Nicaragua is fast becoming one of the best options for international investment, both for internal and global situations. Diversity and vastness are its main features, besides its really low prices, compared to the global market.
When comparing a property in Europe, with another one with exactly the same features in Latin America, we can talk about prices differences that range from four, six, or even ten times cheaper. For example, a two bedrooms apartment in London costs about US$600,000, while a similar one in Granada, is around US$90,000.
In the long term, terrorism and environmental issues are just some of the reasons to see the whole of Latin America as one of the most safe and sustainable resources in the world.
The Prices for Property in Nicaragua
Property prices in developed countries can’t grow forever. They are more likely to stabilise, if not, to drop after the well known “real estate bubble” bursts.
On the other hand, in Latin America property prices have just started to react to the increase of demand. Despite circumstantial economic ups and downs, price tendencies are definitively on the raise.
Profits for Nicaragua Properties
The average rental yield for a property in Nicaragua is about 10% to 12% a year, over the value of the property, for permanent rentals. For holiday rentals, it may vary, depending on the area the property is located and the demand it faces in a particular period of time. It is commonly higher, but seasonal variations it make it harder to estimate average profits.
In case you need more information or have doubts on any of these issues, the specialised staff in January First Real Estate will be glad to answer all your questions, click here.
Buying Real Estate in Nicaragua
A tidal wave of foreign real estate buying is poised to transform the prospects of Nicaragua (pop. 5.7 million, GDP/cap US$906). Due to the effects of civil war, natural calamities and probably bad luck, it is still one of the poorest countries in Latin America.
The real estate market boom of Costa Rica has spilled over to its northern neighbour. By moving 45 minutes across the border to Nicaragua, buyers get pristine beaches at 1/5 the cost, similar (good) infrastructure, relative political stability and a low crime rate, and a more diverse culture.
In the North, around Chinandega, the beaches are great and prices very substantially lower. Other attractions are the fine historic colonial towns of Granada and Leon.
The Costa Rica market is completely saturated. Nicaragua is only 45 miles from Costa Rica. The price difference is 1,000%. You can buy the same lot there for US$300,000 that you can buy in Costa Rica for US$3 million.
The Nicaraguan market is still very new, while Costa Rica has been in business for the last 20 years.
Nevertheless, those who came early were lucky. In the last 10 years there has been an 800% increase in prices in Nicaragua. In the past 5 years the increase has been 4-500%.
San Juan del Sur
The core of the ‘new boom’ is San Juan del Sur, a small surfer’s town across the border from Costa Rica that is now full of property speculators. It has a series of ten beaches and has attracted many developments, such as Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge.
The buyers are mostly investors. Plus there are a lot of higher-end executive-type surfers.
Nearby are the beaches of the province of Tola, where seven developers are putting in around $500 million each. And further up the coast is Montelimar, host to big developments such as Barcelo Montelimar.
There is a boom in the Tola region, and that’s where the highest return on investment (ROI) is. You pay around US$150-200 per sq. mt. for beach front property, and then US$60-80 for Ocean View. A golf course 200 m from the beach will be US$75 sq. mt.
Charmingly colonial Granada
Granada is Nicaragua’s premier tourist destination, and 80% of all visitors come to Granada. The third largest city, it sits along the shores of Lake Managua, and is close to the capital Managua (45 minutes by road), and also only seven minutes away from one of the crater lakes, Laguna de Apollo.
Tourists are attracted to Granada’s extensive colonial area with around 850 intact colonial houses. These are large, one-story properties with charming arches round an internal patio.
A normal ‘full’ colonial (i.e., the covered arches fully encircle the internal patio) has a footprint of 500 sq. m..
If you buy a colonial shell, you will have to look for the proportions, the roof tiles. You will also have to rewire, redo the plumbing, re-roof, knock down a lot of walls. Nicaraguans tend to build out onto the patio and the courtyards, and the foreigners knock them all down.
Unrefurbished colonial houses sell for from US$30,000-US$350,000. A refurbished ‘one patio colonial’ rents for US$2,000/month in peak season, US$1,000/month at other times.
There are rarely empties, since the tourist demand for this exotic colonial experience is very strong.
Two years ago refurbished buildings were not available, but now there are an increasing number. Prices have risen, for un- remodeled houses, at least 25% a year.
Nicaragua's ‘local’ property market has also been doing well recently. Industry is growing fast in the textile-producing free zones around Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, in preparation for the entry into force of the agreement in March 2007 of the recently signed Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), which is already having a major impact on Nicaragua.
Foreigners are coming
Foreigners can freely buy properties in Nicaragua, except for certain beach front properties. Under the Maritime Zone Law, the first 200 meters of land from high tide zone belongs to the state (but this land can usually be leaded on a 99-year lease, which is likely to be renewed). The first 50 meters are considered public terrain and cannot be developed. The next 150 meters can be developed privately through concessions from the municipal authorities.
There are a lot of new residential houses in Managua. Many of those living outside the US are buying. Unlike other capital cities in the region, Managua retains a spacious, low-key, pleasant feeling.
To encourage foreign investments, the government passed Law 306 that gives a 10-year tax exemption from income and real estate taxes. There are about 6,000 American expatriates and retirees living in Nicaragua, and the number is rising.
However real estate practice and the supporting institutions are still underdeveloped. Most purchases are cash transactions with the buyer and seller directly negotiating. And beware - determining who exactly the owner of a property is can be difficult.
Generally, properties that changed ownership during the communist Sandinista regime in the 1980s should be avoided. The Sandinista nationalized several land areas and converted them to cooperatives during their rule that ended in 1990.