By Larry Easto
For better or for worse, I am starting to appreciate the Costa Rican approach to local addresses.
I have been in Costa Rica since the end of January. In addition to continuing to write and manage my website, I have been helping Spanish-speaking executives improve their English.
In most of the country, there are neither street names nor house numbers. Addresses refer to local landmarks. For example, my address as shown on my rental agreement is: “San Francisco de Dos Rios, 300 mts Sur del Restaurante Tierra Colombia, Fente al Abastecedor don Bosco.”
Roughly translated into English this means, “San Francisco de Dos Rios, (the community in which I live, part of San Jose, the capital city) 300 metres south of the Earth Colombia Restaurant (which is now closed and renovated into a business centre) across from the merchant Don Bosco.”
There are two things I like about the Costa Rican approach to describing an address.
First it forces us to be aware of what’s around us. Whether you are giving or receiving directions, it is important to be aware of local landmarks. Moving around Toronto, whether on foot, public transit or driving, is invariably frustrating. It’s like some kind of dance in which thousands and thousands of people move about so totally engrossed in themselves, their inner thoughts or wireless communications that they are totally oblivious to what is right beside them.
When looking for local landmarks, you are forced to be more aware of your surroundings. And this includes other people, the second feature I like about the Costa Rican approach.
Whether asking for clarification or entirely new directions, the Costa Rican approach certainly facilitates connecting with other people. I do, however, wonder how those highly descriptive Costa Rican addresses would fit into MLS listing agreements.
There does appear to be some form of MLS service in Costa Rica. From what I can tell, it seems to be a feature offered by a single brokerage, rather than an industry resource available for all agents.
According to Google, there are at least six real estate agents in the San Jose Central Valley area. I think there are probably more agents…just not listed by Google.
One of my students advised me that this area has a population of about 4.5 million people.
From my own observation, there is no evidence of real estate agents in or around the Metropolitan San Jose area. I have seen many signs that simply said “’se venda” (for sale) or “se alquila” (for rent) with a phone number. But so far I have not seen a real estate agent’s for sale sign anywhere.
It’s tempting to suggest that the number of real estate agents is relatively small because Costa Ricans are fiercely independent and strongly committed to the age-old FSBO practice.
However, based on my limited experience in the country, that is not entirely true.
Within a week of my arriving, I met a journalist who had a friend anxiously trying to sell his home. Originally listed at over $900,000 (US), the price had been reduced to just over $500,000. Although the property was listed on non-exclusive agreements with two or three agents in the U.S., there had been no potential buyers.
The journalist helped the owner by taking some pictures and posting them to the website set up to help sell the house. When he found out about my real estate marketing website, the journalist invited me to assist with the marketing.
However, by the time I was able to speak to the owner, the property had been sold to a Swedish purchaser, who managed to find the listing online. When the owner told me about having sold his house, he asked if I could help him find a new home in a different part of the country.
At that time, I declined because I had not even been here a full week. There’s no telling what will happen if I should get another similar request in the future.
A couple of weeks after this incident, I had another real estate-related experience.
Totally by chance, I met a Canadian from Vancouver, who turned out to be the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. His business activities include real estate.
Before I could pursue the issue of what he did in real estate, he was off on another topic, telling me non-stop what his plans are for another project. He got even more excited when he found out that I am a writer.
Perhaps time will tell exactly what he does in real estate and why he got so excited about my being a writer. Who knows…I might just find myself more actively involved in marketing real estate than just writing about it.
Larry Easto is a best selling author and publisher of www.real-estate-marketing-link.info
He can be contacted at email@example.com