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Baja Norte: The next Cabo?

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Cabo is one of the great success stories of The Mexican government agency FONATUR's plan to draw tourism to its shores. Americans and other foreigners in Cabo have bought and sold real estate there for many years. In fact, property values there have increased to the point where Cabo is not affordable for most U.S. residents, and developers there are scrambling to find ways to attract buyers with developments that feature fractional ownership and other steps to make ownership more affordable. The question that follow is: Why not the Rosarito to Ensenada Gold Coast?

The markets are very different and those differences are worthy of discussion. Take climate, for example. Baja Norte's Pacific coast weather is very similar to San Diego's mild climate, and the ocean is chilly much of the year. Cabo is warm in the winter and very hot in the summer and the ocean is comfortable year-round. Cabo is an airplane trip for most U.S. residents and the Gold Coast is a drive-to destination for millions of Southern California residents.

We asked Gabriel V. Robles, developer of several projects in Baja Norte and former project director for FONATUR, how this difference changes the nature of travel and use.

"Cabo vacations average a week in length and are less frequent than people would like. Baja Norte lends itself to shorter, more frequent getaways -- busy on the weekends and quieter during the week. This is because you can be much more spontaneous in your travel, just hop in your car."

We also asked Robles to draw on his experience with FONATUR and the early development of Cabo to share his opinions on whether Baja Norte is the next Cabo.

"Cabo and Baja Norte are different in many ways. Cabo has already experienced how years of foreign investment has positively impacted their community, but they both deliver second-home buyers an array of great choices and the potential for price appreciation. However, Baja Norte is much earlier in its appreciation cycle and driving the current growth are U.S.-based title insurance, dollar denominated financing, proximity to the border along with a growing understanding that Americans can own real estate in Baja safely."

Robles also offers exclusive options for his developments, allowing home buyers to participate in the Interval International Premier Exchange program. With this unique addition, buyers can exchange their condo at The Falls at Puerto Nuevo (www.TheFallsAtPuertoNuevo.com) or their home in Ensenada's wine country at the Liceaga Vineyards (www.TheVillageAtTheVineyards.com) for a home or condo world-wide, even while under construction. Now second-home buyers can vacation anywhere -- or just drive to Baja for a weekend.

Donnell is vice president of Beachfront Baja, which provides marketing and sales services to developers in Baja.

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