Moving to Ecuador? Read this.

 

I don’t particularly enjoy writing blogs.  Fortunately my business partner Jesse takes on the bulk of that aspect of the business so I can focus on the things that are more up my alley.  I often bump up against feeling that I am just rehashing topics I have already covered.

 

My distaste for blogging came up in recent conversation with a cousin of mine during a trip we took to Peru. He has over 20 years of sales experience and he mentioned something that really resonated, “just because you’ve said something doesn’t mean people have heard it”.

 

He continued, “Maybe you have not communicated as often or effectively as you think.  Moving to a new country where you don’t know anyone or speak the language is a big step, seek out a way to shine a light on that.”

 

To that end I thought I would share our story and how we came to found Abundant Living Ecuador in hopes of shedding some light on what it means to purchase property in Ecuador.

 

Starting a real estate company was never the plan.  We came to Ecuador to do a large-scale development project. 

 

With its incredible climate, abundance of arable land and water and some of the best infrastructure in Latin America, we saw Ecuador as an ideal place for our plans.

 

And we are not alone – with the rising cost of living, more stringent and wide reaching tax policies, proliferation of GMO foods and host of other issues so prevalent in the western world – a growing number of people, particularly from the US are looking to relocate to countries across South and Central America.

 

Our parameters when looking at relocation options included; a year round growing season, lack of population density, safety, great infrastructure and a safe distance from oceans, large fault lines, active volcanoes and nuclear energy facilities.  We found no better match than southern Ecuador – specifically Loja Province. 

 

Shortly after arriving, our search for the perfect property began. During this yearlong process we went through the gamut of the property evaluation, due diligence, negotiation and purchase processes.

 

Something we came up against which is still relevant is that digital, centrally based real estate listings are relatively new to Ecuador.  Although adoption of services such as MLS are increasing, the vast majority of inventory on the market is for sale by owner and often through word of mouth.

 

As a result, finding properties that meet your criteria in anything resembling an efficient manner is a challenge.

 

In addition, understanding what you’re looking at, how to assess a property’s characteristics in the way it is done locally can be confusing without having experience – the parameters are very different from how we were used to evaluating real estate in the states.

 

Some examples might be, amount of flat land, how is the soil for building or cultivation, is the earth shifting in that area, what is the water source, do you have a secure water source during dry season, is the water source at the top of the property allowing you to make full use of it without the need for pumps, what is access like and so much more.

 

Once you zero in on a property of interest, price evaluation can also be an issue.  Given that there is no place to view comparables, developing a reference point for valuation can be difficult.  

 

Once you have identified a property you are considering purchasing the due diligence process can’t be underestimated.  With no Title Insurance, buyers assume 100% of the financial risk of a purchase.

 

Doing this research, potentially in a second language and without having a network of professional contacts can lead to stress and errors.

 

After performing due diligence on several possibilities, we found the right property.

 

Ensuring that there were no restrictions related to land use, conducting a boundary study to confirm that the amount of land we planned to purchase matched the title and researching the Title itself for any defects were all part of the process.

 

Needless to say, it was quite a learning experience. 

 

From my perspective we were successful because we had a clear vision of what we wanted to create and we were able to find qualified, trustworthy and well connected people to help us realize it.

 

Perhaps most importantly, we kept and open mind and remained flexible.

 

Did we make some mistakes along the way, absolutely!  For two guys from the East Coast I don’t know that there is any other way.

 

Fortunately there are many people who prefer to avoid making mistakes by taking advantage of the knowledge, experience and foresight of others.

 

That understanding and our experiences here gave birth to Abundant Living Ecuador. 

 

We saw an opportunity to participate in building a secure and functioning market for real estate across the country – something that serves buyers and sellers alike, no matter where they are from.

 

In that same vein, we added complementary lines of business to assist individuals, couples and families in the relocation and assimilation processes.

 

Just over a year and after founding Abundant Living Ecuador, we have over 40 listings in 6 provinces.  With each day those numbers grow.

 

In chatting daily with clients – hearing about their goals and working with them to achieve them, I have observed some overarching themes with respect to what people are looking for in Ecuador.

 

Those observations have only confirmed that all of the time and energy we invested in our search as well as the decision to start the company was well worth it.

 

At the moment, we are currently in pursuit of financing to purchase a bordering piece of land that would expand our project to over 600 acres.

 

With a mixture of pasture, native forest, multiple sources of clean water and spectacular views, all the components are in place to create something very special

 

During our journey, we encountered qualified, trustworthy, well-connected people to help us in our search, and we hope we can be those people for you in the future.

 

Until next time,

Darnell

 

 

 

 

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