Ecuador At Your Service directors Ashley Rogers and Michel Blanchard were recently featured by the New York Times “Great Homes and Destinations” section. Featured in the article was a loft they restored from a shell to grandeur in the historic city of Cuenca, Ecuador. Here are some pictures of the finished loft:
Restoring condos, lofts, and apartments in Cuenca is a prime opportunity for investors with capital and a desire to participate in the restoration of Cuenca which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. This is another example of how opportunities in emerging markets like Ecuador continue to attract capital and expertise even while North America and other “developed” economies stagnate for everyone but the largest corporations and those with tight connections to the political spigot of favored finance.
Cuenca is one of very few cities in South America with well preserved colonial construction, rapid economic growth, and low labor costs capable of producing high quality finishings. New kitchens in Ecuador are not made in China and delivered by Home Depot like they are in the U.S., they are often hand made using high quality local materials and old world craftsmanship.
Local investors often lack the confidence or cash to restore aged properties, or in some cases, there is a local stigma against “old”. This stigma spells big opportunities for investors who have witnessed old run down areas with historical significance be restored and promptly worth a lot more than anything “new”.
This type of renaissance occurred in Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historical district, where property prices rose 4 – 5 times over a 10 year period from 2000 – 2010. The change occurred when the local stigma against the area drove property values to the bottom, upon which foreign investors who saw potential helped shift the momentum and began a resurgence of investment and economic activity. Today Casco Viejo is one of the most expensive areas of Panama City, with high rental demand from tourists and business executives, and a top spot for new boutique hotels that charge upwards of $300 per night. Back roughly 10 years ago, the only lodging in the area were $5/night backpacker lodging that also offered hourly rates.
A similar movement is happening now in Cuenca. Historical properties tend to hold their value better than suburban properties due to their central location, the value of density, and a frequent cyclical pattern whereby cities expand and sprawl and then turn back toward the inner city again. They aren’t making any more historical districts in the world; cities and people eventually recognize this value.