Thursday, July 17, 2008

Searching for another place with a view

I have lived in Puerto Rico for 9 months now and could not imagine I would get into a culture shock looking for a dwelling. After all I have already rented 4 of them here - and in the last two cases - one in Aguada and one in the mountains over Patillas - both me and my landlords were satisfied with our mutual agreements.

Now I am soon to start a new assignment with my new office located in south Mayaguez. A "bit" far for a daily commute from Patillas, so, after getting back from the States last Saturday, I drove to the West Coast on Monday to search for a place in the area of Cabo Rojo (Joyuda, Boqueron). I did a search on classificados, contacted a couple of brokers, made appointments and spent three days looking for places.

There is no shortage of suitable dwellings. Lots of condos on the beach are for sale and rent - the sales and rents are down and new condos are under construction. Typical buyer's market you would think.
I found several condos I liked and made some offers - reasonable, even generous in my opinion, though a bit lower than asking price -but no more than 10-15% lower even though in the USA - as I read - 25% lower bids are now the norm . To my astonishment not a single one was accepted!
If they agreed on price they tried to hike up terms (like the length of time, size of deposit, etc).

I wonder, are owners of condos in Cabo Rojo not aware of the current economic situation?
Are they unaware that their apartments were left empty during the summer season (which in that area of Puerto Rico IS the high season)?
Would they rather have them empty through the remainder of the year than accept a price a bit more realistic that the one they dream of getting?
Is there some aspect of culture that make them unable to count and be realistic?

I wonder... is there a cultural divide between north and south of Mayaguez?
Or, perhaps, in Rincon, Aguada, Aguadilla, Isabella etc. landlords are used to renting to foreigners, while Caborojans rent mostly to vacationing Sanjuanero families, not to "gringos", so my "no-nonsense" and "to the point" negotiating style seems too culturally shocking to them?

Well, I hired a broker to help me with that and do the actual negotiating. Perhaps I need to switch a broker....

Anyway, I decided so far to move back to my old place in Aquada, so I don't have to drive from Patillas to see any condo and don't have to appear to be in a hurry to close any deal.
Wish me luck in finding a reasonable landlord in Cabo Rojo - and a broker skillful in culturally appropriate negotiating .


Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

Once you get settled in we would love to have you over for lunch some time.

Good Luck.


Minerva said...

Oh, how lovely! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Minerva, as a landlord of an ocean-view condo in Ceiba, I can tell you that the rent I ask is down 20% from 2 years ago and I still have had trouble getting good tenants, even though I would lower the rent by another 10% for a one-year lease when my current tenant moves. Because like you said, better to have it rented low than not at all. Landlords on the west coast may have already adjusted the price to the economic situation and that's why they're reluctant to go down from there. I know you are not a long-term person, but a landlord is much more willing to lower the price for a lease. You are persistent and I have no doubt you will get the beautiful place you seek, and on your terms! 
On another subject, have they completed the highway project between Patillas and the 52/Ponce? My husband and I will be retiring (from California) to that area in 2 years (time will fly) and hope to have decent access to the west coast eventually! BTW, I love to read about your merry-go-round and see your neat photos! - Fran (of fran and steve)

Minerva said...

Fran, as for the highway, construction is still taking place and near Ponce 52 was a parking lot for at least half an hour anytime I drove it recently, due to said construction. But in two years they should ? be ready ??
Let's hope so.
As for prices in Cabo Rojo: I don't believe they are already adjusted - just like the prices of the new condos for sale are not adjusted - new construction benefitted somewhat from the $25000 incentives, with the prices artificially blown up... and, sadly, a lot of very bad floorplans, cutting corners everywhere. Sad, sad, sad. The only thing worth paying for is the view - if there is a view. Also, Puerto Rico is not a year round destination: Rincon seems dead right now - it is their low season, but so does Cabo Rojo - and it's their high! I have seen Cabo Rojo in winter - deader than dead. Nice if you want to be alone and have a beach to yourself, but socially not very enticing - not much to do, nobody to do nothing with :-)... while rental and sales prices suggest St Tropez... or at least Magens Bay area on St Thomas in high season!

Anonymous said...

Your description of the traffic on the Guayama/Ponce highway sounds EXACTLY like the experience we had the last time we used it -- which was July 2004. So, it may be one of those projects that get completed "maybe in my lifetime". LOL, what else can one do. Fran

Minerva said...

Fran, I would be more hopeful. The trafic flows except for this one point and 1) I have seen people working there 2) there is no delay on the way from West Coast to Patillas, so it seems like this is the last part they are finishing.