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"Spec Building"

What is "Spec Building? That phrase is short for "speculative building" which means you are building something with the intention to place it more or less directly on the retail market for sale. In San Pedro we have already seen a lot of this in the field of condominiums. In the future you may also see it in homes and office buildings - it may be a bit early to make a lot of money doing this just now. but if you have an eye to the future you can buy land today for a spec building project in future. If you do it right, this can be a profitable and enjoyable venture. If you do it wrong it will likely be a really expensive mistake! The information that follows gives you a really basic idea of how to do it "right".

First, decide on what kind of property you will be building for sale. If you own a lot in the heart of San Pedro then commercial space is probably the best use of the land. If you have a lot in a residential area, then a house is the best thing. Some lots are perfect for apartments too. At this time there are so many condos for sale that you'd be best off not thinking about building them - at least until most of the ones now on the market are sold. Supply and demand are the keys to any "retail" sale - spec building included.

In choosing a location for spec building choose a lot that is zoned for the type of building you have in mind, and that is a practical location for the project. For instance, if you are building a large home that you want to sell for a high price, do not build it in a location that is surrounded by businesses or run-down homes. Don't build rental property too far from town. since the tenants probably won't own fancy transportation and will want to walk to shops or be able to use bicycles to get to the things they need. Once selected, try to make a cash purchase of the land, as the interest you may have to pay on a loan could eat up all future profit.

In deciding what to build. study the market. There are two ways to do that, and you should definitely do both. First. explore the island and see what is being built everywhere. See what styles. what size. what location and what kind of property is in demand at present. Whatever you decide to do, try to do it just a bit better than the most successful thing you see. Be original but don't go out on a limb with crazy designs. Again - remember supply and demand - if you make an exact copy of somebody else's project you will contribute to ruining your own chances of a sale.

Next, visit the local real estate offices and ask salespeople what their customers are asking for. Then ask them what the customers actually buy (often what they ask for and what they buy are very different things!)

Then ask them what they would most like to have for sale in their inventory - a three-bedroom house for $300,000 on the beach; a small cottage under $100,000 in San Pablo, etc. Ask how much money the buyers seem to have, and what they expect to get for their money. In other words, when you make a plan fill a need.

Designing your building. Wherever I have been and whatever kind of property I have sold or bought or marketed, there are a two common items that appeal to people everywhere. They are light and view. Dark rooms and windows that look at junk or walls are not going to appeal to anybody.

Situate your building so that it looks at the prettiest thing in the area. Many people with large parcels of land make the mistake of putting their house on the prettiest location - they lose the opportunity to sit on their veranda and enjoy the beauty that way. If you are near the sea, make sure that there are lots of windows facing it. If you are near the lagoon do the same. lf you are on a small lot, then make sure your windows don't look into the bathroom window of your neighbor, or at a bodega. Don't make too many little rooms. Have lots of windows and make sure that the design of the building allows light to reach all the rooms. If at all possible, make sure all rooms except storage have windows - especially bathrooms. A bathroom that cannot be properly aired out tends to be unappealing due to odors, mildew, etc. Women love kitchen windows - so if you're building a house or apartment try to put one right over the sink. This is practical in terms of airing out cooking smells, and also is enjoyable for the cook to have a breeze and view while preparing food. If you have good light from somewhere but a really bad view, then why not put a nice tree or colorful bush outside the window? And for fun, go out and buy lots of decorating magazines, garden magazines and a copy or two of "Architectural Digest." You will get lots of great ideas - when you have collected them, be sure to carefully adapt these ideas to our climate and environment - the books are meant to stimulate your own creativity. so use them to get you thinking and dreaming.

Other items to remember when building for 'spec" are to keep your colors cheerful and appealing, but also keep them light so that if somebody wants to paint over them. they can do so without using three coats of paint. If you are going to paint an interior white, remember that there are a lot of shades of white, some actually look gray or beige when they are on the wall. Those are not advisable to use. If you want to go with white, then get the brightest white you can get- remember, you are building the place in a way to show it at it's most attractive - and bright white says "clean, sparkling, and light."

You will have a lot of fun planning your project. Planning buildings is a delightful experience in creativity! In another column we will get into some other aspects of how to make the overall project "work" ... and also deal with something called "the sizzle factor." San Pedro is growing and now is the time to think to the future- feel free to dream a beautiful dream and make a plan to make it come true.

Thanks for reading ....
Diane Campbell.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION on buying property in Belize, or to contact Diane or her husband Bob Campbell, click here.

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