Jacó - Esterillos, Real Estate

Development in Jacó began earlier than in Tamarindo, though the latter has now more or less caught up. Real estate brokers estimate that the frenzy of condominium, resort, and condotel development will put about 2,000 new units on the market over the next few years. Of course, as with any real estate development, some of the proposed projects may never get built, especially considering the current woes of the global economy. It’s something to look into before buying anything pre-sale in Jacó or anywhere in the country. Overall, however, the message is that Jacó and its surrounding areas will keep growing, though maybe not as quickly.

Central Jacó changes constantly, with new shops, strip malls, condos and restaurants popping up almost monthly. A new shopping mall was completed in 2007 and the area has a couple of large supermarkets (Automercado in Herradura and Mas Por Menos in downtown Jacó) that are stocked with both Costa Rican and high-end imported products.

Consumers can get almost everything in the Jacó area, from foodstuffs to building materials, though a trip to San José may still be needed for certain furnishings or clothes other than beachwear.

Not surprisingly, the community is divided according to price range. Central Jacó has become very expensive, with its titled, beachfront land going for well over $1,000 per square meter in many cases. The priciest land is dedicated to condominiums and tourism real estate. Realtor Jeff Fisher estimates that about 80% of people coming to buy real estate in the area are looking for condos. Even though condo construction has proceeded at a frenzied pace, most projects are still sold out even before they complete construction.

Many of the expatriate residents of the area are involved in the real estate business in some way, whether developing, selling, marketing, or building. Many of the area’s developers, however, don’t live in the Jacó area. Other expatriates work in the tourist industry, managing hotels and beachfront cabins or restaurants and clubs.

Of course, plenty of Ticos are also involved in the real estate and tourism businesses, working as real estate lawyers, developers, construction workers, electricians, plumbers, waiters, and receptionists. The importance of tourism to the area means there is plenty of English spoken. Tico residents who work in the service industry mostly live in the small villages around Jacó such as Tarcoles, as well as those on the main road just outside Jacó.

As the condotels and resorts start to open, the added community dynamic of even more tourists and mid-term residents (those who may stay for a month or two) should increase.

Like many beach spots popular with foreign men past their prime, Jacó is a happening place to find a prostitute.

The luxury Los Sueños resort in Herradura is what put Costa Rica on the map for many North American luxury travelers. It’s a place of firsts. It has the first modern marina for sport fishing and yachts, and it was the first high-end resort in the area aimed at foreigners. It’s home to the first five-star hotel in the area, as well as the first mixed-used resort that combines condo ownership with hotel services.

Its success is partly responsible for Jacó’s current development frenzy. Plenty of international hotel brands are teaming up with investors, such as Sonesta, St. Regis and Ramada, to get their share of the area’s popularity with holidaymakers. (It should be noted again, however, that the difficulties in the global financial markets have caused several projects to be put on hold.)

One development group building a large name for itself in Jacó but targeting the middle of the market is the Daystar development group, which has seven condominium towers either built or under construction and on prime, beachfront property. Their concept is vacation condominiums owned by individuals and rented out for a second income for most of the year, with some communal amenities. Despite their constant construction, Daystar remains perpetually sold out, so if you want one of their condos you would probably have to contact a broker.

Resort community investment is going full steam ahead all along the highway that links Jacó with Manuel Antonio. In this part of Costa Rica, developers hold little interest in the existing villages without titled beachfront property and instead build their own gated communities on the vast tracts of former farmland.

Hermosa, about 10 minutes south of Jacó, has a completely different feel to it than the rest of the area. Unlike Jacó, it has remained a low-key village popular mainly with surfers. A number of expatriates live in the area, running hotels or just enjoying a quieter life. The village itself hasn’t yet been caught up in the condo boom. Surfers apparently aren’t too worried about where they sleep, as long as they have enough money for sex wax and beer. Expensive rooms there are probably a difficult sell.

Nevertheless, more building is underway on the land behind the beach that rises steeply into areas of dense woodland. In that area, those projects are appealing to buyers seeking ocean views rather than the Jacó party scene.

At the moment, the Central Pacific remains a vacation spot rather than a place to relocate. Limited access to hospitals and private schools turns off families and retirees. With the new highway in place, however, there will be less need for these services locally, as those in the Central Valley will be more accessible.

A little further south from Herradura lies Esterillos Oeste (west) and Esterillos Este (east). The beach here is not so nice and the currents really strong, but many Ticoshave vacation homes along here, and there are a smattering of hotels as well. Developers supposedly have some large projects they are launching in this area, including a golf course.

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