Archive for the 'Real Estate' Category

Ushering in 2009

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

I feel I should write a post that ushers in the New Year and dismisses the Old Year, or something. So here goes.

I began 2008 with a lot more money in the bank than I ended it with. I’m a long-term investor so I’m not very bent out of shape about it, it will come back, but I did like having more money.

When the year began the exchange rate between the Mexican Peso and the U.S. Dollar was such that our house was worth more than twice what we originally paid for it (in Dollars). At year end our house is worth quite a bit less in Dollars, though still more than we paid for it. That’s frustrating. So now I’m really rooting for the Peso to gain strength against the Dollar again. Go Peso!

I began 2008 thinking that selling real estate in Mexico was something I might be good at. By May I’d been stabbed in the back on two big deals and had come to believe that if you lie down with wolves you might not get back up again. I love looking at real estate and have a strong understanding of real estate investing, so I may still help my friends find places to buy, but I’ve learned that I have to keep it light and not think of it as my work.

In 2008 my web design business made more money than ever before. I learned to be more efficient. I got faster and more importantly, I grew more realistic about what I can do for clients.

In 2008 I missed my kid way too much. As one friend told me recently “it makes you old before your time to live away from your kids.” I was happy to see her at both Thanksgiving (In November) and at Christmas, so we ended the year very close. But it still rots not to live with her.

We began 2008 with 10 cats and 1 dog. We ended with 8 cats and 2 dogs. Overall the house is happier with 2 dogs in it. But we still miss the two cats that died, one of them left a sister-cat who still cries for her, the other left his mama who isn’t close to any other kitties.

I’m not one for making lots of New Year’s Resolutions because I think it sets one up to fail. But there are several things I want and need to change this year. My one Resolution is to stop working on weekends. And I think if I stop working weekends I will automagically change other things that need to change because I will be taking more time for me and will be less stressed.

Here’s wishing you all a happy, fruitful 2009!

Like I’m Actually Important

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I got blind-sided. When I was on vacation, up north, I was doing my best to check my email quickly and then get off the computer. I had better things to do (in other words I wasn’t paying much attention to my email). While I was there I got a request for an interview. I didn’t give it much thought. I figured it was yet another ex-pat-in-Mexico interview. I said yes, since, as you all know, I’m always happy to have an excuse to blab on and on and on.

Well, when I got the interview questions they were, like, hard. And they demanded intelligent and well thought-out responses. Uh-oh! So I spent a few days pondering, which is always fun (I wish I could get paid to ponder). And then one day over the weekend the answers came out as fast as I could type (love it when that happens). Read it and weep, or don’t, or whatever: Mexico Real Estate Investment Interview

My Childhood Home

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I was just browsing around in Gary Denness’ Flickr Account (he’s a blogger who lives in Mexico City) and I was struck, once again, by the realization that being surrounded by good architecture is critical to the health of my soul.

This is all my parents’ fault. Of course. When I was little they bought a huge beautiful Victorian house (this followed living in a tent for a year). The house had soaring 15 foot ceilings and 6 bay windows, 2 of them in the living room. It had 8 bedrooms and 2 kitchens. It had 3 floors, a full basement, a barn, several outbuildings and so much more that any real estate agent would get writer’s cramp trying to take it all down.

But most of what that house had was classy architecture. It was beautiful inside and out. Every surface was nice, from the polished wooden floors to the fancy woodwork around the windows to the plush red carpeting on the wide staircases. There was room for everything and the spaces honored the people in them. It was a house that graced its occupants, it made you feel good. And everyone loved being in that house, it was always full of friends and family and neighbors and stray animals and I even remember a duck, once.

That house spoiled me. No house I’ve lived in since has felt so generous or so gracious. No house I’ve lived in since has made me feel honored like that. But when I see really beautiful buildings I get a taste of that back. And someday I’d like to buy another house that I really, really love. But this one can be a little smaller, that way maybe I can afford to, you know, paint it.

P.S. Check out Gary’s blog: The Mexile.

Cats, God and I need a day off

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I’m a bit frazzled. I’ve got several real estate buyers in town right now, and I’ve got several web design deadlines in the next two days. Not a good mix. Real estate is this open-ended, lengthy schmooze process. While web design takes total concentration with no distractions or other appointments. I’m seriously considering pulling an all-nighter, I feel like I’m 18 again (and I mean that only in the worst possible way).

My daughter called and said that her agnostic/atheist father had just given her a 40 year old Bible and “how cool is that?” (I’m wondering if he wanted to make space on the bookshelf). And I’m thinking that it’s cool that she thinks that’s cool, because she was not raised with a religion, she was raised to choose her own religion, if she wants to. One of my recent conversations with her involved me reading long passages from the Old Testament to her over the phone and providing my ribbing commentary along the way (there was quite a bit of giggling, especially about not coveting thy neighbor’s ass). Anyway, I think it’s great that she’s think her Bible is cool. Perhaps it’s time for her that grandmother who has a Ph.D in Religious Studies to give her grand daughter a call… Oh Mom?

Meanwhile the next book my Book Club is going to read will be The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever edited by Christopher Hitchens. One member of the Book Club stated that she “didn’t believe in Atheists”, I’m pretty sure she voted against this book, but she lost (we have a very democratic voting system). Regardless of viewpoint I’m sure that book will make for a great discussion. And a great discussion is the only possible excuse for all the wine we drink at those meetings.

Besides musings on God and his lack, and real estate and my lack of focus on web stuff my big thing right now is my cats. Surprised right? Flaco’s death has made me appreciate the living. So I’m trying to actually pet each of the living breathing 9 cats every day. This is harder than it sounds, since several of them hide under beds night and day and only come out for meals. I’m kind of forcing love on them, I feel a bit odd, “you will accept my love, like it or not”. But my eldest and fattest, and probably most frail, Grace, the 17 year old cat that I rescued back in Colorado, is appreciating all the attention. She’s even waking me up at night by purring in my ear. So I think I’m on the right track.

And an update on things local

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Just a quick update. Sam is fine after being tumbled by a car. He’s had no lasting side effects. His scrapes are healing. I don’t think he has learned his lesson yet, however.

I might have a future owner for that beautiful orange tabby street cat I rescued. But I’m not sure. Meanwhile I fall more in love with her each time I chase her down and pick her up and force lovin’ on her until she purrs. And guess what? She’s getting a little fat now, I guess starving on the street makes one hungry, for life.

Real estate continues to be busy. Lots of inquiries and much to do on that front.

We are going to be offering beach front condos on a gorgeous beach just north of Playa del Carmen for under $100k usd each…we expect to be very busy with that, but we are still working on the marketing plan, so you just have to wait until we’ve got it figured out.

I’m turning down web site work right and left. I did succumb to the begging an pleading of one old, old friend and agreed to help with a small project. (He really only needs me to guide him, I don’t have to muck around in too much code.) But I’m actively turning down proper paying work so I can have some hope of finishing the work I’ve got promised now. I get tired just thinking about it.

Oh and my husband bought me a lovely sapphire ring for my upcoming 40th birthday. And lovely sucker that he is, he gave it to me EARLY! So I’ve got a beautiful rock on my finger now. I hate to sound like a vapid materialistic wench, but I honestly do feel a deep contentment when I look at that beautiful stone. It somehow symbolizes that I’ve arrived somewhere, and I can celebrate this moment forever, it has a deep meaning. I don’t know if that makes sense to others, but I’m happy with my new rock.

Condos For Sale

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

I’ve just posted two new real estate listings on the Mexira Real Estate web site. Both are condos and are being sold fully furnished.

The first is a 3 bedroom for sale in Cancun’s hotel zone. It’s in Bay View Grand and is on the beach. It’s gorgeous inside, in fact each time I’ve been there I’ve had a fantasy about throwing a black tie cocktail party there. See: Bay View Grand Condo

The second condo is in Playa del Carmen. It’s got 2 bedrooms and is around the corner from Quinta Avenida (5th Ave.). The location is great and the condo has a lot of nice extras. See: Playa del Carmen Condo

Both of these condos are competitively priced, so that should make them relatively easy to sell.

Real Estate In Cancun Is Picking Up

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Cancun is dead right now, there are almost no tourists here right now. And according to my airport spies there are barely any planes landing in Cancun these days. But I can tell that people are thinking about this area because just in the last few weeks the real estate business has really picked up significantly. We’ve been getting a lot of calls and serious inquiries from buyers in recent weeks and lots of sellers have been contacting us as well.

I’ve been given a number of listings for nice properties in just the last couple of weeks. I’m grateful that people have such faith in me. And I hope I can help them out by selling the properties for them. So far I only have one of my new listings up on the Mexira site. See: Home For Sale In El Table.

I’ve also got a listing coming along for a lovely 3 bedroom professionally decorated condo on the beach in the Hotel Zone, but it hasn’t been priced yet. More on that one next week. It’s a special property.

And I’m very excited to say that I’ve gotten a listing for a small boutique hotel located somewhere in the Riviera Maya, on the water. This one will be fun to sell.

In a previous life I worked for a business broker, so working on a hotel sale feels like going back to something I know well. In fact, I’m bringing in my old boss at the business brokerage to help me with the marketing package for this. She’s got over 20 years’ experience and I am excited to do a big deal with her. Plus, it gives her an excuse to come down and visit me (we are close friends).

Good things are happening. And we, in this house, are finally over the endless sinus infection, so everyone is feeling better. Yay.

Forgive my irreverence

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Perhaps it’s because I just went to see Los Simpson La Pelicula (just for you Portland), and it put me in an inane mood, but I’m feeling quite irreverent. However, I think I really ought to post, despite that, and get you all caught up on my little corner of the world.

Big news around here is that we did finally get all the way through the condo-buying-process with the (I think he’s a stoner) seller, who spent most of the purchase process actually being MORE stubborn than my husband is. So while the two of them have been stubborning themselves (or each other) I’ve spent the last two months repeating my mantra, which is “don’t walk away from the negotiating table”. Because, the number one rule in any negotiation is that the deal is not dead if you are still at the table, even if you knock the table over…

And so the deal didn’t die, but it did whine and moan and groan and bleed a lot. And we (finally) have possession. And the building the condo is in is over 20 years old. And the windows have not been cleaned since they were INSTALLED! Gak! I will have hay-fever for the next year from kicking up the dust while I clean those grimy things.

And it looks like the kitchen sink needs to be replaced, which we weren’t planning on.

And then there are the neighbors upstairs, who my husband thinks are probably hit-men, since they don’t seem to work at all and just play dominoes all day while grumbling into their phones like secret agents.

And then there’s the VIEW, which is of NOTHING, except it’s of trees, which is everything. So many condos here (away from the beach) have ugly views. Cancun is a concrete shoe-box city and there’s lots of not nice non-architecture to look at. But this condo has windows facing 3 directions and all windows, but one, look at trees and one looks at trees and a park also.

And finally there’s the LOCATION, which apart from not being on the beach, is fantastic. You can walk to 3 major grocery stores, Starbucks, the best liquor store in town, Blockbuster, a good sushi joint and even a McDonald’s. You don’t need a car in that location, though there is an assigned parking spot in case you have one. Other landlords who own in the building tell us that units in this building are in demand and rent in just hours. We will see if we have that kind of luck or not.

We need to paint, and fix the screens, and install a few lights and at least one ceiling fan, and probably lots of other things, but we hope to have it ready to rent out by mid-September. If I don’t die from Dengue before then (from all the mosquito bites due to the lack of screens) then I will be sure to post when we’ve got our first renter nailed to the wall with a contract.

In the meantime, I’ll be painting, and cleaning, and watching for bodies falling from the roof.

Isla Blanca – Before it’s too late

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

To get the chill of New-England-in-July out of my bones I headed up north to Isla Blanca within 18 hours of landing in Cancun last week. Isla Blanca is not actually an island but more of a skinny little mini-cape that curls around Laguna Chakmochuk, north of Punta Sam.

At some places in Isla Blanca there’s not much more than a hundred yards between the ocean and the lagoon. The lagoon is very shallow, and when you muck around in it the water is always really, really warm. The ocean-side has miles of white sandy beach with a bit of turtle grass seaweed thrown up on it by the waves. The water is that perfect Caribbean turquoise color.

Isla Blanca: Looking west at Laguna Chakmochuk
Looking west from the beach at Isla Blanca, you can see Laguna Chakmochuk is just a few hundred yards away

We first fell in love with Isla Blanca 4 years ago, when we moved to Cancun. Back then the road was mostly unimproved, and there were just a few shacks and palapas up there. And I remember remarking the first time I was there that Mexico should preserve Isla Blanca as a National Park.

Our first time up there we saw all manner of water birds, I remember seeing several herons, and many, many pelicans, and the usual million frigate birds, and lots of other birds I can’t identify.

Isla Blanca: Looking north
Looking north from the beach at Isla Blanca

But of course, why would they make a National Park out of it when they can sell it to developers instead? Silly me. Since I first laid eyes on Isla Blanca there’s been all kinds of development between Punta Sam and where the road ends at Isla Blanca. I’m not up to date on all of what’s happening there, but I know that an artificial lake was built up there, I saw them lining it with a massive square-mile rubber membrane. And I know they’ve built a golf course. And there’s at least one hotel going in up there, though I suspect it’s actually more than one. I should know more, but I’ve been so disgusted that Isla Blanca is not being preserved that I have deliberately tuned out news of it’s development.

I know, I suck, head in the sand and all that, clinging to my ignorance deliberately. But money rules here, and I just find it depressing the way Mexico allows it’s most beautiful places to get taken over by hotels. Once the hotels come in the herons will move out, and the Mexicans will be pushed aside and the only people who will enjoy the beauty of (what’s left of) Isla Blanca will be the tourists. And that’s not good enough for me, in fact it makes me sick.

Isla Blanca: Looking north
Looking south from the beach at Isla Blanca

But, for now, there are still places in Isla Blanca where you, me, anybody, can go and enjoy a pristine powder sand beach and a seemingly endless view unbroken by hulking ugly hotels.

To get to Isla Blanca we took Bonampak Avenue north out of Cancun. And when, close to Punta Sam, we came to a big manicured glorieta (traffic circle) where there was a gate, we went 3/4 of the way around the circle and got on a road that runs just west of the gate. We took that road until we reached another traffic circle and this time made our way off the paved road onto a dirt road running next to a shack.

Sam the sandy man at Isla Blanca
Sam the sandy man enjoying the beach at Isla Blanca

Once on this dirt road you simply follow the road until the very end. At the end of the road is a ramshackle “restaurant”, not that I would trust my stomach or health to that place, but people do eat there. We parked just south of the restaurant and then huffed it with all our stuff (cooler, beach chairs, umbrella, spy novels, dog) north up the beach another half a kilometer.

And that’s where we took the pictures I’ve posted here. There’s a bit of seaweed there. And sometimes there’s some garbage, but not much by un-hotel-groomed Mexican beach standards.

I don’t know how long Isla Blanca will remain open and accessible. Maybe some part of it will always be open to Mexican non-tourists. I hope so. But I won’t bet on it.

Google Earth image of Isla Blanca
Google Earth image of Isla Blanca, the marker is just about where we took the photos

Before Hurricane Wilma hit the road to Isla Blanca went further north. Wilma appears to have destroyed the last half a mile of it or so. Better I say, for it’s lack helps preserve the beautiful wild place that still is Isla Blanca.

I warn you though, people HAVE discovered Isla Blanca. Our pictures were taken on Sunday, and you don’t see people in them only because we walked north, away from all the people. Down by the restaurant, where we parked, there were several hundred people enjoying the beach. I highly recommend visiting Isla Blanca during the week if you can. If you come mid-week you will see almost no one. Regardless, when you do come be sure to walk north, the farther north you go the more pristine Isla Blanca is.

Puerto Cancun In Pictures

Monday, June 4th, 2007

We took the dog over to run along the beach near Puerto Cancun the other day. The continued flattening out of nature is progressing there. There are now some huge rusty pipes laying on the beach. And we saw a few big earth moving machines there. But on a Sunday morning there it’s still tranquil. And, for now, it’s the closest beach to our house that we feel comfortable letting the dog loose on.

Puerto Cancun is a place of contrasts, right now, it’s peaceful and yet everywhere are signs of impending the development. Every time I go over there it’s different. Eventually my dog won’t be welcome there and I’ll probably stop going over there. Here are some pictures:

Puerto Cancun: View of sea
They have not chopped down every single tree, just most of them.

Puerto Cancun: Heron
I spent 20 minutes photographing this heron, he wasn’t scared of my dog.

Puerto Cancun: Morning Glories
Some morning glories making their glory.

Puerto Cancun: Watching
These two were just sitting there, seemingly watching the pile of earth in front of them. They seemed out of place to me, and yet looked perfectly at ease.

Puerto Cancun: Homeless
This is a shelter that someone was sleeping in, his feet were just inside the shadow area. I felt sick when I saw that someone was calling this home.

Puerto Cancun: View of sea
Another view of the Caribbean Sea, and another tree that hasn’t, yet, been cut down.

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