Coming from Sussex, England, Jonathon Smart arrived in Puerto Vallarta in March 1997, to participate in the filming of the television series Conan the Adventurer. After a year and a half of filming Conan and other shows, the beauty of the destination convinced him to settle here. In 1999 he was invited to work with Coldwell Banker, enhancing his passion for real estate, inherited from his father in England.
At the end of 2001, he joined the sales team of Punta Mita, a private luxury community developed by DINE, one of the most important companies in Mexico’s real estate industry. With the master plan defined, he participated in the beginning evolutional stages of the construction of Punta Mita’s internal communities, with a diversity of real estate products focused on satisfying the high-end lifestyle.
“Punta Mita is a paradise of 748 hectares. At the international level, there is no single place that combines the peninsula, its beaches, landscapes, amenities and the first-class service offered by what DINE has created here,” the now partner-director of Riviera Partners Realty answered when asked why this private luxury community is preferred by the most demanding buyers in the world.
“Punta Mita has a lot of potential. Currently only around 30 percent of the area has been developed. There are just over 300 residents, who enjoy the amenities of the Club Punta Mita, as well as the Four Seasons and The St. Regis resorts. Surely, in the immediate future we will see a small selection of high-end luxury resorts in the community, as there is a lot of interest from hotel chains to continue investing here. I perceive and believe that the following years are going to be very good for everyone,” Smart emphasizes.
In 2009 he founded Riviera Partners Realty, along with partner Wally López, who worked together in the early 2000’s in the Punta Mita Properties sales team. At that time, they saw a unique business opportunity. “The first 100 sales within the community were made up of approximately 36 owners, therefore, over a third of purchasers bought more than one property—some purchased four, five and six properties. When they wanted to resell, we reached an agreement with DINE at that time to take care of those resales through an independent real estate agency: Riviera Partners Realty” recalls Smart.
“As we have been here since the inception of Punta Mita, the big investors and developers who come to the area look to us to help them with statistics or provide them with consulting services. In addition, our professional relationships and customer service set us apart. During the last eight years, 70 percent of the sales we have made have been through personal referrals, which speaks for itself about the job we do and our commitment to our clients and our community, beyond just wanting to earn a commission. All this effort and work have resulted in our currently having 85 percent of all properties listed within Punta Mita.”
López reports that prices at Punta Mita start at $500,000 USD and go as high as $20,000,000 USD; however, the vast majority of properties sold are between $1,000,000 USD and $3,000,000 USD. “When Punta Mita began, no property in all of Banderas Bay cost more than $1,000,000 USD. Today, of course, you can find them, but without all the amenities this privileged peninsula offers. For example, DINE is in the process of investing $7,000,000 USD in the construction of the Kupuri Beach Club, additional walking paths, a new spectacular front entrance gate, and a new beach pool and club facility at the Porta Fortuna beach club, further increasing the area’s added value. This enhances owner confidence, because they see the developer constantly investing in improving and expanding their product offering.”
The Trump Effect
“When Donald Trump won the US election, we began to see a sharp increase in interest in real estate products at Punta Mita. If we compare our activity during the close of 2016 to that of 2015, 50 percent more people were asking for property in this area and this has continued into 2017. Fortunately, this has allowed us to show properties on a daily basis, and is translating into an increase in the number of offers being written and transactions being closed,” Smart confirms.
López predicts that this year will continue to attract US buyers. “Compared to the peso, the US currency is very good. That means that US dollars are going to yield more in our country and that the prices of the properties, as well as the maintenance fees, are going to be very accessible for them. However, we shouldn’t discount Mexicans who have the funds to buy real estate at this level. They will continue to buy, but perhaps with less frequency. They know that if they buy in dollars, they will gain with the exchange parity. And if they rent their property in dollars, they will be making a great investment. Basically, they will look to move their money to prevent it from fading away in the bank,” López says.