What would you do with this house in Costa Rica?

1 Reply

The home where I grew up is in Costa Rica. It was built in 1982. My father legally owns it, but only my mother and brother live in it. Dad has expressed his commitment to leave the house to me and my brother, meaning that we could decide to sell or rent it before he passes. There is a mortgage of about $40K on the house, which dad is paying, and the home's estimated value is around $250K.

Over there, constructions are different: Brick, concrete and rebar for walls. Corrugated metal for roofs. No A/C or furnace or basement. Maintenance has been almost non-existent for 23 years. There is a persistent problem with rising humidity in the walls, causing peeling paint and ease for mold to hold on to anything you hang on the walls. There have been termites and other wood-eating insects that have damaged the structure that holds the ceiling in place. We are not sure how unstable the roof is, but the ceiling definitely is. 

I have suggested possible solutions, including a device of european manufacture that reduces wall humidity, but it costs around $10K. With covid, having a contractor look at the ceiling has been difficult. The house could use many other upgrades to be in optimal condition (new garage door, new electric installation, paint, a modern kitchen remodel, etc.)

The house is big for just two people. Modern young families seem to prefer smaller, more efficient homes. Easier to clean, maintain and pay for. The argument for selling is that mom would have a better quality of life elsewhere, and we forget about a headache-inducing asset and put our half of the money we can get for it to work elsewhere. My fear is that because of the poor condition, we may get low-balled. 

My brother is not excited about spending any amount on repairs and wants to sell, as he frustratingly thinks the house is "a lost cause" in terms of repairability. It is unclear if there is a market right now for a big house with many maintenance issues. On the other hand, in a world where money was not a problem, bringing the house up to optimal conditions would cost around $50K, and I believe it could rent for at least $1600. 

I could use some fresh perspective and advice from you. Thank you!

Originally posted by @Mauricio Alvarez :

The home where I grew up is in Costa Rica. It was built in 1982. My father legally owns it, but only my mother and brother live in it. Dad has expressed his commitment to leave the house to me and my brother, meaning that we could decide to sell or rent it before he passes. There is a mortgage of about $40K on the house, which dad is paying, and the home's estimated value is around $250K.

Over there, constructions are different: Brick, concrete and rebar for walls. Corrugated metal for roofs. No A/C or furnace or basement. Maintenance has been almost non-existent for 23 years. There is a persistent problem with rising humidity in the walls, causing peeling paint and ease for mold to hold on to anything you hang on the walls. There have been termites and other wood-eating insects that have damaged the structure that holds the ceiling in place. We are not sure how unstable the roof is, but the ceiling definitely is. 

I have suggested possible solutions, including a device of european manufacture that reduces wall humidity, but it costs around $10K. With covid, having a contractor look at the ceiling has been difficult. The house could use many other upgrades to be in optimal condition (new garage door, new electric installation, paint, a modern kitchen remodel, etc.)

The house is big for just two people. Modern young families seem to prefer smaller, more efficient homes. Easier to clean, maintain and pay for. The argument for selling is that mom would have a better quality of life elsewhere, and we forget about a headache-inducing asset and put our half of the money we can get for it to work elsewhere. My fear is that because of the poor condition, we may get low-balled. 

My brother is not excited about spending any amount on repairs and wants to sell, as he frustratingly thinks the house is "a lost cause" in terms of repairability. It is unclear if there is a market right now for a big house with many maintenance issues. On the other hand, in a world where money was not a problem, bringing the house up to optimal conditions would cost around $50K, and I believe it could rent for at least $1600. 

I could use some fresh perspective and advice from you. Thank you!

 Very interesting family story Mauricio.  This would be an interesting project to review and analyze.  Have you made any progress or decisions?  Where is the property located?  There may be far more avenues available for consideration that would provide for your family.