About John Youden

John founded the real estate multiple listing service (MLS) in Puerto Vallarta (Multi-List Vallarta) back in 1988. Since then the service has continued to grow, offering a monthly print catalog as well as an online service at http://www.mlsvallarta.com. John’s company, the Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group, also publishes a number of magazines such as Vallarta Lifestyles, Costa Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit, Vallarta Nautica and the Vallarta Real Estate Guide. Along with http://www.mlsvallarta.com, there are two other websites offered by VLPG; http://www.virtualvallarta.com and http://www.vallartarealestateguide.com. VLPG also holds the Vallarta Lifestyles Real Estate Conference each year, (usually in May), for trade only (those involved in the local real estate industry).

Another business of John and his wife Florence, is the hotel collection Mexico Boutique Hotels (www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com), a group of 47 boutique hotels located in 26 locations throughout Mexico. MBH offers branding, marketing, public relations, reservations and a brand of quality for boutique hotels throughout Mexico.

In 2009, John was selected as one of the top 40 movers and shakers in Mexico tourism by the publication Líderes de México (Leaders of Mexico).

John is originally from British Columbia, Canada and holds a diploma in Urban Land Economics from the University of British Columbia. He has lived in Puerto Vallarta since 1987. John and Florence spend most of their time between Puerto Vallarta where their office is, and Punta Mita to the north of Vallarta, with summers spent in Florence’s native France or John’s native country of Canada – primarily in and around Vancouver.

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43 Responses to About John Youden

  1. Pierre Lerico says:

    Hello John, FABULOUS website, at last some real numbers about the true situation in and around PV. I found it impossible to get the truth out of many real estate companies as they and publications like Tribune and websites like Banderasnews.com love to sugar-coat the impending recession. If the USA drops into a dreadful recession, as I predict it will, the PV condo and housing market will drop also. I totally foresee that prices will come down by up to 40% on unsold new condos when things get rough in 2009, and I believe that winter 2008 and spring 2009 will see major discounts. Usa is now enetring a long and damaging recession, housing catastrophe in USA, financial industry is in bad shape, etc COULD you keep me posted on any new developments that would show drops in prices. I am interested in acquiring several new condos in PV and would love to know which quality projects are being repossesed by banks or creditors.
    QUESTION: When we hear that a project is 50% SOLD, and those units are obviously not available for sale,
    Is it that the project managers have received 10% or 15% of the sale price and the balance of 85% to 90% upon closing and/or move in at a later date.
    So existing inventory numbers might be much larger than in your calculation, as we all know that most people, at the time when they gave their deposit, were banking on the fact that the USA real estate market would continue to go up or stay stable. The USA real estate market had not yet experienced it’s 25% + price drops. After these price drops and the drying up of mortgage markets, they might not be able to sell their homes in the USA and invest the proceeds in PV condo market.
    What do you think? Can I expect some classy projects to be obliged to discount by 40% – 50% in 2009-2010?

  2. johnlifestyles says:

    Hello Pierre and thanks for the compliment and for commenting.

    I agree that it does look like the USA is heading for a recession. Its just not the sub-prime meltdown, its credit drying up, big time. However, I’ve been through a few downturns in PV; first in 1995 and again in 2001. During both of these downturns there were people that showed up looking for great deals, great discounts, but for the most part, they never materialized. Back then I received messages similar to yours, but didn’t have much to give them, people kept their properties rather than dropping prices, at least not the discounts you mention.

    There is no sub-prime market here, there’s barely a mortgage market. Most homes/condos are paid with cash. There is some developer financing, but its limited. I think this downturn is going to be similar to ’95 and 2001; prices may drop but it won’t be by much because for the most part, these are properties without mortgages. This is very different from what is happening back in the USA. We are primarily a second-home market, paid for with cash. The fall-out in the USA has been for first-time and first-home buyers.

    With regards to your question: Most developers ask for at least 25% down for the property to be taken off the market, with payments made of the project is completed. Just last year there were a couple of projects that I am aware of who went with a program that took less down and stretched out the payments, and they may be hurting for that down the line. But that is not the norm. Up until now the market has been strong enough to ask for substantial down payments and get them. I know that what you are referring to took place in Florida and Las Vegas, amongst others, and its now causing major problems, but not so much here. So I don’t think my numbers will prove to be out of line, for the reasons mentioned above. I am concerned, but I’d be much more concerned if I was in some of the markets to the north that have overbuilt by so much and they have so many homeowners with little or no equity in their properties. Because of the equity people have in their PV properties, because its a second home, I really don’t think we are going to see discounts anywhere near those you mention.

    John

  3. Chuck Kinder says:

    John

    Nice to see you in Acapulco…great blog site and of course some of the BEST magazines in Mexico.

    You captured your market.

    Congratulations!

    Chuck

  4. Mike says:

    With all thats going on we live in BC and own a condo in Nuevo paid for with cash and not borrowed on my equity in BC would you think it wise to sell my condo or to stay in and weather the storm out although I am not sure what the future for canada is in this storm.
    Thanks MIke

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Mike,
      Well, if you don’t need to sell, its probably better to hold onto it. This is not the best time to sell real estate anywhere, whether its in Mexico, USA or Canada. But its going to come down to how often you are going to be using it and what your situation is in BC. If you can afford to keep it, you should. If you find yourself tight in Canada, and the money could be better spent up there, and you aren’t able to use the condo down here regularly, well, it may be better to take less than what the top of the market had to offer, in order to free up some cash. Your call!

  5. Jim Cox says:

    John,
    Enjoy your website. As a realtor in California and owner of a condo in Amapas, I wonder how people are closing their transactions in PV of newly completed condos? Our place is between Avalon and just being completed Paramount Bay, and I wonder with US real estate values declining and equity lines being restricted, how are buyers coming to the table with money to close their transactions? Care to comment?

    Jim

    • Jim Cox says:

      Continue to enjoy your Trends and articles. And continue to wonder, seven months later, if PV pre-sale buyers with deposits on buildings now completed are having difficulty securing cash funds from Stateside to close the transactions? Are cancellations becoming an issue?

      • johnlifestyles says:

        Its been a tough seven months. There have been issues with some buyers with deposits having difficulty coming up with the balance or even continuing with the deal. Developers, however, are working with them, to try and make it work and keep the deal together. I’ve heard of developers downsizing to a smaller unit to make it more affordable. But I’ve also heard of people walking away, one for $200,000 USD (It was a big sale). I think every project has lost some sales, but more concerning has been the collapse of the market – lack of buyers. This is only now starting to change. For the last month, realtors and developers that I have talked to, are seeing people again and they are writing offers. I’ll be covering this in a posting shortly.

  6. johnlifestyles says:

    JIm,
    Until recently PV’s real estate market was known as a “cash only” market – meaning people paid cash rather than obtaining financing for their purchase. The main reason for this was that financing did not exist in the country. After the “crisis” of 1995, the banking industry basically put a freeze on lending and didn’t start to see home loans again until around 2004. Its been a long haul for the brokers who have tried to sell financing here, it was easier for people to tap into the equity they had in their homes back in the USA or Canada to make their purchases. We now know (as you are well aware of in California) that this suppose “equity” was really an over-extended bubble market, so this source of cash has disappeared. Some financing now has been taken up by the developers, some offering good terms over longer periods than what they had offered in the past. Mortgage brokers are seeing more business than they have had in the past, as cash is not as readily available as before, to compete with them.
    There have been cancellations, with some people losing large deposits because they cannot come up with the final payments because of what has happened to their investments back home, primarily in the stock market (which has effected all markets). However, developers and re-sale homeowners have had to become more flexible, offering extended financing or delaying payments in order to keep the deal together. In many respects it is not that different than markets in the US. Credit is tight and cash is king.

  7. Clay Lacy says:

    Dear John:

    How many sales over $2 million US have their been in Puerto Vallarta, & Punta Mita that have actually closed escrow since January 1, 2009 ? Do you still believe, as was reported in your 2008-2009 report that the ” high-end market has never been more active?”. What is the short & long term impact of the peso devaluation now that $1 US dollar is worth more than 15 pesos which reflects a 45% devaluation since August? Even if real estate prices are set in US dollars, can a real estate asset in mexico not really have its value intrinsically linked to the peso? In other words, can a Mexican property be immune from its national currency because a developer or owner thinks it is valued in US dollars? Finally, the Mexican drug war is now front page news all over the world. The US state department issued an advisory for college students to avoid Mexico spring break destinations and there is growing fear that the Mexican government may become a failed state and may lose to the more powerful narco cartels. How does this impact the foreign buyer in Mexico already reluctant to purchase vacation property anywhere in the world?. We would really appreciate an update. I am an owner of a beach front property in the area that is convinced that my property is worth is 40-70% less than what i paid in 2005. If I had to sell what was a $2,000,000 property last year would an all cash buyer appear in the next 30 days (since no financing exists). I dont think so. Do you? You mention that there is 1100 listings in the MLS. OMG What is selling today?

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Clay,
      1. As far as I know, there have been no sales over $2 million since Jan 1/09 in PV or the region.
      2. No, the high-end market dropped significantly in the second half of last year. So far this year, realtors I have talked to who deal in the luxury market, have said they are showing properties but that people are holding off making offers, wanting to first have a better understanding of what is going on in the financial markets in the USA.
      3. Devaluations, in the past, have not effected real estate prices in Vallarta as they are based in USD. It does limit the ability of Mexicans to buy real estate, however, as the cost of living is now cheaper in Mexico for Americans, that most likely oversets the drop in Mexican buyers. A bigger concern has to do with capital gains as the property title is registered in pesos, not dollars.
      4. The violence in Mexico is a concern. It certainly hasn’t been effecting visitors or Americans in Vallarta, however. But, just the amount of negative coverage of this throughout the US media does not help real estate prices.
      5. People have stopped (or slowed down) with their buying. Its effecting markets everywhere, and not just real estate. The US savings rate so far this year is up to 5% – people are making conscious decisions not to buy. It is difficult to say what any property is worth in Vallarta right now because there are no buyers to relate value to. You need sales to generate comparatives and they just aren’t happening. If you don’t need to sell right now, best thing to do is not sell and wait this out. There are people out there looking, that want to buy, but want to have more security as to what is happening with the global economy. Its my opinion, (and other realtors), that a “pent-up” demand is being created, and when things become more normalized, we will have a wave of buying. But its the global economy, more than anything else, that has slowed down this market.
      6. Financing does exist. Mortgage brokers I am talking to say they did twice as many deals in 2008 over 2007. They are busy and offer a number of different programs.

  8. Clay Lacy says:

    Hi John:

    Thanks for the update. It is refreshing to have some honesty in a less than transparent market. In fact, there is no transparency and most brokers are not going to have the data to give a true assessment of the situation.

    A couple things: Have there been any sales over a million in Vallarta or Punta Mita in 2009. I said $2 mil but should have asked about above $1mil?

    You bring up a good point about the capital gains being peged to the value in pesos. That does affect prices indirectly. The Mexican buyers are gone.

    The lack of sales is scary but not surprising. The market is totally frozen. And unlikely to thaw anytime soon, because sellers will be in shock when they realize that the price erosion of their investments has dropped more than 40-50%. The peso devaluation is probably adding another 10% drop and the security situation will keep foreign buyers from making any move on any high end property.

    I know that mortgage brokers did twice as many deals in 2008 than 2007, but their volume is paltry, l=around $20,000,000, almost rrelevant. That could be 12 deals versus 6 from the past year. This is much less than 5% of the market. I guarantee if a financing deal would be done now no more than 50% of the purchase could be financed & the appraised value would be grinded down by the finance company. Though since there are no comps, I bet they would be reluctant to make a deal. Interest rates would not be cheap.

    The $5,000,000-$15,000,000 market in Punta Mita? What do you think?

    I wonder if any hotels that are on the market in Vallarta or Punta Mita are going to sell. Strategic Hotels, one of the owners of Punta Mita, is book valued by the stock market at $47 million for their 15 properties. There are trying to liquidate their holdings.

    Thanks again, keep up the good work. And if any signs positive or negative do pop, inclduing true fire sales, please inform us.

  9. johnlifestyles says:

    Clay,
    1. As far as I know there has been only three sales over over $1 million in 2009, both of them condominiums. No homes that I know of. I know realtors on the North Shore have been busy showing high-end homes, just having a hard time having people make a move.

    2. The capital gains is concerning in another way. If you bought a home two years ago for $1 million USD it would have been registered at registry in pesos at the going rate, probably 10.5 so $10,500,000 pesos. If you sold the home for the same price as you bought it in USD, right now, it would show that you had a capital gain when you convert this to pesos. $1 million today is $15 million pesos. That’s a difference of $4,500,000 pesos. You do get deductions, such as improvements and the commission, but you could actually end up paying capital gains, even though you didn’t have one. I’ll cover this in another entry later on.
    3. You are right about financing, it is paltry, but I needed some good news!
    4. The $5 -$15 million market in PM? Well, first, as far as real sales, it has never really existed. I believe the highest sale out there has been under $6 million. There are some great properties out there but nothing has moved in that price range yet, and probably won’t for some time.
    5. You are up on things here Clay! Strategic is the most concerning as they are NOT doing well. Just in Punta Mita they bought up some very premium lots (H5 and the Solana property) for premium prices. And reservations are down at the Four Seasons. I haven’t heard of other hotels having problems.

  10. Clay Lacy says:

    Hi John:

    Great insight. The capital gains issue as a result of the peso devaluation is troubling. I bought my property in its existing corporate structure as a Panamanian Corporation, which may cushion the capital gains if the next buyer keeps it in his present corporation, but if not, the capital gains are going to be a deal killer.

    So for other owners, there goes any gains from property purchased in the last 8 years. I pity the buyer whop bought in the summer of 2008. Yikes. The peso was 9.75 to the dollar in August.

    I look forward to reading your insight from your blog posting on this issue. I am sure it will be picked up internationally as no one is talking about it, and it needs to be addressed. I will disseminate it too.

    I do have one question for you. This road you mention from El Tuito to the coast. Will it shorten the drive from the airport in PV to Costa Alegre? Is work continuing and when do you think it will be done?

    With regards to Punta Mita, I thought Tom Siebel (Siebel Systems) bought a lot for $12 million and just completed a $20,000,000 estate there that is world class. I am sure it is not for sale but between that house and a few others being built at El Blanco, there are a few others that have $8-10 mil invested including land & construction. Yikes. But if they had to get out, it would be a disaster. Watch out for mysterious fires & insurance claims coming soon. There wont be a lot of foreclosures, you need a bank loan for that right? it will just go right to fire sale. Since you are the only source of true info, you will be the only one who may know what is rumor and what is fact.

    But not all is doom & gloom. The dream of a Mexican paradise and owning a piece of it will not be extinguished forever and I do think that buyers will appear. But most Americans will have to delay their retirement out a few years. The pent up demand might surface, but there will need to be reassurances that it is safe to own property again. The biggest fear used to be that the government could take away your property. Now, the stories of corruption in government with the narco iinfiltration is scaring a new generation.

    And the government is not giving federal concessions on coastal property since 2008. They should be bending over backward to streamline the whole buying process and reassuring foreigners about owning beach property.

  11. johnlifestyles says:

    Hi Clay,
    1. The new road from at El Tuito is only servicing to the coast to Tehuamixtle, a nice but rather deserted coastline that the state of Jalisco would like to see one day compete with what’s going on in Riviera Nayarit. Although there are plans to have a road around Vallarta and that would go behind the mountain that Conchas Chinas and Mismaloya are situated along, there is nothing that I know of scheduled for this to start. This is definitely long term. The state plans to have an airport in this area (which is well under development) to provide access.

    2. There are a lot of large estate homes that have been built in and around Punta Mita, but few that have come back on the market. If they did have to get out now, you are probably right, it would be very bad for them. Again, as mentioned earlier, no one is biting at this time. And when I watch the DOW below 7,000, I can understand why. But because there aren’t loans on these properties, it also most likely means they won’t need to sell. The only “fire sale” that I have heard of on this coast that took place at the end of last year, was because the house was completed mortgaged to the hilt. Don’t know how they ever got the financing. I live part of my time out in PM and know many owners, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of anxiety.

    3. You are right, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The Vallarta region has a lot going for it. Its easy to get to, great weather, low cost of living (especially with the peso at 15), few hours from major US markets, and I do believe there is a pent-up demand out there. One guy said to a realtor friend recently (someone who still has cash), “Hey, I’ve been a consumer for years, this is what I do. I can only go so long without buying something!”

    4. Some people say the peso is at 15 is under valued. If you bought now and it went back to 13-1, you’d get the reverse effect. And currency reports I’ve been reading say the peso will be at 13. 5 year end. The dollar is over-valued right now, as people search for safety in treasuries.

  12. Dean says:

    Hi John, I’d like to thank you for the extremely informative and honest reporting of what’s going on in the PV area. I’d especially like to thank you for your excellent analysis of the market technicals (eg: MLS listings) and the impact of the global economy on the market. I find your entries and comments with other people very interesting. You and your writers are obviously quite knowledgeable of the area, so thank you for sharing that knowledge with the rest of us looking at the PV area from afar.

    In full disclosure, I own a small piece of property in Punta Mita so I am not gleeful at the prospect of the prices coming down. Having said that, I don’t plan on selling it, so I’m not too worried if they do come down in the short term. In the longer term, providing a reliable government that continues to aggressively fight the war on drugs and respect the rights of ownership for foreigners, I’m very positive on the area. Simply, the three long term trends that will really benefit the area are the quality of living, the cost of living, and the simple demographics of those looking at a lifestyle in the region. Put the PV airport in the mix, and I think they’re all great things for the area.

    I’d just like to add something that I don’t think is being mentioned but I believe is related to comments that have come up here and elsewhere a few times.

    The argument that I keep hearing, is that sales in Mexico are primarily cash based and debt is less of an issue in the area. I think this is misunderstood. Firstly, let’s distinguish between Mexicans buying property and those from outside of Mexico buying coastal property and homes. Those outside of Mexico borrowed money in our respective countries (Canada for me) and then paid in cash for the coastal property in Mexico. So even though we “bought in cash” we still have a loan in our home country that we are accountable for. Therefore if our economic situation worsens in our home country and our ability, or willingness, to pay for this loan decreases, people will sell their place in the sun.

    Related to this, I wonder how many people were borrowing money in their home country(against their home or assets in stocks?) to buy a place now, reasoning that when they did want to downsize or retire, they could then pay off the loan with the money from the sale of their primary residence or their holdings in their portfolio. No doubt, the decreases in house prices and global stock markets will affect this math.

    I don’t know how prevalent these two cases are, but for people to say that house prices in coastal Mexico are less at risk than in Canada, the US or even Europe and the U.K, because the lack of access to financing in Mexico, is misguided. I am sure there are people with a mortgage on their house in Canada or the U.S, who also borrowed money and effectively have a mortgage on their place in Mexico. I don’t know whether we will see this in the prices or pace of development but it’s just something that I am surprised is not being mentioned at all.

    I’d also appreciate your insight into how the general price of goods are behaving in the PV area. Are things cheaper relative to US dollars or is the price in pesos just moving to keep the US price the same?

    Thanks again for your hard work and your honest and insightful opinions.

    Cheers,

    Dean

  13. johnlifestyles says:

    Hi Dean,
    I have covered this issue regarding whether the market here is really a “cash market” in the past, and recently did so at the Vallarta Lifestyles real estate conference. I’ll post about that shortly, using some of the information I provided at the conference.

    You have it right, this market was driven by people taking out home equity loans on their property back home. Some took out loans down here, but there are not a lot. I’ve talked with local mortgage brokers about foreclosures and the most they could tell me about was two.

    How will this effect prices down here? We don’t quite know yet. There have been distress sales taking place, but not a lot of them. And from other downturns that I’ve been through (1995, 2002), this seems to be the case, price averages don’t drop a lot. It seems that people who own a second home are usually better off than those with just one, and can ride out a downturn better.

    Prices will move up, but I’m hearing from local business people that they feel it is not a good time to be increasing prices when the market is rather fragile. Cafe des Artistes del Mar, out in your area, is offering a lunch menu special for $199 pesos. That’s about US$13.00, which is very inexpensive considering it is Cafe des Artistes.

  14. Clay Lacy says:

    Dean:

    I think the Mexican real estate market is effectively frozen and illiquid. I have no plans to sell now, but it is certainly disconcerting to one’s net worth. Since there is so little transparency except for what John provides, IMHO, Mexican property owners in the tourist areas in a worse position today than ever before and worse then in the US.

    And yes, you have completely pinpointed the fallacy of the cash market. Foreigners used the equity in their stocks and primary homes to finance their transactions abroad. Fire sales will be hitting the market, and it will take a serious auction house to generate enough world wide publicity to get enough prospective buyers to generate sales activity. It will e a bargain lover’s paradise. But will even they show up? It is a lagging indicator, but look for desperation pricing to happen over the next 6-24 months.

    But here is some food for thought. I would contend that the negative publicity about Mexico’s drug war and crime spree would be freezing the real estate market regardless about the economy. No one wants to buy with all the uncertainty.

    John: how many true sales of any condos or home have there been in February in the area?

    The peso devaluation also has its advantages and disadvantages. I think the inflation surge will hit for many products that we Americans enjoy while in Mexico in about 6-9 months. If you can live on cervazas and tortillas and fish, labor will be plentiful & cheap, you should benefit. But hopefully you wont need something like a pool heater or auto parts, you will be shocked. I just paid $5000 US for a pool heater and $1600 for Ford parts for my suburban. Both would have been 25% cheaper in the US.

  15. johnlifestyles says:

    Clay,
    1. I would think property owners in a lot of markets in the USA are effectively frozen and illiquid, in that you are competing with large numbers of foreclosures coming on the market. It depends where you are, but it depends where you are in Mexico as well.
    2. If you hadn’t bought in Mexico, where would your money have been, in the stock market? Which means you’d be down 50% right now. Any property would sell for that type of discount right now.
    3. Mexico’s drug war is a serious PR problem, no doubt. I’m hoping that with time it will come into perspective as to what the real concerns are for foreign buyers are with regards to being in danger because of the drug war or kidnapping. Again, the #2 kidnapping place in the the Americas is Phoenix. Short term this is a serious problem and will effect the market, especially when thrown in with the global economic downturn. Its just a bad time for any type of investment out there!
    4. I can’t give the numbers for February, they just aren’t available. At the real estate conference, however, in late February, this questions was asked to a panel of realtors and to the audience (trade only). Answer was that its very slow. That January was terrible but that it had started picking up in February, they were showing properties again. But getting people to make a decision is difficult because of economic uncertainty. Yes, kidnapping concerns is also now an objection to get over (one realtor had a guest staying at the Four Seasons who wouldn’t leave the hotel property for fear of being kidnapped – inside Punta Mita! Wonder how he showed them properties?!)
    5. And on the other side, things are so cheap in the US right now for retail, there are so many bargains. I was just in Utah skiing and I was buying clothing for 80% off. Yes, 80% off. Brand new Columbia ski jacket, shoes, socks, sweaters…
    I think that until there is more certainty in the economy globally, its impossible to make judgements or assert what will take place in this market any time soon. That’s definitely the biggest obstacle for realtors – fear of the unknown.

  16. Clay Lacy says:

    Great insight. Yes, it is bad everywhere. Price erosion in all asset classes. I love Mexico and I have a seven figure property investment there (or did), But are there any bottom feeders now? There are still foreclosure auctions in the US where buyers are paying 40% to 50% on the dollar, and hundreds are showing up to buy? I know the market is smaller, but how are those 1100 properties going to be absorbed. And I would wager that there are twice as many as those who have to sell but realize that it is pointless to list with a broker now. When the brokers say things are terrible, I have a feeling that means nothing is selling. I used to handle the sales and marketing for a high end property in the Caribbean. I know that the market is frozen too. Dubai for sure too

    I have some psychological issues with knowing that if I had to sell I would probably not find a buyer at any price. But what can be done? Well for one, the Mexican government could pass a new law to change the ban on direct foreign ownership of coastal property and streamline the buying process. They need to do whatever it takes to stimulate the market. Now is the time to pass those laws. They need to grant federal concessions without going through a 3-5 year agency process.

    Unfortunately, I have very little confidence that they can do anything progressive, the weakness of a Russian style bureaucracy. Do something Mexico!

    I just wanted to point out the PR problem as you call it (there is indeed a war going on in the country for certain which is challenging the authority of the federal government) so let’s not dismiss it too easily. The cartels have more capital and more fire power than the Mexican army. It has not hit PV, but that main road is where much of the narcotic ground traffic to the states passes through at some point, isn’t it? Worst case scenario means property will be virtually worthless without the security to know property rights will be protected by the government and that there is a local police that is not corrupted, so that we foreigners can safely utilize in case of wrongdoing: theft, burglary. By way of example, our association director embezzled $200,000US last year, we have clear proof of his signature on checks to himself, and the money is missing. He lives well, life has not changed for him and he has no fear of prosecution while he enjoys his days lounging at his home. He stole from the gringos, and is now something of a hero in his town. Scary stuff along the Costa Alegre.

    Thanks again John, it is great to be able to reach out to such a voice of reason and knowledge.

    • johnlifestyles says:

      1. Actually, if you add the MLS listings with developer listings there are about 4,400 properties for sale. Last year just under a 1,000 properties were sold.
      2. Congress is actually considering right now opening up for direct foreign ownership – its currently being discussed and has been in the news quite a bit lately.
      3. You are right, it is a serious problem. Hopefully it will be contained, but its going to take a lot more US participation I would expect. Currently it is a PR problem but it certainly has the potential to become a whole lot more. But this isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan, halfway around the world. This would be a war taking place right next to the USA. Its easy for Americans to be disengaged with regards to the other war, but when its happening at your border, its going to get a lot of attention. 357 kidnappings in Phoenix are a result of the drug war that is now crossing border lines. Its all connected.

  17. Malcolm Berry says:

    John, I very much enjoy reading your blogs and the responses to your comments.
    My wife and I will be buying a retirement home in PV – we`are not put off by all the drug and flu stories that seem to permiate the news these days – we feel safer in PV than in downtown Vancouver BC!

    One of the developments we are interested in is Las Moras, a healthy mix of Mexicans and gringos seem to live there. One concern is the access road from beside Walmart going towards Pitillal – it is very busy and could use some upgrading. Are there any plans to improve this road?

    In one of your previous blogs you indicated that a new airport was being developed in the area behind Concias Chinas. How far along is the planning process and what will be the fate of the existing airport ?

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Las Moras is a nice project. Always liked it, and the people who have developed it.

      Sorry, I really don’t know what the plans are for the road to Pitillal. Municipal elections are coming up right now so there isn’t anything that is going to come up before the end of the year. Then the new Mayor will have his plans for 2010. They are also working on an Urban Plan, which would probably cover this, but they’ve been trying to get that passed for years now!

      The only airport that I know if, and I think this is the one you are thinking of, is further down the coast near El Tuito, about an hour south of Vallarta. This one is well on its way and I understand they have been doing test landings on it. But it would be servicing mostly the southern coast of Jalisco, not Vallarta. And in a very limited way, at least initially. We will be using the existing airport for some time to come.

  18. Vietnam MLS says:

    John, I’ve read a bit about you and the Multi-List and Multi-Dev services you’ve established in Puerto Vallarta. I am working with a couple other Norte Americanos on starting an MLS here in Vietnam and would love to chat with you a bit more about your experiences in Mexico. If you’re interested, please drop me an email at info@vnmls.vn when you get a chance. Thanks.

  19. Gerry/Lindsey Janicki says:

    Hi John,
    We have just returned from 2 weeks in PV and are seriously contemplating buying at the Grand Venetian Tower 3. Thank heavens someone alerted us to the ongoing litigation concerning this development once we were home. Can you give us an update on the present state of affairs and your expert and professsional opinion on whether we should proceed, hold back or abandon the idea? We were given a possession projection date of March 2011 by the salesman. We are concerned about paying a large downpayment and having the development sit for years. We would appreciate your input.

    • johnlifestyles says:

      My “expert and professional opinion”? Yikes. First a disclosure. Grand Venetian a clients of my company, the Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group and I also know the owner/developer quite well. That said…
      There has been ongoing litigation regarding the development. It has to do with what the original zoning was for the project and how high the developer could build. As it was zoned for hotel development, the H&M association wanted to see it continue to be so, as there is limited oceanfront space along this coastline. There had never, as well, been anything built to this height before, and that was challenged. Well, since then, multiple towers have gone up so that 20+ floors now seems to be the norm along this beach. Although the litigation has caused delays in construction, the delays have been overcome and construction has begun once again. And today there are two completed towers. From what I have heard, any differences of opinion on the project with the developer and the past municipal administration have been worked out with the new municipal administration that took power at the beginning of this year.
      The developer has built a number of projects in Vallarta (and throughout Mexico for that matter, although he started off here) and they have all been completed, owners have received their units, and they are projects that are well-known and continue to sell well as re-sales.
      As with any real estate development, in any location, Mexico and the USA or Canada, its always prudent to check out what existing owners have to say. I recently talked with one who said he was actually upgrading, getting a bigger unit at Grand Venetian, in one of the newer towers.
      Hey, its a great location, great views, and the developer has shown he can deliver over and over again…

  20. Mike says:

    Hi John I have been following your blog for some time now and am looking for some direction. I own in Nuevo Vallarta and am very concerned about the violence that Mexico is suffering through and it is my first thought to sell up and leave but the current market seems to be at a low so my plan is to wait until the fall and early next year to sell. What are the prices doing right now and is the market starting to move or is the violence stunting the growth? It is the last thing I want to do but I cannot afford to gamble with that money.

  21. johnlifestyles says:

    HI Mike,
    I cover some of your questions in my recent Trends post. The violence issue is something we are all concerned about. Even though it has been between drug gangs fighting amongst themselves over turf, (who has the right to sell drugs where), and it has not involved people like us who have homes down here, the perception of it in the American media is what is most concerning and can effect market values.
    There has been some of this drug gang violence in or near Vallarta, but the overall majority of it has taken place along the border or the center of Mexico.
    What I’m saying is that it is perfectly safe to use your place in NV but the perception created by the media over the drug fighting is hurting what your place could actually sell for right now. 40 people were shot in Chicago this weekend, many killed, but people are still going to Chicago. Unfortunately the media is not as fair to Vallarta, where killings in Tepic, over a hundred miles away, somehow mean Vallarta is not safe. But again, perception is reality and that’s what we are going through right now.
    I’d continue to use your condo and enjoy it. Regardless of the media coverage there are more people looking than there were last year, and I expect the market will continue to improve, although slowly, more because of the state of the US economy than the violence.

    • Mike says:

      Hey John dod you know a good realtor for the Nuevo Vallarta area we would like to sell our condo we are interested in another project

      • johnlifestyles says:

        Hi Mike,
        I don’t make recommendations with regards to realtors; we work with basically all of them so we’ve established this as our policy. But you can find out information about realtors at mlsvallarta.com. There’s a “Find a Pro” section that gives you information about some of them. I’d suggest checking out their websites to gather more information as well. As with any occupation, there are good one’s and not so good one’s, but I think Vallarta has a good share on the good side!

    • rich s says:

      Hello John Lifestyles,

      i am a investor in a condo for tower #3000 of the grand venetian. I just want to comment that the developer of the veneitian property has started sending out letters demanding payment and threating to cancel the contracts if not paid. I just recieved this letter.

  22. Mike says:

    Thanks for your response we are here now and continue to love it here and the people as always are wonderful. This is where I plan to retire within 5 years and hope that this gets resolved it is quite a job. I enjoy your blog as I feel it represents the truth about the area. Thanks Mike

  23. Malcolm Berry says:

    John,
    I have enjoyed your insightful comments and figuring that the market for houses in PV and area was probably at the bottom, we decided to take the plunge and purchased a house in Nuevo . We consider that we probably saved 30- 40% over prices at their peak. For our realtor ,a veteran in Bucerias, we were the only sale of the month. August is off peak I know, but it is very quiet nevertheless. I would hate to be selling condos – prices are still falling. All I can suggest is that if you do not need to sell , don’t . If you do , be prepared to take significant price reductions.
    Malcolm Berry

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Congrats on a the discount you got on your purchase Malcolm. And yes, that seems to be the reality of the situation. The amount that prices may have fallen is directly related to supply, location and “Property Negatives”. If there’s a lot of similar condos to yours on the market, you’re in trouble. If your location is not the greatest, it works against you (oceanfront is still the best) and if you have anything a little strange about your property, it really works against you in a down market. Such as only one bedroom. If you are heavily loaded with extras that are deemed in today’s market, unnecessary. If you lack parking. The list goes on. People can just look elsewhere as there is so much else on the market. At the top of the market, people will overlook these things as there’s not much else to choose from and if they don’t buy it, someone else will. But those wee the good old days!

  24. Ashley says:

    You did an article in Costa Vallarta *Luxury Living Magazine called “Looking ahead, planning for the future along Costa Vallarta”, where can we read this article?

  25. Tony says:

    John, great website. I’m looking to purchase in the hotel zone at Peninsula Vallarta. Perhaps you can give me an unbiased answer concerning the river that is just south of the project. I’ve heard that pollution can be an issue from the river emptying in to the ocean. Have you heard of any issues concerning it? Thanks from Vancouver, Canada!

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Well, I’m sure there is some pollution as it does go through the town of Bucerias. As to what extent the river is polluted, I have no idea. But its a popular place to swim and surf and has been for years. Personally I haven’t heard before that that was a big concern. Sorry I can’t help you out more. John

  26. John wheeler says:

    Hello John,
    Do you have recent stats on condo sales in last six months? ie. How many have sold over $1million?
    John W.

    • johnlifestyles says:

      I’m currently out of the country John, back at the end of the month. But in March 22 sales took place in the MLS Multi-List Vallarta of which 60% of the sales were condos. None were over a million; highest was $695,000. I don’t think there has been a sale for a condo over $1 million yet this year. I know that there has been some good action taking place at Los Veneros on the North Shore, but I don’t believe they have been over $1 million. At Punta Mita, which has Hacienda de Mita for million-plus condos on the beach, there have been no recent sales.

  27. Dean says:

    Hi John, here’s something you and your readers might enjoy.
    http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/06/24/mexico%e2%80%99s-bulletproof-economy/

    Cheers,
    Dean

  28. Don Saigle says:

    Hi John

    Wondering if you would offer a comment on the Nahui development, specifically regarding the ability of C&C Capital to deliver. Thanks

    • johnlifestyles says:

      Hi Don,

      Its a tough environment for any developer right now in the Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit region. And Nahui is especially very ambitious because of its overall size. C&C Capital have not chosen the best time to take on this project. But then again, as the market recovers, they will be well set up for it. They have a few things going for them.

      1. When the highway is re-routed its going to open up some of the best real estate that’s available around Banderas Bay. And there isn’t much developable land available. Road construction is supposed to start next month, although there have been a number of delays.

      2. For C&C, this project may be slow taking off for them at this time, but they have other work in Guadalajara that is providing them good sales and cash flow. They have been very active with major developments in Guadalajara for many years. The downturn in the Mexican real estate market has just been happening on the coast; Mexico City and Guadalajara have very active markets.

      3. I know that there have been a number of major investment groups that have approached C&C about partnering with them but so far they have declined to do so. They are being approached because of the size, location and quality of the real estate. If C&C have trouble anytime down the line, they should have no problem bringing in investors.

      What’s difficult to gauge is how the economy and real estate market will affect any real estate development at this time. We are at the bottom of a cycle. We need the US buyers to be buying homes again, but that’s difficult when their real estate is still losing value. As mentioned previously, these are difficult times for developers, but C&C have some very good things going for them.

      Hope that helps.

      John

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