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193 One of the country's fastest growing markets Arenal

193 One of the country's fastest growing markets Arenal
193 One of the country's fastest growing markets Arenal

Podcast Transcription

[Richard Bexon]
Good morning, Lester. How are you doing?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Doing great. What about you? It's good to see you again.

[Richard Bexon]
I know we spent some time together last week, but I thought I'd get you on the podcast, just because we have starting to get quite a bit of demand here for Arenal, and I think it's an opportunity, an opportunistic market, and I'm sure that we'll kind of discuss a little bit more about that.

[Lester Moon Properties]
Sure. Yeah, let's go ahead and do it. Thank you for inviting me, having me here, and thanks.

Hi to all the people out there. Pura vida.

[Richard Bexon]
Awesome. Pura vida. Well, I mean, markets had a good comeback in late 2023, 2024.

It started good. It's a little bit slower. Real estate seems to have kind of flatlined or is declining in some areas of the world.

I mean, so far in January, February, and March for 2024, how has that looked for you and how has it compared to previous years?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Yeah, I think this year started with a lot of blessings, I'll say. More and more sellers identify our project. We did things differently, so we're getting some great new exclusive listings that you may see soon, okay?

Then, yeah, we envision 2024 with a lot of growth in real estate, some really good things. I did get my certification from the Costa Rica Chamber of Real Estate. My license number, it's 3598, which is great.

And of course, last but not least, we closed a couple of very good deals already this year, which is great.

[Richard Bexon]
How has demand been? I mean, if you were to compare as January, February, and March being just as busy as last year, has it quietened down a little bit? I mean, for you in Aaron now, I think it's different than other areas of the country because it's not on everyone's radar, but would you say that it's picking up or it's being kind of the same or it's decreased a little bit on 2023?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, I would say it's becoming more and more popular. I think it's a matter of, okay, it's the most visited town or area in Costa Rica, which I'm positive you know. So it gives a lot of possibilities to investors, right?

But yeah, I would say 2023 for my project, it was a great year. And as I mentioned before, this year started very good and I'm positive we'll do very good this year.

[Richard Bexon]
Look, I mean, I think the one thing about Aaron now is that there are probably more local buyers than there are international buyers, no?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, I wouldn't say so. Even though we have a lot of locals, people from San Jose, people after the pandemic, and I think it happens everywhere after the pandemic, people and locals, I'm talking about locals, they decided to go to the mountains, right? Not just the beach.

So then, yes, Aaron now became very popular for local investors, but we also have a lot of foreign investors that identify Aaron now as a good place to put their money.

[Richard Bexon]
Why do you think that is? And what do you think the advantages are of Aaron now over other areas of the country?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, I mentioned already price. We specialize in our area, like Moon Properties do only La Fortuna and surroundings. But of course, I have friends down in Uvita, Dominical, Tamarindo, Samara, and I have seen prices and prices are crazy in these areas.

You can get a lot here with a volcano view for $50. Yeah, $50 per square meter, exactly. So you're not getting that at the beach?

For sure not.

[Richard Bexon]
I mean, what else do you think people like about that area? Why do you think it's a good place to invest? I mean, you've mentioned it's got great traffic when it comes to tourism, which is great for rentability.

But I mean, what else do you think the area offers?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Yeah. Hey, I would say even though we don't have, I think Costa Rica is popular in real estate for our beaches. We have beautiful beaches, right?

Caribbean, Pacific, South Pacific. And then the Central Valley, Atenas, San Ramon is becoming very popular. But Arenal, it's not only a beautiful place.

We have the volcano, we have the rainforest, we have a lot of things to do, you know, adventure, nature, hikings everywhere. It's not only the mystical park or the national park, you know, we have the Juan Castro Blanco very close. We have the Bosque Eterno de los Niños.

So if you want to work on tourism, you know, that is great because it gives people a lot of things to do and see. And that might be the reason why, you know, it's the most, again, most visited town in Costa Rica. So I would say, you know, prices and yeah, you know, it's a beautiful area.

Arenal is a beautiful area. Hotsprings, you know, we have the Arenal Lake also where you can do a lot of things. El Castillo, El Fosforo, you know, it's a beautiful area.

Up in Monterrey, Chachagua, Agua Azul. So yeah, that's what I would say. It's what makes us special.

[Richard Bexon]
You know, I was chatting with someone the other day, Lester, about it. You know, the one thing that doesn't exist there is there is not a luxury market, if that makes sense. Like at the beach, you have all of these like projects.

In Arenal, there really is not a market. You know, I mean, whoever's going to come to market with the first kind of million dollar property, I mean, is really going to be kind of a bit of a pioneer. But, you know, the numbers point towards occupancy.

Average daily rates point to that it's a great investment. And like there should be a development there for luxury homes. It just, I'm just surprised it hasn't.

Well, I mean, Arenal Hills you could consider, but that's kind of a way out.

[Lester Moon Properties]
Yeah. Yeah. It's in Los Angeles.

It's 15. I think it's closed, you know, but yeah, I haven't had the opportunity to sit down with them and I like what they have. I have to tell you that.

But yeah, you know, I think the location maybe, you know, it's not ideal. I would say, you know, El Castillo, up in Monterrey. I think, you know, a key thing, it's a volcano view.

[Richard Bexon]

[Lester Moon Properties]
Like if you want to develop, you know, if you want to invest $500,000 or $1,000,000 dollars, like just go up to Monterrey, you know, just by a couple of hectares, you know, and do some 5,000 square meters and then build a beautiful house, luxurious, three, four bedrooms, swimming pool. And then, yeah, you know, just look for somebody that will take care of your property, a good people to manage, right? These properties.

But yeah, I certainly agree with you. I think we talked about that last week a little. There are a couple of houses, you know, like beautiful houses that I would say luxurious, but maybe they don't have the expertise, you know, on tourism.

Yeah. That is my industry, you know, like I know a lot about tourism and of course, you know, real estate. But yeah, I totally agree with you.

Like there's no a development like up in the, you know, Las Catalinas or Flamingo, of course, you know, Papagayo, like we don't have that.

[Richard Bexon]
I think it's coming though, Lester. I really do think it's coming. I mean, look, if you look at just the U.S., I mean, you know, anywhere, I mean, there are usually luxury mountain projects, you know, and I mean, you know, and Arenal just has beyond the mountains has the volcano and the hot springs and the rivers and the adventure and the waterfalls and toucans and monkeys and sloths and like it has everything that Costa Rica has to offer.

[Lester Moon Properties]
Exactly. Exactly. You know, like a sloth are everywhere and you can say you can you can tell people that, you know, like you don't have to go to the sloth sanctuary to see a two and three toed sloth.

And again, you know, it's the only thing we are missing. And I keep saying this, you know, is the beach. But we have the Arenal Lake, which is the biggest freshwater lake within Costa Rica.

And it's beautiful.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, no, definitely. I mean, I fished on it for years. It's great fishing.

So they do kite surfing on it and sailing. And yeah, it's great. I mean, how easy is it to buy and build in Arenal?

You know, because it's not as developed an area. I mean, how easy is it to buy land and build?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, yeah, let's start with, you know, buy land. I think it is a matter of. Just look for the right person to work with you.

Right. Somebody who speaks English doesn't have to be me. You know, like we have like very good people here, you know, working with me, colleagues.

Very good. But yeah, people, you know, who is professional, who know what he or she is doing. And also somebody who knows that the market, right, who knows who is local.

I think it's a good advice. And then I think we do things easy for buyers because we work up front asking sellers, you know, for documentation. And you know what I'm going to say, right?

Like water, water. That is a very important thing, you know, within the area. And, you know, that we have some areas with some issues, you know, for water, water.

Everything up to the waterfall has no water. Exactly. Like so water, electricity, soil use.

[Richard Bexon]

[Lester Moon Properties]
And then taxes and then taxes. And that's it. You know, but people, they just want to they want to sell, but they don't want, they don't want to go and get this document.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree. I still think it's very undeveloped real estate in our now. And I think that, you know, there are no real big players up there at the moment.

I mean, like, again, you've got Remax up there, but it's really not like, you know, it's not heavy, if that makes sense. Like there is nobody. And that's why I think, you know, what you're doing is pretty special, Lester, because I think that you're in a very unique spot in a very unique area of Costa Rica that is still has tons of opportunity, you know, while the beaches, some areas are reaching, you know, unseen levels per square meter and also in house prices, you know, as you said, that $50 a square meter an hour now, sometimes less, you know, I mean, I've seen stuff at $30 a square meter, you know, on good volcano view, but you have to do your due diligence because there are so many for sale signs up there where you call and they're like, no, no, no, it's got everything. And you're like, dude, you don't have a water letter from the Asada, you know, you haven't paid your taxes in how long. And as we know, you know, water is definitely key in this country.

So I mean, how's building an hour now?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, yeah, that is a second question. And I'm positive, you know, what I'm gonna say, like, it can be a nightmare, you know, for investors, if they again, if they don't look for the right builder, or contractor, because I would say, you know, my personal recommendation would be just look for a company, look for a serious company, you know, a constructor. A because yeah, they will help you, you know, with all the paperwork, employees, like, you don't have to worry about the employees.

If you don't speak Spanish, you know, it can be, you can be in big troubles. And of course, building everything, you know, they will take care of everything. But again, just make sure you know, it's a serious and reliable company.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree. Look, somebody told me the other day, I was in Eco Quintas, and they told me that they could build a house in three months. And I like literally laughed, like, there's no way you can build a house in three months, man.

Like, he's like, No, I'll do it. And he's a builder. He said he was a builder.

And I'm like, there's no way that you can build a house in three months. You know, a decent house, you cannot build a decent three, four bedroom house in three months.

[Lester Moon Properties]
Yeah, yeah. Starting, you know, that with the issue that, you know, like paperwork, all the all the permits, that depending on the municipality, if there is a municipality, like we don't have a municipality in La Fortuna, just for you guys to know, right? Like we have to go to Ciudad Quesada or San Carlos.

And then but yeah, I have to say this. They do things good. You know, our municipality, like the main issue in our area, believe it or not, it's water.

[Richard Bexon]
Right. And you've got tons of it. Like Arenal and La Fortuna has tons of water.

Like the Asada's there, like, Rich, we have an excess of water. I just went through it on one of the properties of putting all the piping and everything. And they were like, Rich, we have tons of water.

What we don't have is the infrastructure. And unfortunately, the infrastructure is developed by private individuals, not by the Asada itself. It doesn't get enough money.

So it's only when development comes along, does water infrastructure improve?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Exactly, exactly. And it's yeah, I would say, you know, I'm local. Yeah.

And I would say it's about a manejo, you know, manage of water, like, you know, like all these, you mentioned, you know, ecoquintas, that's.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, exactly. Well, I mean, I agree with you on the build, you know, I mean, just making sure, you know, it can be an absolute nightmare. I mean, we're cleaning up some build projects all over the country at the moment where it's just gone wrong, whereas, you know, in the end, they were just like, Rich, we should have just used you to begin with.

But let's, let's change gears here to Arenal. I mean, what types of properties do you think are missing in that area? Like, where's the opportunity, do you think?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Hey, I think we talked about that already. You know, it's my, let's say my industry is tourism, real estate. And I certainly think, you know, like, I manage two projects, Airbnb projects down here in the area.

And we are doing great with one of them, like really, really good. And guess you know what it is? It's a three bedroom house with an infinity pool.

Yep. With an amazing volcano view. Yep.

Not luxurious. And I'll send you the link so you can have a look of it. But yeah, you know, it's well managed.

Like we take care of clients, like we, we make them feel special. Yep. So, you know, that project will soon be the best three bedroom, not luxurious, you know, but three bedroom, like, like we charge $400, sometimes $500, $600 a night, you know, so.

Yeah. I certainly agree with you on, on, you know, like that we need luxurious three, four bedroom houses.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, it's coming Lester, I'm about to build three of them for you.

[Lester Moon Properties]
So yeah, yeah, please. I'll be around in case you need help. Thank you.

Thank you.

[Richard Bexon]
But I mean, you know, I mean, because again, I've got a client at the moment buying a three bedroom kind of small home, you know, you know, and they paid like $120,000 for $130,000. And the numbers are great, just even on that, because there just aren't that many good rentals in that area. And everything is full.

And the hotels are very, very expensive as well. You know, I mean, I paid 250 bucks a night to stay in a hotel. And it was terrible.

Like, I can't believe I paid 250 for that. Like it was it Yeah, I mean, I had it was more value for money at the beach. And I couldn't believe it.

Yeah, you know, but yeah, I mean, what are some of the you know, what are the what areas do you think people should be looking at in the La Fortuna area? You've mentioned Agua Azul, you've mentioned Del Castillo, you've mentioned the lake, like I've always called the lake kind of been the death, the death zone, Lester stuff just sits there for months, you know, especially now just doesn't move that much. But I mean, what are some of the areas that you still think have great value?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Okay. Yeah, let's keep water in mind. Right?

Because there are some very good listings up in Zeta 13. And you know that, or go where it's, you know, La Fortuna waterfall, but great listings, no water, not good prices, you know, like high prices. Yep.

And no water. Right. So keeping that in mind, I would say Agua Azul, you know, and you know that, right, like it became like very popular, like if you if you want to buy now, because you want to start building in three months, then yeah, let's do Agua Azul, Chachagua, you know, there's an area it's called San Rafael.

In Chachagua, where I have five listings, you know, I have three lots, it's a 3-1000 square meters a lot. And two bigger properties 3000-5000 with a couple of houses. It's a beautiful area, you know, it's a it's hidden.

It's very private. There's a river. There are a couple of lagoons, you know, it's a lot of birds, macaws, toucans, monkeys.

So yeah, I think I would say Agua Azul, Z13, you know, it's amazing volcano views. But again, you have to make sure where to buy. Ask for not only the water letter, not only that, just ask them like, hey, just ask for the meter.

[Richard Bexon]

[Lester Moon Properties]
You know, but but and of course, you know, La Fortuna downtown, La Fortuna downtown, depending on what you want to do, right? Like what you want to put your money in.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I agree.

Look, I think Agua Azul is beautiful. You know, Z13 prices are starting to go up a little bit there, of course, just especially stuff that has water availability letters or has water, just because again, you know, I mean, it's I had to pay a fortune to get water to my lot or to the lots. So I completely understand.

Yeah. And I think I was all Chachagua. I mean, Chachagua Lodge, a hotel in that area is absolutely killing it.

It's doing very, very well. It's kind of more of an authentic thing in Costa Rica, you know, rivers all around. And it's just really, really nice.

I mean, those guys have done very well. So I think, you know, a lot of the tourism is being dragged that way, which, you know, for a longer term play, I could constantly see that I could definitely see that being a good play. I mean, I think for short term, as you mentioned, if you just want to build Z13, Agua Azul, you know, those areas, I think is great.

I even think Monterrey is a great location as well. So. So, yeah.

I mean, what's your favorite listing you have, Lester, and why?

[Lester Moon Properties]
Yeah, you know, we we we were just talking about Agua Azul. Yeah. And you get you get to see, you know, last week, you know, that that property.

Yeah. And it is, you know, it's only. OK, I was going to say only 280k.

That's it's a lot of money. Right. But I think it's worth the money.

You know, it's these two thousand three hundred and thirteen square meters land with a volcano view, river, beautiful river, you know, and then these brand new a frame, a cabana, you know, with that with a really nice view. It is this there's there's a long story behind, you know, the property. I think I think we talked about it.

It was going to be a hotel like this cabana was going to be the reception. But but yeah, you know, it can easily end up being a guest house, you know, and then you build the main house if you want it, you know, for living. And then if you want to to to build, you know, a boutique hotel, then you can just continue with what these guys started.

But I would say, yeah, you know, that two thousand three hundred and thirteen square meters a lot, you know, with a frame cabana with volcano view, the river. It's my favorite listings. And I'm positive, you know, we'll sell it soon.

[Richard Bexon]
I'm sure. I'm sure. I mean, again, it touches public roads.

You could probably build up to what, 60, 70 percent on it as well. You know, and it's just a great location. You can walk into town.

There's the glamping restaurants close by. It's very close to town. So, yeah, I agree.

I agree. And lots more room to expand there as well. So my last question for you, Lester, as I've kept you long enough, but I'd love to ask everyone if you inherited five hundred thousand dollars, OK, you had to invest it into a business or real estate in Costa Rica.

What would you invest it in and why?

[Lester Moon Properties]
OK, again, you know, tourism, that's what I do. And I would say one hundred K, you know, in case something happened. But I will invest four hundred K in a house, you know, like I would buy somewhere.

And that's what I want to do. And that's my plan, you know, because that's that's what I do for a living. And I love it.

So it's, you know, just going by a lot, you know, volcano view, eighty thousand, ninety thousand, one hundred thousand built a two hundred square meters, a house, you know, three bedrooms, right, to have good spaces, you know, like a big living room, nice kitchen. And then, of course, like a nice pool, do some really nice landscaping. And and of course, all the appliances, you know, I think I was making some numbers, you know, I think I can do it with four hundred K.

And I think the return and I'm positive, you know, I can do this. The return of investment for these four hundred K property will be five years, you know, like you can make you can make a net income for the first year of fifty five thousand dollars and end up, you know, for the fifth year on a one hundred K a net income, you know, on it. Of course, you know, it's it's difficult, right?

Like you have to work hard. Yeah. Right.

In from the beginning, you know, it's not only when you have the house, you know, it's from the beginning. Like, again, look for the right property. Don't pay too much.

Look for a good constructor. Yeah. Right.

And then, yeah, once you have everything, you know, the pool, once you have everything is all set up, then, yeah, then customer service is do your best, you know, one hundred ten percent for your clients and then you'll do good. And, yeah, you know, in five years that house, you know, it'll be your it'll be yours.

[Richard Bexon]
And we'll also appreciate it in value as well.

[Lester Moon Properties]
So it will acquire capital gain, you know.

[Richard Bexon]

[Lester Moon Properties]

[Richard Bexon]
Definitely. So, yeah, that's a great answer, dude. I mean, it's I mean, you stick to what you know and you know that you know that very well.

And, you know, now has very, very strong numbers. I mean, there are properties in our now, you know, doing two or three hundred thousand dollars in revenue per year. I don't know what that looks like to the bottom line, but there are properties doing very, very well.

[Lester Moon Properties]
But yeah. Yeah.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. Well, Lester, thank you very, very much for taking the time to join us on the podcast. For anyone that wants to reach out to Lester, all of his contact details are in the description.

But thank you very much, sir.

[Lester Moon Properties]
Thank you very much for inviting me. And thanks for everybody. OK, thanks.

Let's Get in Touch!

Lester Ruiz, a Broker for Moon Properties in Arenal, and I chat about what's happening there, the opportunities available, and what to look out for when investing in this area. Lester tells us about his investments in vacation rentals and the returns you can expect.

Free Consultation:

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