Choosing the Right Real Estate Company in the Dominican Republic


When you’re buying a property in the Dominican Republic, you’ll often end up using a local real estate company, but you need to choose the right one — and avoid dealing with inexperienced or unscrupulous ones.  Margaret Summerfield from Pathfinder International sent me a list of her top tips on finding a decent real estate company abroad.  I loved it when I received the list and now I have a better understanding why Pathfinder International selected us, La Costa Destinations International Realty - GoPuntaCanaRealEstate.com to be their official real estate company in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  I will go one by one and give you my 2 cents why I feel you should select us to be the real estate company to make your dreams of a vacation, investment or retirement home in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Margaret's list is not foolproof, but it should weed out most of the cowboys.

#1. Find the best agent that fits your needs.  Outside North America, you won’t find many countries with an MLS (Multiple Listing Service).  You should ask as many questions as possible to your prospective agent — market information, say, such as rental yield, permit requirements, or average price per square foot.  

We encourage our prospective buyers to shop around and to ask us as many questions as possible.  We understand there are other companies out there that you can work with, but we believe we are the best and we have a track record that speaks for itself.  We believe in providing our prospective clients with as much information as possible so they are able to make an informed decision.  We have prepared our own investment/travel guide which is full of valuable information and where you can find answers to most of your questions.  Visit MadeInPuntaCana.com to view, download then print the full guide.

Unfortunately, we don't have an MLS system on the island.  If a developer or property owner wants to sell, they will contact all the different real estate companies and offer an OPEN LISTING.  Whoever sells the property gets paid.  If the developer/owner sells, no one gets paid.   Sometimes we do get EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO SELL LISTINGS, but those are rare.  At times, we turn away properties for several reasons including title issues, scams, litigation, poor construction quality and humidity issues.  We cherry pick the best properties for our buyers and try to find the best opportunities.  We don't have home inspectors - we are your home inspectors.  If we sense from the early stages of visiting the property that there are issues that are currently representing a headache for the current owner, we don't like to get involved in assisting the owner transfer that headache to someone else.  If we sell you a headache, then it becomes our headache.  We love our lives on the island and like to be stress and headache free.  If we show you the 10 best properties in your price range and you don't like any, rest assure that the other 10 that might be available and we did not show you as we think that they are less desirable - the chances are you won't like those either.  

We specialize in new construction, beachfront, walking distance to the beach (no more than 1 mile/1.6 km away) and golf gated communities.  That is what 99.9% of the prospective buyers we've had in the last 5 years have been looking for.  We don't use bait and switch tactics showing properties online with nice photos and low prices to bring you in and then tell you the location is not desirable and then switch you to a different area and a higher price.

The older communities, with older properties usually mean problems.  Title/ownership issues, scams, litigation, poor construction quality and humidity issues.  In addition, the least expensive properties are not a walk to the beach, you really need a car.  For a property to be over 5 years old, it is considered old.  Keep in mind this area has a total of 40 years and it has not been until the last 10 years when most of the residential developments have taken place. The newer construction is much better since it has been built by true developers and not people that were just winging it in the early days.  

#2. Use an agent with training & experience. Most overseas real estate agents don’t have formal training, qualifications or affiliations you can check. But you should still look for an agent with a good track record…one who’s been in the business for a while.  Ask how long your agent has worked as an agent, and if he is full or part time. And then ask about track record. Try to find out how many properties he has sold…how many happy buyers he has…and whether those buyers will vouch for him with a written recommendation. 

Scott Medina's qualifications include:  Bachelor of Science in Real Estate, Business Administration and Finance from The Florida State University.  In addition, Active Licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Florida.  In order to maintain a Florida real estate broker license, one must have a certain amount of hours in continuing education - real estate law, practice, ethics and morals.  This is what we do full time and have been doing for over 25 years combined with 5 years in the Punta Cana market and 8 years in the North Coast market.  You can see from OUR TESTIMONIALS some of the happy buyers we've had over the years.  Any sales/rental agent that comes on board to work with my company has to have real estate experience and preferably licensed in their home country.  In addition, they must go through months of training with me before they are handling clients on there own.   

#3. Use an agent who is licensed.  In many countries, agents aren’t licensed, because there is no licensing system. The local butcher or new expat can decide on a whim to start selling real estate. In some countries, there is a licensing system, but it’s not enforced. In countries such as Panama and Brazil, where they have licensing, ask your broker for his license number. But don’t take that license as a guarantee: Licensed agents can screw up…cost you money…and not have your best interests at heart. But at least you have a governing body to complain to.

Unfortunately, we don't have licensing requirements for selling real estate in the Dominican Republic.  My education and experience in real estate have been very helpful in earning the trust of many foreign investors that have decided to have me on their side.  The prospective buyers must be responsible to do the homework required to find the right real estate company and the right agent to assist them with the transaction.  Don't ever buy or take real estate advice from a tour operator, a taxi driver or the bartender at your hotel/resort.  When I need dental work I go to a dentist so if you need real estate advice, go to a real estate professional.  

#4. Keep in mind who the agent is working for.  The concept of a sales agent working solely for the buyer for a fee is not the norm outside the US. Even if your agent tells you he is working for you as a buyer’s agent, he may still work for the seller and accept a fee. Remember, the fee is what the agent is working for…and whoever is paying the fee is who the agent is working for.
 
“Being a Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker for many years, I have always worked as a transaction broker.  "Transaction broker” as defined by Section 475.01 of the Florida Statutes, means a broker who provides limited representation to a buyer, a seller, or both, in a real estate transaction, but does not represent either in a fiduciary capacity or as a single agent. In a transaction broker relationship, a buyer or seller is not responsible for the acts of a licensee. Additionally, the parties to a real estate transaction are giving up their rights to the undivided loyalty of a licensee. This aspect of limited representation allows a licensee to facilitate a real estate transaction by assisting both the buyer and the seller, but a licensee will not work to represent one party to the detriment of the other party when acting as a transaction broker to both parties.

This brings us to commission/ fees…

#5. Know who is paying the commission—and how much it is.  Always ask if it is included in the property purchase price or if it’s an additional charge on top. And find out who pays the real estate agent. In some countries, the seller pays. In others, both parties—the buyer and the seller—pay a fee. Make sure you’re not paying a fee that’s outside the norm, or being charged a commission that the seller should be paying.

The commissions paid in real estate transactions in the DR are paid by the seller and are included in the property purchase price.  Our commission rates go from 1% to 10% depending on the property.

#6. Don’t trust brand names. It’s easy to assume that a real estate chain you’re familiar with back home is the best option. But these brands are usually franchises—purchased with an eye to making a profit, and staffed by hired local agents. Don’t assume they’ll be better than any other local real estate agent.

I could not agree more here!  That is why I have always preferred to operate as a "Premier Boutique Real Estate Company".  My name and the name of my agents as well as our reputations are the ones on the line.  There is only one Scott Medina, one Ellen van den Beld, and one La Costa Destinations International Realty.  We take pride in what we do and don't believe a franchise name holds more weight than our own names.  

#7. Find an agent who specializes.  When I asked one real estate agent to help me find a large oceanfront or beachfront parcel of land, with the potential of a six-figure commission, he immediately declined. His specialty lay elsewhere, he said, in productive farmland. He knew his market, he knew his stuff, and he wasn’t going to stray from it, even for a fat fee. That’s rare. Most agents would have jumped at the chance of the fee.

It’s better for you if your agent specializes in one specific area, or property type. He has a better chance of finding you the right property at the right price. And he can give you more accurate information on sales and pricing in that market—and that experience and judgment can help you make your buying decision.

We specialize in residential new construction, beachfront, walking distance to the beach (no more than 1 mile/1.6 km away) and golf gated communities in the Bavaro-Punta Cana area.  In addition, we also have experts on our team and their focus is land for residential and commercial developments.  Some of the areas we cover for large tracts of land include Bavaro, Punta Cana, Las Terrenas, Samana, Barahona, and Pedernales

#8. Find an agent with local ties.  This helps. An agent who has lived in the same area for years—who is married to a local, or running a generations-old family business, is more likely to give you good service. They have a reputation to keep. Not so the rootless agent that will move on at the first sign of trouble.

We have been visiting, living and doing business on the island for over 25 years combined.  In addition, we have partnered up with local real estate professionals.  That has allowed us to learn more and more how the locals think and how they do business.  We love the life we have been able to create on the island for ourselves.  Every year that goes by, it becomes more and more difficult to leave.  In addition, being able to assist others in making their dreams come true is very fulfilling and keeps us always wanting to meet more and more people with the same dreams of life in the DR.    

#9. Use a bilingual agent. If your agent speaks both English and the local language, he’ll have access to a wider range of properties. That usually means lower prices on re-sales. If your agent in Brazil doesn’t speak Portuguese, for example, he may not even have access to new pre-construction deals from major developers, as many of them don’t speak English.

We speak Spanish, English, Italian, Dutch and French.  Having builders from different parts of the world coming here to conduct business being able to speak different languages is very important.  I am originally from Puerto Rico, which is the next island to the east of Punta Cana.  Puerto Rico and the DR have a lot in common.  We have similar cultures and speak the same language, just with a different accent.  

#10. Be precise. This is a tip for you, not the agent. It helps your agent do the best job for you. Tell your agent exactly what you want…property size, location, what you plan on using it for, features you must have (single story, garden, close to a school or hospital). And be clear on your budget. That way, your agent is more likely to show you suitable properties. If you are clear and precise…and the agent is still getting it wrong…then walk away, and find another agent.

A good real estate agent is crucial. It can mean buying your dream home, rather than settling for a mediocre one…getting a great price rather than paying over true market value…and having a smooth property purchase rather than a stressful and complicated one. Spend some time vetting your agent before you commit to them—it’s worth it in the long run.

This is perhaps one of the most important points that Margaret has made on her list.  It is very important for you to share with us as much information as possible.  The more details we get, the better job we can do for you.  

When you want to invest in the fastest growing tourist and investments area in the Caribbean - Punta Cana, what do you need?

A - La Costa Destinations International Realty

B - A lot of zest for life

With over 20 years of experience in real estate (Dominican Republic and North America combined), La Costa Destination International Realty has satisfied clients from around the world who have chosen to have either a second home in Punta Cana or move base here altogether. The main aim of Scott Medina, owner of La Costa Destinations International Realty is to provide his clients “A Superior Lifestyle with Higher Quality of Life”.

La Costa offers unique apartments, condos, houses, villas, investment rentals, beachfront, land and land lots for sale on or within walking distance to outdoor activities, the beach, swimming, dining and golf courses. Depending on your budget and location preference, La Costa will aid you in finding that dream property you can call home in the Caribbean.

With their network of sales representatives in the USA, Puerto Rico, Canada, Russia, Spain, Portugal, UK and France, there is no doubt that La Costa Destinations International Realty is making itself accessible to anyone interested in buying a home or investing in the Dominican Republic.

Schedule an inspection trip today to enjoy a no commitment investment tour with La Costa Destinations International Realty where you can see for yourself the different investment opportunities that are available in this tropical paradise; you can enjoy the surrounding areas, relish a breezy cocktail or an appetizing meal filled with your favorite seafood.

La Costa is your one stop shop for high-end, customer focused services to find the most exceptional properties in this paradise called Punta Cana. We are the "Premier Boutique Real Estate Company" of choice for the Bavaro-Punta Cana area.  Call or email us now!  

The Caribbean is Calling, 

Scott Medina
Broker-Owner
La Costa Destinations International Realty

medina.scott@gmail.com

www.GoPuntaCanaRealEstate.com
www.ScottMedina.com
1.829.341.4532 DR
Skype - GoPuntaCanaRealEstate.com