22. The Battle of the Properties

Monday 6/28 Since we are still so undecided on which property we like the best, and there aren’t any others coming for sale in our price range, we are fairly certain we will have to decide on one of the 3 that we looked at with Diego a couple of weeks ago. Since we took Geiner out to look at the big one with us and he pointed out some things and explained some work that would have to be done that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about, we asked him if he would come out to look at the other 2 properties with us as well. Through talking to him about these properties, we also learned that he personally knows the seller of the middle-sized property and has offered to help us negotiate the price (along with Diego our realtor) if that is the property we decide on.

We first went out to the medium sized property at the base of the mountain. When we were out there with Diego a few weeks ago the weeds and grass had not been cut recently and it was about knee high in some places. Since then, someone had been out to chop all of the weeds and it was much easier to see the layout of the land and walk through it now. We walked the oddly shaped property again and were discussing different ways we could position the house, patio and pool in a way that offered both privacy from neighbors, the best possible view (there isn’t much of a view here, but we wouldn’t want to be looking at the back of the neighbor’s house either) and what trees might have to be cut down and how we could save the mango tree that was growing right in the middle. Geiner gave us some ideas of what he had in mind, but as we walked the property some more now that the weeds had been cut down, we had noticed that along one long edge of the property, the neighbor had fairly recently excavated his land straight down over 20 feet. Straight down like a cliff! No hill, nothing gradual, literally straight down! That’s not good!! The excavation was also right along the property line and you could tell that the land was already starting to erode away. It wouldn’t take much more than a few heavy rainstorms to start seriously washing away the land (and since we’re in green season now, those will happen at least several times a week for the next few months.) 

A mango tree and some citrus trees we would like to keep

The view towards the pasture

NO GOOD! This is the cliff. See all that red below?  That's already the land washing away.

You can start to see where the land is already eroding

Well, for the property that was kind of taking the lead, it now had a MAJOR drawback. Geiner assured us that there are things that they can do to help lessen the erosion and make it safer, but of course, there is no guarantee that it would stop the soil and your yard from just washing away. This would also involve some significant excavation and expense, of course. Geiner pointed out several other issues as well including how far away it is from the main electrical pole (and it’s your responsibility to pay for the electric company to run it the rest of the way to your property, same with the internet) and the fact that there seem to be a lot of very noisy roosters that live nearby. Damn! 

On to property number 3, the small property on the flats. Ideally, we were hoping to find land up in the mountains a little way, or even at the base of the mountains in the foothills. You get a little bit more air-flow and it doesn’t feel quite so hot in those areas. This property definitely was not in one of those breezy areas, but it wasn’t terrible. We could make this one work. There are about 10 mango trees lined across the back of the property and a starfruit tree. I do get really excited when I see the fruit trees already there, mature, and producing! This property is also the back half to what the owner is selling either as 2 separate lots or 1 large lot. We cannot afford the front, larger lot (so definitely can’t afford the 2 lots together).

There is an easement for a driveway along the side of the front lot at the edge of a drainage ditch that is currently dry, but when it rains hard fills up with fast flowing water quickly. Geiner pointed out that this property also has erosion issues due to this ditch and it would be our responsibility to re-fill areas that needed to be filled so we would have access to our property, and probably to put in a type of retaining wall that would keep it from eroding away in the future. Since we are down on the flats, probably only a couple of feet above sea level and clearly in a runoff area due to the drainage ditch, Geiner also stated that they would have to haul in loads of dirt to raise the house up a couple of feet from the rest of the yard so that you wouldn’t get flooded when heavy rains come. Once again, all of this excavation comes with a price. 

Nice privacy and mature fruit trees, bonus!! But the smallest of all the lots.

The red is the piece we can afford and small. The yellow is also for sale but out of our price range.

Geiner contracts with a separate company that does the major excavation work, so he said that he would get quotes on how much the excavation at each property would cost. He would also get estimates on how much it would cost to get the electric and internet ran to the middle property, since that would be a fairly large expense that the other 2 properties wouldn’t have. Once we know how much it would take to get these lots ready and buildable we would be able to make a better decision about which one really is the “best deal”. If the selling price is low, but the cost to get it ready is high—well, then we just might be better off buying property that the selling price is high but the excavation cost is low. There is just so much to think about!! Geiner said he would get back to us in a few days with the quotes so we were better able to make a decision, and that we can always contact him with more questions or concerns that we come up with.

Oh, and that’s another thing--- Ticos are so friendly. In our experience, they will always help you out however they can. We know Geiner is very busy right now, but he always makes time to help us out, answer our questions, and makes us feel good about our decision to use him as our builder.