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Lessons in Costa Rican Development: How to Leverage Sales & Marketing to Sell Out Your Project

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If you’re nearing completion on your Costa Rican development project, then you’re likely at the point where you’re assessing your sales options: In-house sales team? Real estate agents from various brokerages? Exclusive contract with a single real estate brokerage

Hi, I’m Rebecca Clower (my friends call me Becky) and I’m a Costa Rican real estate investor and developer, as well as the founder, CEO, and owner of Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. Over the years, I’ve been on all sides of the equation: from an investor to the broker to the developer. 

You could definitely call this my wheelhouse.  

Costa Rican Development Projects: My Expertise

Costa Rican Development Projects_ My Expertise

Anyone can claim experience over time. What I’ve learned over the years, though, is that experience does not equate to lessons learned – or the extensive knowledge necessary to navigate Costa Rican development, investment, and/or real estate.  

I’m big on earned expertise. I don’t learn from others; I learn for myself. Through trial and error and over many years, I have cultivated the deep knowledge, understanding, and expertise that create invaluable insight, exceptional results, and the kind of experience that does yield extensive knowledge. 

For me, that has meant investing in and developing my own projects, including the highly successful Mango Walk, which sold out in just five months, and two current (2023-2024) projects: a 16-unit condominium development and a 12-unit commercial project in highly competitive Playa Flamingo, home to the new Marina Flamingo.

At Blue Water Properties, my team and I have helped lead sales for Tamarindo Walk (current project), Punta Playa Vistas, and Puesta del Sol Condominiums. We’re also selling select units at La Vista Condo (Diria Group) condos in Tamarindo. We have worked to help sell Mar Vista, where both I and Gina Briguglio worked as sales managers, and have sold many lots and homes in the community (as did Gina, as she was sales manager there for 3 years).

On the real estate brokerage side, I’m the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, the largest independent real estate brokerage in Guanacaste (Costa Rica’s north-Pacific province). I’m also the current president of CRGAR (the Costa Rica Global Association of REALTORS®). I helped create the first centralized MLS in Costa Rica. I am an active member of NAR (the National Association of REALTORS®) and a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS).  

I’ve put in the years, the work, and the incurred risk to know both what matters (to developers, investors, and final buyers) and how to sell out a development project. 

Takeaways: 4 Lessons Learned Over 15+ Years in Costa Rican Real Estate

Takeaways_ 4 Lessons Learned Over 15+ Years in Costa Rican Real Estate

I am so grateful to have been on both sides of the equation, many times; this has granted me deep insight into both Costa Rican development and Costa Rican real estate. 

I’ve gone door-to-door and done all (alllllllllllll) the legwork required to get a development off the ground. I’ve been on the job site, day in and day out, working through almost any potential pitfall and problem. I’ve managed crews. I’ve troubleshooted bad weather and delays and everything in between. Etcetera, etcetera. 

But I’ve also been on the other side: The brokerage side, where I’ve been challenged to sell a project: Who does it appeal to? How can I leverage my network to get the best price and fastest sell-out for my client? What kind of marketing should we and can we deploy? 

Because I’ve bridged these two worlds, I know where the overlaps exist and the seeming contrasts live. And I now know how to solve them, too, because I’ve been there, done that, so many times. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Lesson #1: It Starts with Marketing

Lesson #1_ It Starts with Marketing

If I had to home in on the single most important factor in Costa Rican development project sales, it would be this: successful sales rely on strong marketing

It starts with branding. Real estate, especially in Costa Rica, is incredibly dynamic – and successful developers recognize the paramount importance of branding. Beyond a mere logo or slogan, an identifiable development is meticulously crafted to develop personality and create a lasting impression on potential clients and investors. 

This goes beyond superficial elements, to encapsulate every facet of your development’s identity – and, therefore, your target investor’s or client’s pain and pleasure points, lifestyle goals, and more – thereby playing a pivotal role in shaping your development’s reputation, credibility, and enduring success

After branding, a Costa Rican real estate development needs strong marketing: From professionally filmed and produced video – everything from aerial video to short-form reels – and blog posts (like this one… see? it works!) to social media posts and an SEO-optimized website, a project does infinitely better when it’s backed by multi-faceted marketing.

Beyond that, you need a great sales team. Which brings me to… 

Lesson #2: You Need a GREAT Sales Team

Lesson #2_ You Need a GREAT Sales Team

I’ve seen it time and time again: An incredible development can experience slow (or no) sales

It comes down to your sales team. In my case, I am grateful to be backed by my entire team at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. I’m obviously and understandably biased, but I’ve spent over 15 years building this business and hand-picking this team, and I know they’re some of the best in the industry 

That may sound like fluffy promotional speech, but it’s a lot more than patting my team on the back. 

Choosing a brokerage and listing your development has a lot to do with the brokerage team’s knowledge on the sales side. But then, your team – a great team, that is – needs a deep understanding of design, building, and the development side

Because this is much more complicated than listing a home; you are listing an entire development. More than that, you’re offering a lifestyle for sale. And there’s a lot behind that, which you can only understand if you’ve been on the development side. But there’s also a lot on the sales side that developers don’t understand.  

Bottom line: Look for a brokerage that has both sales and development experience

That’s my BWP team’s forte: We’re not just brokers and agents. We are real estate investors and developers. We are real estate attorneys. We are relocation experts. In other words, we specialize in everything that you and your clients need.

The only issue is that very few real estate brokerages have that kind of background, to serve a Costa Rican development client in all facets – not just sales, but to put on the developer hat and see it from every point of view. 

Lesson #3: Marketing + Sales are Inextricably Linked

Lesson #3_ Marketing + Sales is Inextricably Linked

It took me longer to realize this: It may be obvious that sales and marketing are both important, separately, but it’s not as obvious that sales and marketing are a joint venture

Many good developments work with an in-house sales team and then, an outsourced marketing team. The issue is that in-house sales teams are not backed by the full force of a brokerage’s network, sales expertise, or local knowledge and an outsourced marketing team cannot fully contemplate the full scope of branding, investment, and lifestyle considerations

In other words, there’s a critical disconnect that hurts sales and outcomes. And so, if I could give you a single piece of advice, it would be this: Choose a brokerage with a marketing team. 

Lesson #4: Choose Someone Who Speaks Your Language

Lesson #4_ Choose Someone Who Speaks Your Language

I could probably write a book (and maybe I will… someday!) about real estate development, but I will wrap this chapter up with this: There is a huge advantage in choosing a broker who speaks your language. 

To me, that means someone who has development expertise – if not as a developer, then as a proven track record in selling developments. But better if they have first-hand expertise, because there’s nothing like earned expertise to yield better results.

When you work with a broker and/or brokerage with development experience, you have the benefit of using shorthand… for everything. You don’t have to explain yourself, every time. Most of the time, you can state a need or a fact or a thought, and your development-expertise broker will understand. Immediately. 

It is so much easier. And, from my experience on both sides of this equation, I know that easier is good. Easier saves time. Easier yields results. 

Looking for More Insight into the Costa Rican Development & Real Estate?

Looking for More Insight into the Costa Rican Real Estate Market

Whether you’re a buyer/seller, an investor, or a developer, you’re on the right track and in the right place. Researching the market and understanding your prospects is an essential aspect of the decision-making process.                                                                                                                          

Hi, I’m Becky Clower, and the answers to your questions are what I do: I’m a real estate broker, agent, and owner of Blue Water Properties, as well as a real estate investor and developer. I’m also your expert and ally in this red-hot market. 

I have the credentials – the HGTV appearances, the personal experience, the business prowess – to put me on the map, but what really sets me and my company apart is my expertise: I don’t learn from others; I learn for myself. I’ve built over a dozen homes, including two spec homes, and after selling out my highly successful Mango Walk project in just five months, I began developing two more projects: a 16-unit condominium development and a 12-unit commercial project in highly competitive Playa Flamingo. 

Bottom line: I offer real, honest advice and expertise. So, if you’re looking for a broker, an agent, an investor, a developer, or simply a trusted advisor to stand by your side as you navigate your Costa Rican journey, however it manifests, then please get in touch. Let’s get started!

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