Location, Location, Location

These were the wise words of a retail guru I knew as a young lad growing up in Toronto, Canada.  Apparently these words are also echoed for real estate transactions but the premise clearly did not sink in.  Or did it?

Hosting a Grand Canyon trip for my friend and long-time client, billionaire David Bonderman, he introduced me to his old Harvard Law School grads as a “Canadian with remote and obscure real estate tastes”.  Truly this description fits me well as we most recently purchased a waterfront acreage at the head of Chilko Lake and the Chilko River.  It’s a world-class destination but a 12-hour drive from Vancouver through two mountain passes and does not exactly fit the “convenient location” mantra (but our clients arrive by plane anyways!)

I believe, however, David was referencing (okay, we can say mocking) my affinity for remote beachfront in rural Ecuador.  Three years ago while surfing the Ecuadorian coast with my youngest daughter, Grace,  Ecuadorian surf legend, Leo Govea, took me to the quaintest little beach town called Mompiche.  The minute I set foot in Mompiche, I knew it was my paradise.  Long flat beaches, warm waters and tropic breezes, palm-fringed bays and most importantly an idealistic left-hand point break with multiple sessions and a kid-friendly beach break.

I had surfed with Leo in Montanita, Olon, Canoa and a host of other wonderful places in Ecuador but I had never seen anything so user-friendly with the exception of Hanalei Bay in northern Kauai.

Here’s the difference.  Mompiche has no crowds, very few tourists and the friendliest most accommodating surfers one will ever have the privilege of sharing the waters with.  No aggravating wave crashers.  To the contrary, it was obvious I was an out-of-towner (no one else in Mompiche looks like Chuck Norris) and I was given helpful advice, encouragement and in a few instances better surfers peeled off nice waves and encouraged me to jump on.  But if that’s not enough, the clincher for me was affordable beachfront real estate.  

I don’t think you could buy a parking space in Hanalei for what we paid for a small beach lot and building a 3-bedroom house steps from the water.

In fact, I am certain.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Kauai and the great state of Hawaii.   I would give my left leg to own a beachfront house in Kauai but its not financially plausible and surfing with one leg is too challenging.

Property ownership in Ecuador is not difficult.  Since acquiring our waterfront, we have helped other friends buy on the beach and get them started with construction of their dream beach homes.  Here’s the cool part – my friend Leo, now a proud father – has been able to give up running a dilapidated hostel and is our main-man on our house development (but is still there to teach surfing).  We are employing a number of people in the community and using local bamboo and wood products in a sustainable fashion.

A developer I am not.  

Instead we are just trying to secure all the property in our stretch of the beach to keep out any prospective resorts or towers from going up and, in my opinion, ruining the character of the beach and fishing village.

Location, Location, Location is true… but it is all a matter of perspective.