COASTAL, ON-LINE ISSUE 01
Interview by: Ed Lindquist.
Photos courtesy of Ecuador Shores Realty
Even though I have been living in Ecuador for over seven years, the first time I ever visited Manta was when we did the cover story on the beautiful golf resort Monticristi (Issue 38). I was very impressed. The area is flourishing! It’s a true bright spot in an otherwise cloudy county-wide economic environment. So, there are obvious questions: What’s it like to live there, and especially, to buy or to rent there? To answer these questions, I contacted a real estate agency I saw on an episode of the TV show House Hunters International: Ecuador Shores Realty. I caught up with the owners, husband and wife team Ryan and Tiffany Kelly, for an interview. I soon learned that their business is booming with three closings the week I interviewed them. Talk about a hard-working couple!
Ryan and Tiffany Kelly were both born and raised in Florida, Tiffany in Boca Raton and Ryan in Tampa Bay. The couple met in 2009 and were married at the beautiful Don Cesar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, FL in October 2015.
Before moving permanently to Manta, Ecuador in 2013, Tiffany enjoyed a successful career in office management, accounting, and logistics, and Ryan enjoyed a rewarding sales career spanning over 15 years in the financial sector, training sales teams and opening new offices for multiple companies.
Ryan and Tiffany got their first start in Ecuador real estate back in 2011 while still living in Florida. During a vacation trip enjoying some surfing in Ecuador, Ryan found an investment property on the coast that he purchased with a partner. This initial trial investment ended up producing a good return, so he decided to purchase another investment property. When this next investment also produced great returns, the couple decided it was time to get out of the rat race in Florida, move to the Ecuador coast, and get more involved in the growing real estate market.
The Kelly family (they have a young son) loves the ocean lifestyle, so Manta is perfect for them.
Ryan and Tiffany took time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions about Manta’s real estate market.
Ed: I am curious. Not many expats in Ecuador work. How did Ecuador Shores Realty come about?
Ryan/Tiffany: To be upfront, we weren't planning on opening a real estate company when we first moved, we were just planning on doing personal investments and living the beach life! However, we realized there was a considerable need for ethical and professional real estate services in the Manta area, so Ecuador Shores Realty was born. Within a short time, our agency became the dominant market leader. We built a full team of professionals, and we have enjoyed being the #1 top producing and most recommended expat realty company for the past several years! Expats and locals alike have come to know that Ecuador Shores Realty is synonymous with integrity and professionalism, and they trust in the ESR team to provide them with the best real estate services available.
Ed: Where is your office located?
Ryan/Tiffany: The Ecuador Shores Realty office is located in the affluent area of Barbasquillo in the city of Manta, across from the beach in the Plaza Aventura building, right next door to our good friends Dr. Victor Carreno and his wife Jennifer of Top Dental. We enjoy being beside Top Dental as our clients are often looking for quality dental work, so it is the perfect location to work together to help the expat community with additional services they may need!
Ed: You built a team here at Ecuador Shores Realty. Correct?
Ryan/Tiffany: Yes, the ESR team consists of multiple agents who are all incredible people sharing the same high morals and standards that ESR has become known for. We also work closely with one of the top lawyers in the city who holds a master’s degree and specializes in real estate and visa law, so we may help you in virtually all areas that may be needed. We are also honored to have received more letters of recommendation from the area's top builders than any other local real estate company. Those recommendations include builders of such area projects as the Diamante, Ibiza, Manta Buinsess Center, Mykonos, Oceania, Montecristi Golf Club, Poseidon Hotel and Condos, Riva Di Mare, and Las Tanusas. Just like Dwayne Johnson says, we are “the hardest workers in the room".
Ed: What kind of properties do you list?
Ryan/Tiffany: We specialize in the higher quality listings along the Manta coast and surrounding areas. We currently maintain and represent one of the largest lists of higher-grade properties found anywhere in the area. We also work with an extensive network of other professional agents up and down the coast of Ecuador in case a client prefers another area outside of our main radius.
Ed: Do you represent buyers and sellers?
Ryan/Tiffany: Yes, we represent both buyers and sellers for residential homes, condos or land, as well as commercial projects and listings.
Ed: Why is Manta a good place to buy a home or condo?
Ryan/Tiffany: Manta is the largest and fastest growing coastal city in Ecuador. Over the past few years, we have seen hundreds of millions in investment capital coming into the city with new business, hospitals and services, many of them directly benefiting expats as well as locals. The city of Manta has been upgrading their infrastructure as well as adding many beautification projects around the city. The city also now has the 3rd largest luxury shopping mall in the country, Mall Del Pacifico. The new international terminal at the Manta airport is also nearing completion. Once complete and an international hub is announced, it will most likely be a game changer for the Manta area!
Due to all of these changes and more planned for the near future, Manta is a fantastic place to look to when looking for a place to settle down or to invest in along the coast of Ecuador. Manta now offers multiple luxury high-rise condominiums, as well as multiple affluent gated neighborhoods right on the beachfront.
Ed: Is it better to buy or rent in Manta?
Ryan/Tiffany: We are regularly asked about buying vs. renting and which one we recommend. The simple answer is there is no right or wrong answer, it really depends on you and what is best for you and your family. Renting is going to be something that will allow you to “try out” the area, have fewer upfront expenses, and see if Manta is your final choice or that you need to try another location. However, if you are already pretty secure in knowing that Manta is your top choice, and it just comes down to finding the right home or condo, then purchasing is the way to go as properties may sell quickly and the one you really wanted might be gone sooner than you think. While we do have several clients per year who rent, the majority of our clients end up purchasing.
Ed: What’s an example of an average condo your list?
Ryan/Tiffany: Most condos are 2—3 bedrooms and range in size from around 1,000 sq. ft. to 2,000 sq. ft. with some even larger.
Ed; What is the price range of a condo? House?
Ryan/Tiffany: Price ranges for the nicer condos start start as low as around $125k+ with homes around $225k+. Most of our clients are able to find an exceptional condo or home for far less than what it would run on the beaches in North America.
Ed: What’s the real estate commission in Ecuador?
Ryan/Tiffany: We typically hear real estate agents charging from 3-6% with several deciding factors for which you might be presented. Most of the time we find that the agents asking for a lower percentage are the agents that also have very little expenses when it comes to running their business, which allows them to ask for less. The flip side of that coin though is that they may have fewer sales throughout the year than an agent who is spending money on marketing and advertising to increase their sales numbers. When we are asked why we charge 5% vs. 4%, we explain to our clients that we spend more money on marketing and advertising than most other agencies in the area.
We have a beautiful and professional office in the wealthiest part of the city, an extensive custom and interactive website, multiple web avenues for marketing, and more. We also provide custom professional photography and videography at a level that no other local agency is regularly providing. All of this combined with our reputation of professionalism adds to our ability to be the top expat seller of luxury properties in our area. One thing to always remember though, the seller is responsible for paying the agent’s commission. As a buyer, please be aware and cautious of dealing with any real estate agent that says you need to pay them, as they could be trying to get paid from both sides.
Ed: What’s the difference between a US and an Ecuador realtor?
Ryan/Tiffany: Currently the biggest difference between realtors in the US and Ecuador, is that US realtors must pass a state real estate exam and practice with a government-backed license. While there is a private company/group that sells a real estate course, and a “license/certificate” is given at the end of the course, Ecuador does not currently have a government-backed license program or state/regional testing service to hold a license. This is important to know when looking for a real estate agent to represent you, as it becomes more important to make sure that who you are dealing with is ethical, honest, and has your best interests at heart.
Ed: How is buying and renting property different in Ecuador?
Ryan/Tiffany: Here in Ecuador purchasing property is actually a pretty easy thing, and you use your passport to register the property in your name. There are no title companies here; however, the North American title search benefits are still done here through the local municipality in order to make sure there are no leans or debt with the property, and that the property is legally able to be sold. One thing we also always recommend is to use a professional attorney to facilitate your property purchase to make sure that everything is done correctly and you are fully protected and comforatable with the process. When looking to rent property, you’ll find it is pretty similar to renting in North America as you might deal directly with the owner or with a property management company.
Ed: Is Manta property a good investment for someone not living there? Is it easy to rent condos from abroad?
Ryan/Tiffany: We have numerous clients who have taken advantage of current prices in order to secure their future condo for retirement or investment while still living abroad. It is fairly easy to keep your condo rented through a local property management service so that you may have rental income even though you are not living here full time. We currently do not personally handle property management; however, we work closely with other ethical and professional management services that we would be happy to recommend.
Ed: Is financing easy to obtain?
Ryan/Tiffany: This is another question we get regularly. So, while it is not impossible to receive funding from an Ecuadorian bank, it is very difficult. And even if you can get it, with interest rates running 10% or more, you really don't want it. We have had many clients apply for a personal loan through their banking institution back home based on other collateral, and then use those funds to purchase their home or condo here in Ecuador. Another option is to have us help you find sellers who are open to giving some seller financing. These are sometimes harder to find and generally want quicker payoffs—usually in under 2yrs—but on the positive side, they usually don't ask for any interest.
Ed: When I had a beach house in the US, property taxes were a killer. What are they like in Manta?
Ryan/Tiffany: Everyone back home knows that property taxes can be a large deciding factor when it comes to purchasing a new home/condo. Luckily here in Ecuador they are usually a fraction of what they might be in North America with most of our clients paying less than $500 per year. Yes, per year!
Ed: Before I go, I need to ask about House Hunters International. How did that happen?
Ryan/Tiffany: We reached out to HHI and offered them the ability to showcase the higher-end luxury properties that we represent around the area. We received a reply email within just a few hours asking for a conference call to discuss things, and the rest is history. We have now been featured on four different episodes and have several more currently in the casting process and awaiting filming, so stay tuned! If any of your readers would like to be on their very own episode with us, just let us know and we will be happy to introduce them to the casting department.
Ed: Thank you both for taking the time to speak with me. Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Ryan/Tiffany: When looking to purchase real estate outside of North America, or looking to sell real estate here on the coast of Ecuador, it is very important to work with a qualified and ethical real estate team who has your best interests in mind. The full team of Ecuador Shores Realty is at your service to make sure you are well represented, and to help you find your perfect spot here in paradise. Thank you for reaching out to us Ed and we look forward to meeting many of your readers in the future!
The full team of Ecuador Shores Realty is at your service to make sure you are well represented, and to help you find your perfect spot here in paradise".
- COVER STORY – ECUADOR SHORES REALTY #1 EXPAT RECOMMENDED AGENCY IN MANTA - October 16, 2020