July 2013 ● San Sebastian, Jalisco – A Welcome Mountain Retreat from the Puerto Vallarta Summer

By Harriet Murray ● Cochran Real Estate ● July 2013

San Sebastian was founded 500 years ago by five families from Spain. Mining silver was their main objective and they and the town prospered.  Now- yellowed photos in the tiny museum show photos of children wearing lace clothes suitable for any royal court in Europe at the time.

San Sebastian del Oeste Street

San Sebastian del Oeste Street

The classic architecturalstyle of adobe houses with white walls, topped with bright orange tiles created a stunning view of the village settling in the lush green mountains and forests. This building style was copied by Sebastian’s poorer relation, Puerto Vallarta.  Vallarta needed a style to attract the movie people and tourists who were beginning to find the incredible Bay of Banderas.

When the mines were shut down, the city slowly became deserted of foreigners except the Spanish who had married into the local population, and whose home was now San Sebastian.

Today, the natural beauty and 4,000 ft. elevation is attracting nationals and foreigners in Puerto Vallarta and the Banderas Valley who want to escape the summer heat and humidity. The wealthy mine owner has been replaced by the professional class of Mexicans and Expats who want a break from the business week in Vallarta.

They can still keep in touch with their offices with their cell phones and in six months, one is able to get Wi-Fi.  There are a sufficient number of small hotels or homes for friends and guests to enjoy the pastoral beauty in cool days and nights.  Enough restaurants provide opportunity to stay a few nights dining out without repeating themselves. San Sebastian is sometimes affectionately called the poor man’s San Miguel when the affluent foreigners owned homes in Vallarta, but they spent the summer months in San Miguel.

Some of the new visitors have bought homes or in a few cases built or remodeled homes in the 500 year old neighborhoods.  One charming street is named “’The Sleeping King.”

San Sebastian del Oeste House

San Sebastian del Oeste House

Real estate here is a perfect example of an informal market.  There are no set prices.  Even if the price of land is haggled down 20-30% from asking, observers know the sold price is high. The intrinsic value of the location has a high value to those desiring even a weekend experience in this naturally beautiful, peaceful, mountain setting.

Locally made adobe bricks are the basic building blocks for many homes. Prices and selections of constructions materials will vary. A contractor coming in without local contacts or knowledge of themarket will struggle with higher costs and more bureaucracy.

A useful distinction used in Spanish is the difference between the questions: “
“Cuanto cuesta”? ………..
How much is the price (stable)?  
“Cuanto cobra”? ……….
How much are you are going to charge me for this work/ product?

Harriet Murray
E-mail: harriet@casasandvillas.com
Website: http://www.casasandvillas.com

This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review.

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