Three Top Profit Plays for 2009

In this time of stock market meltdowns and economic crisis, the question readers ask daily is, “Where can I put what I have left?” Here are three profit …

In this time of stock market meltdowns and economic crisis, the question readers ask daily is, “Where can I put what I have left?”

Here are three profit plays that have my attention. They’re all outside of stocks and outside of the States. And they come with incredible upside potential.

Make Money Pick # 1: Fortaleza, Brazil

Brazil’s domestic economy continues to grow. Foreign investment is up and gaining momentum. Direct-flight access from the U.S. is increasing. Brazil — and Fortaleza in particular — is getting serious about marketing to foreign tourists. Fortaleza is already one of the biggest domestic tourist destinations in Brazil. The World Cup is coming to this country in 2014, with Fortaleza likely to be a host city. Multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects are underway.

The domestic mortgage market is opening up and Fortaleza is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement destination for people from southern Brazil and Europe. Condo prices are up by more than 20 percent since last April and continue to rise. The short-term rental market is running at close to 100 percent occupancy for the next three months.

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The Play: Buy prime preconstruction with as little as 1 percent down from some of Brazil’s biggest developers. Proximity to the boardwalk is key.

Make Money Pick # 2: Panama City, Panama

“Thank you for your enquiry about an apartment — due to high demand, all of our apartments are fully booked through September 2009,” reads the auto reply I received last month from a group that manages short-term rentals in Panama. Rentals through this group cost up to $500 per night. Well-managed and presented rentals are running at higher than 80 percent occupancy. Rental rates and occupancy have continued to skyrocket. There is a chronic hotel bed shortage. In the meantime, newly completed condos are selling for substantially less than preconstruction prices of 18 months ago. A buying opportunity.

The Play: Buy a recently completed preconstruction condo in a prime location and make it available for short-term rentals.

Make Money Pick # 3: Costa Rica’s Southern Zone

Some of the most amazing scenery in Costa Rica is in the southern zone, in an area that runs south of Quepos to the border with Panama. Landscapes here are dramatic — panoramic ocean views…lush tropical rainforest…and sheer jungle-clad slopes, rising sharply away from pristine stretches of sandy beaches.

Prices here however have stayed low as the area is difficult to get to. This is set to change, however, and that’s why I like this play.

The Costanera Highway is unpaved between Quepos and Dominical, and the airports are small, local affairs. But road improvements on the Costanera Highway are already underway and scheduled for completion in two to three years. This should cut the 90-minute trip from Quepos to Dominical to 25 minutes. Combined with plans to construct an international airport in Palmar Norte — due to begin this year and to be completed in 2010 (funds have been allocated by the government) — it all adds up to one thing: Property prices are almost certain to climb.

The Play: Buy land whose accessibility is set to improve.

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