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Buying real estate and building in Nicaragua can be intimidating for first-timers. Beyond the many unknowns, a potential language barrier can make things seem nearly impossible. Fortunately, many pathfinders have successfully navigated the process, proving that it can be done without even needing to be in Nicaragua.

Proper planning is vital when buying real estate and building in Nicaragua. Your budget and personal taste will largely determine which property is best for you, whether raw land or a plot in a planned development. As part of this, you should consider your interest in researching and overseeing the installation of power and water infrastructure.

 

Planned developments
Planned developments typically cost more when doing a per-square-meter comparison, but this premium can be justified when one considers the value of having the utility infrastructure provided by the developer. Most planned developments have annual association fees to maintain the infrastructure and the administration supporting it. Be sure to ask about these fees: How much they are; when they will begin to accrue; what they will cover.

When comparing planned developments, look for other homes that are already built, if any exist. If you have the opportunity, do a walk-through so you can understand the level of construction investment being made by other owners in that development.

If you build in a planned development, make sure that the water infrastructure has already been delivered to your property line. Concrete is the most common building material in Nicaragua, and transporting water for mixing incurs additional building costs. Verify that the development has already obtained its MARENA permit (environmental permit) which is a requirement for you to obtain your building permit.

 

Raw land
A parcel of raw land can offer you more flexibility for your home design and more privacy. You will not be required to pay annual association fees, but the administration and maintenance of your infrastructure will be your responsibility in full.

When comparing parcels of raw land, make sure you understand the distance your planned house will be from the closest transformer. Verify that you will have permission to connect to that transformer and that it isn’t privately owned. Next, find out what it will cost to connect to the grid. Solar and wind power are great alternatives, but they have limitations if you plan to have a pool or similar amenities.

Water is another big consideration. Find out how water is being provided to the property now, and find out how neighboring properties are being provided with their water. And finally, make sure that you understand the access to the property and who has the responsibility of maintaining this access.

 

Understand your potential building costs
Ocean view properties continue to be the most sought after, but building costs on these properties can vary widely. Consider the slope of the property and what it will require to accommodate the house you have in mind. Retaining walls and fill can run your project costs up quickly and require an experienced professional to verify that the fill material being used is suitable for this type of construction.

If you have a set budget, consider a more level piece of property to help minimize building costs. This is an important factor when looking at both planned developments and raw land. In planned developments, pay attention to the required set-backs and other regulations to see if your house will fit on the flattest part of the lot. With raw land, be careful when you become emotionally attached to a view from a specific area of the property that may not be the most optimal for building.

 

Add a buffer and be patient
As with anywhere in the world, construction project schedules in Nicaragua have a tendency to slip. Keep this in mind when you are promised a delivery date, as there will be obstacles that arise throughout the building process that are out of you and your builder’s control. Plan well and remain patient throughout the process of buying real estate and building in Nicaragua and you will have your beautiful second home or retirement home.