All posts by Steve Strode

Real Solutions

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I’ve been asked why I am involved in both local and international real estate, coming out of such a global economic crisis. First, it’s because the real estate world is becoming smaller and it’s what people expect. But perhaps more importantly, it’s because of events over the past several years that I have become so involved.

On the whole, people buying properties outside the United States are not fabulously wealthy, living a jet set lifestyle. They are solidly middle class, looking for a cost-effective yet desirable alternative to places like Palm Springs, Phoenix, and Fort Lauderdale for vacation or investment property.  And for people nearing retirement, they face the real dilemma of how to not outlive their financial assets.

Consider this: Ernst & Young reported last year that three out of five (60%) middle class retirees would outlive their assets if they did not cut back on spending significantly.

A major source of funding that many people planned on for retirement was home equity. The plan was to sell their appreciated asset and buy homes in warmer climates, banking much of the cash for additional income. While for many that is still possible, for others looking/needing to retire very soon, that amount may be substantially less than expected.

Enhance your lifestyle and spend far less? It’s possible, and Nicaragua may be right for you. With a growing ex-pat community, the friendliness of the Nicaraguan people, and cost-effective housing options – all in one of the safest countries in our hemisphere – be prepared to be surprised.  I work with developers that offer homes built to American standards, with many priced under $200,000 in a new urbanist neighborhood, and near the ocean to boot!  Combine that with the ability to live on $1000-$1200 per month, and you truly can enhance your life and spend less. Please feel free to contact me, and I can send you a complete budget with actual receipts to show you how viable this is.

Even if  the idea of buying a home outside the  United States is just a twinkle in your eye, please do not hesitate to contact me. It all begins with an initial conversation and a plan.

To my REALTOR colleagues – contact me, too. We offer attractive referrals and make it easy for you and your clients.

Proxio – A valuable new listing service

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“All markets are local” is a phrase often used by the National Association of Realtors during our Public Awareness Campaigns. This is very true, and it underscores the need to contact a local market professional before buying or selling real estate.

However, when it comes to selling your home, your Realtor’s marketing plan should include promoting your property as far and wide as possible. As a member of FIABCI (the International Real Estate Federation), I am excited to announce we have partnered with Proxioa truly international MLS. Plus, the agents who belong to both FIABCI and Proxio specialize in working with global clients.

I can list your property on Proxio at no added cost, and give you a competitive edge in a very competitive market. Please call me if you’re thinking about buying or selling. It all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.

I’m going to the United Nations!

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As a member of FIABCI (the International Real Estate Federation), I am fortunate to network, share ideas, and learn from some of the best in the business globally. Founded 60 years ago, FIABCI is based in Paris and has chapters in 65 countries; FIABCI-USA is the only real estate organization to represent the entire spectrum of the industry in the United States.

FIABCI also maintains a Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, and I am excited to be the only Realtor from Oregon who is attending this event on October 22nd.

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Securites Based Loans

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I have been in contact with a direct, private lender specializing exclusively in Securites Based Loans. These loans are different from real estate loans in that the loan is not on the real estate, but on a borrower’s portfolio (stocks, bonds, treasuries, mutual funds). The money can be used for any purpose, which is often real estate. The borrower retains all benecial interest in the shares (dividends, appreciation).

A brief summary provided to me by Anita Rodal, SBPI Services, Inc.:

  • They can lend worldwide, with securities on almost any exchanges in the world.
  • Minimum loan amount:  $100,000 /  minimum term:  3 years.
  • Total time from application to funding is approximately 10 business days.
  • Loan periods from 3-10 years.
  • Interest rates from 2.5% to 4.5% fixed, interest only, payments due quarterly.
  • 80% Loan to Value .
  • Great for foreign nationals purchasing here, or Americans purchasing real estate outside the United States.

Disclaimer: This is not financial or legal advice, but rather a general overview of another financing option for homebuyers and investors who hold publicly traded  stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. –  and want to borrow money against them. As always, I am happy to refer you to qualified professionals.

If you have dreams of buying a second  home or investment property outside the United States, please contact me. It all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.

House Hunters International

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House Hunters International is featuring my colleague – Mike Cobb – referenced in an earlier post.  Watch July 31st.  If you have any interest after the show, just give me a call. There are properties available or planned for a number of Latin American destinations, so we can talk through which might be the best option for you.

Remember, it all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.

Link to HGTV site:    http://bit.ly/hrtZt

“It’s beautiful, BUT…”

Some people that I talk to about Nicaragua share a similar concern. Is it safe? Fortunately, that is one of the easiest questions to answer. YES! Risk Briefing Services, part of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) confirms this. So, not only is Nicaragua beautiful, with some of the warmest and friendliest people you will find anywhere – you could live in or retire to one of the safest countries in the Western Hemisphere!

Isn’t shattering myths refreshing?

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Meeting Recap / Good stuff indeed

img_13252I had a thoroughly enjoyable meeting yesterday with Mike Cobb, Chairman & CEO of ECI Development. He was visiting Portland and the Northwest from Managua with his family. Present at the meeting were four local investors and me. Since I have been promoting one of ECI’s developments, Gran Pacifica, it was great to meet one of the company’s co-founders – as well as learn about ECI’s short and long-term plans for growth in Latin America. While visiting Nicaragua last year, I saw numerous sites with properties for sale; just as in the US, not all things are equal. Some were divided up for speculators who planned to buy low and sell high a few years later. In many of these same developments, very little was invested in the infrastructure for roads, water, electricity, etc. The developers were highly leveraged and now have to sell or the properties have gone into receivership.

Cobb’s group takes a markedly different approach. They invest heavily in infrastructure – roads that will sustain the rainy seasons, water systems that provide consistent pressure, and drainage that moves the water away from residences. These investments are made up front – not promises that may or may not materialize. They also own the property outright. So, when the market slows as it has globally, they aren’t in imminent danger of not making the next payment!

Mike gave me a copy of ECI’s Prospectus which contains some great information about the company’s strategic plan and several studies commissioned by their group. Studies include “Retirement vulnerability of new retirees: The likelihood of outliving their assets” by Ernst & Young, and “Resort Real Estate Study, Industry Perspective on Consumer Trends Emerging from Economic Crisis.” His company is positioned for the long term, as evidenced by the thoughtful and comprehensive approach they take to their business. I am happy to share whatever information I can to help you make an informed decision.

Millions of people, literally, will be taking advantage of some unprecedented opportunities to invest in real estate during the current downturn – both domestically and internationally. I can help in either case. It is critical to be armed with accurate data and be connected to skilled professionals, and that’s where I can help.

My current and future areas of focus include:

Belize
Panama
Nicaragua
Costa Rica
Argentina
Chile

(and of course, buyer and seller clients in Portland Metro!)

If any of these appeal to you, please contact me. It all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.

Ten Second Poll

In addition to selling real estate in Portland’s Close In neighborhoods, I can be your resource to locate and buy property across the border or overseas. I network extensively with other brokers specializing in international real estate, travel to other countries to see and learn about real estate first-hand, and have direct relationships with specialists in those markets.

In order for me to best serve my clients, it is important for me to know what areas are most important to you. I am planning my late summer and fall business trips now and I would love to know what areas interest you most. So, please take the quick poll. Or, please email (steve@nicavistas.com) or call me (503.490.4116) to discuss your interests – whether they’re short term or long term.  It all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.

[polldaddy poll=”1720545″] Poll Closed. Thanks for contributing

June Promotion – Gran Pacifica

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Whether you’re looking to make your first real estate purchase overseas, or to add property to your portfolio, here is a great promotion for anyone who is decisive and ready to act. Gran Pacifica has a straightforward process to complete the ownership paperwork, and have a reservation option if you’ll be financing. They will also help with travel arrangements to visit the neighborhood prior to finalizing your decision. Please contact me for full details, but below is a brief overview.

Special Price $39,000 & will return to $69,900 on July 1st, 2009

  • Price until close of business (must have funds wired) June 30th
  • Price is $39,000 cash, or finance 50% for 11.5% interest
  • Lots are approximately ¼ acre, 10,000 sq. ft. MOL
  • No HOA fees until the infrastructure installed…about 3 years
  • If funds received by June 30th, all closing costs are paid
  • You can own three lots in a package for $99k
  • Build, hold, or flip…..your choice

If you’re not ready to purchase now – but owning a tropical home is a longer term goal – that’s fine too. Let’s start discussing the What, Where, When, and How of your future dreams. The first step is to make a plan!

BEST Awards

stumptownMy colleague David, & I – plus David’s fellow-WI-native-mom!, attended the 17th annual BEST Awards this morning. Since 1993, awards are given to Portland area companies which demonstrate business practices that promote both economic growth and environmental benefits. Remarks were given by Mayor Sam Adams, who outlined both 1) why Portland is so ahead of the curve in the US,  and in rarefied company internationally with cities like Copenhagen and Oslo, and 2) momentum must continue to build from a community-based approach (not top-down from the Feds.).   That these awards have been presented here for 17  years underscores the leading role our city plays.  I chuckled when I read this week that one visiting official from Wisconsin said last week, to paraphrase, “Milwaukie, Oregon will probably get light rail before Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” I don’t doubt it. Milwaukee just spent approximately $810,000,000 reworking the state’s largest “freeway” interchange – yet provided no new alternatives for commuters heading downtown.

The keynote speaker was New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, a native Oregonian, who discussed climate change and its affect on human rights. His topic was,  “How ordinary people and small businesses in Portland can set an example for the country by pioneering sustainable technologies, promoting green jobs and developing equitable economic models.”

Our federal stubbornness and heads-in-the sand approach of the past decade is yielding to a science and evidence-based review of our actions on this Globe.  At a time when local employment news is dismal and housing stats are still disappointing, events like these are excellent perspective – and remind us that we’re on the right track locally.   The world is moving progressively in a new direction to avert climate change disasters – and our fair city is consistently looked to as a role model to be part of that change.

Congrats to the 2009 BEST Awards Winners!

BEST Practices for Sustainability for Very Small Companies
Portland Hawthorne Hostel

BEST Practices for Sustainability for Small Companies
One Green World / Northwoods Nursery

BEST Practices for Sustainability for Medium Companies
Elite Care at Fanno Creek

BEST Practices for Sustainability for Large Companies
Epson Portland Inc.

Sustainable Products or Services
Refind Furniture (Our United Villages)
Timber Pro UV Natural Wood Finishes

Green Building
Tenant Improvement LEED Platinum Studio of Boora Architects
New Construction / Major Renovation Humboldt Gardens

Sustainable Food Systems
Ladybug Organic Coffee Company
Organically Grown Company