Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Survivor Nicaragua Update

Adapted from TV Squad

This fall, a new set of masochists will descend upon the jungle to compete on the 21st season of CBS's 'Survivor.' This year, however, it won't just be a match of wits that will weed them out. CBS announced Wednesday that the show will divide the contestants by age, creating one tribe of competitors over age 40, and another tribe of those under age 30 for a face-off called 'Young vs. Old.'

"The Espada Tribe, made up of individuals over the age of 40, must prove they have the life experience and knowledge that will ultimately help them outwit and outlast their younger competitors," the network said in a statement. "The La Flor Tribe, consisting of individuals 30 years of age and younger, will have to use their youth and vitality to outplay and ultimately outlast their elders."

'Survivor: Nicaragua' won't be first the time that the series has split its cast along age lines. In season 12, 'Survivor: Panama' divided its cast into four tribes, but split them by both gender and age.

While the sheer physical demands of 'Survivor' would suggest that the young'uns will easily best their elders, some of the old-timers in Nicaragua might just have a fighting chance - and they can look to previous seasons for inspiration. In season 10, it was then-40-year-old Tom Westman who took home the top honor, beating out his nubile jungle-mates on 'Survivor: Palau.' It looks like Nicaragua will feature some similarly tough cast members who were born long before 1980.

The cast of 'Survivor: Nicaragua' has yet to be officially announced, but casting newly leaked casting rumors include hearty elders such as former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, 67, who was previously suggested to be joining the show, former Massachusetts fisherman Jimmy Tarantino, 48, amateur cycling champ Dr. Jillian Halmi Behm, 43, and former army nurse Wendy Jo Kohlhoff, 48. Other potential members of the Espada tribe include Brooklynite Dan Lembo, 63, rancher and pageant director Holly Hoffman, 44, and dog breeder Jane Bright, 56.

As for the rumored under-30 crew? So far, Team La Flor is all pecs and bikinis, and include model-actor-drummer Jud Birza, 21, ex-cheerleader and paddle board enthusiast Brenda Lowe, 27, hunky club promoter Ben Henry, 24, swimsuit model Alina Wilson, 23, and track athlete Ma Onka Mixon, 27. Of course, there are also a few serious athletes rumored to be in the younger tribe, too, including ex-NCAA linebacker Chase Rice, 24, and marathoner/real estate broker Matt Lenahan, 30, among others. Still, with a potential elder cast this rugged, the nubile flowers better watch their over-tanned, wrinkle-free backs if they want a shot at winning season 21.

'Survivor: Nicaragua' premieres Sept. 15 on CBS (8 pm/ET).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Survivor Comes to Nicaragua

There has been a lot of talk lately about the popular TV Show, Survivor, currently filming 2 seasons near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The 21st season is already highly acclaimed by Survivor's creator, Jeff Probst. He describes Nicaragua as "...a land of impenetrable terrain, smoking volcanoes and savage wildlife." While I have personally have never run into any "savage wildlife" in my daily life, I do agree with Probst that the series will "star a brand new set of survivors" - Nicaragua being one of them.

Speculation about Nicaragua being thrust into the limelight during the 21st and 22nd seasons is probably quite accurate, as previous promotion in countries like Belize and Honduras resulted in an influx in real estate investors and higher prices, due to the countries' increased international profiles and increased demand for property.

"Pre-Survivor" prices are still here today, but that will likely change as soon as the hit show broadcasts simultaneously in many countries world wide. Survivor is franchised in over 50 countries.

I personally am very excited for Survivor Nicaragua not because of any direct impact on real estate, but because of the positive exposure of a largely misunderstood nation. Hopefully Survivor will show an accurate portrayal of the beauty and friendliness of Nicaragua.

For anyone interested in checking out Nicaragua prior to the Survivor Season airing later this year, please please be wary of real estate offices or property sellers pressuring too much or artificially increasing prices today. There are still many great deals out there in Nicaragua, and organic appreciation in the values of land prices will come slowly and steadily as the truth about the optimal conditions in Nicaragua reach more mainstream markets.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

US Demand for Costa Rican & Nicaraguan Produce Increases 28%

Costa Rican and Nicaraguan producers of vegetable, pineapple and different types of melon are preparing for the increased horticulture demand in the USA expected for 2010-2019. US demand will grow 28% over the next 10 years, according to a USDA Report - Agricultural Projections for 2019. This is equivalent to over 6.5 million pounds in additional produce.

This is just another one of the results of CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Costa Rica was the last of the Central American countries to approve the agreement in 2007.

Pineapple is the product most exported to the USA after bananas. The National Consortium of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (Canapep in Spanish) also expects 10% increase in export growth to Europe, their second largest market. Nearly 5,000 containers of melon (cantaloupe) alone were exported to the US in 2009 while 2,500 were sent to Europe, excluding watermelon exports.

The only complaints from the local agricultural voice is that they could take better advantage of the USDA's predictions if there were better lines of credit and infrastructure in the country.

What does this mean to foreign investors? --- That expansion from traditional real estate investment into alternative investment like energy and agriculture can be fruitful (no pun intended) for local and international interests alike. Costa Rican farmers need credit and international investment support to keep up with demand from those same countries. Credit is tight in banks everywhere, but international investors can also benefit from granting angel investor loans to established Costa Rican farmers. In turn, production and profit will flourish for all parties involved, not to mention helping to meet global demand for fresh produce and fruit.

So thank Costa Rica and Nicaragua for the fresh cantaloupe, watermelon and bananas you enjoy all summer long!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yoga Community, Lots & Yoga Retreats in Nicaragua - El Camino del Sol San Juan del Sur

Everyone who knows me knows I rarely align myself personally with any developer or development project in Nicaragua or Costa Rica. I am a buyer's agent who scouts the best properties for my clients, regardless of who owns the property or what the price point is. I do like to find the outliers, however, and tend to specialize in finding properties that are priced well below market comps in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

In any sense, I am genuinely impressed with the development, infrastructure, amenities and property management at El Camino del Sol in south west Nicaragua, just outside San Juan del Sur. The owner has really transformed a common finca into a community center and upscale development for people interested in quality of life, health, wellness, surfing and yoga. This community, though humble in its marketing, actually boasts the highest lots owned to houses built ratio in all of San Juan del Sur. Most developers sell a bunch of lots without anyone building anything, or in some cases, without any infrastructure at all. El Camino is quite the opposite. Not only are there 8 houses built in the small community, but there are also indoor/outdoor yoga spaces, a gourmet restaurant and coffee/tea spot with wireless internet, an impressive lap pool and swimming pool, lush gardens and landscaping, water, electricity, well-maintained roads and ambitious drainage and finishing touches to all construction.

Every day, young, lively local residents, expats and tourists frequent the development to drop in on a Nica Yoga class, eat at the restaurant, check their email or converse with friends and travelers. The short term and long term residents alike in the rental houses all feel at home and like a part of the greater San Juan del Sur community and coastal lifestyle.

Here are the specs on owning a coveted lot in El Camino del Sol by Mark Sullivan of Pro Nica Development.

ON SURFING: Great waves are basically as close to surf as the town of San Juan del Sur. Remanso is 10 min down the road to the south and Maderas is 15 min away to the north. After those there's several breaks within 25 min of here.

ON BUILDING: There is no building timeline requirement; however will consider granting a lot credit if someone builds right away.

ON CLOSING COSTS: Utilities are already installed and ready to go to each lot. Closing costs are usually less than 3k.

ON BUILDING REQUIREMENTS: There are no specific restrictions but there are CCRs for the community. Basically, the developers have the right to disapprove of any design that is structurally unsound or absolutely hideous. Other than building correctly and aesthetically, there are no restrictions on what folks can do. Building costs depend greatly on the materials used and finishings that go in eventually. We're looking at building methods that have us spending $35-40/ft2 with structurally sound natural building materials, as well as sustainable options.

ON OCEAN VIEWS: El Camino isn't best known for it's ocean views, while there are a few left with affordable price points.

ON LOT PRICES: Lot prices for 1/4 to 1 acre lots are average from $25-225k but at a much lower price per meter than San Juan del Sur just a click down the road.

ON HOA's: Association fees are $95/month and cover 24 hr security, maintenance of the common areas, internet, full time gardener, road maintenance, etc.

ON FINANCING: On a case by case basis, we would consider seller financing.

Here is another link to the amenities of El Camino del Sol.

For anyone who wants an affordable lot in a secure community close to the beach in San Juan del Sur, El Camino del Sol is for you!

They offer:


Homes and Construction Services

Vacation Rentals

Contact me for questions on buying or check out their website at and tell them Nica Chica sent you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Popoyo, Nicaragua Surf Vacation Rental Properties

Surfari Charters' Jeff Soderlind starts a new property management company in Popoyo, Nicaragua.

Karina Noguera, the Vacation Rentals Manager of Horizon Group, recently reported a new website,, which will display all of their real estate listings, home construction projects and vacation rentals here in Nicaragua. Be sure to keep your eyes open for our first Horizon Newsletter which we will send out once the site is live.

They now have a large selection of beautiful and diverse vacation rentals all along the Pacific coastline - including San Juan del Sur, Guacalito de la Isla, Hacienda Iguana, Rancho Santana and the Popoyo area.

Contact them for the inside scoop on Popoyo, Nicaragua house rentals and real estate properties and tell them the Nica Chica sent you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wall Street Journal Great Reviews of Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua for years has been on top of various travel agencies' Top Destination lists, but you know you've made it when the acclaimed Wall Street Journal offers accolades to Nicaragua as an enjoyable tourist destination.

Reporter Nicholas Casey recently spent some time down in Granada, Nicaragua, the oldest European city in North America, and had a lot of good things to say about the colonial city, Lake Nicaragua's isletas, ecotourism in the area and the gastronomy of Nicaragua.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cheap Flights to Central America, Costa Rica, Nicaragua on is running a special right now from the USA to Central America.

Sample fares:

Baltimore, MD (BWI) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $335
Chicago, IL (ORD - O'Hare) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $308
Cleveland, OH (CLE) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $516
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $458
Detroit, MI (DTW) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $324
Houston, TX (IAH - Intercontinental) Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR) $458
Houston, TX (IAH - Intercontinental) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $458
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $304
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) Managua, Nicaragua (MGA) $549
New Orleans, LA (MSY) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $538
New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $432
Oklahoma City, OK (OKC) Managua, Nicaragua (MGA) $646
San Antonio, TX (SAT) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $439
San Antonio, TX (SAT) Managua, Nicaragua (MGA) $538
San Francisco, CA (SFO) San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) $439

These fares are valid as of 7:00 a.m. Central, Wed., June 9, 2010 and are subject to change and availability.

See the full list of fares here.

Safe travels!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nicaragua Ranked in Top 5 Latin American Real Estate Destinations

Congratulations Nicaragua on making the Top 5 Latin American Real Estate Destinations, even ahead of Costa Rica!

NuWire Investor recently published its rankings of the Top 5 locations for real estate investment in Latin America. In its analysis, NuWire considered a combination of geographic, economic and political factors; real estate values and rental rates; possibility of natural disasters; cost of living; growth in tourism and other industries; job markets and crime.

The governing parties of many Latin American countries have been historically considered volatile and corrupt, which has discouraged foreign investment in certain areas. As a result, many markets are still in their infancy and NuWire has carefully examined which governments have put forth a sincere effort to change this and attract foreign capital through legitimate means. Peru has, for example, increased its protective measures for private investors and eliminated all restrictions on money transfers in or out of the country. Brazil has a wealth of natural resources and has initiated several programs over the last decade to attract investors to the Northeastern coastal areas. Each country's market has its own unique strengths and every investor can find something of interest in these vibrant markets.

The Top 5 Latin American Real Estate Markets are:

1. Chile

2. Brazil

3. Uruguay

4. Peru

5. Nicaragua

To view the full article, click here.

NuWire Investor provides investment news on a range of alternative investment topics, such as U.S. and international real estate, tax liens and deeds, lending, franchising and others. For more information, and to access additional analysis, research, commentary and expert interviews, see

Here is the text from the Article:

5. Nicaragua

Although Nicaragua is known for its history of political instability and conflict, the previously war-torn nation is desperately trying to attract foreign investment. Government incentives have made Nicaragua real estate appealing to investors, as Nicaragua’s attractions continue to draw more tourists and expatriates.

Nicaragua could become an ideal retirement and vacation destination for millions“Because Nicaragua has historically been overlooked by travelers and real estate investors [in comparison] to Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico, prices have remained extremely affordable,” Henkel Smith, president of Water’s Edge International Realty, said. “Nicaragua's real estate market is definitely still in its infancy, but we see things changing as the number of foreign visitors and investors continue to buy up properties.”
The country has an abundance of natural resources , beautiful landscapes and a government that claims to be welcoming towards foreign investment and tourism. Assuming the government’s expressed attitude towards foreign investment is genuine, Nicaragua appears to be an investor's dream, offering an ideal retirement and vacation destination for millions of people, especially Americans and Europeans.

On the other hand, some investors might find Nicaragua’s political structure to be intimidating; those who perceive President Daniel Ortega ’s position of power as threatening have been discouraged from entering the market. Nevertheless, optimistic investors believe that Ortega’s personal investment in business and tourism projects around the country are a sign that he plans to take a different path this time in office, and that the President is now trying to make amends for his violent past as a young Sandinista revolutionary.

Nicaragua’s investment hotspots are Granada, a colonial town on the bank of Lake Nicaragua, and San Juan Del Sur, a booming fishing village located on the Pacific Ocean just north of Costa Rica. Although a profusion of new developments are happening along the Pacific coast, most of the country awaits significant advancements in Nicaragua infrastructure, providing investors with opportunities to buy property in almost any price range.

Author Information

Marie Langhout
NuWire, Inc.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua Top List of Latin American Real Estate Investment Destinations ranks Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama as the top purchasing destinations for property in Central America.

I specialize in selling and finding property in these specific areas, in addition to Costa Rica's Central Valley for commercial real estate investors and the north west coast of Nicaragua.

2) San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - This small fishing town is firmly on the radar for real estate investors. San Juan sits in a beautiful horseshoe bay with a perfect sunset orientation.San Juan del Sur is developed considerable over the past years. From a sleepy little fishing village to the most important tourism destination on the coast. Infrastucture improvements including road resurfacing, a port upgrade and a new pedestrian walkway have followed.

4) Guancacaste, Costa Rica - This area took off with the building of the Liberia international airport. Some of the worlds biggest hospitality brand names have set up shop including the Four Seasons. The area did experience a slowdown during 2008 following the global economic collapse but has since come back strongly.

5) Central Coast, Nicaragua - This area of Nicaragua’s coastline is under 1hr from the capital city, Managua and is emerging as the country’s most important golfing area.Golfing greats Jack Nicklaus and Mike Young are designing golf courses in the area and the first 9 holes of a third championship course are complete.Blue waters, crashing surf and secluded coves are the attractions here.

First Visit to Isla Ometepe

With nearly 5 years of working and living in Nicaragua, I was finally blessed with the opportunity to visit the twin volcanoes (Maderas and Concepción) of the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. I am now a "believer" in a beauty of Ometepe and a huge fan. My opinion is that everyone who is planning a trip to Nicaragua should make sure to stop here for at least 2 days en route to their next destination.

On Ometepe there are many activities if you have the energy to do anything besides lay in a hammock and gaze out over the green jungle canopy and infinite lake, or "fresh water sea" as the Spanish conquistadors called it. Ometepe is such a serene and magical place, it is easy to see how it remained peaceful and basically neutral during the Sandinista Revolution.

I traveled with some clients and a real estate developer and consultant named Mark Sullivan from Pro Nicaragua Development and El Camino del Sol development and yoga retreat center just outside of San Juan del Sur. We only had 2 days to spend on the island and decided to climb Volcán Maderas - a 5 kilometer vertical hike up and down, but well worth it. Since we went in rainy season, the hike took about 8 hours total due to mud and rain, but it was still fun and exhilarating. The view from different spots in the ascent is better than from the top, which is typically cloudy, but there is also the opportunity to descend into the crater and swim in this volcanic lake. Quite a surreal experience.

After all the hiking and exploring, visitors work up quite an appetite and there are a few authentic, local restaurants to choose from selling fresh, locally sourced food. My personal favorite was a place called "Natural" - a vegetarian restaurant right on the beach in Santo Domingo on the road to Balgue. The charismatic owner is from Managua but has been living on Ometepe for years. My clients and I enjoyed veggie stir fry, curry and pineapple-watermelon rum drinks - all homemade and with a fantastic ambiance and view of the beach and lake.

Real Estate on Ometepe: This island is so paradisiacal, anyone would wonder how to own a piece of this green gold. I may sell real estate, but I also like to buy as much as possible! There are no real estate offices on Ometepe that I have seen, but there are a lot of national brokers on the internet selling property. I would advise that anyone looking for property contact a trusted, referred real estate broker in Nicaragua to assist in an Ometepe property search and confirm that the titles and deeds of any potential properties are clean and clear. Even if you want to buy directly from a property owner and without buyer representation (although I do not recommend this for multiple reasons), make sure you use a trusted lawyer (oxymoron?) for reliable guidance and candidness throughout every step of the transaction. The secret is out, however, as hotel developers have quickly started to stake their claims throughout the island's coastline and the new pavered roads will help to catapult ecotourism over the upcoming years.

In my opinion, Ometepe is the perfect place for any sort of sustainable development project, retirement home, health and wellness retreat center location or farm. Despite relying a bit on deliveries from the main land, almost anything grows on Ometepe and residents rarely like to leave the island.

For those on a budget or interested in mid-long term volunteer work opportunities, there are quite a few organic farms looking for any sort of help:

Ometepe Zopilote:

Project Bonafide
Finca Magdalena:

Casa Campestre:
Hotel Finca del Sol:

Getting There and Away - Island of Ometepe:

Ferries leave regularly from a port east of Rivas to the main port on Ometepe called Moyogalpa. There is food and lodging here and it is a good place to stay the night before you leave on a morning ferry for the mainland. It is also a good base if you want to climb Concepción (1,610 meters alt).

Ferry passage is only 60 cordobas each way (about $3) for pedestrians while cars have to pay up to $30+ each way in taxes. There are gas stations on the island as well. I brought my car and it made the journey quite relaxing without having to worry about transportation. Enjoy a cold Toña or Victoria on the pleasurable 1 hour ride across the lake!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nicaragua Primed for Renewable, Sustainable Energy Projects

There is a saying in Nicaragua, "The country is rich but the people are poor." Basically, Nicaragua is a country full of potential and natural resources despite being one of the most economically poor countries in Latin America. But for any individual, company or government looking to invest in wind, water or solar energy projects while helping philanthropically at the same time, Nicaragua is the perfect place.

A company owned by Centrans and AEI has recently constructed $90 million in windmills in south west Nicaragua, one of the windiest regions in the world. The project is said to be operating at 80% capacity, 60% higher than originally expected. With the first 19 windmills, over 6% of the country's energy needs were met.

The following is an excerpt from Commodity Online, proving Nicaragua's commitment to clean energy and wind power:

Nicaragua secured its commitment to green energy technology by awarding a 30-year license for wind farms in the country, advocates said.

The Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines granted Nicaragua's Blue Power & Energy a 30-year license for a 22-turbine wind farm that could produce 39.6 megawatts of electricity.

PRO Nicaragua, a non-profit economic advocacy group which has offices in Washington, notes that Nicaragua has the potential to generate 800 megawatts of power from wind energy, which represents about 17 percent of the current renewable energy potential for the country.

The Nicaraguan government in 2008 and 2009 awarded several wind energy licenses to bring to the total installed capacity to 100 MW. "This demonstrates the government of Nicaragua's commitment in working actively to promote renewable energy projects in the country in pursuit of transforming the current oil-based energy generation matrix," said the advocacy group.

Nicaragua also has an advantage when it comes to geothermal power, with an active chain of 25 volcanoes in the country. Geothermal power is one of the most reliable, cost effective, sustainable forms of renewable energy available and is limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries.

This just in from a US-based news source:

Reno-based Ram Power Corp. and Nicaraguan natural gas company Disnorte-Dissur are negotiating a power purchase agreement for energy produced by a new geothermal power plant in Nicaragua. Disnorte-Dissur will purchase up to 157 megawatts of power to be developed from Ram Power's Casita San Cristobal geothermal concession.

Both final capacity and power rate figures are subject to approval by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and the electricity regulator. The agreement is expected to be signed this year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Announcing New Website for Real Estate in Costa Rica-Nicaragua

Well everyone knows I love Nicaragua, but Costa Rica was my first introduction to Central America (besides Mexico & the Caribbean) back in 2002. Living and working in Costa Rica also became my eventual gateway to traveling and working and living in Nicaragua beginning in 2006.

Living centrally in Costa Rica also led me to travel in Panama, so I have a lot to thank Costa Rica for!

With that in mind, I have decided to expand my services throughout Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Even a few times on this blog I may weave through topics that have to do with not only Nicaragua, but Costa Rica and Panama as well.

I hope you all enjoy and can use this info to decide where you might be most inclined to live or invest in the future!


Check out more about me, stats and properties on each country and the Costa Rica - Nicaragua - Panama Photo Gallery, as well as lots of fun information and downloadable documents.

Tell your friends!

Northern Nicaragua at Sunrise