A Brief History of Cabo Real Estate

 A Brief History of Cabo Real Estate

BY LISSETTE VALENTIN

Thirty-seven years ago, when Michael Schaible first landed in San Jose del Cabo, little did he know he would become the first real estate agent in town and a pioneer developer in Los Cabos.

In 1986 he founded Baja Properties, Baja’s only brokerage then, still operating today. “The funny thing is I was working in the luxury timeshare business when my boss sent me here to scout the area,” Schaible told the Gringo Gazette. “I always wanted to live by the beach so I accepted. He bought me tickets to a little beach town in Mexico called San Jose del Cabo. He told me, ‘We will build you a nice timeshare, you can manage it for us.’”

After meeting with Los Cabos mayor and director of FONATUR (The Federal Development Agency of Mexico) Mike headed back to Vail, Colorado, and packed his bags. “I went back home, handed in my resignation and told my boss, “The place is fabulous. I am leaving. In fact, I am moving down there now,’” he recalls. ” A week later I was welcomed by Carlos Kennedy on the landing strip. There was no airport and only one flight from LAX.”

Kennedy was hired to show Mike around San Jose del Cabo. “I remember seeing a bulldozer digging out nine holes for the first golf course, Fonatur’s golf course, and this little tiny hotel on the bay of San Jose the Aqua Marina, we (my wife and I) checked in on Valentine’s Day, 

with the last $30 to our name. 15 years later I would buy it, tear it down and develop Tortuga Bay Phase I. That was the beginning of real estate in Los Cabos.”

Mike was an essential player in developing the first small condominium project located in the Fonatur neighborhood, El Conquistador and a few single-family homes on Finisterra Street. His technique for luring in customers was simple. “The owner of El Presidente Hotel would let me swim in the pool every day so I could talk to the tourists. I sold the first condo ever sold in the State of Baja California Sur for $59K. I would grab my chalk and show clients where their condo was going to be.”

Since then, Mike has developed many projects such as Costa Azul, Las Villas on La Jolla’s hillside, Mar y Sol condos in both San Jose and Los Barriles, and Las Mananitas, a 120-unit luxury residential complex wildly popular then and now. “I sold these condos faster than we could build them so I asked my partner to buy me another lot,” he says.

Richard O’Neil from Amarillo, Texas, agreed to buy this eight-acre beachfront lot for Mike, the old Aqua Marina Hotel, with a purchase price of just $5 million. 

”A week after Richard made the commitment I was at my office and this gentleman walked into my office, closed the door and told me, “I am Phil Jones. I am your new partner along with my friend Chris Clouser.” I asked him, “Mr. Jones, what exactly are we partners on?” 

Jones told Mike he and Clouser were dining out with Richard last night and convinced him to step aside and let us do this with you. “‘We watched you do Las Mananitas. We are excited to do it. Would you accept us?” I said, “Sure guys. Let’s do it.”

Once more Mike grabbed his chalk, went out to the building site and put the white lines on the sand. “We sold 33 condominiums at Tortuga Bay Phase I so quickly,” he says. “It was such a success so I decided to take deposits for the second phase. It was 2008, Mexico was blamed for the swine flu, and mortgage meltdown, the U.S. was facing a recession and the world ended. Every tourist left the country forcing me to give those deposits back and to semi-retire. Since then, I would spend two weeks in Colorado and two weeks here running my brokerage, Baja Properties.” 

After almost a decade of semi-retirement, Mike, now 64 years old, suddenly got bored. And so, 14 months ago, Mike decided to develop Tortuga Bay Phases II and III. 

Tortuga Bay Phase II is a luxury residential project being built on one of the only three undeveloped beachfront lots in San Jose del Cabo. The other two lots are probably worth more than $100M US combined. One is located between The Vidanta and the old Presidente Hotel and the second one is the old trailer park across from the Honda dealership on Highway 1. 

Mike is understandably excited about the project and proud of his workmanship. ”I build beautiful condominiums. I build them right. I built a 14-ft deep solid wall into the sand, a big sea wall for my 15-year-old Mananitas condos and they are in perfect condition. When the waves crash, they don’t shake the buildings. I build quality.”

Tortuga Bay Phase II will hold 92 beachfront condominiums, ample two- and three-bedrooms, travertine marble floors, granite countertops, top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances, custom solid alder carpentry and doors, sliding floor-to-ceiling pocket doors, private rooftops with a Jacuzzi for the penthouses and the best pricing on the market, starting at just under $1 million. “No other developer can offer this quality at these prices,” Schaible asserts. 

One of Tortuga Bay’s unique amenities is a dog park. ” We are dog-friendly at Tortuga Bay. We know it is important to some of our clients; dogs are part of their family. We will have a shampoo area and a playground. We also have a turtle nursery right on the beach (hence the name Turtle Bay) which, in conjunction with the municipality, we assist in maintaining. When they hatch, we (the owners) help release them into the ocean.”

But that isn’t all. Tortuga Bay is an integrated community that starts at the bike path and ends at the Sea of Cortez. Tortuga Bay will have electric bicycles to ride on the ciclovia (bike path) which begins at the property’s front door and ends 2 km later in the historic town square. 

Other amenities are a super large heated pool with two swimming jets, two jacuzzi spas, an ocean view, A/C, a fitness center, two pickleball courts, 30 garages for sale, an underground parking lot with 62 assigned, deeded spaces (included in the Fideicomiso, a real asset), and an optional onsite property management and rental company.

“The best is yet to come,” Mike says. Phase III will have a street mall, Plaza Tortuga. This commercial space located between the Viceroy and the Hyatt Ziva hotels will be open to the public and accessible to all the owners, with two exclusive restaurants, six shops and the final phase of luxury condominiums.

For detailed information contact: Lissette Valentin at lissette@bajaproperties.com or call her 624-212-5690.