Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The International Appraiser completes expert witness testimony in a divorce case in Costa Rica


A recent marital dissolution trial had me establishing value for proposed luxury lodges near the beach in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, in the Santa Teresa area where famous rich people have also been recently seen vacationing or buying houses, such as Tom and Giselle Brady, Mel Gibson and Matt Damon and family. These types of properties consist of several luxury villas on site renting at $400 or $500 each night, and development restrictions in Costa Rica make these types of properties easier to develop. 

I represented the developer’s wife in the trial. The American husband chose an appraiser from a Costa Rican appraisal firm, although the trial was in Massachusetts. 

Sometimes hiring the local Costa Rican appraiser does not help, if the appraiser uses demonstrably inferior methods (such as not adjusting land prices for differences in zoning), or the appraiser cannot effectively testify in English. 

One point of contention in the trial was that a work stoppage during the COVID crisis signified the failure of the project, particularly since the construction permit expired. 

I pointed out that tourists were coming back to Costa Rica as early as November 2020, and that the architect/builder, Benjamin Saxe, is one of the most famous architects in Costa Rica. A very short distance from this property is Saxe’s famous “Floating House”, a group of three tree houses situated at the top of the jungle canopy near by beach, presenting the illusion of floating in air. Surely he could get a permit renewed. 

Even more surprising, every local lodge near the beach was 100% booked over the next three months.

1 comment:

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