How to Buy Panama Real Estate

by Jean Bouttet - Date: 2007-01-24 - Word Count: 1047 Share This!

This is a brief discourse designed to help you avoid some pitfalls that many before you have encountered:

Panama is a wonderful place especially to the expat or would be expat. It is easy to become taken with the country and start thinking emotionally instead of like a calculating business person - Don't Do this. Getting excited about how great this place is and how happy you will be living here is fine but think hard when buying property.

Consider the future investment potential of the property. Be careful about considering a piece of property when the buy decision is based on future variables like a road to be build some day. What if it never gets built?

If you are retired and able to live a couple of hours from a major hospital fine, but if this is not such a good idea rethink this carefully and try to stay closer to a major city.

Panama is full of vacant land, loads of it. What Panama does not have loads of is Panama City property with an unobstructed water view where there is no possibilty of something being built to obstruct your water view. The same principle applies in other areas. Be careful try to get a unique property in some regards so it will hold it's value well compared to other properties.

Rural areas sometimes have little to no infrastructure. Often a 20 minute or longer drive is required to get groceries. Find out if the cell phones work there, if there is hi-speed internet, can you get cable or satellite TV, where is health care and at what level, if there are dirt roads ask about rainy season. Think things through. If you like to enjoy dining out, seeing movies, malls, etc ask yourself if you are comfortable with the drive times for such things.

Many people build their own house here. Before you do make sure you understand all that is going to happen. Talk to builders asking them about doors, windows, screens, locks on doors, closets, toilets, light fixtures and everything else you can think of taking nothing for granted - nothing, and get it all in writing. Find out who your builder is and what his reputation is. What happens if your builder runs over his time estimate by a few months and you have already sold your home and are basically forced to rent and wait. Remember you are a foreigner in a strange land and can easily be taken advantage of if you are not careful. Yes of course using a lawyer helps. My opinion is to use a large law firm, not a one or two man shop. I believe (my opinion only) that a large law firm will be concerned a lot about the reputation of the firm and for this reason try to make sure you have a good outcome as best as they as lawyers can assure. I personally am uncomfortable using a small one or two lawyer office. First of all they tend to be jack of all trades lawyers, where a large law firm will have one or two real estate specialists which is what you want. If you are a retiree it is most unlikely that you will ever be using that lawyer again and the developer was probably born and raised in the country and you are a foreigner (think Gringo) and the lawyer may consider it offensive to grind a favorable contract out of the developer for a Gringo who is never going to give him any more business, in other words you may get far from the lawyers best. Is this always the case - no. Are all one man lawyer offices bad - no. My advice is stay with the larger law firms. We can refer you to a law firm we use. The advantage here is they want our referrals to keep coming so you sort of have collective bargaining power in a stretched out sense of the term .

Off topic but important- when using a lawyer for immigration visas the same arguments apply. Think large firm with an immigration specialist. Again ask for a referral to the law firm we use.
Make sure the real estate person you use is licensed. There are a bunch of unlicensed ones running around - avoid them, no good reason to use them.

There is no multiple listing service in Panama like there is back home. Why???

Consider as a buyer hiring your own licensed real estate broker to represent you as a buyer. This person should not cost you anything in that the seller pays the 5% commission. If the property is listed with another real estate broker then the two brokers will simply split the commissions. This is an accepted fact of life to them that they will readily accept when confronted with the circumstances. You can always have a lawyer in on the deal as well to go over a contract. The broker listed on our web pages will be happy to represent you. Usually a buyers broker can grind the seller down for you better than you could - remember he or she is a local person not a foreigner. So my take on it is the buyers broker is free to you, you should get a better deal and save time in looking and negotiations. I should point out that the broker that has the listing has an obligation to the seller which is not you. The broker you retain to represent you has an obligation to you. As an additional thought consider using the broker on our web page to bargain with your contractor for improvements to the property or if you are building a home the whole project. Get a quote yourself and offer to pay him a percentage of what he can save you!!!! Need furniture try using the broker he is going to know where to get what you want at a price you probably won't get and this can result in a major savings. Our broker gets involved in furniture more often than you may think.

Watch your title work carefully in the rural areas - use a lawyer to protect you.

Financing a house is fairly easy in Panama. Figure on 15% to 20% down. Show income statements fom home, tax returns, etc.

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Related Tags: money, business, panama, panama banking, offshore real estate, offshore banking, legal

The author is a researcher, with years of experience in finances and real estate.
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