A MODERN HOUSE IN MANAGUA
This sprawling modernist home, known as the H House for its letter-like shape, is in the Villa Fontana Sur neighborhood in the capital city of Managua. It is a short drive from Lake Managua and several universities.
The custom-built, concrete-and-stucco structure was designed by Roger Valerio Architecture, a prominent local firm, and received national recognition when it became a Cemex Building Award finalist in 2016, the year it was completed. The award, sponsored by Cemex, a Mexican building materials company, recognizes projects around the world that use concrete in innovative ways.
“The house is so unusual for this country,” said Valeria Sanchez, the managing broker of Nicaragua Sotheby’s International Realty, which is listing the property. “It has an industrial style.”
The 4,305-square-foot home has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, as well as separate caretaker’s quarters with a bedroom and a bathroom. It sits on a fifth of an acre of sloping, walled-off property, and features a landscaped yard and an expanded courtyard with a 20-by-13-foot pool and a barbecue area, all of which are connected to the main level of the house.
“Everything is open,” Ms. Sanchez said. “There are large glass doors, and you can open up the entire living area.”
The main entry of this well-lit building leads to a large open space that contains a living room with double-height ceilings, a dining area and a kitchen. There is also a powder room. A custom-designed Scavolini kitchen is equipped with a large center island, stainless-steel appliances, black granite countertops and white lacquer-finish cabinets.
A floating staircase leads to the top floor, which has an open office area and four bedrooms, two of them (including the master) with terraces that look out to the courtyard. The master suite, which has a large concrete bathroom with a soaking tub, is in a separate wing.
Throughout the house are concrete walls and ceilings, porcelain tile floors and Brazilian wood details. The minimalist furnishings are included in the asking price.
The neighborhood of Villa Fontana Sur is filled with similarly high-end homes, and is at the southwestern end of Managua, a city with a population of about 1.5 million. It is about five miles south of Lake Managua and less than two miles from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, the main state-funded public university. Augusto C. Sandino International Airport is about a half-hour drive, while San Juan del Sur, a popular beach community on the southwestern Pacific Coast, is about two and a half hours away.
Over the past several years, Nicaragua has become more popular as a second-home destination. However, recent widespread protests, centered around unpopular social security reforms proposed by the government, have put a damper on sales of late, real estate professionals say.
Some buyers are “temporarily holding off” on purchasing plans, said Joel Stott-Jess, an agent with Century 21 Nica Life in San Juan del Sur. But “no clients have backed out of transactions with our brokerage,” he added.
Those who buy in Nicaragua are drawn to the country’s tropical climate and diverse landscape of beaches, lakes, rain forests and volcanoes, along with its modern and colonial cities. And home prices are typically lower than those in neighboring Central American countries.
Higher-end homes usually start at around $200,000 near the beach and slightly less in the cities, and can often be bought for under $1 million, Mr. Stott-Jess said.
“Similar properties in Costa Rica can be as much as 50 percent higher,” he said.
While Nicaragua’s housing market stalled after the 2008 global financial crisis, it has gradually improved in recent years. Mr. Stott-Jess said that sales in the luxury sector across the country are up around 3 percent to 4 percent so far this year, while prices are roughly 10 percent higher. And the government has been encouraging foreign real estate investment, with tax incentives through its residency program and ongoing upgrades to infrastructure, including roads, airports and telecommunications.
WHO BUYS IN NICARAGUA
Most foreign buyers are from the United States, Canada and Europe, real estate professionals said, with some buyers from Costa Rica and other neighboring countries. And foreigners who buy in Nicaragua tend to be looking for vacation or retirement homes, as well as investment properties to hold and develop.
“Tourism is increasing in many areas,” said Roger Sanchez, a real estate lawyer and the legal director in the Tola, Rivas, office of E. Castillo & Arguello Advisors. “We have clients that come to Nicaragua for a week — and in one week they get engaged with the area and decide to buy.”
Most foreign buyers, particularly those with families, are interested in beach communities like San Juan del Sur, Mr. Stott-Jess said. Cities like Managua are more popular with retirees and professionals working remotely, or with those who have business in the country, he said: “They like to be close to amenities like good infrastructure, movie theaters and health care.”
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate in Nicaragua, with the exception of properties close to the borders, said Javier A. Quinto, a real estate lawyer with Consortium Legal in San Juan del Sur. And foreigners have the same property rights as Nicaraguans, he said.
Local financing is available for foreign buyers, Mr. Quinto said, although loan terms are usually less attractive than those in the United States.
It is crucial for buyers to hire an experienced local lawyer to conduct the necessary due diligence, he said, which includes reviewing the title deed, or escritura, to ensure that there are no liens against the property or issues with ownership. Home inspections are also encouraged.
Buyers can grant power of attorney to a lawyer to represent them at the closing and finalize the deal, which is transacted in the local currency. The entire buying process usually takes two to three months, Mr. Sanchez said.
Nicaragua tourism: visitnicaragua.us
Official Managua site: managua.gob.ni
Nicaragua Multiple Listing Service: mls-nica.com/en
LANGUAGE AND CURRENCY
Spanish; Nicaraguan córdoba (1 córdoba = $0.032)
TAXES AND FEES
Sellers typically pay the sales commission, which ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent of the purchase price.
Buyers are responsible for several transaction fees, including a federal transfer tax of 1 percent to 4 percent of the assessed value of the property after it is registered. Other expenses include an annual municipal tax and fees for a lawyer and a notary (although many lawyers are notaries). The lawyer’s fee is typically 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the purchase price.
The annual property taxes on this house are $500, Ms. Sanchez said.
Valeria Sanchez, Nicaragua Sotheby’s International Realty, 505-7619-3000; nicaraguasir.com