliver the plans. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
Extracts by Mark Venegas, ABC Real Estate, from a Diaro Extra article by Ana Amenábar, 9/29/2012.
The Tico Times announced today that their print edition today will be their last. The newspaper also announced that they will layoff their entire staff of 16 as they attempt to restructure into an online-only model.
Today marks the end of an era in English-language news in Costa Rica. The Tico Times was, without a doubt, the leader in English language news for the entire region for 56 years – a distinction they rightfully earned through original and investigative reporting.
Their staff, over the years, have broken numerous hard news stories, such as the secret runway used by the Contras. In 1995, The Tico Times received the Grand Prize for Press Freedom from the Inter-American Press Association.
Print newspapers continue to struggle throughout the world as the transition to digital publishing continues to spread. Many have trouble adapting.
We sincerely hope that The Tico Times is able to emerge from their current situation. Their hard work over more than a half of a century deserves it.
After a catastrophic earthquake that destroyed the city of Cartago in the central valley in 1910, the quality and resistance of structures to such events became a major concern in Costa Rica. This could be seen in building permit regulations as far back as 2010 that did not allow building in bricks and other techniques found in the structures that had collapsed. By the 1960s, engineers were following a blue book from the Structural Engineers Association of California as an initial guideline to follow scientific recommendations on how to create buildings that would resist earthquakes. By the 1970s, learnings from the earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua, that destroyed the city in 1972 evidenced the urge to have an official manual on construction design that would protect structures from having relevant damages. Several engineers and professionals went to study abroad, mainly in the USA that back then lead the study and innovation in earthquake resisting engineering. Product of this, in 1974, the first Seismic Code “Código Sísmico de Costa Rica” was created by a commission from the construction authority “Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos.” In this institution, there is a permanent commission in charge of its study and revision in order to maintain and update it in accordance to new scientific findings and experiences with real events, and assuring its improvement. Since the first one was created, three new major versions have been published, always revised with improvements. The last update was in August, 2011.
In order to receive a construction permit in Costa Rica, the design must comply with this manual and several institutions have to revise it. An evident result of this is the fact that a 7.6 Richter scale earthquake, the second strongest event of its kind in Costa Rican history, resulted only in minor damages to modern buildings such as cracks in gypsum, falling of roof tiles and some broken glass, but most important: no human casualties due to the collapse of structures.
When looking for real estate, it is important to always make sure it is in good standing in terms of the quality of its finishings, electro-mechanical systems, structure, stability of the ground, and other factors that might compromise the property’s integrity before a natural disaster. This can be determined by a property inspection of a professional. But it is always good to know that, along with other benefits, Costa Rica is a country that cares about protecting its citizens’ and visitors’ integrity inside every building.