The very first Latin America real estate round-up we ever published here was on Guatemala. Since Luxury Latin America launched before the U.S. financial crisis hit and took many expat markets down with it, however, a lot has changed in the Americas. So we’ve updated our story with a focus on the hottest market in the country by far, Antigua.
You could say that Antigua fared better than most markets during the housing crisis, not dropping nearly as hard as Boquette, Roatan, San Miguel de Allende, and other favorite spots for retirees. This is partly because prices were never all that outrageous to start with. Also, the drop in foreign buyers coincided with a rise in more prosperous domestic ones. This is what Marlon Catalon had to say when I met him at his Century 21 Antigua Fine Homes office in Antigua:
The real estate buyers in this city back [in 2008] were about 40% foreign and 60% local. Now it’s more like 20% foreign and 80% local. We have a lot more buyers from the capital who want a vacation home they’ll use for three or four weeks a year and rent out the rest of the time. For many of them this is not even their second home: it’s their third or fourth one.
This means that Antigua is a place you buy into because it’s a relatively sure investment, not because you’re going to find the bargain of a lifetime. This is a UNESCO World Heritage city with serious building restrictions and a limited size to the historic core. There are only so many colonial era homes for sale, yet most people who are buying or renting want to be walking distance from the center.
Renting is a key aspect here because the market for rentals is a large one, especially on weekends and during Guatemalan vacation periods. So not only do you have good potential for appreciation, but you can conceivably make an annual return on your investment that looks quite healthy—far better than you’re going to get from bonds or a savings account.
Expect to pay what you would pay for a house or condo in a mid-sized city in the USA or Canada though, which often shocks visitors who think prices in a developing country are automatically going to be cheap. They may be in the countryside and even Guatemala City condos are less expensive than those in Antigua. Because this historic, beautiful small city is where everyone wants to be.
See the full story here: Luxury Real Estate in Antigua, Guatemala.