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Rise of the Escape Home: Wave of International Relocations Drives Puerto Vallarta’s Real Estate Boom

It’s official: we’re living in the era of the getaway property. Once viewed as a luxury reserved for the ultra-wealthy, escape homes are on the rise as many people seek out places of respite during the pandemic. The latest findings from NAR’s 2021 “Vacation Home Counties Report” prove it: Vacation home sales grew by 16.4% in 2020, and they’re still riding the wave of growth this year.

Brock Squire, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker La Costa in Puerta Vallerta, Mexico, has found himself on the front lines of the trend. This year to date, there has been a 48% increase in the number of free-standing villas compared to last year, and a 94% increase in the number of condominiums sold, he says.

SMALL Brock Squire

Brock Squire, Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker La Costa in Puerto Vallerta

“Overall, the median price increased by 13% for attached homes while detached homes/villas have seen an 88% increase in median sales prices,” he noted. He credits several cultural changes with the sudden uptick in interest for Mexican vacation homes.

“It goes a little deeper than just people being able to work from home,” he theorizes. “I think it’s about people’s realization that their families and health are really important. They see our market and how much house they can get for their money, and they realize that they can own a property they can visit again and again, while also being able to enjoy fun activities together.”

Squire has watched as the Puerta Vallerta real estate market has surged over the decades. He has been deeply involved in the marketing and sales of high-end properties in the Puerto Vallarta area since the mid-1980s when he first relocated to the Mexican coastal retreat with his wife, Bonnie, from Vancouver, B.C. His firm, originally known as Brock Squire y Asociados subsequently became the first Coldwell Banker franchise in Mexico in 1998. Today, he manages three offices with over 80 agents spanning from the Bay of Banderas area to Puerta Vallerta and the Punta Minta golfing community.

To get the inside scoop, we interviewed Squire virtually to ask him about the current state of Puerta Vallerta’s luxury housing market, where the hotspots and hidden gems can be found, and where he sees local real estate moving in the future.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury How have you seen the market mature since you’ve been with CB La Costa?

Brock Squire Without question, the real estate market has matured exponentially in Puerto Vallarta. The number and quality of amenities in the area, the quality of restaurants, shops, bars and clubs has definitely become much better and much more sophisticated. The quality and affordable healthcare has also made the prospect of full or part-time residency much more secure and interesting.

With these improvements and changes has come a much more sophisticated level of residential offerings, which when compared to other parts of North America, are extremely well-priced.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury How would you characterize the luxury housing market in Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta right now?

Brock Squire The traditional ‘high-end’ market in Puerto Vallarta is mostly concentrated on the South Shore about 5 to 20 minutes from ‘town.’ Over the past 6 to 8 months these free-standing villa properties in the $850,000 up to $3.5 million range have been typically selling in 30 to 100 days. There are very few oceanfront or beachfront properties available, most of which have been picked up inside the 30-day period often at full or over price.

In this same area, high-end condominium residences – especially those on the beachfront – have been sold mostly in pre-construction before the buildings even get out of the ground. Prices on these 2 and 3 bedroom units are ranging from about $600,000 to $1.5 million and would typically be 1,500 to 2,400 square feet in size with full amenity packages included.

In the 1,700-acre Punta Mita Resort, located about 40 minutes north of the airport and characterized by the Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort Hotel, St Regis Resort Hotel and 2 amazing Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, prices are much higher. Large, beachfront Estate Villas are selling in the $12 million to $27 million range and smaller townhouse style and 3-bedroom luxury condos selling from $2 million to $5 million in a very brisk market with very little inventory currently available.

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son reve beach

Son Reve

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Where have been the biggest areas of growth for your marketplace this year?

Brock Squire The largest areas of growth have been in the urban resort areas located in the Old Town area of Puerto Vallarta now known as the Romantic Zone. Over the past year, there have been approximately 20 relatively small (20 to 60 units) condominium buildings built and sold out with about 10 more under construction at the present time. These units sell for between $200,000 and $700,000 and up.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What’s driving the new wave of international relocations from your point of view?

Brock Squire People are buying to enhance their lifestyle while at the same time working remotely.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury In your estimation, how many of your buyers are second homeowners vs. permanent residents?

Brock Squire Second homeowners represent about 60 to 65% of our business, while people relocating permanently here represent about 35 to 40%.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Are you beginning to see new demographics come into the market as well?

Brock Squire Yes. The LGBTQ community is a large and growing part of the demographic in Puerto Vallarta and drive new bars, restaurants, and shops.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Where are buyers typically coming from?

Brock Squire Mostly from North America. About 55% come from the United States, 25% from Mexico and about 12 % from Canada.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What are some of the hottest luxury spots for ex pats right now?

Brock Squire Without a doubt, Punta Mita! This resort encompasses over 1,600 acres with 16 different communities, Four Seasons Hotel, St Regis Hotel, two Jack Nicklaus Signature courses, fivebeach clubs, tennis center, fitness center, and walking paths throughout the entire area.

villa view

A four-bedroom Four Seasons Private Villa in Punta Mita recently sold.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury And where are the good buys?

Brock Squire Newly built or pre-construction sales of condominium buildings, found in areas like the Romantic Zone or Versalles, an up-and-coming neighborhood known for its incredible gastronomic experience.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What has been the most surprising thing to you this year?

Brock Squire The absolute strength in the market over the past two quarters.

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Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Do you think resort markets like Puerta Vallerta will still have a larger impact on the luxury real estate landscape as a whole through 2021 and even into 2022?

Brock Squire A lot will depend upon the direction of the COVID-19 waves. If it keeps under control, we will see the market continue through 2022. If not, we may start to see a drop in the real estate market.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Where do you see the real estate market in Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta heading?

Brock Squire We will continue to see strong growth in the region as we have now tipped beyond the small resort, high seasonality of the area. We will see continued growth across all sectors and especially the high-end markets mostly centered out towards and inside Punta Mita.

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