Published On: Sun, May 17th, 2020

REAL ESTATE’S FUTURE IN SAN MIGUEL

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I’ve always been a big fan of real estate as a savings strategy.  Stocks can literally disappear overnight, but even when a home’s price tumbles you’ve still got the home itself to enjoy.

With the plague, hopefully, wrapping up I advised my kids to stop renting an hour outside their city’s center and buy a discounted place downtown where they work and folks are anxious to now leave to achieve greater social distancing. I wondered if the same could be true of San Miguel?

Heaven knows we’ve some lovely areas surrounding the hamlet but will foreign buyers be interested?

I consulted our top real estate sales person, Greg Gunter, who feels foreigners will forever love our European-village concept of walking distance.  “Any home within a 15-minute walk of the Jardin still gets the most attention, highest prices, better appreciation and better protection from value loss, post-recession.” Greg states.

For example, homes and lots are bigger and cheaper in Atascadero, but it is a harder places to live.  There are few tiendas and though the walk down into centro is easy, getting a taxi to take you home can be difficult.  Drivers don’t want to go all the way up there as they won’t find riders to join them back into town.

On the opposite end of the economic scale from taxis is how Greg explained to me there is roughly one seven-figure sale every 18 months in Atascadero.  In 2019 there were 11 seven-figure sales with 9 being in centro.  Even when money is no object, the objective is to be in centro.

Safety is a factor here and in exchange for social distancing my foreign pals that do live in the country tend to have their staff also living on site and never venture out after sunset.  Even those in distant gated communities tend to not want to drive at night, find parking on the weekends and such thus eventually limiting their activities to only those close to home.  A pity when such a vibrant city is nearby.

Those that do enjoy life in countryside’s gated communities are the tourism bread and butter of San Miguel, the uber-wealthy from Mexico City.  However, those homes can be a tough re-sale as the seller needs a buyer that likes both their home and the community’s focus on horses, wine, golf, helicopter pads or whatever.

Probably the best, less expensive, investments are the in centro, or close by, condo communities.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of buying anything with HOA (Home Owner Association) fees as they whittle away your profits.  Better to buy a small house in the best area and update the place down the road.

However, it is hard to argue with the success of Capilla de Piedra.  That’s the large condo community that looms over centro bordering between Santo Domingo and La Palmita.  Many foreigners don’t appreciate the aesthetics, but who does are Mexican City folks.  Here’s a community featuring new, with centro or tree-lined views, breezes and security.  They are the perfect pied-à-terre for Mexico City folks to safely park and then gambol downhill for dinner and shopping.

I think the success of Capilla de Peidra bodes well for the developer’s sister project by the new Zeferino Gutierrez Park.  Well, with one important caveat.

The municipality predicts it will take 6 years for real estate to reach pre-plague prices.  Who knows if that is true?  It’s been twelve years since that last recession in 2008 and my neighborhood’s pricing never came back to that.  Real estate is a tough muse to predict.

I do feel once the new normal kicks in, so will Mexicans.   Our target audience of the uber-wealthy from Mexico City will come back to dine, dance and shop as the virus is just another blip on the culture’s long history of overcoming adversity with a certain grace.  We foreigners are more fearful as a culture, and may stick to camping in our own back yard for some time to come.

Plus the biggest unknown for foreign tourism, and the corresponding real estate buying, is the airlines.  How often and how much their flights will be are probably the biggest hurdles in attracting foreign tourism as not everybody can drive down from Texas.

by Joseph Toone



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