We interviewed Steve Riley in late August 2008, here’s what he told us:

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One of my goals is to list properties at Tico prices, not North American prices. We provide some of the lowest priced land per square meter of any real estate office in the Central Valley.

I am able to list a Tico farm by using Ticos to negotiate our listings. The listing agent, Puli, has a dozen area agents that work in their particular locale. All of our agents are workers in coffee/citrus farms that live in the area and visit with the other farm workers and neighbors.

When an area agent finds a farm that may be for sale, he contacts Puli. Puli will then make an appointment with the landowners to discuss similar properties in the area and the prices at which they sold. All properties receive a title search in the National Registry to check for any property liens, second notes and clear title. If the seller insists on listing at a ridiculously high price, we refuse the listing.

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My primary market has been selling coffee/citrus farms to North Americans and Europeans for retirement properties. Around 95% of my property sales are farms without structures. If a home is on the property, the seller wants maximum price for the home and land. Nearly all structures are “tear downs” and of little use to the purchaser, so why buy land with structures?

The problem with purchasing a structure is that Ticos do not use space the same way as expats use space. Their rooms tend to be very small, low ceilings, few wall plugs, under sized electrical wiring and not accommodating to our furniture or life styles. I recommend that clients buy raw land and build the home they want, instead of settling for the home of someone else.

By Costa Rican law, Engineering and Home Design Services cost 10.5% of the end product. However, sometimes discounts are made available when they undervalue the home by 40%. This is not a practise that we would encourage but it does happen and the end cost to the client might be about 6% of the end product.

Costa Rica Real Estate Video Interview with Steve Riley: To watch this short video, please click on the small white triangular Play button in the middle of the screen below and allow a few seconds for the video to begin.

Orosi Valley Home Construction

There are many ways to construct a home in Costa Rica. I recommend that you contract out for labor only with the client buying all materials. This way, the clients receive all discounts on building materials and there is no builders’ markup on the items purchased for construction.

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Most builders will mark up the cost of building materials 20% to cover cost and profit. I don’t mark up anything but labor and encourages our clients to make all selections and receive builders’ discounts for all materials. I have also negotiated, on your behalf, with local hardware stores for discounts on building materials and free transportation to the job site. We build only the highest quality homes.

For three months, we researched the local construction industry in the Cartago and Orosi Valley and hired the best workers in the valley. Of the 50+ construction managers interviewed, we found 4 teams of exceptional quality that can build homes to US specifications.

The Orosi Valley has an excellent climate, 72º/60º, everyday of the year. Orosi is a poor man’s Hawaii with spectacular views. The air is clean, the water pure, hot springs are therapeutic while the rainforest surrounds the slow paced life in the valley.

It is like moving back in time, similar to what the United States was in the 1950s. The people are friendly, tolerant and welcoming to newcomers. There is no striving to “keep up with the Jones” in the valley. The locals aren’t interested in what you have, but who you are.

Our location and proximity to San Jose with all the amenities and medical facilities of a major city makes the Orosi Valley special and appealing to Expats. A new CIMA is being built in Tres Rios, just west of Cartago. The area has ample shopping at Terra Mall or the local Hyper Mas, a super WalMart.

Nancy and I first purchased a Costa Rica farm in 1994 and charged the farm on our Master Card. We continue to invest in the Orosi Valley. We retired from the USA, Houston, TX in January, 2004.

After we purchased our first farm in 1994, we rearranged everything financial and had a 10-year plan to retire as soon as we could. For ten years, every night after work, we planned our next home and life. Nothing turned out the way we planned. Our home is one-third the size and the patio us double the size we planned. After living here for a short time, we realized that most of our time is spent outdoors. There is no need for a large home.

The Orosi valley has a broad range of buildings. Our homes are in the 1,500 sq. ft. to 7,000 sq. ft. range. The average home is about 2,500 sq. ft. and cost around $200,000 plus land. Totally first class homes are costing from $75 to $100 per sq. foot, depending on the details in the home. The money is always in the details.

Any Specific Problems in the Orosi Valley?

The main problem we have is a farm in the “red zone” or landslide area. This area is just above Orosi where a landslide killed 7 people about 8 years ago. We have listings in the red zone, but I have never shown a farm in the area of trouble. We refuse to show anything near the area.

I have never seen the rivers flood in the Orosi Valley, but I have seen the rivers at the banks. One Sunday, we received 14 inches of rain and the rivers were as high as I have ever seen, however, no flooding.

You can see Costa Rica Living in the Orosi Valley Area – Part I here which includes a free video interview with Steve Riley.

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