Posted by: Len | on August 6, 2017
A hot investment tip… which I have to admit isn’t my own. A client brought it to my attention that Granada, Nicaragua, lacks adequate self storage facilities. I did a quick check and sure enough, there is a single self storage facility in the entire city, and it is pretty much full all the time.
There is an abundance of storage yards for vehicles offering spaces that can be rented by the day, week or month, only one of which is indoors so totally secure. However, there appears to be only one self storage facility offering secure, individual storage units. I assume this is because the cost of open storage is minimal while to offer secure, individual storage units is more expensive. By more expensive, I’m thinking $2000 per unit using cinder block construction on a concrete pad, metal roof and a standard, overhead garage doors. This may not sound like a huge investment, but to build a dozen or more units, it would be well outside the affordability of many Nica land owners.
Self Storage facilities have never been something I’ve paid attention too as an investment or business opportunity. My involvement has been limited to offering commercially zoned land to storage companies, and as a customer. I have used self storage units in the past, and I know well that when you need one, you need one, period. Odd that I wouldn’t have seen them as the potential investment gold mine they are… in the right market. Granada city appears to be the right market.
Besides being cheap to construct, self storage units are also attractive because the land acquisition cost can be minimized. A high visibility location would be preferred, of course. But when you’re offering something people need, they will find you. Granada’s one existing self storage facility is not in a high traffic location, nor is it even visible from the street unless you’re parked right in front and looking directly at it. As long as a property has street access, and electricity and water available, it would be ideal for a self storage facility.
A self storage facility of 20 units would cost around US$40,000 to build. Surveying costs, architectural fees, building permits, land registration, taxes, etc. would add another $6000. Exact land transfer and legal costs would depend on the purchase price of the land.
Based on the existing storage facility, 20 self storage units within Granada or on the city’s outskirts would generate $9600 per year ($40 per month, per unit net after taxes). If land cost is capped at $50,000, and construction of 20 units is US$46,000 we’re talking about a gross annual return of 10%. Figure in maintenance, staffing and property taxes, it is reasonable to assume the net return will be at least 7%.
My client that enlightened me has two adjoining lots in a quickly gentrifying area of Granada city that would be perfect for self storage units. He is selling only the land, but he’d be willing to build a self storage facility on the property if a purchaser desired a turnkey operation.
As always, if you have any questions about land acquisitions or establishing a business in Nicaragua, contact us.
Posted by: Len | on May 28, 2017
Sorry, this opportunity is no longer available.
This is the gist of an email I send out to someone interested in leasing restaurant/bar space at Hotel de Sonrisas, located at 401 Calle El Arsenal. That’s two blocks north of the Calle La Calzada, Granada’s nightlife area, and next door to San Francisco Convent & Museum. It’s also next door to my office… and as a disclosure, it’s my hotel as well. I had to evict the previous restaurant operation over a breach of contract issue.
The restaurant is licensed along with the hotel to sell food and beverages. The restaurant operator will need to apply for a liquor license in the operator’s own name, but can operate temporarily under the existing license.
The monthly rent for the space of approximately 65 s/m, plus use of common area hotel seating, plus a kitchen, plus a unisex bano, is US$250.
An additional US$100 will be paid monthly towards common electricity, water and WiFi. There is a separate booster/modem for the restaurant included in the hotel’s Claro (ISP) account.
Outside seating is available, but the renter must pay the applicable Alcadia (city hall) fee for the number of tables and chairs the restaurant operator wishes to have. The price at the moment is 50 Cordoba (US$1.80) per table, per month.
There are tables and chairs, a ceiling fan, lighting and some decoration included with the rent of the restaurant space. Any additional tables, chairs or decorations the operator requires are the responsibility of the renter.
A beverage cooler belonging to Coca Cola and made available to the hotel is in the restaurant. Currently nonalcoholic beverages are sold to hotel guests. The hotel will cease selling beverages to guests and ask Coca Cola to reassign the cooler to the restaurant operator. A beer cooler was also to be provided by the brewery but delivery was put on hold.
The kitchen is equipped with a stove and fridge. Both are relatively new and in good working order. Also included in the kitchen are various pots, pans, utensils and assorted kitchen items that would be included with the rent of the restaurant. Any other equipment, utensils, flatware, cutlery, pots or pans the restaurant operator may need are the responsibility of the operator.
Natural gas for the stove/oven is the responsibility of the operator.
The restaurant has both an entrance from the street and another from within the hotel for the convenience of guests. Both are gated and can be locked with a padlock to which only the restaurant operator need have a key. If the renter wishes to use the west side of the building for seating, which city hall has given verbal permissions to do, there is a gated doorway to accommodate serving customers seated outside.
There is a unisex bano for use by restaurant guests and staff. The cleaning, supplying of soap, paper towels and toilet paper, maintenance and repairs needed for this bano are the responsibility of the restaurant operator.
Any renovations or modifications to the restaurant space, bathroom or kitchen are the responsibility of the tenant. However, before any renovations or modifications are undertaken the hotel must be informed of what is to occur. This is to make sure there will be no issues with the fire department or INTUR (the agency responsible for tourism, or that the work is not going to require a building permit. If a building permit is required securing one is the responsibility of the restaurant operator. This restriction does not include painting of walls, changing of light fixtures or other cosmetic changes.
A US$150 damage deposit is required from the renter. This amount will be returned provided none of the supplied furnishings, kitchen appliances or bano fixtures are damaged or are missing at the time the lease period ends.
The Alcadia currently permits the restaurant to have a single sign over the south facing entrance, on Calle El Arsenal. Signage is the responsibility of the tenant. It is possible to add a second sign to the west side of the building. It would be the responsibility of the restaurant operator to apply to the Alcadia for the second sign and to pay any applicable fees.
That’s it. Pretty simple and cheap. This is because I want food and beverage service in the hotel as a convenience for guests. Also, properly promoted a bar and restaurant will attract attention to the hotel, and as a full service hotel allows me to maintain higher room rate than a B&B. Currently the hotel is categorized as a B&B because we serve only breakfast and there are no facilities for guests to purchase lunch or dinner. The hotel would stop making breakfasts for guests and purchase them from the restaurant.
If you’re interested in operating a restaurant/bar in Granada, Nicaragua and want to get up an running with minimal investment, this is the opportunity you’re looking for. Contact me and I will send photos.
Posted by: Len | on February 27, 2017
I don’t think I’ve shared my story as to why I’m in Nicaragua in the first place, nor why I’m so positive about this nation’s future. A brief history…
I was traveling from Canada, via a flight to Mexico City, then overland to Montanita, a town on the Santa Elena Peninsula in Ecuador that’s known for its surf beaches and bohemian vibe. A friend and client wanted to purchase a small beachfront, surf resort for his daughter and asked me to go scout out some options. I decided to take my time and make it a vacation/business trip since I wasn’t on a deadline. This turned out to be a bad idea that eventually ended well.
I was robbed in Honduras by four banditos, right at the frontier. Long story made bearable… I didn’t win the day but I did damage one of my assailants and his friends fled. I left Honduras, entered Nicaragua, and the next day informed the Canadian Embassy of what happened. I worried I’d caused a minor international incident. The embassy informed the Honduras government I was available should they wish to talk with me, and asked that any inquiries go through official channels… nothing ever came of it.
I was expected to stay in Managua until money, credit and debit cards, and documents that were stolen could be replaced. I was not enjoying my time in Managua, so I contacted a travel writer friend who has spent a lot of time in Central America. He suggested I head to Granada, assuring me that since I liked Antigua, Guatemala, so much I’d enjoy its Nicaragua sister city. I was in Granada only a couple of days before I realized I could live stress free, affordably, and make some money if I stayed. Other than visa runs I’ve been here since July 26, 2014. My client and friend had a heart attack and passed away soon after I arrived in Nicaragua. Since I was no longer committed to go to Ecuador I started looking at opportunities within Nicaragua.
I discovered Nicaragua was very pro foreign investment, especially in the tourism industry. I’ve done reasonably well in Nicaragua, and the Nicaraguan people I’ve met are wonderful. Appreciative, I decided to give something back. Through the two hotels I have interest in, Hotel de Sonrisas and Hotel La Calzada, I’ve started a program in which the children of single mothers can attend English classes at a private school. Tourism is the industry with the greatest employment opportunities, and it’s already the nation’s second largest employer after agriculture. However, to be deemed employable by tourism industry businesses, a Nicaraguan needs to speak some English. Most do not because it’s not a subject offered in public or church run schools. Solution, offer the opportunity to learn a second language myself. Classes started this past week for a handful of kids. More enrollments will follow with new students being added each 3 month semester.
At the moment this is an on the books scholarship or sponsorship program funded by the two hotels. We will later offer those children that stick with the courses an internship, maybe even permanent employment. If I calculated the need correctly, the demand for English speaking young people in the industry may make it necessary to increase pace and seek funding. We’ll see.
A second means of giving back… I’ve adopted as my cause assisting the local hospital with basics; bedding, pillows, equipment, etc. I had a mild stroke brought on by soft tissue swelling from an inner ear infection. Most expats, myself included, go to private clinics and hospitals. However, the closest hospital was not one of these. Known as the Japanese Hospital because it was Japan that build it for the Nicaraguan people, I was admitted, treated and released to the care of my personal doctor. The entire process cost me US$192.00 and I’ve made a 99% recovery. My right ear and the surrounding area have limited feeling, and although no one else seems to be able to see it, I swear I have some disfigurement around my right eye.
I did not notice much when I was a patient, but later I had occasion to visit a hotel guest in the same hospital. I was shocked to find that there were no pillows, few sheets for the beds, and very little in the way of incidentals needed by staff to do their jobs at peak efficiency. Apparently everything was stolen by patients, visitors and staff over time. Petty theft is a problem in poorer countries, and Nicaragua is no different. Anyway, once I’ve worked out with hospital administration what they need and how they intend to thwart future thefts, the plan is to seek donations of whatever it is the hospital needs and have it shipped in.
My reason for sharing my personal story and the causes I support is to highlight how little effort and money it takes to make a huge difference in this country. It’s the same with investing. A small investment in any business venture that creates jobs will have a positively impact on the lives of employees and their families. This is why foreign investment is sought by the Nicaraguan government, and why the country’s leadership is so pro business.
Opportunities are abundant here, so there is something for everyone and every budget. For more information contact Nica Investments.
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Posted by: Len | on February 6, 2017
It’s Been Raining – And That’s Good News
December, January and February have historically been dry months in Nicaragua. However, this year these months have seen rain the likes of which no one can remember. It’s over now, but after 5 years of drought the unseasonable rain was welcomed. Lake levels are back up, the aquifer is improving, and agriculture and ranching are less strained.
I Modified The Nica Investments Business Model
I’ve been tardy with my newsletter recently, and I apologize for that. The reason, or maybe you’ll want to call it an excuse, is that I’ve been busy launching a new business model… one that was a gamble, but seems to be working beyond expectations.
As I have mentioned in earlier newsletters and on the Nica Investments website, Law 360 offers foreign investors in tourism infrastructure the most generous incentives in all of Central America. Also important is that President Daniel Ortega has decided it will be tourism, not agriculture, manufacturing or outsource call centers, that lifts his people out of poverty. Therefore tourism is the sector of the economy given the greatest attention by the administration.
Rather than simply advising on tourism opportunities, Nica Investments has step up to the plate and become involved with our clients in tourism related ventures, or gone it alone on others. I’ve kept the core business as it was, consultation relating to real property and business investments, but now take an active role in the acquisitions and management of properties and business that fall within Law 360.
With fellow Canadian, long time business client, friend, and now business partner, Sandra Shimmin, we’ve opened Hotel de Sonrisas, formerly Hotel Casa Caprichio. The hotel operation is developing nicely… but not without hiccups.
Hotel de Sonrisas has an in-house spa that will be doubling as a hands on educational facility to empower women from all over Nicaragua. The purpose is to teach women marketable skills they can apply to their own small business ventures in their home towns. The women will be taught how to give therapeutic massage, manicures and pedicures, facial treatments, and perhaps later we’ll include hairdressing.
The restaurant was opened briefly with an experienced operator, and under a rather unique and fair partnership arrangement. A breach in the contract that was given ample time to be addressed and rectified never was, so at the end of the review period notice to vacate was given. The space is now available and we are considering operating the food and beverage service ourselves. If a trustworthy, experienced restaurateur wanted to take over the virtually turnkey indoor space, and develop the potential of the outside seating area that is already approved but the city, we’ll listen.
A second option became available that was too good not to pursue. Hotel La Calzada is probably one of the most unique boutique hotels in all of Nicaragua, in Granada for sure. With it’s collection of art and collectibles, many people walking though the front doors think they’ve walked into an art gallery dedicated to world famous Granada artist Tony Kulusic. Five years under renovation, the upscale hotel was designed by Mr. Kulusic as well, and is a work of art in itself. No expense was spared to provide guests with the very best stay possible.
The hotel bar is the Hogs Breath Saloon, which is to open this month. When it does, it too will be unique. However, it won’t be open to the general public. Instead, the bar will function as a members only facility, with hotel guests granted temporary membership during their stay. The plan is to open only Thursday through Saturday as a bar with food service. Members though may use the facility any day of the week for business meetings, a family get together, or celebrations of any kind. There will be a minimum and maximum number of people permitted, but members will not find the restriction too difficult to comply with since there’s ample indoor and outdoor seating.
More Opportunities Seem To Rain Down
It would appear Nica Investments’ new business model has caught on. A number of hotel, hostel and people with properties ideal for tourism activities, or existing tourist related ventures, have approach us to discuss areas of cooperation.
Our team is small. So unfortunately, not every opportunity presented can be pursued, even though all warrant serious consideration. We’re trying to include more team members, but totally trustworthy people with the necessary skills, experience and abilities are few and far between. Plus no one is invited on board without making a commitment they’re contractually bound to.
At the moment there are three opportunities, one a hostel, another a tourist attraction/activity, and the third an excellent long stay vacation rental property are under consideration. All have huge potential. However, like all tourism related businesses, they’re hands on operations. The simple fact is, without trusted extra hands these opportunities remain “under consideration” until there is an expansion in personnel.
The point of basing this current newsletter on what appears to be self promotion is to give notice to potential clients that Nica Investments not only advises on investment opportunities in Nicaragua, but actually follows through ourselves. If you’re a hotelier, restaurateur, tour operator or experienced event planner looking to resettle in Paradise contact Nica Investments. It is very likely we have a perfect match for you to become involved in.
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Posted by: Len | on December 7, 2016
The Deal Of The Week
The inventory of affordable homes in downtown Granada, Nicaragua is growing smaller by the day. It is not so much that affordable homes are being bought up… although that is certainly part of it.
The reality is that owners of affordable houses in Granada know prices are on the rise so they are unwilling to sell their property now for a low price. Most can and will wait until prices go up. Occasionally there are deals though, and this is one of them…
This two bedroom, three bathroom home has an indoor swimming pool and large kitchen. The massive master bedroom with en suite is on the second floor. The second bedroom, that could also be a den or office, has its own private bathroom as well. There’s a third bathroom for guests.
The home has been recently renovated. In fact, the fridge and gas stove are still shrouded in the protected plastic they were wrapped in at the factory, and the washing machine is still in the box it was delivered in.
The home is located on the north side of Calle La Calzada, just a few blocks from Central Park and Granada’s nightlife and tourist area.
If purchased as a revenue property, or a vacation home that would be rented out when not required by the owner, the property would easily rent for US$500 plus utilities.
The owner is asking US$149,500.00 for the property. Title is clear and there are no encumbrances to interfere with the transfer of the property. The vendor is not prepared to provide purchase financing but financing is available. To learn more, contact Nica Investments.
To learn more contact Nica Investments
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Posted by: Len | on November 7, 2016
Neither of the investment opportunities mentioned are still available. There are others though, so contact Nica Investments.
Good & Bad News…
First the bad news. The Joint Venture opportunity featured in the earlier newsletter entitled Joint Venture Development Opportunity In Nicaragua as been sold.
The good news is that a very similar opportunity is available on the property next door. It has lake frontage of about 65 feet, perfect for a private moorage jetty. The total land area is about 2 manzanas (3.4 acres) of land. The seller is asking US$150,000 but will consider a joint venture arrangement.
I will feature this property in an upcoming newsletter. I need to research the title, take some photos and do a bit of due diligence. Being lakefront I have to determine that there will be no problem building on the property. Stand by because this could be an excellent opportunity.
A Pre-Sell Condo Bargain
Barrio Otra Banda in the city of Granada is quickly becoming gentrified. Homes are being renovated and new dwellings are being built. A new hotel was recently constructed and has already opened for business, and just down the street for this new hotel, vacation/retirement condos are being built.
The condominium development is offering presell bargains to smart investors who get in early. I know what you’re thinking… “Another attempt to get future buyers to pay for the construction of a condominium complex that may never be built.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Investors wanting to lock in a below market purchase price on a one or two bedroom condo need only pay a small percentage down to reserve a unit and lock in the pre-sell price. At the moment 5% of the purchase amount will reserve one of the limited number of one and two bedroom condos.
Below is a rough rendering of the proposed development. These condos, located close to the city center, are ideal for use as personal residences, vacation rental properties, or both. Already retail mortgages are in place to facilitate purchasers requiring financing to complete purchases. To learn more about this property contact us for an information package.
Shortly after this newsletter was sent, I received an inquiry for more information, price, size, number of bathrooms and so on. Later the subscriber asked if a single purchaser would be able to tie up more than one condo unit at the presell prices. I hadn’t had an opportunity to discuss it with the developer, but felt comfortable stating there would be no problem.
Knowing the particular subscriber as well as I do, I believe he may be intending to buy multiple units at the discounted rate to rent out while he attempts to resell them for a profit. This was not something I saw as a potential business model, but looking at comparable condominiums in Granada, it’s an entirely plausible business plan.
To learn more about this investment opportunity or others contact Nica Investments.
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