Many people have been asking me about the real estate investment market in Bogota, Colombia, a growing metropolis of over 10 million inhabitants. I previously wrote an extensive analysis of the real estate investment market in Medellin (here), but also made a point of spending time in Bogota to explore investment opportunities.
But before we dig into real estate, I would l encourage you to read my article on Medellin as the first part is on the macro landscape in Colombia.
Recap of the Pros of investing in Colombia
- One of the most open economies in Latin America
- Attractive demographics
- Commodities exporter in a commodities bull market
- Great diversification away from the world’s geopolitical hotspots
- Various types of visa and residency options for real estate investors
Recap of the Cons of investing in Colombia
- An unsophisticated economy, though more sophisticated than others in the region
- A highly cyclical economy based on natural resources
- Rising debt levels, driven by government borrowing (luckily mostly in local currency)
- Deep-rooted social issues
- Uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential elections
Rental yields in some niches in Medellin are very high
Essentially, because Medellin is so attractive from a tourism and lifestyle point of view, the city is gushing with tourists and digital nomads staying there for a few months. The market to serve these customers is tight due to a number of factors, so yields are exceptionally high. It’s possible to obtain net rental yields of 7+% after all expenses and vacancy.
The local market is unappealing
Gross yields of 4%-5% are the norm, and expelling local tenants who don’t pay is a long process.
The local market in Bogota is the same, but without significant tourism or mid-term market for digital nomads
Locals in Bogota like to point out that their city is leading in terms of tourist arrivals in Colombia.
It’s logical, as most tourists arrive through Bogota’s international airport, and then generally immediately move on to better destinations in the country.
This report is the result of a few days of riding all over Bogota on a scooter and visiting many apartments
Bogota has very little touristic appeal
The weather is unpleasant as it rains a lot and is often rather cold. There isn’t much to see apart from a decaying old town. Notwithstanding the weather issue, it’s the sort of city that is probably very pleasant to live in due to a generally low cost of living, good infrastructure, and great entertainment and food options.
But it’s not the sort of destination where you would want to spend time as a tourist, or for a few months, when there is a Medellin a short $30 flight away, with its eternal spring weather and fun-on-tap.
Hotels in Bogota are incredibly cheap
Hotels are easily 2 times cheaper than in Medellin. You can find brand name 5* hotel rooms going for $65 a night, and small hotels in decent neighbourhoods for $15-$20 a night.
Good luck making money with your Airbnb in such a competitive landscape.
These figures are in the context of strong local and international tourism numbers in Colombia. It’s a structural issue, not a pandemic-related one.
Which neighbourhoods to look at from an investment point of view?
Historical Center / Parts of Santa Fe
This is the historical part of Bogota, where tourists will invariably go walk around for a few hours. It’s pretty, but nothing spectacular. Apart from beggars, students and some hipsters, people don’t really hang out there too much. I generally like the idea of investing in historical areas as the architectural value of my investments increases over time. However, in this particular case I would stay away from investing in this area due to the fact that the city is developing towards the north. The more north it goes, the less appealing this area will become to the moneyed class.
An area of Bogota with a number of universities, and thus a high concentration of student housing, bars and clubs. The area feels like it’s past its prime, but it’s a local investment hotspot due to relatively high rental yields. In the video later in this article I visit an apartment and we do the rental yield numbers with my real estate agent and friend Arcesio.
A large area where the upper crust of Bogota like to live and play. There are a few distinct neighbourhoods within this large area, some more commercial and others more residential. Overall, I found this neighbourhood to be very pleasant.
The brick architecture is pretty and evergreen. These buildings are strong, look good, and the tree-lined side streets are charming. These residential areas of Chapinero have staying power. If I had to live or invest long term in Bogota, this would be my preferred area, though the gross yields of +-4% are not interesting. Depending on the building, you can pay anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per m2.
The Developing North
Centered around the neighbourhood of Usaquén, this area is another area where the moneyed class likes to live and play. Unlike in Chapinero, which is built-out, there is a fair amount of construction in this area as there is still available land.
Though people from this area like to brag about how high-end it is, the reality is that it lacks charm. Some neighbourhoods, such as those south the golf course, are pretty, but the rest is a bit of a mixed basket. Because new buildings keep popping up everywhere, the area lacks an overall vibe. It feels distinctly inferior to the nicer areas of Chapinero.
I went to see a new development to get an idea of prices. The development is close to the golf course, but near one of the main roads. The development does not come across as high-end.
The prices were around $2,000 per m2, including kitchen furniture. I couldn’t justify paying this for an apartment of medium quality relatively far away from the center, with very low yields, and an almost endless supply of comparable units.
The West “Write off”
Once you cross the highway into the West of Bogota, it becomes a mish-mash of everything from middle-income to lower-income areas.
This side of Bogota is where the majority of people live. I’m sure there are opportunities in single projects if you understand the market dynamics, but as a long-term investor living overseas this area is of no interest. Potential supply of new buildings is literally endless, especially taking the very loose zoning laws into account.
Oversupply of Real Estate everywhere in Bogota
Not only is there a fair amount of construction, but the existing housing stock has high vacancy rates for rentals and a lot for sale on the secondary market.
Everywhere in Bogota there were apartments for rent and for sale, in all neighbourhoods.
With such levels of available supply and inventory, I don’t see any near-term catalysts for an upwards re-rating of prices and/or of rents.
A Concrete example of a Real Estate Investment in Bogota
I met up with Arcesio, a good friend of mine I met back in Hungary who happens to be a real estate agent in Bogota. He specializes in commercial real estate, but has helped investors with residential and turnkey projects as well.
In this video we visit high-yielding student housing and:
- Discuss the Santa Fe and Chapinero neighbouhoods.
- Calculate the exact, net rental yield including common charges, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and occupancy rates.
- Talk about the high risk of having tenants not paying rent, and the importance of getting insurance in Colombia.
If you want to get in touch with Arcesio if you are looking to buy in Bogota, reach out to him by sending him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. He can help you with all your real estate needs in Bogota.
Would I make a Real Estate Investment in Bogota?
No. When there are such great rental yields, at much lower prices, in a much more pleasant city such as Medellin, why would I? Prices are easily 40% cheaper in Medellin, and spit out net yields of 7%-8%. Bogota is simply not competitive. Do read my article on investing in real estate in Medellin here.
Also, Cali, Colombia’s third largest city has some unique investment opportunities. I’ll publish an article on this topic in the coming weeks.
Who should consider making a Real Estate Investment in Bogota?
If you plan on living there, then sure, buying an apartment makes more sense than paying rent, especially if you prefer to own the places where you live.
I’ve seen worse investments than buying below $2,000 per m2 and obtaining net, net yields of 3%-4% in the center of a growing capital city of 10 million people. It’s an option for patient, long-term investors. Personally, I see better places to deploy my capital for now.
I have no doubt that there will be a time to invest in Bogota. I just feel it’s a little early for now.
Finally, from a lifestyle point of view, some people prefer Bogota to Medellin because it is bigger, more business happens there, and because there are better flight connections. I understand. Personally, I still prefer Medellin’s combination of weather, cheaper real estate, outdoors activities, and fun lifestyle.
Other articles on Colombia:
- Making a Real Estate Investment in Medellin, Colombia – unusually high yields
- Making a Real Estate Investment in Cali, Colombia – the next frontier?
- $100,000 investment house in Medellin, Colombia
- Is Colombian real estate still investable following the election of Gustavo Petro?
Other services in Colombia:
- Real Estate Lawyer in Colombia
- How to obtain residency in Colombia
- My favourite real estate agent in Medellin
If you want to read more such articles on other real estate markets in the world, go to the bottom of my International Real Estate Services page.
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.