what to say to the empty house

By Carol Billups, broker, cabo realty pros

The vast majority of homes and condos here in Los Cabos are sold fully furnished. 
That’s the good news. Well, usually. In some cases that can also be the bad news. Oh well, have DIF (the charity run by the mayor’s wife) come and pick it all up. This is because generally a home is being sold here for a family who live in the U.S. or Canada and for whom this was a vacation property. Not only would it be an expense to ship all the furniture back, they don’t really have anything to do with it when it arrives. It’s simpler just to include it in the sale; and the buyer benefits because they can move in with just a suitcase.

The exceptions to the fully furnished rule would be new developer properties and a few homes where the sellers are moving locally. So now you’ve got a bunch of empty rooms: how are you going to fill them?

If you’re buying from a developer often a furniture package is available as an add-on, but what fun is that? The time honored approach is a road trip to Guadalajara. Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s largest cities and the home of many furniture factories. Home furnishings there are plentiful and the prices outrageously affordable. In the company of a trusty guide new home owners simply visit all the showrooms, pick out what they want and arrange to have it shipped to Los Cabos. That’s still a popular option, but not your only one.

There are now a number of interior design stores here in Cabo offering a variety of styles. The showroom prices are generally quite high compared to the U.S. and certainly compared to Guadalajara. Don’t let that throw you off track! Here’s the strategy that has worked for some of my clients.

First, go browse the local shops and find one whose style you like. Then ask to speak to the owner (your realtor might be able to help with introductions). Explain that you are furnishing a new home or condo and have a list ready of the items you’ll need. Show the owner some of the items you admire in their store so that they get a sense of your style. It’s a good idea if you take them to your new home so they can get an idea of your space. Armed with that, and your list, they will make a proposal for furnishing the entire home. Discounts will apply. Deep discounts. By my reckoning it’s often cheaper than flying to Guadalajara, staying in a hotel, paying a guide or taxi driver and paying for shipping. Once you’ve settled on the pieces to be included they will deliver to your home and set up your new digs. How convenient is that? Since most of the owners are also professional decorators you’re getting their talent thrown in for free. More importantly, they are here to stand behind their merchandise. It’s still a small town and they rely on good recommendations to keep their business growing. If the factory ships the wrong item they’ll take care of it. If your table cracks six months after delivery they’ll replace it. You can’t necessarily say that about a workshop in Guadalajara.

From there it’s just a matter of loose ends. Are you going to be renting your place when you’re not using it? Don’t go overboard on dishes, glasses and cookware. Renters will destroy them. Buy something inexpensive from Costco or Walmart and let that do for now. You can always buy nicer things when you move here full time.

One category you’ll probably want to bring down yourself is linens. Sheets, comforters and bedspreads are much more readily available in the States and Canada, and of a better quality. My clients often use the plastic compression bags you vacuum all the air out of to make a compact package. They work wonderfully for fitting comforters and towels into a suitcase.

The last little decorative elements you’ll add gradually as you settle into your new home in paradise, and that’s the fun part of the adventure. Yesterday I was showing a fabulous home which is being sold unfurnished. The buyer is actually excited about all the shopping she’s going to get to do and you know, I don’t blame her!

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros, a full service agency in Cabo San Lucas. You can read more of her articles and search the entire MLS on www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541 or via email at carolbillups@hotmail.com.

© Carol S. Billups, reprinted by permission