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Making money in paradise





Investors looking for opportunities in Mexico have no shortage of choices, but an unconventionally located option on the country’s left coast is one of the most exciting to come along in some time.

With Acapulco a ghost of its former self and Puerto Vallarta forever struggling to achieve something more than third- or fourth-option status from travellers, investors looking for upscale vacation rentals south of the Rio Grande can be forgiven for ignoring Mexico’s west coast. But the country’s Pacific seaboard is dotted with charming and culturally rich resort towns, many of which are a short flight from Mexico City.

400 km south of Acapulco lies Puerto Escondido, one of western Mexico’s most popular destinations for both surfers, who flock year-round to the hulking turquoise waves; foodies, who have come to regard the region as one of Mexico’s culinary holy grails; and families, who can locate some form of enjoyment around every corner.

But Canadians, investors and travellers alike, have come to expect levels of service, class and comfort from their Mexican digs that most Puerto Escondido-based hotels and resorts simply can’t deliver. To find the amenities, style and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of a prime vacation rental opportunity, a short drive up the Emerald Coast to Vivo Resorts will most definitely be in order.

Vivo Resorts, the brainchild of Canadian Olympic skier Cary Mullen, is a 75-acre gated community of luxury condos and private homes facing the endless blue of the Pacific. By early 2019, Vivo Resorts will be home to 200 condo units and 14 sprawling private homes, but that’s just the beginning. At full build-out, Vivo is projected to consist of 600 condos, 114 private homes, a pedestrian esplanade and a broad mix of shopping options.

It’s an ambitious project for an area of Mexico that is just starting to garner wider appreciation, but confidence runs high at Vivo. And why shouldn’t it? Most of the completed units have already been sold (construction on new buildings doesn’t begin until 75% of the units have been spoken for) and occupancy rates during peak season are delectably high.

It’s not hard to see why. Vivo Resorts provides guests an exquisite resort experience. Mouth-watering meals are lovingly assembled using locally-sourced ingredients. Two immaculate pools, one for the kids, one for the grown-ups, provide ample relief from the heat. The sunsets are hallucinogenic; the beach endless. The on-site activities range from relaxing (yoga sessions, spa treatments, children’s cooking classes) to the life-changing (releasing baby sea turtles into the wild) and those taking place nearby, including sport fishing excursions, sea safaris and nighttime visits to bioluminescent lagoons, add a dose of wonder to any vacation.

Getting in

Investors have a range of options for capitalizing on the growing interest in Vivo Resorts. Condos range from spacious studios to astonishing two-storey units, all fully furnished and impeccably decorated. Prices start at a mere USD $219,000, but those looking for more space should prepare to spend at least $375,900 for just under 1,100 square feet.

Vivo Resorts’ private villas should also be attractive to Canadians tired of paying exorbitant prices for sub-optimal detached homes. Custom-built beach homes at Vivo start at USD $140 per square foot. A the upper end of the spectrum, investors can land a fully furnished 3,000 sq. ft. palace with a pool, parking, UV water treatment system and fresh water cistern for USD $478,000 (plus the price for the home site). But options are available for almost any budget.

Vivo Resorts offers owners who place their units into the rental pool a generous 70-30 split, taking over all marketing, maintenance and cleaning burdens. Nightly rates range from $140 (mountain view studio) to $380 (private villa) a night during the regular season, but they skyrocket to a range of $225 to $1,200 around New Year. If a 1-bedroom ocean view unit that rents for $172 a night in regular season was occupied for 60 days out of the year – a fairly low threshold to cross – its owner would be looking at approximately $7,200 in rental income.

Investors with experience casing the Mexican market know that owning properties near the shoreline can be tricky for non-Mexicans. But recent changes to Mexican law allows foreigners to purchase properties through a Mexican Corporate Trust. Purchasing property through a Corporate Trust not only allows a foreign owner to use, improve, lease and sell the property, it also results in lower closing costs and frees the owner from having to obtain an FM3 work visa in order to legally collect rental income.

And as Vivo Resorts increases its profile, that rental income is sure to increase as well. Mexico is still a first-choice for many North and South American travellers, and those wanting something more than a noisy, crowded week in Cancun are sure to find in Vivo the idyllic escape they spend the year dreaming of.

 “We have people living here full time. I see their lives and I envy them,” says Paris Cendejas Villar, Vivo Resorts’ director of sales and marketing. “They wake up in the morning, they’re having a coffee on their terrace, they go down to the pool with their computers and they’re running their businesses. They’re making money in paradise, and I’m like, ‘That’s what I call a life.’”

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate


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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place. HomeYou’ve been selected.Only $1.49/week for your first 4 months.Special offer just for you. Unlimited access.

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10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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A Simplified Guide for Toronto First-Time Home Buyers





Toronto is the largest city in Canada, the fourth largest city in North America, which makes it an exciting place to live in.

But as with other major cities, finding the perfect place to move to can get tricky. If you’re planning on buying a home for the first time in this city, it is indeed a big decision and there are things you should know in advance.

Don’t worry, this guide will help explain the basics of what you as a buyer should know when you decide to buy a home. It will make you feel like a true expert during the buying process.

Decide what type of home you are looking for

There is no right answer to what makes a good home. It all depends on your preferences and needs as the resident. It is, therefore, a good idea to determine as early as possible which features of a home are important to you. If you are buying a home and moving in with someone, it can be a good idea for both of you to make a list and compare.

Toronto is a city that offers different styles of living accommodations and its neighborhoods are quite versatile and diverse, same as the people living there who come from all parts of the world.

The most common forms of housing and real estate opportunities in this city include bungalows, two-storey houses, split-level homes, and the very popular Toronto condos. Due to the high property values, the city boasts of construction of many condominiums as they are a more cost-efficient choice and provide a plethora of benefits.

When you decide on the type of home you want to buy, it is good to do some research and learn the biggest differences between them.

What to think of when choosing homes in Toronto

There are certain things you need to consider when choosing your home in this city. 

Being close to the things you need to visit every day makes life a lot easier. Pay attention to the proximity to shops, preschools, schools, and your job. In addition, access to good public transportation is crucial. Being able to move around the city easily and the opportunity to commute is important to many.

Know that having a balcony can significantly increase the value of your home and improve your well-being. Being able to move easily in the area is something that many people underestimate, but can be very convenient, and this is why you should see if there are good cycles and walking paths. 

And finally, make sure that the house is well designed which is a quality that does not disappear with the age of the house or with renovations. 

Set your budget

Before you start the search for your new home, you must know how expensive of a home you can buy. It is preferable to know in what price range to look for. The budget is usually decided based on your mortgage and how large are the monthly costs you can handle.

A mortgage is always about a balance between risk and income for the bank. The higher the risk for the bank to lend to a particular home, the more expensive the mortgage will be. When it comes to the bank’s reasoning when applying for a loan, it is in principle always a question of whether you as a borrower will be able to repay the mortgage.

The bank also takes into account your financial history. If you are a person who has managed your finances well, the chance increases that you will get your mortgage approved. If, on the other hand, you have a bad reputation with banks, it is weighed in as an aggravating circumstance.

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