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Semana Santa is Sooner than You Think

For our international friends that have never experienced it, Semana Santa is a big deal. “Saint Week” is Easter week and for many Costa Ricans starts the weekend before Good Friday.

April 12th – 20th, 2014 is Semana Santa

Montezuma BeachWhat does one do during Semana Santa? Head to the beach, of course. Traditionally, Semana Santa is a time to catch up with family at the beach and relax.

Many international visitors do not realize it, but vacation rentals at the beach are typically priced at holiday rates for Semana Santa because it is such a popular week and properties fill up.

The best way to ensure you get the rental of your choice is to…

Reserve Early!!!

Yes, Semana Santa or Easter week is extremely popular and larger properties typically go first. For more information seasonal pricing, please see our Costa Rica Vacation Rental Seasons article.

Prices may

ForRentCostaRica.co.cr Launches

For those of you that follow happenings at For Rent Costa Rica, you’ll be aware that we have a large number of visitors in both English and Spanish.

After a series of revisions, we now have forrentcostarica.co.cr up and running for our visitors who prefer to work in Spanish.

You will find all the same properties available as well as the ability to share and email interesting properties to friends and family.

What other improvements would you like to see from For Rent Costa Rica?  We are always looking for the best ways to serve our customers!

Rent a vacation home in Costa Rica – Where to Stay?

casarocaCosta Rica is one of the most attractive and diverse vacation destinations close to the equator. Most people who learn about Costa Rica online immediately want to come on vacation here. On Google+ I have recently been posting some great photos that show how beautiful Costa Rica is not only as a vacation country but also as a place to live long term or to retire. The reason that most people of all ages love coming to Costa Rica is because it is in the tropics, which means we have beautiful weather most of the time but also because it is so diverse. After living in Costa Rica for over 30 years, I have seen a tremendous growth in a vacation rental market in just the past 5 years as many families and large groups prefer spending their vacation in a home instead of staying in a hotel.  But where to stay?

You have never been to Costa Rica and you are ready for that dream vacation in paradise. Now you have to choose between all those locations in the Central Valley and hundreds of different beaches. Of course you have no idea how to get started. Please allow us to help you a bit to find out where you should rent, depending on the size of your group and your preferences.

northtowerNo other Costa Rica real estate website offers as many options of vacation rentals in so many different locations as For Rent Costa Rica. Here, you have the advantage of choosing the quality of your accommodations, the size of your group and your budget. I have been a Costa Rica real estate broker for many years but I have never before been asked to cooperate with a website that offers so many luxury vacation rentals, ultra luxury rentals, resort rentals, as well as low budget vacation rentals.

Costa Rica has hundreds of beautiful beaches because it borders on two oceans, the Pacific and the Caribbean. Due to the different micro-climates Costa Rica has, nature as well as the climate is different in those locations.

The North Pacific beaches, located in Guanacaste have quite a few incredibly beautiful locations you can stay, not matter what your budget is. If you choose to stay your vacation on the North Pacific beaches, you will want to arrive at Liberia airport unless you want to enjoy some time in other locations. Most beach areas in Costa Rica offer many of options for leisure like golf, surfing, fishing and others during your stay. Look for vacation rentals in Playa Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande, Playa Langosta, Playa Negra, Playa Potrero, Playas del Coco, Playa Conchal, Playa Junquillal, Las Catalinas, Ocotal, Marbella, Golfo de Papagayo, La Cruz and Hacienda Pinilla so from there you can visit all those beautiful beaches the North Pacific can offer.

The Nicoya Peninsula offers very much the same beauty and temperatures the North Pacific beaches do, except for being more remote. Very easily accessible from Liberia airport although we recommend renting a 4 x 4 if you plan to visit the most remote beaches and enjoy the essence of Costa Rica. Here, For Rent Costa Rica offers vacation rentals in Playa Nosara, Playa Tambor, Carillo, Santa Teresa from where you can get easily to other unforgettable locations. To get there you should arrive at San José airport and drive or fly to Tambor.

If you love playing golf or enjoy great fishing, hiking, horseback riding and surf, you’ve found your paradise in the Central Pacific beach area. Starting in Puntarenas and all the way to Manuel Antonio with beach towns in between like Jaco Beach, Los Sueños Resort, Playa Hermosa you’ll be able to find the best ultra-luxury rentals and resort rentals where you can have the best vacation imaginable. While you enjoy one of the beautiful vacation rentals offered by For Rent Costa Rica in the Central Pacific, make sure you pay a visit to the Pura Vida gardens and waterfalls, the Carara National Park, the crocodile tour on the River Tarcoles and the Manuel Antonio National Park.

If you go just a bit further south from Manuel Antonio on the coastal highway, in less than 30 minutes you’ll be right on the South Pacific of Costa Rica with beach towns like Playa Dominical, Pavones, San Buenaventura. The small beach towns with the restaurants and bars surrounded by nature and wildlife also offer water sports, wellness centers, waterfall tours and horseback.

I invite you to make the reservations to rent your vacation home well ahead of time and if you have any questions at all, feel free to email the For Rent Costa Rica staff at reservations@forrentcostarica.com and they will answer pronto.

Ivo Henfling – President of the American-European Real Estate Group

2014: The Rise of Spherical Photography?

Read Wired magazine or other technology publications and you will see various start-ups offering spherical cameras, many of which look like soccer balls.

Spherical photos are really a series of individual photos stitched together and smoothed. The new cameras are really a series of cameras pointed in different directions that take a synchronized photo in every direction.

Apps that create synchronized photos from a smart device have to be moved around to every angle, which works fine for inanimate objects but not so well with movement.

Wired has a great article here about one competitor who was at the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2014/01/panono-ball/

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Here at For Rent Costa Rica, we are already being approached by various people that want to sell us spherical photography as a service: both the actual taking of the photos and the hosting of the photo such that the user will be able to navigate within the listing. Although we do not produce the photos of the listings we offer internally, we think this service would be of great value to our users.

We are totally in favor of offering spherical photography in our listings! We think tenants will love being able to see the property’s highlights from the perspective of standing there and looking around.

What options does an owner have to get spherical photos?

  1. Look to a manager. We think that managers may adopt this technology to get a competitive advantage over others in their area and pony up for a spherical camera themselves.
  2. Find a service such as We Get Around that allows you borrow the equipment to capture the data and then also creates and hosts the embedded viewer to add to the listing.
  3. Do It Yourself – Google’s Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones have a built in spherical photo option as part of the phone app. Bubbli is an app you can download if you are an iPhone user.

Check back to the In the News section of For Rent Costa Rica for more on this emerging tool for displaying real estate and improving your rental marketing.

Check out this embedded shot of Ryan Seacrest.

Photo Tips for Rental Marketing

Marketing real estate is a lot like marketing other products. There is a physical object or space to market, but what you are really selling is a feeling.

Professional photographers understand this intrinsically and are great if you can afford them. You will  be able to find them shortly on ForRentCostaRica.com  However, hiring one may not be an option due to time or budget constraints.

In vacation rental marketing, the feeling that someone will have and will share with their friends or family when renting that property is what will cause them to swipe a credit card.

Words are great but photos are so much better at conveying the feel of a place.

Are You Selling the Blues? Why So Much Gray?

Cameras are getting better, for sure, even on smart phones, but we still see many photos on listings that could be so much better with just  a little bit of adjustment to get rid of the gray.

Brightness and Contrast Adjustment: Your Two Best Friends

Before Retouching

Before Retouching

 

This photo is an aerial taken from an airplane on a cloudy day over Playa Langosta with a cheap, point and shoot camera. Note how the tone of the whole photo is very similar (depressing). The buildings are various earth tones and one wild blue looking building, the flora is green, and the sand is tan, but all of the color is washed out.

 

retouched

Contrast and Brightness Adjusted

 

 

This is the exact same photo after some minor adjustments on a free photo editing, cloud based program. Note how the buildings now stand out from the trees better, the whole scene looks much lusher, the photo itself stand outs from this page better, and you FEEL much more interested in visiting.

Which do you prefer?

Inquiry # Correlation? Yes

Listings with better photos are more appealing and generate more tenant interest in the form of inquiries. Trust us.

Free Solution

We totally understand if you do not have time or do not want to pay a photographer. A simple solution is to use a cloud based, free option. For the example above, we used http://pixlr.com/editor/  The interface is very simple.  You browse to the photo on your hard drive, make the changes, and hit save just like you would on an a desktop application.

In this case, the contrast and brightness slider are grouped together under the Adjustment tab. For the example above, we raised the contrast and lowered the brightness just a bit and saved the photo, which is now perfectly suitable for use within For Rent Costa Rica.flxr

Your Thoughts? Do You Have Another Solution?

We will be happy to add it to our resources section.

Busy, Busy, Busy – FRCR Status Update

Version 3.0 Launches

Here at For Rent Costa Rica we are very excited to see our hard work over the summer come to fruition. Version 3.0 is significantly faster, has an improved search, has a streamlined owner interface and looks great!

Our CTO, Eric Kim, along with his team has produced a fantastic site that keeps getting better.

translationimageUsers that have uploaded properties to the new site will have noticed the one click translation integration with Google’s translator. Creating high quality listings in both English and Spanish has been one of For Rent Costa Rica’s hallmarks. The Spanish versions of each property will go live before the end of this month.

Social media has always been an integral part of our marketing strategy. Now each listing has one click buttons to share across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

New Locations

We are very excited to offer properties in new locations this month. User’s can now create and search available properties in places such as:

We are sure more new locations will become available as our owner inventory of property grows.

Future Improvements

We have a number of projects underway, but we always want to hear from our loyal users. Please contact us with your suggestions.

Press Release: Where Is Costa Rica?

Read our press release based on recent survey results:

Surprising results from a research survey commissioned by the rental website www.ForRentCostaRica.com, revealed that less than 40 percent of all Americans can locate the Central American nation of Costa Rica on a map given five multiple choice options.

The research survey “Where Is Costa Rica?” found that only 36.8 percent of the 1,007 respondents could accurately locate the nation on a map showing Central America and the Caribbean. The results, which have been made available to the publichere, reveal that individuals 65+ were more likely to answer correctly.

Respondents with age between 18 – 25 correctly chose Costa Rica 29.6% of the time, while respondents age 65+ were correct 45.8% of the time.

mapSurvey Methodology

Using the Google Consumer Surveys platform, a generalized population of internet users were asked a survey question which included an unlabeled map of Central America and four highlighted countries: Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. Respondents could also select a fifth choice, “None of the above.”

Survey Results

The correct answer locating Costa Rica, choice D, was chosen by 36.8 percent of respondents with a margin of error, +3.6 / -3.5 percent; 17.2 percent of respondents selected Belize; 14.3 percent of respondents chose Puerto Rico; 12.0 percent of respondents thought the answer was Jamaica; and 19.7 percent of respondents believed the correct answer was not shown on the map.

Age Divide

In unweighted percentages and with a larger reported margin of error, only 29.6 percent of young adults ages 18-24 years old correctly identified Costa Rica, and 29.8 percent of adults ages 25-34 selected the right answer. Respondents between ages 35 – 44 found the right country at a rate of 37.8 percent while those between ages 45-54 identified Costa Rica at a rate of 40.3 percent. The rate for selecting the correct answer dropped slightly to 37 percent for the age group 55-64. Respondents in the age bracket 65 of older achieved the most accuracy with nearly half, or 45.8 percent correctly identifying Costa Rica.

One of the most surprising findings was the number of individuals shown the survey that did not respond – approximately 40 percent, suggesting that many Americans did not wish to even attempt to locate the nation on the map, a potential indication that the actual number of Americans who can successfully locate Costa Rica is less than the research found.

Implications of the Research

The survey data from “Where Is Costa Rica?” indicates that the majority of Americans do not recognize the location of Costa Rica on a map. Coupled with the fact that the vast majority of tourists vacationing in Costa Rica are American citizens, there is significant value in building awareness of Costa Rica to an American audience. In fact, in 2011 approximately 859,000 American citizens arrived in Costa Rica, a number that has more than doubled since 2002, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Statistical Yearly Report.

For Eddie Davis, CEO of Apollo International Solutions, the company who developed www.ForRentCostaRica.com, this research begins to answer one of his long held questions.  “I’ve met many Americans, even already in Costa Rica, that think Costa Rica is an island.  Now I have an idea of how prevalent that belief is.”  The most likely cause is confusion between Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean and US Territory, and Costa Rica.  Over 30% of respondents believed Costa Rica was either Jamaica or Puerto Rico, both island nations.

There were also some interesting results with regards to age demographics.  Many businesses in Costa Rica are targeting retirees from North America either for relocation or medical tourism.  The survey seems to indicate that Costa Rica is already firmly on US Senior Citizens’ map.

The survey was produced by Online Marketing Agency Picobarn, picobarn.com on behalf of www.ForRentCostaRica.com an online provider of Costa Rica rental marketing.