Real estate is part of my job, says notary Ralph Yarzagaray, of notary firm Yarzagaray, but I only fell in love with the history of real estate after purchasing the building one home away from my office.

One of my youth friends, who is avid about monuments pointed out that the home I’d just bought, had a historical value, so I took an interest and found out this was the home to one our political figures, mr. Juancho. I restored this monument complete with the stained glass in the roof and it now has a new function as an extension to my old office building, while preserving some of Aruba’s history.

I grew up around the corner here in Oranjestad and I can still remember the whole part of Renaissance seaport market, cinema’s, hotels and the Wilhelmina park being ocean. My dad told me that the waves would roll up to the Willem III tower.

It’s funny how the face of a town changes over the years, especially now when there is a big revamping project  of infrastructure or just behind us, like the addition of the streetcar and the modern architectural extension, the cocolishi (Seashell) of the  parliament.

Before the big boom in the eighties, Oranjestad was your typical small town, with the doctor, pastor and hospital on the same street. Oranjestad became the capital in the late 1800’s – before that Savaneta was considered the biggest town and Oranjestad just a fisherman’s village-  and the Wilhelminastraat is the oldest street here. Many people don’t know this, but where now the new protestant church is located, a monument next to the old church, there used to be a small hospital. Around 1920-1940, the hospital was moved to the outskirts of downtown. You can still see the former buildings in the typical Aruban Bauhaus style with new functions, like a the –now moved again- lab an art community, Ateliers ’89. Both the Lago and the Eagle refinery (Quinta del Carmen) had their own hospital on site.

I became a notary, since the concept of being a peace judge, being the neutral factor between two of more parties, always appealed to me.

After my studies I worked for several years for department of Justice, when an opening for an aspiring notary opened up and I was hired. When notary Bödeker retired, I was promoted to notary.  As is customary I was appointed by both the governor and the Crown (Queen at that time).

Aruba is a separate entity, since March 18 1986, within the kingdom of the Netherlands and therefore an equal partner in the Kingdom, together with Curaçao and the Netherlands. Since October 10, 2010, Curaçao is also a separate entity and the other Dutch Islands, Bonaire, Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius are part of the Netherlands as provinces.

At our office we deal of course with the standard aspects of a notary firm. We assist in family law, corporate law and of course real estate. Since a few years, there’s been a new business form for entrepreneurs on Aruba, the V.B.A., a kind of sole ownership with limited responsibility and more and more people are opting for this business form. Real estate wise, we did notice the crisis too. After the big boom in the eighties, real estate was fast developing and the first half of this century many people bought second homes as an investment opportunity.

Nowadays we see a shift towards people buying smaller. The condominium market is starting to take off. Where over the last century Aruba expand horizontally, the trend is now to go up. All over the world we see that people want to make more efficient use of space, both for environmental and budgetary reasons. As a rule of thumb, in real estate your maintenance budget for an average home is around 40% of its cost.

Posted on May 08, 2018