Market Watch 

Coastal Ecuador is a Buy Today—Prices Are Already Rising

Coastal Ecuador is a Buy Today—Prices Are Already Rising

A modern, two-bedroom condo on this Pacific coast lists for $89,000. Infrastructure improvements have already begun to drive prices up. © Hugo Ghiara

Right now it feels like civilization has forgotten about this place. It’s the coast of Ecuador, running from north of Canoa to Pedernales. One of the last stunning and undiscovered stretches of Pacific coast in the Americas, it is now set to be developed. And if you are interested in buying best-in-class real estate at deep, early-in values, this is a stretch of coast that should be on your radar.

You haven’t missed out just yet.”

Cutting your way through the undergrowth here, you’ll hear roaring howler monkeys and exotic birds and see butterflies fluttering through the slivers of light. It’s hard to believe that, a short hike and drive back down the trail, the sights and sounds are of new highway construction.

It’s also hard to believe it’s still possible to buy oceanfront land like this for as little as $2,000 to $3,000 an acre. And even more difficult to believe that a 960-square-foot, sea-view condo, in a community perched around a sandy cove, is yours for just $89,000.

These prices won’t last long. It’s simple, really. Take a stunningly beautiful place that’s difficult to access. Make it easy to get to. And, hey presto, real-estate values rise.

Betting on new infrastructure projects can be notoriously risky. I’ve had government ministers assure me work is going to start “next month” on a project that, five years on, looks like a past political pipedream. Frontier markets can be corrupt, with funds earmarked for major projects ending up in government officials’ bank accounts.

But on Ecuador’s coast the infrastructure is all but complete. The development and amenities that go with this are coming. You’ll see sharp-looking resort master-planners and golf-course designers at roadside truck stops (where you’ll also pick up delicious prawn curry for just $2.50, my favorite meal when I’m here). And the pioneer window of opportunity is set to close.

When I first started scouting this coast five years ago, the journey was a multi-stage affair. My afternoon flight got me to Manta in time for some meetings and an early night at the Howard Johnson Inn.

The next morning was a 5 a.m. start and a rush to get to Bahía before lines gathered for the ferry. Some days I sat there for four hours. At San Vincente, on the other side, we were greeted with clutter, mud, and chaos before getting onto the highway that brings you to the beach town of Canoa.

And the road north from there was a real mess. Flat-brown surface water hid massive craters in the road. In the rainy season parts were impassible. Travel 20 miles in an hour and you were doing well. Back then this was the most direct route. Even though this is the closest beach area to the capital, Quito, you wouldn’t have dreamt of attempting to drive from there. That journey was a seven- to nine-hour drive. Today, it takes just three-and-a-half hours on a new highway from Quito to the coast.

You can drive along an almost-complete, smooth new highway south to Bahía. Instead of waiting for a ferry, you cross a sleek new bridge. And the route along the coast has also opened up, making the stretch of coast around Jama to Bahía, with its shopping, conveniences, and new cinema, easily accessible.

Big-time (and small-time) developers from Quito, the U.S., Canada, and Europe are lining up projects. Prices have already started to rise. Members of my Real Estate Trend Alert could buy 1,700-square-foot, ocean-view homes in the best-in-class project here from $114,000 three years ago. They sold out fast, with the last one selling for $144,000. Still a killer price… less than your construction costs alone in many places on my beat. Now resales are being listed for much more.

You haven’t missed out, though—not yet, anyway. Now might just be the best time to get in. The infrastructure is there. The risks are much less than when foundations for a new road were being laid. Weather, a change of government, or drying-up of funds could have washed them away. Thankfully, they didn’t.

***Ronan McMahon gets around. And when he isn’t scouting for Pathfinder, IL’s preferred real-estate advertising partner, he’s heading up the Real Estate Trend Alert.

Editor’s Note: This article was taken from a past issue of International Living’s monthly magazine. To get full access to all past and future articles and to receive the magazine in the mail or online each month, simply click on the below button to subscribe to International Living magazine at the special introductory price of $49. You will get instant access to the current issue of the magazine as well 10 years of back issues. As an added bonus, we will also send you a FREE report – How to Retire in Paradise on $30 a Day. (You can cancel your subscription at any time.)

 

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