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Older Property: Diamond in the Rough, or Money Pit?

February 10, 2015

When looking for your Puerto Vallarta dream home, look hard - and past the décor - and you too may find your diamond in the rough. With a little work, it could become the crown jewel of the neighborhood.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - When searching for your Puerto Vallarta dream home, you might want to consider looking at some of the Banderas Bay area's older properties that could use a bit of 'freshening up.'

First, I must disclose that this article may have somewhat of a bias, as I am one that has always purchased the worst houses in the best areas and renovated them. Unfortunately, I also have a character flaw whereby I sell them the day they are finished and move on, which is admittedly not popular with my family.

So, when you are looking at properties in the Puerto Vallarta area, here are some things I think you should keep in mind - much more than the current decor.

1. Is it in a good location? It's been said many times before, but I'll say it again, "location, location, location."

2. What is the condition of the property? Major repairs can get quite costly, so, if you think there may be some, it's best to have a qualified inspector check it out before buying.

3. Are you a person of vision? If not, listen to your real estate agent's suggestions. They have seen this done in many older buildings (maybe even units similar to the one you are looking at) and know what can be done. Consider consulting a designer and/or architect to draw up plans and let you know what can and can't be done. Meet with a contractor to give you an idea of costs and meline. This will give you a vision to the future.

4. Will the cost of the renovations drive your price out of the market? Do not over-renovate as you will not get your money back should you need, or decide, to sell. Recently I heard of one owner that has a condo that they are selling for just over $100,000 which had $40,000 in renovations done. You may think this is your forever home, but in reality this is not always the case. Needs and personal circumstances change.

5. What is the cost and quality of labor in the area? Having done many complete renovations in Canada, I can tell you that the cost for renovating properties in Mexico is significantly lower - and the quality is exceptional.

6. Do you have the time to put into a renovation? If not, new may be for you or you may want to consider hiring a full design team to oversee the project for you. There are many such organizations here in Puerto Vallarta, and we can also help recommend a few.

One of my recent sales was an oceanfront Penthouse on the south shore with unbelievable views of Los Arcos and Banderas Bay. With $50-$65,000 in renovations, the new owner will take this property up in value well above the amount of renovations. The property had been on the market for some time mainly because people didn't have the vision to see past a dated kitchen and bathrooms. I can hardly wait to see this one when it is done.

Of course, renovating is not for everyone and there are still many new properties that are in spectacular locations, but if you have the stomach for renovating, a diamond in the rough can certainly become the crown jewel of the neighborhood. So, when looking for your Puerto Vallarta dream home, look hard - and past the décor - and you too may find your diamond in the rough.
Warren Brander is an expert real estate agent working with Remax in Puerto Vallarta. He can be reached at 322-200-2253, or by email at warren(at) You can also check out his website for a great selection of Puerto Vallarta condos and homes for sale at To learn more about Warren Brander Real Estate, click HERE.