As I get ready for trees to go bare…birds to fall silent…and the oncoming winter…there is no better image to sustain me until my next trip than my favorite Caribbean scene.
Turquoise waters wash empty white-sand beach. Palm trees sway and rustle in the breeze. These sands haven’t been manicured or manufactured. They sit the way nature sculpted them… littered with coconuts. A hammock in the shade is for afternoon dozing. Friends gather for cold drinks at sunset at one of the brightly painted buildings that cluster on one part of the beach. The locals beam with the joy of life.
Scenes like this are usually hard to get to and far from any big city. But when this type of place becomes easier to get to—that’s when something big is going to happen. Vacationers and second home owners will come. Real estate prices will rise.
This is a classic Path of Progress play. (One of the big trends I follow at Real Estate Trend Alert). A place of outstanding natural beauty that was difficult to get to becomes accessible because of new roads, bridges or flight routes.
It happened on the Bay Island of Roatan 20+ years ago when direct flights started coming from the U.S. First, this stunning Caribbean Island was discovered by adventurers and pioneers. Word got out. The airlines came in. The rest is history. Real estate prices went through the roof. Back then you could have bought lots right on the beach, or perched on a bluff overlooking the turquoise waters, for $25,000. Today you need to add a zero to that number to buy a prime lot.
When I close my eyes to visit my Caribbean idyll (although this stretch of coast is technically the Atlantic) I find myself in Las Terrenas on the Dominican Republic’s Samana peninsula.
In this area there is a total of 19 miles of beach interrupted only by a couple of rocky points. It’s all walkable, and public. The beaches don’t run in a straight line. They weave their way along and around. It’s difficult not to walk for hours. Always wondering what’s around the next corner. Each twist and turn opens up a more stunning vista.
When the first visitors came over the hills on donkey back a couple of decades ago all they found was colorful beachfront fishermen’s huts. Today these huts are French and Italian restaurants. You can get great coffee and gelato. Pizza and lobster ravioli. Here it’s bustling. On the edge of town you’ll find boutique hotels and restaurants that serve freshly grilled seafood on the beach.
This area has largely been overlooked by North Americans.
That’s set to change. Here’s why:
These are the best Caribbean real estate values I have seen. An established infrastructure of everything you need or want.
Now a new road has made it more accessible to the capital, Santa Domingo. New flights are coming to the El Catay airport 20 minutes away from JFK and Toronto. Even before the improved connectivity with North America, because development here has been limited, there was a shortage of short- and long-term rentals. Because the rental market is strong, you could visit several times a year, rent out your home when you aren’t using it, and still generate a rental income of up to 8%.
Go back even two years ago and Las Terrenas was difficult to get to. In particular the final stretch. This was was a steep climb into the hills, on a curving, narrow, badly lit road. There were no barriers. The steep drop down to the bay made for a jaw dropping view but a slow drive.
The new highway cuts out the mountain route. It also cuts the drive time from Santo Domingo to an hour and 45 minutes. The stunning Las Terrenas and Samana peninsula is now easy to get to from an international airport.
This area fees like its own separate piece of paradise floating off the main island. But because it is attached to the Dominican Republic you don’t have the downsides of living on a smaller Caribbean island. Here you have everything you need. And you don’t pay “island” prices.
Development has been tightly restricted. There’s no high rise. Outside of town there’s a couple of larger all-inclusive hotels. That’s it. Everything else is boutique. It will stay that way. Here, they don’t want to go down the mass-market road. Expats and locals don’t want it. They want boutique development that will keep Las Terrenas as it is. Idyllic.
As I said…the real estate values here are the best I have seen anywhere in the Caribbean. Particularly if you have the inside track on how to get the deals. You could buy a small studio condo of 600 square feet minutes from the beach for $85,000.
You don’t have to break the bank to buy a spacious home in an upscale community, either. This week I told members of Real Estate Trend Alert about a way to buy a charming home, just back from the beach for $160,000…a $50,000 discount on what a bank valued, and what the house next door sold for.
This is an established community set in lush gardens with its own pool area. It’s close to everything but still feels very private.
This home is just under 1,300 square feet. Upstairs there are two big bedrooms and a mezzanine office area. You can dine al fresco in the covered terrace.
Editor’s Note: Ronan McMahon is a director of Pathfinder, IL’s preferred real estate advertiser. You can read more real estate articles here.