Playa del Carmen: Oceanfront property, please

Inside México: What percentageof your clients are Americans? Canadians? Europeans?

Realtor Judi Shaw says the most requested amenity in Playa del Carmen is oceanfront or ocean view.

Judi Shaw: Typically ourforeign clients are 50 percent American, 40 percent Canadian, and the balanceEuropeans. Although lately I would say that Canadians are leading thepack  with the current [economic] situation in the States. Mexicans arevery active clients in this area.

IM: Are they buyingsecond homes, or a primary place of residence?

JS: Canadians andAmericans are driving the second home market and Europeans are looking more asa permanent move.

IM: What price rangeare they looking in? How much space, and how many bedrooms and bathrooms canthey expect to find in that price range?

JS: Second home ownersinterested in condos [look] for anything from $150,000 to $800,000 USD: thehigher the price, the closer to the beach. Lately the sweet spot has been200-350k , which is down from last year when the average property interestlevel was between 400- 600k.

Property inquiriesfor houses have remained constant, in the $1 to $3 million USD range, usuallyon the beach. Typically in this range a three-bedroom, three-bath house willhave between 2000 and 4000 square feet.

IM: What kind ofamenities are they requesting? (Pool, gated property, ocean view)?

JS: The most requestedamenity is oceanfront or ocean view. Pools are highly desirable, as are gatedcommunities and golf. A unique amenity in Playa del Carmen is thepedestrian-only section of downtown called 5th Avenue, which parallels thebeach. People can walk securely and freely here, enjoying outdoor cafes andeclectic shops and restaurants, which drives the value of downtown real estatenearby.

IM: What draws yourclients to Playa del Carmen? What distinguishes the area from othercoastal communities in Mexico-especially nearby Cancún and Tulum?

JS: Besides thefabulously clear blue Caribbean ocean front, I often hear people use the word"authentic experience." Playa differs from Cancún visually because buildingsare restricted to three or four stories.

The multiculturalismis a big draw. Many foreigners have set up shop, so it is easy to eat Swedish,Italian, East Indian, German, or Japanese food prepared by restaurant ownersfrom those countries.

Unlike Cancún andTulum, accommodation is walking distance from both downtown and the beach: nocar is needed if not wanted. On the beach there are the hip beach clubs, whiledowntown 5th Avenue has smaller nightclubs and pubs, often used for socialevents and community fundraisers.

There is a [widevariety of properties]: very high-end homes and condos, beachfront communities,downtown lifestyles for the hip nightclub seekers, golf communities,middle-class working communities, and young family communities. Nearby junglecommunities offer an "off grid" lifestyle.