2020 was undoubtedly one of the most stressful, nerve-wracking, and scary years of the past century. Yet, in spite of Covid-19 and a looming new strain of Covid rearing its ugly head, the global real estate market has been on fire … and in Ecuador, the local scene is reflecting this international trend, with record-breaking sales in the last six months. So what’s to come in 2021? Only time will tell, but based on some experts, the real estate market just might surprise us all.
Ronan McMahon, International Living’s roving real estate reporter sees 2021 as an exceptional year with big opportunities for smart investors. “If you want to own property overseas, create a life of ease, travel, fun, and adventure; insulate yourself from the ups and downs of the stock market, and enjoy more financial and personal freedom,” says McMahon, ” then 2021 promises to be an exceptional year.”
McMahon, who just published a report on global investing for International Living, says, ” Investing in real estate (in the right way, in the right places) can make very good sense in a volatile world. It can generate income, it’s not subject to the rapid and wild fluctuations other asset classes suffer, it can make investors rich, and it’s an asset that one can live in and enjoy, too.”
Although the hotel and entertainment industry worldwide has taken a hit because of the pandemic, some properties, like Cuenca’s iconic hotel Mansion Alcazar, are targeting just such speculative global investors. The hotel offers savvy investors a multitude of profit-making possibilities whether acquiring a world-class hotel at a spectacularly low price or turning the luxury boutique destination into high-end residential suites, a lavish condo complex; a restorative spa or retreat; a meeting, special events or conference center. … the popularity of the hotel and Cuenca is fueling this potential.
Ecuador currently ranks #6 in International Living’s annual report “The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2020,” which is also encouraging investors to take notice, much like they did 10 years ago when there was a real estate boon in Ecuador and Cuenca was ranked #1 with IL.
Jim Taschereau, an international immigration specialist believes that in the next two years Cuenca, Ecuador will again see a resurgence of expats moving to the city. “Those who came after 2009 were mostly older retirees inspired by recommendations from such media sources as Live and Invest Overseas and International Living. The new expats will be younger; many with families, some of them planning to start businesses or telecommute back to North America and Europe. Proportionately, there will be more Europeans.”
Taschereau is currently coordinating research on what he calls “voluntary immigration” in a joint project with the London School of Economics and the University of Illinois in the U.S,
He adds “Cuenca should expect a new rush of expats in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s the ease of getting around, especially on foot. There’s the new tram, which will be attractive even for those who don’t ride it since it is a marker for good infrastructure. Because of the city’s size, there’s also a level of sophistication in such areas as entertainment, culture, and dining that many people prefer. Most important, especially for prospective expats considering Latin America, is the safety factor in Cuenca.”
Ecuador also gets good marks on high-quality, affordable healthcare. The Bloomberg Report recently rated Ecuador as having the 20th most efficient healthcare system among advanced economies, while the U.S. ranked near the bottom in 46th place.
Emphasis on health and wellness is one of the fastest-growing trends in real estate, meaning the demand for smart-homes, proximity to hospitals and clinics, and seamless transitions into the fresh air (think oversized windows, patios, terraces and outdoor spaces) is paramount for many buyers. Sustainability and demand for fresh and healthy food have many buyers moving to a country location or a home, vs. a condo where they can grow their own food. Smart builders, like Cuenca’s ISAM, are also incorporating garden spaces, rooftop areas and urban gardens into their new downtown construction sites.
Cuenca also has natural, outdoor wonders such as El Cajas National Park, which is just 20 minutes away for El Centro, but offers hiking, biking, fishing and bird watching that rivals any park in the world. El Cajas has been designated as a UNESCO Bio-Sphere making its pristine backdrop and unlimited outdoor fun, here to stay.
In spite of the exodous of some buyers to the country during lock-down, in 2021 there will be a reverse global trend to urban areas according to Ryan Serhant, an international real estate expert who writes for Forbes.com. “City dwellers aren’t the type who want to live in rural areas, have only one or two local restaurants to choose from, and lose the electric energy that makes our cities such special places to be,” says Serhant. “Collectively, we are all looking ahead and looking forward to a return to pre-pandemic life.”
Some expats who live or moved out to the Ecuadorian countryside in 2020 agree — particularly older people, who are realizing they miss the convenience of the amenities and entertainment choices in a city, and who also want to be closer to hospitals and medical care in case of emergencies. Having others, whether family or friends close by, is also a reason some Gringos are moving back into cities.
The ease of acquiring residency is another factor making Ecuador appealing to expats. Lief Simon, a global property investor and contributor to Live and Invest Overseas tapped Ecuador as one of the Top Six Countries to Get Residency In in 2021. Says Simon; “You have to invest 70 times the minimum monthly salary in a bank CD for 2 years (730 days). That amounts to US$28,000,” says Simon. “Or you can invest in real estate at 80 times minimum monthly salary, or US$32,000. You can also invest in a private company (can be your own company); the minimum investment requirement is 100 times the minimum monthly salary, or US$40,000 right now.”
Part of that optimism for Ecuador and for Cuenca, in particular, is the anticipation that two new airlines, Avianca and Ecuador Airways, will begin service in the first quarter of 2021. “New airlines will introduce more competition to the market as well as increase the number of destinations,” according to Cuenca’s Mariscal La Mar Airport executive director Juan Pablo Vega . “For the past two years, the only destination for Cuenca flights has been Quito. We hope to add Manta, Guayaquil and Loja in 2021,” he says.
Whatever this New Year may bring in terms of Ecuador real estate, many of us are finding “there’s no place like home.” So wherever you decide to lay your head, may you be safe, healthy and filled with joy in 2021.
Happy New Year from Ecuador At Your Service.
For more on real estate in Ecuador see:
State of Ecuador Real Estate Post-Pandemic Part 1 – http://ecuadoratyourservice.com/the-state-of-real-estate-in-ecuador-post-pandemic-part-1
State of Ecuador Real Estate Post-Pandemic Part 2 – http://ecuadoratyourservice.com/the-state-of-real-estate-in-ecuador-post-pandemic-part-2