Mr. Bergstrom said that prices for high-end properties in his region have increased 25 to 30 percent year over year, and average between $2 million and $3 million. “I sell some of the most expensive houses in Chile, and it hasn’t stopped,” he said. “The issue is that there’s no more space to grow in small towns, and the number of houses for sale has not increased. The only way to get a piece of land is to convince an owner to sell.”
With remote work allowing more people to live in nonurban settings, “those traditionally second-home markets grew the most during the past 24 months,” said Jorge Miro, commercial manager of Engel & Völkers Chile in Santiago. Among the most active markets were the central beach town of Pichilemu, the lakeside southern town of Pucon, and Santo Domingo beach, 70 miles west of Santiago, he said.
Also on that list is Los Vilos, which was “mainly a fishing town, then became a vacation-home area for middle-class people over the last couple of decades,” said Yuval Haym, regional manager of Re/Max Chile in Santiago.
Along with the pandemic, political and social upheaval have destabilized Chile’s property market. In 2019, prolonged protests were staged over economic inequality, and this month, a presidential election will include “hard-left and hard-right candidates, and either outcome will cause some capital flight in the short term,” said Matt Ridgway, owner of Chile Investments, a realty firm in the Colchagua Valley, south of Santiago. Wealthy Chileans, meanwhile, are “divesting stocks and shares and investing in property” because of volatility fears, pushing prices higher at the luxury end.
Chile’s weak peso presents an opportunity for foreign buyers who can stomach some uncertainty, Mr. Haym said: “Chile is more attractive than Miami right now, with a higher return on investment.” With an influx of professionals who transfer in to work in key Chilean industries like mining, fishing and paper, “you’re almost guaranteed someone will rent your condo.”