Change in emphasis was the key to development firm’s success

The 2008 economic downturn hit construction firms hard. Plenty scaled back, and some went out of business.

That also was true of entrepreneurs trying to develop residential projects. Some sites still stand empty today.

Rock Constructions & Development S.A. also found itself caught in the economic whirlpool. The firm had a reputation for upscale quality homes. The firm also had about 150 employees who were depending on their jobs.

That was the puzzle Jorge Jorge had to handle. He is the boss of the construction and development company, and he said he wanted to keep the business running.

Clearly a change in emphasis was needed.

So Jorge, the man with the memorable name, solved his marketing problem by directing his efforts to Costa Ricans and others who did not own their own home. He and his architects designed homes that could be sold profitably at a surprising price.

The success of the decision can been seen in one simple fact: At the recent Expocasa exposition Rock sold an incredible 170 homes.

By sold, Jorge explained, he meant a signed contract and a down payment in hand.

The firm started offering new homes for under $50,000. Even today the company Web site says the firm guarantees a buy to have the keys in hand for $47,700. There is off-street parking usually roofed.

The initial project was Residencias Málaga Ciruelas 1 de Alajuela on seven hectares less than a kilometer north of  the San José-Caldera autopista. The firm sold 189 homes. Most had two bedrooms and one bath. Construction is mainly of concrete. That project is sold out now with maintenance under the control of a local homeowners committee, and the development continues to appear neat and tidy.

The free-standing homes, although designated as condos, are on individual 200-square meter lots, about 2,153 square feet.

Rock has two other projects designated as completed in that the future is in the hands of the residents. There are five projects in the metro area that are sold out and six other projects are in various stages of development, including one in Tamarindo and two in Playa Bejuco, a five-minute ride to Esterillos Este, and two in Playa Herradura near Jacó. In some locations the firm has deeded land right to the beach, an unusual situation in Costa Rica where the maritime zone usually is under the control of the government.

Jorge said Costa Ricans can get 90 percent loans for home purchases. Expats and other permanent residents probably can get a 60 percent loan from state and private banks. Expats also most likely will want living quarters a little larger and price tags of from $70,000 to $120,000.

The company owner attributes the firm’s success to economics of scale and volume development which provide advantages over the competition. He also wisely targeted the Costa Rica market and not that of arriving foreigners.

Jorge said he sees his market as the estimated 30,000 Costa Rican families who need their own reasonably priced home, although he said he would welcome expats to consider beach living in traditional condos or in homes in the metro area.

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