Our experience in purchasing a home in beautiful Puerto Rico.

Here's the story:

My wife and I put our home in Texas on the market in February of 2016.  After lots of discussion, we (which means my beautiful wife) decided that it was just too far from everything.  We live out in the country and even to go to the grocery store we had to drive 25 minutes 1 way.  This bi-weekly drive to the grocery store typically resulted in my wife telling me how far away we lived from civilization for the better part of half of an hour.

So as a loving husband, I call my real estate agent and tell her that we need to sell our current home, which I had custom built 2 years ago, and look for something that is closer to where other humans are.  As we were looking at about a million homes over the next few weeks, we stumbled across what would eventually have us moving to Puerto Rico! 

Now if someone had told me a week earlier that I would be moving to Puerto Rico in the near future, I would have told them that they had been sniffing too much glue and to stop it because it’s probably killing a lot of brain cells.

One evening went to see home # 1,000,001, where other humans live in the surrounding areas, with our agent.  The seller happened to be home at the showing appointment time.  His wife was out of town and he jokingly told us that he didn’t like leaving the house for showings because he didn’t have anything to do.  He said he typically just sat in his car down the street for an hour but since his wife was out of town, opportunity presented itself for him to continue watching TV while we snooped around his home.  He said if his wife knew he was at home for a showing, he would be in trouble.  I told him I know where he is coming from and his secret was safe with me.  Of course, I see this as an opportunity to ask him lots of questions that a good husband looking to purchase a home for he and his wife should ask.  Like…what’s the score of the game he was watching?  Eventually, I got around to asking him why he and his wife were selling.  He replied with a huge, happy smile “We are moving to St. Croix”.  Keep in mind, my wife can’t hear me when I am 10 feet from her and ask her a question but this same wonderful woman who has blessed my life comes around a corner at Mach 3.5 from about 2 rooms away faster than I have ever seen her move when she heard something about moving to St. Croix!  So I had to ask because I know what is important to my wife “Are there other humans that live on that island?”  The seller looked at me kind of funny.  My wife’s look was anything but funny.  I said “just kidding honey” and felt a little bit safer.

All of the sudden my wife was in charge of questioning the seller and her questions had absolutely nothing to do with their home for sale.  The seller told us how cheap it was to live in St. Croix and how wonderful and beautiful the island is.  With each word that came from the seller’s mouth, I could see my wife slowly having me pack boxes in her mind.  I can read her like a book!   The conversation ended up with “we really like your home and will discuss it”.  This was the furthest from the real truth.  I knew exactly what my wife would be discussing within 4 seconds of getting back into our car.

The next morning I am looking online for homes in St. Croix because that is what a loving husband does when his wife tells him to.  I find lots of homes for sale in our price range and start to compile web links to them and email them to my wife.  She is searching online as well and this turns into lots of emails back and forth with more properties than I want to look at.  I looked at so many that I am literally having dreams of web links, pictures of homes with prices!  She went to a website that not only had USVI properties but also had a property in Puerto Rico listed for sale.  This property was much larger, seemed nicer and at a much cheaper price compared to the properties that we had been looking at in the USVI. 
I was quickly instructed to cease and desist immediately looking for USVI properties and to start looking in PR.

I start all over compiling web links to email to her.  I was thinking at this point that being a real estate agent probably isn’t too bad.  Look up a bunch of properties online that fit your client’s (or wife’s) needs and email them over.  Surely they will like 1-3 of them and you just have to meet them there at the property and cash in on your /!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\.  Sounds logical to me.  I decided not to ask my wife for any commission for all of my hard work clicking my mouse while sitting in my chair.  It was probably a good idea. 
Between the 2 of us, we found about 50 properties that we were interested in at least getting more information on. 

One of the many things about searching for PR properties that you have to keep in mind is that a lot of the properties listed online are ghost properties.  What I mean by that is some of them sold 6 months ago or a year ago, the seller decided not to sell after all and the listing agent never updated the online information etc.  Another thing is that the amount of information available online about a property here on the mainland is abundant.  This is not the case with the majority of properties online in PR.  There were a lot of properties that had only 1 picture, some didn’t show the square footage, some didn’t show how many bedrooms or bathrooms, some didn’t show the size of the land/lot they are on etc. 

We needed more information on a lot of these properties to see if they would fit our needs.  What do you do when you need more information?  You call the listing agent of course!  I start calling listing agents for about 20 properties to get more info.  I told my wife that pretty soon my phone will be blowing up with return phone calls from eager listing agents and that I might need to find my backup battery for my cell phone.  Now keep in mind, I had left voicemails for around 20 different listing agents…6 days later, one of the 20ish agents called me back.  Knowing what I know now, this is not uncommon and one of the things that you just have to learn to deal with.  My wife thought it was crazy but I reminded her that we want to be somewhere different and that place would in fact…be different.  I decided to brush it off as comical and got a kick out of it.  My wife is still getting used to what they call “Island Time”.  Things just don’t move as quickly, and sometimes not at all, as they do on the mainland.

The agent that called me back was extremely friendly and spoke perfect English which was good because my Spanish is shabby at best.  We actually had one of her properties as the “top 5” on our list.  My wife told me to make an appointment to see the property.   I said “Ok, I will call…wait, did you say SEE the property, as in-person?”  She said “Yes, I am going to purchase airfare and we will stay in PR for a week to look at properties”.  I said “Hrm, ok you should get a good deal on the tickets purchasing them so far in advance”.  I said “I only need to get hold of 19 or so more listing agents and that should only take another 4-5 months”.  She didn’t think that was too funny and said that we would be flying to PR from April 16-23rd so I’d better “get with the program” on contacting these agents.  Great!  The problem is that they are on their own program and their program is not coming about anytime in April I was thinking. 

I called the agent back (she actually answered this time) and asked if we could make an appointment to see the property, letting her know that we would be there April 16-23rd which was a Saturday through Saturday.  She told me she would talk with the seller and get back to me.  She called me back a few days later and said she could show the property to us on Monday the 18th at 10am!  Yes!  I am making progress here…1 down and 19 to go.  The property was exactly what we were looking for from what we saw online.  Online pictures and description can vary from what the property looks like in person as we found out later.

We had a list of things that we would like to have in a property.
1.    Close to other human beings (no way I forgot that one)
2.    Ocean View but not directly on the beach
3.    At least 3 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms
4.    At least 2500 square feet of living area
5.    At least ¼ of an acre or at least enough room to grow some of our own fruits & veggies

Our price range was $350-400k but we would be most comfortable no more than $380k.  We could go $400k but the home would have to be just amazing and perfect!  We were paying cash so our budget had to be strict.  We also knew that we would have expensive moving costs and need to purchase a car once we got to the island.  My wife’s car was a lease and it ended May 9th which ended up being perfect timing.  I have a pick-up truck (which I love!) and it was not a lease.  I looked on the website where you put in your Vehicle Identification Number to see the amount of taxes that it would cost if we decided to ship it over.  My 2015 GMC 1500 Crew Cab Truck which I bought brand new for $40,000 was valued on this website for tax purposes for $55,000!!  I looked around the webpage hoping to find a link titled “Sell us this truck for $55,000” but unfortunately there wasn’t one.  The taxes I would have to pay to bring my truck to PR was in excess of $5,500.  It was going to cost an additional $2,800 to ship it via La Rosa Del Monte.  My wife and I decided that it wasn’t worth it in the end.  We could use that $8,800 to go toward purchasing a car in PR.  We will just my truck here on the mainland in my Dad’s barn and we would always have something to drive when we visit the mainland.  I will miss my truck dearly.  Dad says he will take good care of it for me!

I decided to do more research online and came across this website for expats.  I feel lately that I am a professional reader.  I have researched and read as much as possible.  I like to be prepared for whatever comes my way.  My wife informed me in early April that she would like to be living in PR by June.  I said “June of THIS year?”.  She said “yes, this year”.  That gave me about 45 days to become an expert in Puerto Rico which I thought maybe was possible but it only gave me 45 days to get in touch with PR realtors which seemed as easy as juggling chainsaws blindfolded underwater!  How am I going to do this was all I could think of for a few days. 

The website ended up being the link that I needed.  I started reading everything I could there and after a few days of reading, I reached out to some of the regular posters that seemed to know their stuff.  I PM’d about 5 people who all ended up being friendly and extremely helpful.  One of those people gave me the name and phone number of a realtor that he had worked with and highly recommended.  The realtor that he referred me to was named Carlos.  I got busy at work and ended up not taking my notes with me and only remembered the name Carlos.  So after I got home, I looked online and ended up getting a phone number for a realtor that I thought was the Carlos that I was referred to.   I called this realtor and he was very friendly and said he would be happy to help.  I thought great!   I needed help!  It ended up being the wrong one but I didn’t find this out until the next day when I got to my office.  Over the next couple of days he emailed to me many properties based on what I told him my wife and I were looking for.   Every single property he emailed to us did not have an ocean view even though I told him other than not being infested with flesh eating aliens, was our #1 criteria. 

I started to panic.  I was less than a couple of weeks away and wasn’t getting anywhere.  I ended up giving the “right” Carlos a call in hopes that he would be able to save me.  The “right” Carlos was awesome.  He searched only properties that met our criteria and emailed some to me.  A lot of them we had seen online already and we were able to weed some out right away.  He had found a couple of properties that we hadn’t seen online.  We set things up to meet with him right after we got off of the plane in San Juan on Saturday the 16th.  He said in the interim, he would call the agents to make appointments.  It was really funny because he said to me “now sometimes it is difficult to get these listing agents on the phone so it may take me some time”.  I told him “No way, you don’t say” lol.  I knew how that goes already and told him of my experience thus far on contacting listing agents. 

Over the next couple of weeks prior to our PR trip, we looked at many properties online that both Carlos found and we found.  We were able to narrow down to about 20 properties.  There were so many because although my wife had been to PR 10 years ago, I had never been.  We had no idea which area of PR we wanted to live.  We had an idea based on my research but still needed to see these areas in person.  Even at this point in our venture, I don’t recommend purchasing a property in PR in a hurry.  I would recommend doing plenty of research on areas, staying in those areas both during the day and at night.  It was a little easier I think for my wife and I because we both knew exactly what we wanted in a home and in an area.  We just needed to check these areas out and we were hoping we could do this inside of the 7 days we would be on the island.  We did discuss and were 100% prepared to rent a property for a year or more before purchasing if we didn’t feel comfortable after our trip. 

Carlos stayed in contact with us prior to our trip and we had many on-speaker telephone conversations with him asking him what was probably a million questions in all.  He never made us feel like we were bothering him with questions or phone calls.  He really thought we would like Dorado even though we told him we were leaning towards Cabo Rojo or Quebradillas.  We were leaning towards these 2 areas because we liked a couple of homes there and from the research that I did, it seemed a good fit for us.  We agreed to at least see Dorado just to make sure it wasn’t for us prior to continuing to the west side of the island.  A couple of days prior to our flight to PR, Carlos said he had success in setting up some appointments for us to see properties.  I thought he was magical for being able to get that done.  I wasn’t able to get it done and I was pretty persistent.  Good job Carlos!

It was the night before our flight left and we had packed for our trip.  My beautiful wife had booked our flight that left at 6am the following morning so we had to absolute pleasure of waking up at 2:30am to be at the airport on time.  I wanted to remind her that we would be caught up at the airport for 8 hours total, renting a car then driving from San Juan to Dorado in traffic (took an hour), looking at homes for a couple of hours then driving from Dorado to Cabo Rojo (took 4 hours) so booking a flight that left at 6am wasn’t the best idea but I thought better of it for my personal safety.  I knew she would be exhausted though.  I am better at motoring through stuff like that than she is.  I also knew with her being exhausted that I needed to be caring, loving, supportive and the one that books the flight next time!

We arrived in PR at 2:30pm on the 16th and rented our Jeep that I had reserved without any issues.  I called Carlos while still sitting in the parking garage of the rental terminal and then realized we were a full hour earlier than expected.  Carlos was so great, he stopped what he was doing and said “no problem, I will meet you guys in Dorado in 1 hour”.  Gotta love Carlos!  We met Carlos in Dorado to view our first PR properties.  We were so excited as the anticipation of the past weeks had been building up in both of us.  Something to expect when looking at properties in PR is if they are in a gated community, you’d better bring something to read.  We were following Carlos in our Jeep and every house we went to was in a gated community.  The guards at these gated communities are in no hurry to say the least.  My wife and I laughed so much because Carlos would pull up to the speaker to talk to the guard when he could have just pulled up another 20 feet and had a face to face conversation with the guard.  Funny, I guess it is just another difference that we need to embrace.  After 5-10 minutes of the guard talking through the speaker with Carlos, the gate would open and in we would go.  We saw 3-4 houses and 1 townhome.  All were very nice but it wasn’t the community feel that we were looking for.  I have to admit of all the places that we saw in PR, Dorado would fit what would closest match living on the mainland the most.  We wanted something different.  If we wanted to live like we were on the mainland, we could have easily just stayed on the mainland. 

Carlos recognized that Dorado wasn’t for us so we parted for now and set up a time to meet on Monday to see properties on the west side of the island.  Remember the “wrong” Carlos that I called by accident first?  Well he called me and said he had lined up 15 properties for us to see on the west side on Sunday.  I had read that in PR it was common to work with many different realtors but it didn’t feel good to me since the “right” Carlos was so helpful.  My wife pointed out that the “wrong” Carlos had also done work for us and we owed it to him to allow him to show us some properties.  She said whoever finds the property for us that we buy deserves the commission.  Hrm, Ok.  Sounds logical…kind of...I guess.  So I told the “wrong” Carlos that we would meet him tomorrow morning.

We then drive from Dorado to the condo we had rented near Combate beach in Cabo Rojo.  This was a long drive as my wife and I both were exhausted from traveling all day.  On the way, we stopped at a restaurant in Quebradillas.  It looked nice so we went inside and sat down.  In my research, I had fully expected service to be super slow and terrible compared to what is offered on the mainland but this place was great as far as service went.  The food was very expensive and not that great as far as taste goes.  My wife and I both ordered an entrée and both of us had water to drink and our meal was $59 before tip.  We left the restaurant and headed to our condo.  We arrived just before 11pm, took a shower and passed out from exhaustion. 

We woke up the next morning feeling like a million bucks and were excited to go see properties.  After we showered and enjoyed the morning breeze on the condo patio, the “wrong” Carlos called my cell phone and said “something came up and I cannot meet with you today”.  My wife’s face showed immediate displeasure and I began to not feel safe again.  I reminded her about the “island time” thing and that we could use this day to recuperate at the beach.   Her face immediately changed with a pleasant smile because my sentence had the word “beach” in it.  I am so good!

We got up early with plans to go to the beach but then I remembered reading about the farmer’s market every Sunday morning in Rincon!  I asked Marina (my wife), “would you like to go?”  I already knew the answer.  She loves fresh fruit and veggies.  Off we went to Rincon.  We got there late because we were sightseeing along the way amazed at all the mangos just laying on the side of the road.  Maryna wanted me to stop the car several times so she could pick some up but I was able to talk her out of it because we needed to get to the farmer’s market before they shut down.  We arrived just before 12 Noon, browsed around and made some purchases.  We even bought a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice for $3 each and it was delicious.  We met many friendly people and told them of our plans to move to PR very soon.  Rincon is a very cool place.  One of the guys we met there described it as “summer all year round”.  That really was what it seemed like. 

After buying lots of fruits and veggies, we left the farmer’s market and went to a local grocery store there in Rincon (I think it was called Edwards).  Very cool store and we picked up some things there that we would eat on for the week.  We then headed back to the condo to go to the beach like I promised.  We spent the rest of the day on Combate beach where I think the rest of the people of PR were at too because I don’t think I have ever seen that many people in the same area in my life.  We were glad to see though that the people on the island are out enjoying the sun, ocean etc instead of sitting at home in front of the TV like we see a lot of people do on the mainland.  We ended up walking further down the beach…far enough that we had about a 300 yard stretch of beach all to ourselves.  The water was beautiful in color, very calm and warm as bath water.  For a few hours we swam, talked and enjoyed the life that we hoped was soon to come.

The “wrong” Carlos called Sunday evening while my wife and I were in the Condo.  He informed us that he would be able to work with us on Wednesday.  That actually worked out good because the “right” Carlos was going to work with us on Monday and Tuesday.  I had told the “right” Carlos that prior to contacting him that I had contacted a listing agent (the only 1 of 20 that called me back) and we had an appointment to see a property in Cabo Rojo at 10am Monday morning.  He said that was no problem but to please let that agent know that we were working with him so he could hopefully get commission if we ended up purchasing that property.  I told him no problem.  This property in Cabo Rojo that we were to see Monday morning was on our top 5 pick list so we were really excited to see it.  I had also found a property only a couple of days before our flight to PR in Quebradillas that was also in our top 5.  I had given the information to Carlos for him to try and set up a showing but the listing agent hadn’t called him back yet…I know, I found it hard to believe too lol.  As luck would have it, only a couple of hours later the listing agent of the Quebradillas house had called Carlos back and we had an appointment to see it Monday at 11:30am.  It was going to be close to see a house in Cabo Rojo at 10am then be in Quebradillas at 11:30am but we thought we could do it although just barely.

We met the agent at 10:30am at the Cabo Rojo house.  It had everything that we were looking for but the ocean view was minimal and partially obstructed.  It was right in front of a large condo development and I knew this was not going to be “the one”.  The agent was really nice and helpful.  She offered to show us more properties that she has listed.  We showed our gratitude and told her that we were pretty booked up until Friday.  I forgot to mention, we had made plans with one of the couples that I PM’d from expats website to hang out with them on Thursday.  We wanted to pick their brains about life in PR and particularly Quebradillas. 

The listing agent told me she would email some properties to me that we could hopefully see on Friday.  Many thanks and we are on our way to Quebradillas via google maps which could end us up in Alaska from my experience so far.  Navigation systems and google maps are not totally reliable in PR to say the least.  Most of the time google maps will get you “in the area” of where you are trying to get to so allow extra time when going place to place if possible.
So I am Mario Andretti with my wife as navigator watching google maps on her Iphone telling me “you should have turned left back there”.  I am thinking “we’re never going to get there by 11:30am”.  Almost all of the smaller streets in the area of PR we were in do not have signs.  I found it best to just ask what KM marker that I turn at was much more useful. 

The story behind the house we are going to see in Quebradillas is that it was not listed on any of the online websites that the “right” Carlos told me to look on.  It was listed on a site called Ovlix.  I heard about it somewhere on the expat forums so I decided to look.  Carlos said that Ovlix isn’t used very much in PR and the property was probably not for sale anymore.  Marina and I were disappointed because we really liked it and it seemed to fit all of our needs.  As it turns out, it was still for sale and had been on the market for right at 1 year.  We were thinking there has to be something wrong with it for it being on the market for so long because it is a beautiful property and seemed to be offered at a fair price. 

After white knuckle driving from Cabo Rojo to the Quebradillas house, we arrive 15 minutes late at 11:45.  As we pull up in to the driveway, Carlos is talking to the listing agent and one of the owners of the house.  It is very common for the owner to be present for showings unlike on the mainland where it’s almost taboo for the owner to be present so don’t be surprised when you are looking at homes.  I would say out of about 20-25 houses that we looked at in PR that week, the seller was present at 80% of them.  Some of the homes that the seller wasn’t there were only because it was a second  home and the seller was off the island at the time or the home was vacant.

We get out of our Jeep and I apologize for being late.  Marina whispered to me “you don’t have to apologize…island time…remember?”.  Oh  yea that’s right lol.  Maybe they did expect for us to be late, who knows.  I felt that an apology was in order regardless. 

The home was everything that we had hoped that it would be from seeing it online.  It was absolutely beautiful.  It was 3600 square feet on .81 acres with an incredible ocean view.  The house looked as if it were taken very well care of.  We had seen a lot of homes that looked dirty, run down and not in good shape overall.  The husband, his wife and their son were all home and were extremely friendly and welcoming.  Although, they didn’t appear too excited.  Later, Marina and I had thought it was because of the time that their house had been on the market.  Wow, how many times had they gone through this showing process in that year and the house didn’t sell.  I couldn’t blame them.  We were as respectful as possible and really showed our appreciation for their time and of their beautiful home.  The husband told us that he was the original owner of the home and that they needed to move closer to San Juan to take care of his wife’s parents who are aging and in need of daily assistance.  Very good people and I am hopeful that our kids feel the same way about Marina and I when we are at that point.  He went on to tell us how much he loves their home and how they have become a family in this home.  He was very helpful answering our questions about the home, neighborhood and PR in general and I was glad that he was present during the showing.  His kindness and friendliness was no different from just about everyone that we met while in PR.  PR has some of the nicest people that I have ever come into contact with. 

As we are all walking around the house together looking, we come to the laundry room which is about the size of a ½ bathroom here on the mainland.  Marina says “is this the laundry room? You can’t fit a washer and dryer here!”  I said “yes, honey, you just use a stackable unit or a unit that does both.  I think they call it an all-in-one”.  At this point, I am thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me.  We are looking at this beautiful home with everything that we want and she’s worried about a small laundry room?”  I have to admit that I was a little frustrated but a couple of minutes later everyone else started talking and I had my chance.  I leaned over to Marina and asked “are you really serious about the laundry room, this house is amazing and I love it…you don’t?”  She said “shhh omg this is our house, it’s the one.  I just didn’t want them to think we like it so much that they won’t come down on the price”.  I said “that’s your negotiation tactic?” lol  We both laughed quietly and I was relieved that she loved the house as much as I did.  We are really in tune with each other and typically like the exact same things so I was going to be very surprised if she didn’t like it.

We spent about an hour and ½ at the house looking at various things, talking to the owners about how stuff works etc.  In certain areas in PR, it is a good idea to have a back-up plan which includes a cistern and generator.  A cistern is just a back-up water supply in case of an outage and obviously a generator is a back-up electric supply.  The owner took time to show me how everything worked, turning the generator on, flipping big handle switches…you know…guy stuff.  I was very appreciative of the time he took and it really gave me a good feel for things.

We left the property knowing we would most likely be making an offer but we both kept our poker faces on as to not alert the sellers to this.  We wouldn’t want to mess up Marina’s tactical negotiation efforts about the laundry room.  **Insert “rolls eyes” emoji here** 

We went on to see several other properties on the west side including ones in Rincon, Isabela and a couple more in Quebradillas.  None of them held a candle to the one we liked.  Not even close.  We talked with the “right” Carlos that evening after property hunting was done for the day and told him we wanted to present an offer.  He asked us if we were sure because there were lots of other properties to see on Tuesday.  We said yes but island time dictates that we start the negotiation process now so hopefully by the time we have to fly back we will have gotten some of the process done.  We asked him to just write up the contract and we would sign it.  He informed us that most of the real estate transactions done in PR are just verbal until a mutual agreement was reached.  Woah, so we just make a verbal offer and that’s it?  On the mainland as I am sure you are aware, when you submit an offer it is on a contract that way if it is accepted, you are locked in.  It is different but PR is different and we are ok with that.  Well…I am ok with it.  Marina is learning to be ok with it lol.  In her defense, she is a long time successful business owner and has had to be on the ball regarding her business so some of the way things work in PR are a business culture shock to her. 

Marina and I submitted our verbal offer Monday evening.
Tuesday we were back on property hunting duty all day with the “right” Carlos.  Again, we saw many properties that were great but only one that we saw could come close to the Quebradillas house.  This property that we liked almost as well was in Rincon.  It had a great ocean view and the house itself was in very good shape and was beautiful.  It was on the steepest hill that I have ever seen a house on.  Marina said “no way could I ever drive up this driveway”.  I can’t blame her.  I mean it was super steep.  If you were unloading groceries and a cantaloupe fell out of the bag, it could roll for ½ a mile after the speed it would gain from rolling down the driveway and if it hit the water could cause a Tsunami.  Other than the death hill that the house was on, it was a great house but it was also $40,000 higher than the Quebradillas house so we scratched it off the possibility list. Later Tuesday evening, the “right” Carlos called us with a counter offer from the seller.  We countered back. 

Wednesday morning comes around and the “wrong” Carlos calls us and says he is going to be 1 hour late.  I tell Marina and she rolls her eyes.  She is getting the hang of it because I didn’t have to remind her of the island time thingy.  When the “wrong” Carlos finally arrived at our condo, he is actually 2 hours late. All of our appointments are now 2 hours behind schedule which I have no idea how that is going to turn out.  He says “is it ok if you (talking to me) drive?”  I said “Sure, let’s just take our rental Jeep”.  I thought it to be a little strange because I have no idea where I am going but I was ok with it.  Go with the flow right?  Marina and I are waiting in the Jeep as the “wrong” Carlos is getting things out of his vehicle.  When he finally gets in the backseat of the Jeep, Marina and I both realize why he wanted me to drive.  The “wrong” Carlos smells like he used whiskey as cologne.  He smells like he  has been drinking all night long.  Marina looked at me with 2 different looks at the same time.  I don’t know how she did it but her look told me both that she was disgusted and pissed.  Maybe she is an expert at conveying her thoughts through looks or I am an expert at reading looks.  Either way, I knew what she was thinking and it wasn’t good.  We ended up wasting an entire day with the “wrong” Carlos as he took us to properties that weren’t even close to what we told him we were looking for.  All the while, we got to enjoy the strong, foul smell of someone who was obviously over-served.  He did tell us a couple of hours into the trip that he had some investors in town and they had struck a deal so they celebrated last night.  No kidding!  Marina and I felt like we were part of the after-celebration…yuck. 

As I said, all of our appointments were 2 hours behind schedule.  The “wrong” Carlos was getting phone calls and Marina and I could hear the other agents yelling at him over the phone because they had been waiting at the property for hours.  I felt bad for the other agents and it was an extremely uncomfortable day.  When the day was finally over, Marina and I were thankful to say the least.  We finished around 4pm and went to the beach to enjoy what PR has to offer.  Poor “wrong” Carlos had a 4+ hour trip back to the San Juan area.  He had told us right before he departed to head back that he would contact a few other agents to show us more properties that actually fit our needs.  He said they would be in contact with us in the next day or so.  We never heard from any of those agents or the “wrong” Carlos again.
It’s Wednesday evening and we still haven’t heard anything from the sellers on our 2nd offer.  We got a little nervous but were hopeful that we would hear from the “right” Carlos soon.  It wasn’t until Thursday early afternoon that we received their counter offer.  We still hadn’t reached a deal.  There was some confusion because on the listing it had stated that all appliances were included.  This was not the case.  Make sure to verify everything with whoever you are working with be it the listing agent or your own buyer’s agent.  Take nothing at face value.  As we found out, a lot of the information provided on listings is just not accurate.  At this point, we are going back and forth on price a little bit and appliances but it was looking like we would be able to work something out.  Marina and I really wanted this house.  We got to talking that evening and she had told me that she felt at home in PR and she felt at home in the Quebradillas house.  I was really glad to hear her say this because I felt the exact same way and I wanted for her to be happy.  We had found our home in Quebradillas PR and we both not only wanted it but we both felt it.  I couldn’t ask for more.

It’s Thursday and we are supposed to get together with a couple that I met on expats forums.  Nicest couple ever!  Their car was in the repair shop so I told them we would come to their house and pick them up.  We showed up…on time, of course.  They were so welcoming and willing to answer our million questions about Quebradillas and PR in general.  This worked out perfectly because they live in Quebradillas and have for many years and could really give us a sense of the town and how it is to live there on a daily basis.  We spent the day snooping around Quebradillas with them and had lunch downtown.  We then took them to see the house we put an offer on and they liked it too.  We only drove by it and I did that covertly like a Navy SEAL because I didn’t want the sellers to see our Jeep again.  For one, they may think we are stalkers!  And for two, remember we can’t spoil Marina’s negotiation tactic by letting them we actually like the house.  Thank goodness they weren’t outside in the yard or anything and it went off without a hitch.  Marina is a beach bum in disguise as a sophisticated, beautiful, intelligent woman so she wanted to see any and all beaches within 600 miles of the house in Quebradillas.  Our friends were nice enough to take us to several beaches in Quebradillas and Isabela, all of which were beautiful.  We can’t wait to have the opportunity to visit those beaches again.  We ended the day with our new friends around 4pm as we dropped them off back at their house.  Marina and I headed back to the condo in Cabo Rojo which was a pretty long drive.  We made it back just in time to hit the beach for a short period of time before it got dark.

Friday was our 2nd opportunity to actually have a day off from house hunting.  We spent that morning with a trip to Bahia Sucia in Cabo Rojo.  Absolutely spectacular views from the cliffs by the lighthouse and the water was a beautiful blue-green color.  We walked further down the shoreline and actually found a part where we could climb down a rock, only about 5-6 feet off the ground so it was safe, and we swam there for a couple of hours.  It was very relaxing and we now refer to that as our “private beach” as we never saw 1 person the entire time we swam there.  After our beach swim, we returned to our condo and showered.  We ate some lunch and decided it was a good idea to visit some local stores and see what all we could purchase on the island.  The less we have to move to PR in a container, the better.  We visited an array of different stores looking at furniture and all sorts of things.  We also came to a final agreement on price and appliances today on the house!  Friday was a really good day.  Since our deal on the house isn’t finished yet, I can’t share anything regarding numbers but as soon as we close, I will share those with you guys.

We got back to the mainland Saturday the 23rd at 10:30pm and again we were exhausted.  Our son picked us up from the airport.  He asked why we flew out so early going to PR and flew back to the mainland so late…in a nanosecond my wife gave me the look so I didn’t say a word.  Our son got the message though :) 

Since we have been back to the mainland we both miss PR really bad.  We can’t wait to “go home”.  That’s our story of how we came to purchase our home in PR.  I will now share what has transpired since our return regarding the preparation to move, home inspection, attorney involvement etc.
I was in charge of all of the moving preparation.  Yaay me!

I called several moving companies to start the bid process.  I narrowed it down to 2 different companies which are La Rosa Del Monte and U-Pack.  U-pack doesn’t transport cars so if you need your car moved to PR, you’ll have to use someone else.  We decided due to cost not to transport my truck and are just going to purchase a car cash when we make the move to PR.  I was quoted $2,800 by La Rosa Del Monte to move my truck.  I’m guessing the cost varies on what type of car you are transporting.  In an effort to compare apples to apples, I had everyone just quote me moving an entire 28’ trailer/container.  La Rosa Del Monte packs everything for you in the container.  They do not pack for you as in pack your boxes…only the container.  This is good for those, like me, that have no clue how to properly pack a container so that your stuff doesn’t get destroyed during transport but there is an alternative with U-pack.  Although U-pack doesn’t pack anything, you can hire professional movers to pack the container for you…which is what I did.  An entire container bid from U-pack was just over $11,000.  Add in the cost of the movers to pack the container which in my case was another $700 and you can get it done less than $12,000.  That quote was moving from Dallas, TX area to Quebradillas, PR door to door.   La Rosa Del Monte seemed to go off of weight (from the quote that I received) and at 9,000 lbs it was a little over $12,000.

I ended up going with U-pack mainly because of the transit time.  Since we are doing this rather quickly, I needed to have our stuff in PR fairly quick.  U-pack quoted me a transit time of 8 business days.  Rosa Del Monte quoted 6-8 weeks!  That is just too long for our move plan.  Today is May 11th and we are needing to be in PR permanently by June 1st. 

The way U-pack works is they drop a trailer at your residence and you are given 3 days to pack it up.  They then come pick it up and transport it to PR.  Once in PR after it’s released they take it to your new residence and park it there.  Again, you are given 3 days to unload it before they come and pick it up.  The moving company that I hired to pack my container doesn’t have anyone on the ground in PR so I will have to hire another company to help me unload it.  I can unload most of the stuff but there are larger, heavy and bulky items that Marina won’t be able to help me with.  She’s a little bitty thing and can’t lift much.  So if any of you guys want to have a move-me-in party, let me know!  I can call the “wrong” Carlos and he can bring the drinks! He apparently knows where to get them.  Lol

The one thing that I will stress if you use U-pack or anyone really is don’t schedule your movers for the same day that the trailer will arrive.  It’s possible that the trailer will be late getting there and you could have movers standing around twiddling their thumbs at $100 per hour!  That would definitely get you “the look” from the wifey.  My trailer is scheduled to be dropped this coming Monday May 16th and I scheduled my movers to show up bright and early on Tuesday the 17th.  Add 3 days to the 16th before they pick the trailer up and 8 business days for transport and my container should arrive in perfect time.

Home inspection – We used a licensed home inspector in PR and she was extremely professional and thorough.  She also speaks perfect English for anyone, like me, who isn’t fluent in Spanish yet. 

Appraisal – We are paying cash and opted not to do an appraisal.  I don’t suggest that to everyone but in this case, Marina and I both feel like the property is worth what we paid for it.  At least it is worth it to us and that’s all that matters.  If there is any question, I’d recommend doing an appraisal.  There’s always that chance the property will appraise for less and you can use that as a negotiation tool with the sellers.   If you need additional negotiation tools, I can ask Marina what she would charge to come to the property with you and take a look at the laundry room.  She could save you thousands with her tactic!  Just kidding :)

Attorney – There will be an attorney representing the seller that I guess what would be most like a title company here on the mainland.  In PR they don’t seem to use title companies so I would recommend hiring your own attorney to represent your interests so that you can make sure all of your bases are covered.  We hired an attorney to represent us and it was only a few hundred dollars.  That is a small drop in the bucket when making a purchase of this magnitude.  We are also paying our attorney a few hundred dollars more and doing a POA to sign everything for us at closing.  Closing is set for May 22nd but the sellers have until June 1st to move out and we don’t want to have to fly to PR twice.  The few hundred dollars spent on the POA is much cheaper than 2 round-trip plane tickets and our time.
That is another difference in PR vs the mainland.  Our real estate agent tells us that it is customary to allow the sellers up to 2 weeks to move out of the property AFTER closing.  I know here on the mainland, once you close on a property, it’s already empty and ready to move in to.  Differences in PR need to be embraced or they will drive you crazy. 

Deposit (Escrow money) – This one really freaked Marina out and made me a little nervous as well.  On the mainland you usually pay 1-/!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\ escrow money that is held with the title company as good faith money that you are going to purchase the property.  In PR that amount is much higher at around 5%.  Marina didn’t have a problem with the higher amount.  What she had a problem with is that it went into the bank account of the listing agent!  I almost had to call in the National Guard with riot gear to calm her down after the “right” Carlos told us that.  The $20,000+ went into an account that was named the last name of the listing agent coupled with the seller’s name.  It looked like “Jones-Smith”.  For anyone worried about buying property outside of the mainland and people running off with your money then moving to China…this will freak you out.  It is all normal in PR and nothing to be afraid of as long as you verify with their bank that it is in fact an escrow account. 

It is also a good idea to have the “right” Carlos or another reputable buyer’s agent representing you so that they can also verify that everything is on the up-and-up.  Make sure that the listing agent is a real agent etc etc.  This is another area where having a local PR attorney can really put your mind at ease.

There may be some things that I forgot to mention and I apologize if I did but anyone is welcome to ask me any questions or PM me if you need more info.  I will be happy to give out the names and phone numbers of anyone that I used during our transaction. 

Although it isn’t completely finished yet, it is nearing that stage and both Marina and I feel comfortable and confident that everything will work out just fine in the end.

If you have chosen to move to PR, embrace the differences and enjoy the life.  I hope you love PR as much as Marina and I do!


Brian & Marina

Well I guess congratulations are in order. That was a fast trip and fast purchase, the house looks great.

Great write up also, made me feel like I was there experiencing it with you guys.

Awesome. I did give you sauls #  he moved us from arecibo to Rincon . He can move your stuff  for you. Just tell him what you have and how many people.  It was him and his son that moved our stuff .In your case he only has to move it from the container to your house. He is very reasonable. I would have them do the whole thing .It's cheap

Thank you Rey!

Yes you did Sandra. I appreciate it very much and will give him a call once we know when our container will be dropped

Maryna and Bryan are the perfect example of a real estate brokers dream, awesome people... open, savy, polite, very clear, team players, very accommodating, very well planned and so many other positive adjectives I can be all day writing..this is so crucial for a happy ending real estate story/adventure and even in difficult or uneasy situations they managed wisely and keep sailing, I would say us agents are only tools that a handy person can use to move ahead with life plans, some tools are better than others at any price, I can only hope the best for these two amazing human beings I had the opportunity to work with, enjoy an amazing home, a happy life and always can count on a new friend here in greater Puerto Rico.. a best kept secret for whoever decides to appreciate it and enjoy.



I liked your write up BrianTX. It was a fun read AND informative.  :top:

Cheers rich!  I am glad you enjoyed it

Thank you Carlos!  You are the man.  We look forward to seeing you very soon :)

Great read, I will be moving down to Anasco in July we went with La Rosa De monte moving company out of NY but it will take 2-4 weeks for it to arrive.

Thank you Thomas!  Congrats on the move & hope all goes well!

Unfortunately the "Wrong Carlos" experience is very common in PR. A lot of realtors are very unreliable, unapproachable or uninterested and will only show buyers their listings, and buyers are working on the seller agent schedule. Once they show potential buyers their listings, they go away and the buyer needs to find another agent to show them their listing. In a single town, there may be 5-10 agents covering the town and surrounding areas so unless you can get a hold of all of them, you may never see all the properties in that town. Also remember that a seller agent works for the seller and himself, he tries to maximise his commission by guiding the buyer to just his properties, specially the more expensive ones.

So if the buyer has 5 or 6 towns in mind, he may end up contacting 40 agents and hope and pray that 5 or 6 call back.

A Buyer Agent like "the right Carlos", works much better since it is a single agent to deal with that covers the entire island and that agent is looking for your specific needs, not their need to sell one of their personal listings. A buyer agent is working for you and will suggest what offers are likely to work. A Buyer agent can talk to a lot of other seller agents and arrange the whole house hunting trip so potential house hunters have little down time. You will have some down time still as the seller agent for the particular property may not show up so the house can not be viewed, but the Buyer Agent knows that and tries to work around it to the buyer benefit.

There are very few Buyer Agents in PR and a ton of Seller Agents.
It's a crazy island.

So Brian, how was the closing?
How long did it take?
When is moving day and are you hanging a Hammock?
You are going to need a small table with 4 chairs and a bottle of your favorite rum to play dominos, two of our favorite pass times.

Brian, I just saw your post and enjoyed your writing and sense of humor very much!  Congratulations, you both must be so excited.  Looking forward to more updates :)

Thank you Schuttzie, I am glad you enjoyed the read!  We are very excited indeed!


Marina and I flew to PR on Thursday May 19th to close on the house.  We made our closing time for the afternoon to allow us time to get from the airport to the attorney's office by 3:30pm. 

I had read many stories of closing taking 5+ hours so we were really hoping that ours would be faster.  The actual closing took about 45 minutes which was mainly the seller's attorney telling Marina, myself and our attorney what all we were signing.  Everything was in order and there were no surprises whatsoever.

Our attorney, which I highly recommend, had already sent to us the documents that we would be signing so we had an opportunity to review them prior to our trip.  Our closing might have been faster because we paid cash for our home, I'm not sure. 

After all of the documents were signed by both sides, everyone just visited for about an hour.  This included me, Marina, both of the sellers (super nice folks!), both parties' attorneys and both parties real estate agents.  Everyone is so friendly and willing to just talk.   It was great!

During this talk, the sellers offered to go with Marina and I the following morning to transfer water and electric into our name.  This was extremely helpful since there will be no interruption in service.  When you go to turn your utilities on, here's what we needed:
The electric office asked for Social Security Card but who carries that?  Luckily he was willing to accept a U.S. passport which both Marina and I had.  You'll also need a copy of the sales deed that you'll get at closing.  This proves that you now own the home.  Both water and electric required a deposit.  The water was $60 deposit and the electric was $150 deposit.  Be patient also because the lines can be long.  The line for the water department was very long even before they opened.  We were standing in line by 6:45am and there were already about 50 people in line.  You go in and take a number then wait until they call your number.  We got lucky at the electric office and there was no one there.  We walked right in and up to the window where a nice man helped us get things set up.

If you aren't lucky enough to have super nice sellers, like we did, willing or able to go with you to transfer the utilities then you'll need to make sure to have them call the water and electric offices to let them know what date they'd like to terminate their service that way, hopefully, you'll have no interruption in service and be able to move in having water and electric immediately.  It also helps to have the seller's utility account numbers to ease the transfer.  We were so thankful for the sellers helping us get this done and we treated them to breakfast. 

We finished with the water and electric transfer around 10:30am.  We thanked the sellers and told them we would see them at 3pm for the final walkthrough.  The sellers had appointments all day long with their real estate agent to look at properties in the Dorado area.

Marina and I spent the day going to a shopping mall that is 20 minutes from our new home to see what they had to offer and we also visited a car dealership close to our home to get a feel for inventory and prices because we will need to purchase a vehicle once we arrive back in PR for good on June 3rd!  We also visited a couple of furniture stores because even though we are moving the majority of our household goods, there are a few things that we still need to purchase.

At 3pm we met the sellers at our new home to do the final walkthrough.  Marina went with the wife looking at all the girly stuff and I went with the husband to check out how the house works and all of the guy stuff.  We ended up spending 4 hours total there with them.  After about 2 hours of going over the house stuff, they took us up and down the street to meet all of our new neighbors all of whom were extremely friendly and welcoming.  The seller even called his yard guy to come and meet with us in case we wanted to continue using his services.  Marina and I couldn't have asked for a better, more friendly experience throughout the entire process.

A little after 7pm we drove back to our hotel in Condado.  We ate dinner out at a very good restaurant then showered and went to bed.  We woke up early Saturday morning because we wanted to see Old San Juan before our plane left.  It is absolutely beautiful and was full of people.  After seeing Old San Juan, we headed to the airport to fly back to Dallas.

Some recommendations regarding closing:

Have your own attorney!  It doesn't cost much at all and you'll have someone representing YOU.  I wouldn't recommend relying on the seller's attorney as they are only looking out for the seller's best interests.  Our attorney found a problem with the paperwork which showed our home to be a 2nd home and not our primary residence which would result in us paying higher property taxes.  She told us that a lot of the home purchases in PR are for 2nd (vacation, investment etc) homes so it was defaulted to that.  She was able to fix it quickly and we were thankful that we had her looking out for us.

Purchase title insurance!  For our home, which we paid $365,000 for, the cost was $1200 and some change.  For a purchase of this magnitude, that is pennies in the bucket to know that you are purchasing a property clear of any liens or other issues. 

Get a liability insurance policy!  We purchased insurance for the home for the contents and for hazard but we also added a $1M liability policy that covers you if something happens to anyone on the property and it was extremely cheap.  Since the sellers are staying in the property that we own for about 10 days after we purchased it, this would help cover any event that might arise.  It also covers contractors that would be doing work at your home, renovations etc.

Ok, so I told you guys that once we closed on the home that I would go over the negotiation process and the numbers...so here we go:

The home was listed for $387,000.  Our initial offer was $335,000.  The house had been on the market for about a year so we were hopeful that we could get a deal on it.  Our real estate agent recommended that be our initial offer so that's what we did even though we did feel that it was a low-ball offer.
They countered at $375,000.  Ever played Ping-Pong?  It's sort of like that...much like purchasing a home on the mainland.  We countered at $350,000 but we also asked for the washer/dryer and refrigerator. 
The countered back at $365,000 and were willing to include the refrigerator but not the washer/dryer.  Dang it!  I wanted the washer dryer because ours at home in Texas isn't stackable which is the only thing that would fit in this small laundry room! 
Marina and I agreed to this counteroffer and decided to purchase an all-in-one LG washer/dryer unit.  Pretty cool, it's only 1 machine that does both. 

Today is May 23rd and we purchased our 1-way plane tickets today (Buddy the dog will be flying with us) and are looking forward to being in PR on June 2nd for good!

Feel free to let me know if you guys have questions or want any contact information on anyone we used during our process and thanks for reading our story.  Hope it contained some helpful information and possibly make your transition to PR easier.

Brian and Marina (and Buddy the dog)

First up congratulation!

Did they discussed with you what their current utilities were and if so, how do they compare to the cost of your utilities in the states?

Thank you Rey!

They told us their water bill was around $75 and electric was $150 but they use the bedroom A/Cs every night during the summer.  Water where we live in Texas is about $50-60 a month and electric around $200 per month.  He did say that for about 4 months during the winter, they didn't have to turn the A/C on at all so the bill is lower at about $100 during those months.  I'd say water is slightly higher than here in Texas and electric is considerably higher in PR.  At our home in Texas you can use A/C 24/7 and have around the same monthly bill as in the PR house only using A/C at night.  With that said, Marina and I are planning on purchasing several ceiling fans!

Well sounds like it wont break the bank. I giggled when you mentioned wiinter in PR.

Another thing that I forgot to mention regarding POAs.  Marina and I had initially planned on doing a Power of Attorney to have our attorney sign all of the closing documents for us so we wouldn't have to fly to PR just to close then fly back.  We were told that we had to have a notarized POA done then have it sent to Austin TX for them to verify the notary was an actual notary.  This was going to take way too much time so we ended up having to fly to PR for the closing. 

I just wanted to point this out for anyone considering doing a POA for closing to make sure and allow for plenty of extra time!

A POA from PR had to be verified by Austin?
I am mussing something, people in PR have POAs done and dont send them to texas.

Was this your lawyer in TX making the POA?

Brian, Thanks for all the great info. We will be looking to go through this process in a few years. We will also be paying cash for our place. We are so looking forward to retiring in PR. Thanks again, Mike

You're welcome Mike.  Hope some of the info helps!  Good luck on the move/retirement in PR.

It wasn't for an attorney here in Texas, we were doing the POA for our attorney in PR.  Not all POAs have to come to Texas for verification.  Ours had to go to Austin because that is our capital.  I can only assume that they don't trust Texas notaries or something...no idea.

I had heard that a POA had to be done by a Lawyer that is licensed to practice in PR. While a POA needs only be notarized, Only lawyers can be notaries in PR.

I am guessing that the issue was that you were using a notary or lawyer from Texas, to authorize someone in PR. As such PR needed to determine if the Taxas notary was actually licensed that is why I think it had to go to Austin. But ... This is a guess on my part. If it was being done in PR they just needed the number of the license to practice and do a quick look up.

Just a guess

BrianTX, Thank you so much for your story and all the details. I laughed and cringed at some of what you went through. But it is all good as I will be going through some of the same when we move to PR later this year. We will rent first though as we don't know what part of the island will "call to us".

You are quite welcome TravelingJ. I read a lot of posts here to get some insight & guidance as well. It's with pleasure that I can try to return the favor. Hopefully some of our experiences will help someone on their journey to live on this beautiful island.

Good luck with your move later this year!

Take walks in the woods and don't forget the rivers, we have many. Along the back roads there are Sugar Cane and fruits to be had until you can grow your own.
Slow down, take it in, and enjoy.

Awesome and congrats!  You were able to do all this so quickly!

I just wanted to say welcome to Puerto Rico Brian, I know you only been in the island for 2 days and are probably just resting from the long trip, going to the supermarket to load up and maybe doing some furniture shopping.

Lets us know how you and family are doing from time to time when all settled down.

Congratulations Brian and Marina, and Welcome to PR!  Your story was fun to read and very similar to our experiences with moving here as well.  We also moved from Texas (San Antonio) and it has been a fun and interesting (and yes, at times, frustrating) journey.  It seems nearly every time we go out, we experience something new here...from mangoes raining out of trees during thunder storms, to a pet tortoise in someone's yard, to chickens in the parking lot of Home Depot!  People have been very warm and welcoming here as well.  Puerto Rico has so much to offer, especially if you are spontaneous, patient, adaptable, and flexible :)  Enjoy your new home!

I've refrained from responding because my story is very convoluted and isn't over yet. The following is a truncated version:

I visited Old Town to see the World Heritage Sites and fell in love with the area. But it wasn't until some years later and several trips that I realiazed actally buying a place there could be doable.

So, after some research, I found an apartment on Zillow - a FNMA repro HomePath property -- contacted the broker, but was told FNMA was already entertaining an offer. I kept looking daily, but properties in my price range rarely came on the market, unless they were total diasters. Then, an agent to the broker emailed to say FNMA had rejected the offer, so I was free to present one. It wasn't until spending all the money to come down, contacting a contractor to give us an estimate on repairs, viewing the property in person, getting fully qualified with a lender and walking through the property twice, that we found out we were basically lied to. The previous offer was still on thte table. We decided to put one in anyway as a backup. It was never presented.

Back to square one. I contacted a few other agents and brokers, who never responded and finally found one agent/broker who lived in and specialized in Old San Juan. He called to say he had a property that just came on the market, within out budget, great location. It wasn't until a few days before our flight that we discovered that the pictures he sent were of ANOTHER property, (at tons more money - $400-something, as opposed to $185) and not the one he referenced. We were already committed to come down, so we asked him to show us ALL, including the one he DID reference, so it wouldn't be a wasted trip.

We saw several. The original referenced property WAS in a good location, but needed a lot of work, which was OK, but it was first level with bars on the window, blocking the view. Not our first choice, but a couple weeks later, after much deliberation, decided to put an offer.

Unbeknownst to us, that offer was never presented, either, something we discovered when I called the seller to ask if she had received it. She had already accepted another.

Back to square one. Contacted our loan offcer very frustrated. Seemed nobody wanted to work with us. She tried to get us in touch with a couple agents she normally did business with, but none responded.

I was really upset at agent/broker two, and demanded an explanation of why our offer wasn't presented. (Mind you, I don't speak Spanish, and he was not completely conversent in English, so I spend hours with a translaction program) He apologized and asked if we wanted to try for someting else. We did see a property we REALLY liked but it was beyond our monthly payment goals, especially with association fees. We later discovered the association fees were less that he originally told and the apartment was being rented for more than what he told us (even though he had the contract), so we thought it worth a shot.

Not to be disappointed again, I called up the seller directly. (The agent/broker had already given me complete contact information) and we hammered out a deal on the phone. Having been an agent in California, I wrote up the offer myself and sent it to the agent/broker to present. He transfered the information to his official paperwork, but what he presented to the seller was not what we had agreed. I fixed it all and it was sent it to him again, hoping he wouldn't let it languish on his desk, or get lost in translation.

I was nervous about closing the deal without reviewing the CC&R's (in California, the contract CAN'T close until the seller and broker have it in writing that buyer has seen, read and agrees to the CC&R's) hired a POA to act on our behalf and everything was done. (BTW: I did email the so-called Secretary and Treasurer of the association twice to each, and spoke to the Treasurer in person twice about the CC&R's, so it wasn't as if I didn't try to get a copy.)

Done, We thought.

It's been nearly a year later, and we still have not received CC&R's. And it turns out that the bank never received our CRIM exemption, something the attorney and agent/broker were to take care of. (The seller didn't have it because she was a first time buyer and was already exempt.)

Getting the utilities transferred was time-consuming, but relatively painless. There's something terriby wrong with our water bill (we iniitiated an investigation, but you know how that goes),

So, we still have some loose ends to tie when we come down next month.

Still, we LOVE our apartment -- right in Old Town with a full-on view of the ocean. 2-bdrm, plus den, one bath, fully equipped. Modern but with that Old World charm. We will be renting it our short term until we can move in full time. Luckily, we found a DYNOMITE property manager. (That was a plug, BTW)

I did learn a LOT about how real estate works down there, and should I purchase another property at some time (The objective is to have one as a rental and another as a residence), I'll be much better prepared and WAY more knowledgeable.

Wow man, that sounds like a nightmare followed by another. Hope it works out in the end like a good dream.

Well, Rey. I have bought and sold several properties myself and as an agent represented dozens of buyers in purchasing theirs, and this was one of the hardest transactions.

Do I have any regrests? No. I took it as a challenge and a learning experience. I refused to give up and in the end we purchased the apartment that was right for us. Call it karma. Call it serendipity. I call it hard work and determination. Maybe this will be a new career for me:  working in the real estate market in some capacity in PR. I would love to introduce this enchanted island to the world.

We love everything about our place and are ready to explore what PR has to offer. Until recently, it has all been about making our apartment a second home. Now that we've done that, it's time to enjoy.  I spend many nights in my dreams there. It's already my  home.

There are about 15,000-25,000 properties in the island, you can make a good living if you can sell them.

Igustaf, I really think that you should get into real estate down here considering the experience you have had..  When we were in the process of selling our first home, my husband really got interested in the real estate business and it became his career at that time.  Once you go through the experience, you are better able to advise prospective buys and sellers. Either way good luck in Puerto Rico and in your future endeavors.


Thanks, Tonie.

I was an agent in California, basically a buyer's agent, I understand the business and buyers seemed to appreciate my tenacity and professionalism. I knew all the subdivisions in Orange County, the names and floorplans of all the models of homes within them, taxes, bonds, financing programs, HOA dues (some properties were governed by as many as three HOA's), zoning restrictions, school districts and ratings  and on and on. Apart from Old Town, I really know nothing about the RE market in PR. I have a dynomite property manager who works with the same agent/broker who had the listing on our apartment, and if I were to do anything in the business, it would be as an assistant to her or the broker himself. He seriously needs someone like me, if for no other reason than to keep him organized and on track, but I might go crazy trying to work with him. The property manager and myself have briefly talked about going into some kind of partnership. We'll see.

Thanks for the well wishes. I'm very eager to get back "home" next month.

I am at the tail end of selling a property in Arroyo.  The real estate agent is horrible!

Hope all works out for you, frogrock!

Sorry to hear that, Frogrock. My experience with agents in PR has lead me to believe either they don't care, are just plain unprofessional, or are lazy and do the least amount of work possible to get paid. But then, I have very high standards, being a former agent in one of the most commanding markets in the country. And others have been pleased with their agents, so there might be some good ones out there.

In purchasing my apartment in VSJ, I pretty much did all the work involved: negotiating with the seller, creating and writing up the contract from scratch, getting the info on taxes and utilities, setting up the POA, All the agent did was show me the property, (which I doubt I would have found on my own becasue he hadn't bothered to put it in the MLS) for which he got his 6% by double-ending. And then after we closed, he put up a "For Rent" sign on the property without my permission and tried to pursuade me to rent it out on a yearly lease, something he knew I did NOT want to do. Unfortunately, he's about the only show in town when it comes to VSJ. Everybody knows him, likes him and works with him. HIs roots go back to royalty in Spain.

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