For the sixth consecutive year, Vallarta Pride, the gay pride festival, takes place in our destination during the month of May, with a series of cultural, social and entertainment events and activities celebrating sexual diversity. This event attracts more national and international participants each year, helping to consolidate Vallarta · Nayarit as the LGBT destination par excellence in Mexico and one of the most important hotspots in the world.
The LGBT community has become a strong social and economic engine for our destination, with indubitable effects on the real estate industry, which has seen a large portion of investments come from what is popularly known as “pink money,” mainly in certain sections of the city. So, we approached several Vallarta · Nayarit industry figures (Jorge Guillén, from Tropicasa Realty; Ryan Donner, from Timothy Real Estate Group; Daniel Álvarez, from Boardwalk Realty; and Francisco Ríos from Elengorn Realtors), who give their opinions on this community’s impact on Vallarta’s socioeconomic fabric and its unique characteristics, as well as the benefits agencies derive from working with and for the LGBT segment.
A Highly Attractive Destination
Puerto Vallarta continues to grow internationally as a gay-friendly destination, but it is not by chance. In addition to its attractions, common to all segments, such as its natural beauty, quality of life, services, gastronomy, entertainment and extensive real estate infrastructure for all budgets, what are the key factors that attract the LGBT community?
According to Guillén, “The degree of society’s openness and acceptance toward different ideologies, nationalities and circumstances is very visible. Everyone can coexist in a certain harmony. In addition to being open-minded, Puerto Vallarta offers many activities for everyone, as well as shops and entertainment specifically geared to this segment. It is something you do not find in other destinations.” To this, Donner adds the affordability factor: “For Americans, the prices in Puerto Vallarta, with its incredible nightlife and gastronomy, have turned the city into a new hotspot. Classic LGBT destinations in the USA, such as Palm Springs and Fire Island, offer similar infrastructure, but prices are much higher.”
Romantic Zone: Object of Desire
For several years, the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood (mainly areas such as Olas Altas and the Romantic Zone) has been Puerto Vallarta’s LGBT epicenter, where innumerable amenities, services and businesses specifically oriented and/or open to this community have flourished (bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, boutiques, cultural, artistic and entertainment spaces). In addition, Los Muertos Beach is one of the most emblematic meeting points. According to the professionals interviewed, these characteristics have generated a sense of community and identity and are the reason there is such a high demand for properties in this area.
The constant momentum of social, cultural and commercial activity, in harmony with the zone’s residents and merchants, has stimulated the resurgence of the Romantic Zone in recent years. In this regard, Ríos says, “The LGBT community has been of vital importance to the resurgence of the Romantic Zone, because becoming a choice site for them has activated businesses and promoted the generation of new ones, which in turn are attractive to the LGBT community. This encourages very interesting local development.” In fact, this can also be extrapolated to the increase of new and modern developments in this area of the city in recent years.
The Market: What It’s Like and What It’s Looking For
“Buyers are mostly Americans (with Canadians in second place—and to a lesser extent nationals), male, with medium-high or high purchasing power for socioeconomic standards of their country of origin. As far as tenants are concerned, they are mostly Canadians (with Americans in second place), both male and female, with medium and medium-high purchasing power,” says Ríos. Many of the buyers acquire properties as an investment, which they enjoy during vacations and rent out the rest of the year to obtain income.
As for age, Álvarez and Guillén note that it ranges between 40 and 65, although Donner points out that “the trend in age is changing. Although most customers continue to be over 40, we have recently seen people from 30 to 40 years old, mainly because of the destination’s increasingly modern offering. Another factor to take into account is that a large part of this community is what is known as DINK (double-income, no kids), so they have more economic flexibility.
Regarding the characteristics they seek in properties, Ríos comments that it is mainly condominiums with contemporary architecture at very affordable prices, with easy access to fun, art, culture, gastronomy and the beach. These are condominiums in new developments, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a price range of $350,000 to $500,000 USD. Some buyers opt for nearby parts of town, such as El Centro or 5 de Diciembre, where prices are more affordable.
According to Guillén, “There is now a great demand for buildings that offer amenities such as a gym, pool, security within the condominium itself and a terrace so they can live in a place with spectacular common areas and beautiful amenities even if they do not have sea views from their own windows.”
A “Minority” with Great Impact on the Industry
“Although it is not the largest market in general terms, it is a very important segment within the real estate industry that all agencies should take into account. In the case of the Romantic Zone, it easily exceeds 50 percent of the market share,” comments Guillén. Donner agrees: “Personally, gay clientele represents up to 60 percent of my portfolio. It is not something that I or the agency specifically seek, but it occurs naturally due to the location of our office. In fact, there are agents in numerous agencies that do focus on this market, and LGBT clients can represent up to 90 percent of their business.” Ríos adds, “This growing community has gained great importance in the destination, and the real estate industry has been strengthened by generating the solution to this community’s demands for buying or renting properties.”
That is why many real estate agencies focus promotional and advertising efforts on this niche. “In our case, we have several ads in magazines specializing in the LGBT community. Thanks to this, a large number of prospects come to us,” says Álvarez. Ríos confirms, “The LGBT community is of great importance, and we pay a lot of attention to it. For some developments, we have done campaigns aimed at this community and have obtained a great reception, making them favorites of this segment.”
More than a Business: A Sense of Community
Apart from the commercial aspect, Guillén, Donner, Álvarez and Ríos note the importance of interacting with the LGBT community, both personally and through the agencies.
“Getting involved in social events and supporting the community is a must. On our own, several agents belong to civic associations such as ACT LGBT (Asociación de Comercio y Turismo LGBT) (Association of Commerce and Tourism LGBT), which help to promote the importance of this community as a social and economic force in the city. Although the chances of obtaining business and profits are high, that is not the most important thing. In my case or in our agency, we participate in community issues through conviction.”