Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beach Buzz: Money and Real Estate

First up in today's Beach Buzz is a notice about MONEY-- the banking, spending and exchanging of it in Mexico. Pay attention, because this might affect YOU.

Effective Sept. 14, 2010, Mexico enacted new laws as part of its efforts to control drug-related money laundering, capping the amount of dollars foreigners can trade for pesos at banks and money exchangers to no more than $1,500 per month. If you are just a weekend visitor to Rocky Point you probably won't notice that, but for permanent residents it can be a pain.

In addition to that cap, Mexican businesses are allowed to deposit no more than US$4,000 per month in their banks. In these slow times that's not a problem for many businesses, but it can be a real headache for some. And some states have enacted even tougher laws, such as imposing a $100 limit on cash purchases. I've seen no indication yet that Sonora is one of those states, but even so it's becoming a hardship for many small businesses to accept tourist dollars while still following the new banking rules. And banks/cambios are getting nervous about the whole thing.

Bottom line: Even though the dollar is still accepted just about everywhere in Puerto Penasco, try to use pesos. If you have a credit card, use it to withdraw pesos from an ATM. When using a credit or debit card the new rules don't affect purchases or the amount of pesos that you can withdraw from Mexican ATM machines. In addition, if you take out pesos at the ATM, you will get the best exchange rate, and you will be helping the locals to comply with the new rules! BUT (yes, there's always a caveat), try not to exchange for more pesos than you will use, because it's really really hard to turn your extra pesos back into dollars!

I hear from friends that across the Sea in San Felipe, Baja, the whole thing is a huge mess with an increasing number of businesses-- from bars/restaurants to grocery stores and even PEMEX-- no longer accepting dollars at all. And the banks have gotten real pissy about exchanging dollars. Hopefully that won't happen in Rocky Point, but why not get a head start on that eventuality by getting used to using Pesos now?

By the way, I also heard through the grapevine that unemployment in San Felipe is a whopping 70%. I so hope that's an exaggeration, but it's certainly true that there, as it is here in Rocky Point, the people are suffering something awful due to the lack of tourism and the real estate crash. If you can, please help out by donating to the charity of your choice here in Rocky Point. You'll find a partial list of charities here.

On a more upbeat note, you'll be happy to know that real estate development in the area is not completely dead.

Down in Playa la Jolla, about 15 minutes south of Penasco, Calgary, Alberta-based LBV Holdings has been busy with its La Bella Vita Resort and Spa -- a sandy, 7-hectare strip of land within the greater 15-hectare Playa la Jolla.

Headed by Sam Sidhom, LBV Holdings has just released its newest home for sale. Villa Veneto is the second beachfront home created by Sidhom. Called Villa Veneto, it is being sold in one-eighth full-equity ownership segments starting from $189,900. Each owner will get six weeks use per year. This is the second home to be sold as fractional ownership, the first one being Casa del Mar.

As an existing home, Villa Veneto has been totally refinished inside and out to bring it up to modern-day specifications -- and to offer residents opulence to support the magnificent natural scenery around it. (And it IS magnificent scenery!) The company is currently marketing the home to Calgary residents. (Hey Canada! Come on down, the water is fine!)

In addition to Villa Veneto, LBV is also continuing its other projects in La Bella Vita. As of August, 2010, the first building of bungalow-style walk-up apartments was finished, including a BBQ area and rooftop terrace. The onsite show-suites are now open. Prices start at $159,900 Canadian for a 700-sq. ft. 1-bdrm. 1 1/2 bath condo with granite countertops, five appliances, ceiling fans and air conditioning. The current phase includes 24 bungalows and 8 three-story townhouse villas. The exterior and common walls of the Bungalows of La Bella Vita at Playa La Jolla are constructed of solid concrete block. Interior walls will be steel stud and drywall As of August, 60% of the Bungalow Villas had been sold.

If you don't want the Canadians to get all this good stuff, take a look at their website at www.la-bellavita.com -- or drive down and take a look at the development for your own self! You have to admit the price for those bungalows is pretty good!

It's GOOD to see something positive still going on in real estate development here in Puerto Penasco!

And that's the Buzz on the Beach for today.

Peace out...

About Beach Buzz: Not necessarily the news, this is a place for information, opinion, speculation, gossip, tips and other good stuff about Rocky Point, and Mexico in general. If you have something you'd like to share, I'd like to hear from you!

Contact me at lahuerita2@gmail.com

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