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Residencias Los Jardines - Life & Times

ISSUE #478: Sept. 22-28, 2013

...full house!!

...full house!!

Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter -determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of Lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.

Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

Brian Timmons
DEVELOPER / PROPERTY MANAGER
Residencias Los Jardines / http://www.residenciaslosjardines.com info@residenciaslosjardines.com
ResidenciasPropertyManagement@gmail.com

 

Featured house this week

UNIT #114:
FOR SALE: $235,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): single floor
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.

 

Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity

Sales: no calls.

Rentals: 4 viewings / two rentals.

 

FOR SALE

Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit

FOR RENT

Nothing Available

Comment: Once again we are full. It took a long time to get to this state and whenever we've been here before, it never lasts very, long -someone moves unexpectedly. Hopefully, this time it will be different. While I had to reduce the rents in order to lease, I think we now have good, long term tenants. Even though we had vacancies over the previous year, in most cases we were able to fill in with shorter term clients -now we have longer term clients-hopefully which is the business we are really looking for. After having leased the last house, I had four additional calls.

Site Plan

 

HOUSE FOR SALE

UNIT #114
FOR SALE $235,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.

 

Our Lives

WEATHER: September weather continues to be normal... beautiful sunny mornings, with clouding around mid day, followed for shower and then clearing. So far, we have not, in this area, had torrential rain storms...

All in a Week's Living in CR:

1. If it can get screwed up, it will -despite all efforts: I haven't used Western Union to transfer or receive money in the last few years. Two weeks ago, I had occassion to use it three times -twice to receive and once to send. I knew the drill. In order to reduce the chance of error when I had to transfer money to one of Lita's relatives in the Philippines, I typed all the information on paper and handed it to the Western Union employee. The info. consisted of sender and receiver -each with identification numbers. The guy wrote Lita as being the receiver... wait a minute, she's the sender... I asked that he cancel the transaction and give me receipts... nop, can't do that... but he could change it his terminal... but couldn't print a new receipt... he assured me that the transaction number -which the receiver in the Philippines had to have -was the same- I saw a problem here -$500 gone and no way to verify my story. Lita and I went to the head office which is a kilometer away to try and get a verification of the error and correction... the headquarters is located in Forum 2 -I'd never entered before. No visitor parking is allowed... visitors have to park outside -but there's no parking space... incredible!!!!! Register on entrance... normal here... At the headquarters, while explaining to the security people the issue we wanted to solve, a passer-by employee offered to help. We never got a written change but she did assure us that the change had been made and they could see it on their monitors... o.k. we'd have to live with that... the person was really helpful and probably spent about 30 min. dealing with this issue... She was great.

2. About 18 mo. ago or so, a large building was built on a small road. It now has lots of people working there, many of whom have cars which park along both sides of the road -parking space under the building and a lot beside the building notwithstanding -making the road into a one way obstacle course... the City spent a week and probably a 100 gallons of yellow paint striping along the entire road... supposedly there is no parking where yellow paint is -but without enforcement, it has only worked marginally -surprise, surprise.

 

 

News Items of the Week

Comments:

1. Electricity rates: this is welcomed but won't last very long... the companies have been getting a lot of flak for rapid increases over the past several years and companies have complained that the increased cost has pushed up their cost of production (this effect doesn't seem to have been considered before)... improving efficiency and reliability isn't part of the decision making process... our electricity has, over the past month, gone off on average once a week...

2. Internet: In addition to electrical outages, the Internet has, over the past several weeks become more unreliable. There isn't a week that goes by that a cable, phone, or electrical crew isn't stringing more cables along the road... rapid growth or short term planning... I don't know which...

3 / 4 / 5 / 9. Trade and Finances: Yep... this is the background under which we live... While our friends have more and more stories to tell about how CR is improving on it's tax collection, it still has a ways to go according to Moody's... or reduce government spending, or improve efficiency by reducing the corruption... we see no improvement in the roads or government services... and while there may be some truth to the effect on CR trade imbalance being caused by a slow down in the economies of their trading partners, this is old news and has been around for several years...another possibility may be that CR is no longer competitive due to the colone / dollar exchange rate and the increased cost of production in CR... I belong to an "Investment Group" which meets twice a week. The substantive part of the conversation is that CR will most likely continue to bumble along economically like it always has even though it does just about everything it can to make life more difficult and less attractive to outsiders -individuals and businesses.

6. Phone Calls: Big changes are in store. While the cost of phone service here is incredibly low compared to Toronto, the basic cost is going to double and the cost of calls from land line to land line goes up by 81%. Our experience is that fewer and fewer people are using land lines -more and more, the calls are from cell to cellular... The revenue that Los Jardines gets from it's mark-up on phone calls, doesn't now cover the cost of the phone lines... I doubt that this change will be reflected in the official inflation rate...

7. Travel and Leisure: an influential magazine still likes CR--or at least the all inclusive enclaves of CR.

8. Harassment at Work: "mopping" is an odd term for this but the issue is getting more specific clarification. On paper, employee rights are substantial; in practice... I don't think so... I don't remember ever reading about a successful harassment case... yet I hear stores about what it sometimes takes to get and keep a job...

10. An op-ed from A.M. Costa Rica: again, incredible... Nicaragua had to have been working on this for months... and CR had no clue... consistency and focused attention are not part of the political spectrum here.

 

1. Residential electrical rates cut in seasonal change
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With rains reducing the reliance of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad on expensive petroleum fired generators, the nation's regulating agency has cut electric prices to distributors and consumers.

The average cut is 13.6 percent, but average residential customers of the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz will see a 19.48 reduction, said the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos. Cartago residents will see a 14.08 percent reduction with their local providers, and Heredia residents will see an 18.42 reduction. The reductions are based on a 200 kilowatt monthly usage.

2. Internet failure causes hour delay in posting newspaper
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper was about an hour late today because of a failure in part of the Tigo Internet network.

The extent of the failure is not known, but support personnel for the company said that technicians were going home at 2:30 a.m. to resume work this morning. At least part of the west side of San José was knocked out. Typically this happens when someone steals part of the main internet cable or there is damage from a vehicle accident.

Tigo, which used to be Amnet, has been troubled lately because it seems that the exponential growth in Internet use is taxing the company's computers.

More and more Costa Ricans and expats are using Internet television, YouTube, iTunes, Netflix and other services that require a lot of bandwidth particularly in the evenings and during times of major soccer games.

3. Moody’s warns Costa Rica: Time is running out for fiscal reform

September 23rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The rating agency Moody’s warned Costa Rica that it is running out of time to pass fiscal reforms before the imbalance in public finances have consequences in the country’s investment grade rating.

“We are reaching the point at which it is time to make a decision (on the country’s credit rating). There is no doubt that the approval of reforms to improve public finances is taking longer than we expected,” Moody’s Gabriel Torres told local daily, La Nacion.

Moody’s upgraded Costa Rica’s credit rating to Baa3 from Ba1 in September 2010. The better rating gives more confidence to foreign investors to purchase Costa Rica bonds, and allows the country to receive lower interest rates. The improved rating was also key in the placement of Eurobonds in November 2012 and April 2013.

Moody’s has not yet issued its country report for Costa Rica for 2013, while waiting for the country to introduce fiscal reforms.

“We are concerned about the issue of spending and the increase in public debt. For several years, the government has tried to pass a tax reform, but without success,” Torres said.

Edgar Ayales, Minister of Hacienda (Treasury) said losing investment grade by Moody’s would be disastrous for the country and would further deteriorate the country’s debt situation.

Ayales said that an increase of one or two percentage points in interest rates would have a significant impact on the country’s external debt.

However, Ayales said that on October 3rd, the country’s “Fiscal Consolidation Plan” would be unveiled to the public. The plan includes three basic aspects: increased revenue, reduced spending, and lowering the dependence on internal and external financing.

The plan aims to reduce Costa Rica’s fiscal deficit by 3.5% between 2014 and 2018. “We are at a crucial time to take the necessary [actions] to stabilize public finances,” Ayales said.

Costa Rica is one of the few countries in Latin America (along with Argentina and Brazil) that has not made significant changes to its tax code following the economic crisis, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Most countries in the region pushed for an increase in value added tax (VAT) and income tax to increase revenues.

4. Moody’s lowers outlook on Costa Rica to ‘negative’

September 26th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Ratings firm Moody’s lowered its outlook for Costa Rica from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ this week over concerns about the country’s rising debt burden, fiscal deficits and stalled legislation to address the problems.

The change in outlook came almost immediately after Moody’s local analysts issued a warning to the country, saying that time was running out for fiscal reform.

“We are reaching the point at which it is time to make a decision (on the country’s credit rating). There is no doubt that the approval of reforms to improve public finances is taking longer than we expected,” Moody’s Gabriel Torres told local daily, La Nacion, earlier this week.

“We are concerned about the issue of spending and the increase in public debt. For several years, the government has tried to pass a tax reform, but without success,” Torres said.

Meanwhile, Edgar Ayales, Minister of Hacienda (Treasury) has said that the country’s “Fiscal Consolidation Plan” would be revealed to the public on October 3rd, which aims to increase revenue, decrease spending, and lower the country’s dependence on internal and external financing. It is not expected that the move will make any immediate change in Moody’s outlook, however.

Costa Rica’s credit rating stands at Baa3.

5. Costa Rica’s trade deficit rises 7.5% so far this year

September 27th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s trade deficit for the first eight months of the year totaled $4.1 billion, representing a 7.5% increase over the $3.9 billion recorded during the same period in 2012, officials said yesterday.

Data released by Costa Rica’s Central Bank (BCCR) indicates that imports saw a slight increase of 2%, from $11.6 billion to $11.9 billion.

Meanwhile, exports between January and August 2013 totaled $7.7 billion, down 0.8% from the $7.8 billion recorded for the same period last year.

Officials have argued that the drop in exports in 2013 is due to economic problems in Europe and the United States, Costa Rica’s main export markets.

6. Basic rate for landline phone service to increase 83%

September 23rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s telecom regulator, SUTEL, announced that the basic rate for landline phone service in Costa Rica would increase by 83% in coming weeks.

Costa Rican residents currently pay a base rate of $3.60, which includes 160 minutes of calls per month.

The new rate will be approximately $6.60 per month, but each operator will be able to define how many minutes the base rate includes.

The new rate applies to both standard landlines and VoIP lines.

The per-minute fee for calls between two landlines will also increase 81.2%, though the increase represents less than one-cent USD per minute.

The good news is that the cost of landline-to-cellular calls will decrease by 33%, falling from 6 cents per minute to 4 cents.

The basic rate for landline phone service has remained unchanged since 2004.

SUTEL estimates that with the increases, the average landline subscriber will be about $13.80 per month, up from $17.30, or an increase of 25.3%.

The change will come into effect following its publication in the official journal, “La Gaceta.”

7. Travel & Leisure ranks Costa Rica one of top destinations

September 25th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The oft-cited travel magazine, Travel & Leisure, is still “hot” on Costa Rica.

The publication said that Costa Rica is one of its top five “hot” destinations, along with Hawaii, Paris, New York and Las Vegas.

“With its exotic wildlife, sun-drenched beaches and dramatic mountains, Costa Rica is a great destination […] this small Central American country is now more attractive than ever,” was part of the praise the magazine had for Costa Rica.

The magazine also ranked the Four Seasons hotel in Papagayo as one of the top 25 beach hotels worldwide for 2013.

The magazine also called the Kura Design Villas on the Osa Peninsula as one of the best new beach hotels worldwide.

“The northern province of Guanacaste has always been the epicenter of the flashy and glitzy hotels in Costa Rica, but all eyes are moving towards the lesser known Osa Peninsula,” the magazine said.

The magazine also ranked Montezuma and Playa Grande, both in Guanacaste, amongst the top 32 beaches in the world.

8. Bill to punish mopping advances in legislature
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bill reported out favorably by a legislative committee Tuesday would give additional rights to employees in an effort to prevent workplace harassment.

The bill defines as harassment restrictions on the autonomy of workers and unjustified pressure by a manager for the completion of assigned tasks.

Also defined as harassment are unjust or negative criticism of performance and assigning jobs that are below or above the employee's abilities. Harassment also would be reducing the workspace allocated to the employee or even failing to assign work normally done by the employee.

As always there is a lot of wiggle room in the broadly drafted bill, but the goal is to prevent what is known as mopping or bullying in the workplace.

The favorable report came from the Comisión Permanente Ordinaria de Asuntos Jurídicos, which would give labor court judges considerable power to remedy what they saw as violations of this law. And even though there is an active labor court case, the self-described victim would be able to institute a criminal case.

The proposed law, No. 18.140, also prohibits what appears to be eavesdropping on the communication methods used by an employee and any invasion into the individual's private life.

In all, there are 16 specific acts that are forbidden, and employers are responsible for actions by other employees, too.

The measure is rooted in the section of the Costa Rican Constitution that provides for the right to work. The measure also is rooted in the work of psychologist Heinz Leymann who wrote extensively on mobbing, a term he coined.

The term covers all sorts of negative activities at work, including rumor, bullying, humiliation and isolation. When confronted with such a complaint, an employer is obligated to set up a three-person investigating committee of employees.

A summary of the legislative actions released Tuesday noted that the bill also would include public employees.

9. Association Agreement with European Union enters into force on October 1st

September 27th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union will enter into force on October 1st for Costa Rica, Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Fernando Ocampo confirmed yesterday.

The agreement is already in force in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Panama. A disagreement between Italy and Costa Rica over four types of cheeses had been delaying its ratification in Costa Rica.

Amongst other aspects of the agreement, a number of trade tariffs between Central America and the EU will be significantly reduced or eliminated.

The European Union is Costa Rica’s second largest trading partner.

10. How could officials be caught flat-footed again?
An A.M. Costa Rica editorial

A big question that has not been answered fully is how could Nicaraguan workers dig and dredge two canals from the Río San Juan to the Caribbean without Costa Rican officials knowing about the activity.

A quick answer is that the airspace over the disputed Isla Calero was restricted, and therefore, aircraft could not fly over and maintain watch.

That is true, and residents who fly in and out of the far northeast of the county report that aircraft have changed their approach patterns to Barra del Colorado so they would not fly over the Isla Calero. But there are problems with this explanation.

Costa Rica received the right to enter the disputed territory from the International Court of Justice where the case of the Nicaragua invasion is being litigated. Costa Rican officials were told that they could enter the area to mitigate any environmental damage. Apparently they have not done so for months while Nicaragua was digging the twin canals.

In addition, copies of the Dirección General de Aviación Civil order say that the restriction only extends to 7,000 feet, well under the operating ceiling of even the smallest light aircraft.

When young Nicaraguan Sandinistas set up a summer camp in the area, Costa Rican law enforcement and other officials were right there, although they did not succeed in making the young people leave. In fact, the Sandinistas were rather rude and taunted the Costa Ricans.

The civil aviation directive probably also does not apply to official aircraft sent up to monitor the island.

Well known is the fact that there are many heavily armed police officers in the area. Certainly some of them have training that would allow stealthy reconnaissance on the ground.

Costa Rica was caught flat-footed in October 2010 when Nicaraguan troops invaded the northern part of the island and set up camp.

That officials let this happen again seems incredible.

 

Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II

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