Dreaming of living and hitting the links in beautiful Costa Rica?
So was I...
The story about what happened tells of a lack of professionalism, breach of trust, and contracts promised and that never appeared.
If it happened to me, it can happen to you...
In 2009 I was approached by Rob Fraser (of Fraser Homes in Saskatoon) with an opportunity... to be part of a beautiful golf, condo, and resort project in Costa Rica. A place he had lived and built homes in for a few years. Given his experience as a builder in Saskatoon, a company which had an excellent reputation, it seemed like a great and problem-free opportunity.
So after careful review, we signed a contract with him to purchase a fully-furnished condo as part of San Buenas Golf Resort (SBGR) on May 1st of 2009.
May 2009 - February 2010
Things were happening quickly, and we had a timeline for payments due based on the progress of the project.
9 months later, in February 2010, we had paid 90% of the price as the building permit process, groundbreaking, building of the condo complex walls, and the roof was apparently completed. The last 10% was to be paid when the contract closed, and the keys handed over. We were invited to Costa Rica as the grand opening was set for April 1st, 2010...
Then, radio silence until Aug 17th 2011, when SBGR let us know there had been a change of ownership. Where it was owned by Rob Fraser and another partner before, it was now taken over and Rob was the major shareholder.
They also had spotty records of our payments, and requested copies of the wire transfers as they didn't have them on record. We were assured that we would be receiving a new contract soon. Rob assured us that this was "nothing to be alarmed about."
On July 18th, 2012, I reached out for an update on the project, and to review the new contracts that had been promised. The manager of SGBR, Yann Simonon, replied that "We continue working on the condos, tiling all bathrooms, and finishing the ceilings."
He added that they were close to signing the contracts for the electrical company, and that "it makes sense to renew contracts when we have all the details like f.e. the catastral registration number for each unit."
"Nevertheless, I repeat our commitment towards you and other buyers that we will deliver what you have purchased."
The management of SBGR reached out on October 11th, 2013 asking for the balance of our payment so "we can deliver your condo, furnished and with all appliances."
When I asked if they are "giving us notice to close as per section 2.6 of the contract" (where we would be taking ownership), I was reminded that "we don't have a contract."
I was told that paying the balance (10% of purchase price) would "make it easier for us to finish them completely sooner than Feb / March and at least hand them (over)."
The tone and the story had changed by the next time we heard from SBGR and Rob Fraser on October 8th, 2014.
Referring back to the change of ownership in 2011 (which he now told me that it had happened May 29th, 2011, without advising us), he now said that we needed to pay the balance of the contract price and "Los Paragos will complete your condo unit #106."
Contrary to all past communication and the original contract, the condo would come with a dishwasher and microwave only, and "there will not be any other appliances or furniture supplied." Regarding the furnishings, he added
"Dustin, just to be totally up front, to complete your Condo with all furnishings will probably cost you close to $15 - $20,000 over and above your final payment amount!!"
"Once the final 10% is paid your Condo will be completed in approximately 3.5 months."
Still, with no contract, changing stories, and no other written guarantees.
I e-mailed Rob to let him know of my concerns with the project over the past 5 years, and looking for a way we could make it work despite all of the issues.
I'm currently working in Asia, so I can't speak with you on the phone, but I hope this e-mail will suffice in the meantime.
I think it's best to start from where I am right now, and what little I have to go on. A little over five years ago we signed a contract for this condo. A couple of years later, I was told this contract was void, but not to worry. I would receive a new contract (which I never did).
Since then we've rarely heard anything other than the odd vague request for more funds by e-mail, that with only a few questions on my part, seemed to make this request go quiet. Couldn't be that important.
Now I'm told that in 3-5 months we can have the condo completed, but with much less than we were originally told we would receive as long as we send the balance of the funds.
I can also see by way of your website that you have had other condos built and finished for quite some time, and at prices much lower than we paid. While I partly understand the "price under the original contract," I'm not sure I understand why other condos were build before ours given the early time we signed on (and paid). I'm also not sure why the price on the original contract would be firm, but what we're getting hasn't had the same luxury in transferring over. This is further complicated by the recent e-mails we have received about renting out the condo, which I'm sure would be very difficult to do unfurnished.
Honestly, the worst part of this is that Shirley was told that "family would be taken care of" which she certainly took to heart.
Given all of that, I'm sure you can understand any hesitation I have regarding anything to do with this project now.
At this point, my family isn't confident in sending the balance of the funds since:
* We still don't have a contract
* We have no idea what we're getting anymore
* Communication has been few and far between
* Essentially everything we have been told up until this point hasn't come to fruition
So at this point you may be thinking, if they don't want to pay the balance now, well tough. If that's the case, I think you'll find that only underscores my trepidation.
On January 3rd, Rob Fraser replied to my e-mail, requesting payment by January 15, 2015, and if it wasn't made that we would have nothing.
"There will not be any contract..." "If you decide not to complete this transaction Los Pargos Nangueros Del Manglar will become sole owner of the Condo Unit #106"
On January 7th, I was sent an e-mail letting me know that the annual meeting for owners would take place a week later on January 15th, 2015 at the resort. There would be no way for anyone not there to listen in because "the cell phone system is very unreliable," and that you would need to be in attendance to vote or have a proxy with a power of attorney in person for you.
This seemed completely unreasonable to me, and just another way to hide.
In the past, people like Rob Fraser (Los Pargos Nangueros DelManglar, SBGR, Fraser Homes) who are working on projects like these could get away with this behavior, with little or no recourse. He could brush us off after stringing us along and pocketing the cash, and we would have no voice to tell our story. All the while they continue to advertise to new buyers, touting their spotless reputation as a way to assuage fears about a project in a beautiful land on the other side of the world.
I can assure you that Rob Fraser / SBGR's record is not spotless, and the reputation is not as it seems
It's my hope that others can be better aware of my experience with Rob Fraser, Los Pargos Nangueros DelManglar, and San Buenas Golf Resort (SBGR). This type of bullying and shady way of doing business is not acceptable.