“I Bought in a RETA Deal. Here’s What Happened Next…”

We have an exciting week ahead in Your Overseas Dream Home…

My scouts are still on the ground in Montenegro and the Dominican Republic, tracking Paths of Progress that are transforming the coastlines of those incredible destinations. And as I write, another of my scouts, Ciaran, has arrived in Italy, where he’s on a special mission to try and find a town to buy. More details on that tomorrow.

Today, though, I want to introduce you to Steve…

Steve Garfink is International Living’s Social Security expert. A graduate of Yale and Stanford, he’s a certified Social Security advisor and the author of the book Social Security Secrets.

Steve is also a member of my Real Estate Trend Alert group.

I founded RETA 16 years ago to bring together like-minded real estate investors who understand, like me, that there’s always opportunity somewhere when you look everywhere. Using the collective-buying power of our group, I can negotiate killer, off-market deals on incredible new homes in the world’s most stunning destinations. This means we can buy at discount pricing that ordinary investors never see.

In 2021, Steve bought an overseas dream home through one of our off-market, RETA member-only deals.

His condo is in an incredible, best-in-class community called Singular Dream in Playa del Carmen, a popular beach city on Mexico’s stunning Caribbean coast.

Steve’s goal with this purchase was to earn rental income—to own a dream home in paradise that could pay him for owning it.

Below, he tells you how his home is working out. And he shares why his original plans changed as soon as he got the keys to his condo…


Ronan McMahon, Founder, Overseas Dream Home & Real Estate Trend Alert

“I Bought in a RETA Deal. Here’s What Happened Next…”
By Steve Garfink

In September 2022, my wife and I flew to the Riviera Maya, Mexico’s Caribbean coast, to take delivery of a brand-new one-bed condo we’d bought there.

We purchased it through a Real Estate Trend Alert members-only deal with the intention of using it solely for investment purposes. Our idea was to use the condo to create another income stream for our retirement.

But then we saw the condo and spent a night in it, and our plans changed…

Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, boasts spectacular white-sand beaches just a short stroll from the heart of a chic, modern city.

Our condo is in the city of Playa del Carmen, about 50 minutes’ drive south of Cancun international airport.

Playa is a vibrant boomtown known for its glorious white-sand beaches set right in the heart of the city. Gentle arcs of white sand sweep for miles along Playa’s azure Caribbean coastline, offering some of the most spectacular city beaches you’ll see anywhere. This is a true tropical paradise.

Then, just a block or two back from the sand, you’ll find Playa’s “main drag”—5th Avenue.

This is a miles-long pedestrianized stretch of boutiques, artisan street markets, spas, cafés, stores, restaurants, and nightlife, with even more offerings snaking out into the side streets. It’s bustling and captivating—a sensory overload—and an amazing place to spend time. And Playa has yet more to offer.

Outside of the city, you’ll find coral reefs, Maya ruins, and cenotes, as well as world-class golf courses. This is a destination that has something for everyone…

My wife and I decided to buy here after learning about the incredible investment potential.

Playa del Carmen welcomes millions of visitors each year. Europeans come in the summer months. North Americans visit over Christmas and New Year. Well-heeled Mexicans come for Easter and national holidays. You’ll hear accents from as far afield as Korea and New Zealand.

And it’s not just vacationers driving demand.

Playa is now home to thousands of expats from all over the world. This is a thriving city drawing in entrepreneurs and international travelers from all corners. That means the rental pool is diversified and it means you have so much control. You can rent by the night, by the week, by the month, or even by the year. And demand for rentals is only set to increase.

Later this year, the new Maya Train is expected to launch. This new train network will link Playa with Cancun airport to the north and the hugely popular beach town of Tulum to the south, among other destinations. This will further open up Playa and the region to visitors.

Playa’s white-sand beaches draw visitors from near and far…and more come every year.

We bought here in a community called Singular Dream.

When we flew down to take delivery of our condo in 2022, we were taken on a detailed walkthrough of the property. And we had a chance to inspect the furniture pack that came included with the purchase price of the condo. We then signed off on the final paperwork, received the keys, and moved in for the remaining couple of days of our visit to Playa. This gave us a chance to explore the community and the neighborhood…

Singular Dream is one short block from the beach. Our unit is on the south side, and we have roomy balconies running alongside the bedroom and living room offering sweeping views of the Caribbean.

On the rooftop of Singular Dream is a community amenity area with a lap pool, lounge pool, gym, spa, and bar/restaurant. From the rooftop, you have breathtaking panoramic sea vistas. It’s as inviting a pool area as we’ve ever experienced.

Then there’s the surrounding neighborhood…

The amenity area on the rooftop of Singular Dream offers spectacular views of the Caribbean.

I mentioned we’re a block from the beach. Well, a couple of blocks in the other direction is 5th Avenue. While further south 5th Avenue has a bustling nightlife scene, at our end it’s delightfully peaceful, yet boasts a wide variety of top-class restaurants. Amongst them are some hidden gems…

We stumbled onto a busy Italian restaurant, called Salento, a block from our condo where all the kitchen staff spoke Italian and half the guests as well. We figured this was a good sign that the food would be high-quality and authentic. Our meal exceeded our expectations.

It took about one day living in our well-appointed condo, and spending time in the neighborhood, before we realized: “Wow, this is pretty cool—we can see ourselves spending some time here and sharing it with family and friends.”

We promptly extended our stay for another week!

The view from Steve’s balcony in the best-in-class Singular Dream community in Playa del Carmen…

Our guests so far have been thrilled to stay in the condo. It’s just so gratifying to be able to offer it out to friends and family and to see how much they love it. And of course, my wife and I are always eagerly looking forward to our next visit.

While we are surprised and delighted to find how much we enjoy the condo and its location, we still think of it as an investment. So let’s dig into some of the numbers…

We purchased the unit, fully furnished, for about $220,000. Over the following 15 months, we made a series of payments that added up to 50% of the purchase price by the time we took delivery in September 2022. Since then, we’re paying the remainder through a developer financing plan over five years. (Access to developer financing is one of the great benefits of buying through a RETA deal. Outside of RETA deals, this financing can be very hard to find.)

We started steadily receiving income beginning in January 2023 and since then we’ve seen the numbers grow and grow…

Our first quarter gross revenue is up 27% this year compared with last year. And I expect it to continue growing. At the moment, our rental pricing on the condo is below normal market rates. That’s standard when you’re starting out, as you need to gradually build up your reviews and rental history. I expect we’ll continue to see rapid revenue growth as the condo rises to full market rates for comparable properties in the online rankings.

For this year, if we realize a 27% revenue increase across the whole year, our gross yield will be about 12%. And that’s with us using it or sharing it with friends for a fair amount of the year. Moreover, the net cashflow we receive monthly has covered almost all our payments so far this year. And that’s with the added expense of using a rental manager. If we were managing the rentals ourselves, our net income would be higher still.

While I suspect the property value is substantially higher today than our purchase basis, I haven’t really looked into this deeply—our original plan was to buy and hold for the income.

Now we have a new plan…

The new plan is to hold for the income and the personal enjoyment. And so far, we’re delighted with our investment in this RETA deal.

Ronan says: Hi Steve, I’m so pleased to hear that you’re happy with your investment. Singular Dream is a truly exceptional community by one of the best developers in the region. The design is striking and the amenities and views are simply breathtaking.

Our RETA-only price here was exceptional. RETA members could own one-beds in Singular Dream from $174,600. This was significantly lowered than the retail price of $254,900 at time of launch in 2022. And I have some good news for Steve and the other RETA members who bought here…

My team has been doing a little digging. We’ve been checking listings sites for one-beds for sale in Singular Dream, and we found listings for $299,000, $316,000, and $325,000. So, RETA members are sitting on big capital appreciation.

And Steve is not the only RETA member who’s seeing strong income from owning here.

One of my contacts in Playa, a rental manager, tells me another RETA member earned $36,000 renting out their Singular Dream condo last year. That was also a double-digit gross annual yield. And in the first three months of this year, I’m told this condo was averaging $4,300 per month gross and on track to top the previous year’s yield.

This just shows the incredible lifestyle benefits and capital appreciation and income potential of buying best-in-class real estate in inherently desirable destinations like Playa at off-market, RETA members-only pricing.

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