Monthly Archives: February 2018

Real Estate Bubble Is Bursting

If you own real estate or are thinking of buying real estate then you better pay attention, because this could be the most important message you receive this year regarding real estate and your financial future.

The last five years have seen explosive growth in the real estate market and as a result many people believe that real estate is the safest investment you can make. Well, that is no longer true. Rapidly increasing real estate prices have caused the real estate market to be at price levels never before seen in history when adjusted for inflation! The growing number of people concerned about the real estate bubble means there are less available real estate buyers. Fewer buyers mean that prices are coming down.

On May 4, 2006, Federal Reserve Board Governor Susan Blies stated that “Housing has really sort of peaked”. This follows on the heels of the new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke saying that he was concerned that the “softening” of the real estate market would hurt the economy. And former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan previously described the real estate market as frothy. All of these top financial experts agree that there is already a viable downturn in the market, so clearly there is a need to know the reasons behind this change.

3 of the top 9 reasons that the real estate bubble will burst include:

  1. Interest rates are rising – foreclosures are up 72%!
  2. First time homebuyers are priced out of the market – the real estate market is a pyramid and the base is crumbling
  3. The psychology of the market has changed so that now people are afraid of the bubble bursting – the mania over real estate is over!

The first reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is rising interest rates. Under Alan Greenspan, interest rates were at historic lows from June 2003 to June 2004. These low interest rates allowed people to buy homes that were more expensive then what they could normally afford but at the same monthly cost, essentially creating “free money”. However, the time of low interest rates has ended as interest rates have been rising and will continue to rise further. Interest rates must rise to combat inflation, partly due to high gasoline and food costs. Higher interest rates make owning a home more expensive, thus driving existing home values down.

Higher interest rates are also affecting people who bought adjustable mortgages (ARMs). Adjustable mortgages have very low interest rates and low monthly payments for the first two to three years but afterwards the low interest rate disappears and the monthly mortgage payment jumps dramatically. As a result of adjustable mortgage rate resets, home foreclosures for the 1st quarter of 2006 are up 72% over the 1st quarter of 2005.

The foreclosure situation will only worsen as interest rates continue to rise and more adjustable mortgage payments are adjusted to a higher interest rate and higher mortgage payment. Moody’s stated that 25% of all outstanding mortgages are coming up for interest rate resets during 2006 and 2007. That is $2 trillion of U.S. mortgage debt! When the payments increase, it will be quite a hit to the pocketbook. A study done by one of the country’s largest title insurers concluded that 1.4 million households will face a payment jump of 50% or more once the introductory payment period is over.

The second reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is that new homebuyers are no longer able to buy homes due to high prices and higher interest rates. The real estate market is basically a pyramid scheme and as long as the number of buyers is growing everything is fine. As homes are bought by first time home buyers at the bottom of the pyramid, the new money for that $100,000.00 home goes all the way up the pyramid to the seller and buyer of a $1,000,000.00 home as people sell one home and buy a more expensive home. This double-edged sword of high real estate prices and higher interest rates has priced many new buyers out of the market, and now we are starting to feel the effects on the overall real estate market. Sales are slowing and inventories of homes available for sale are rising quickly. The latest report on the housing market showed new home sales fell 10.5% for February 2006. This is the largest one-month drop in nine years.

The third reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is that the psychology of the real estate market has changed. For the last five years the real estate market has risen dramatically and if you bought real estate you more than likely made money. This positive return for so many investors fueled the market higher as more people saw this and decided to also invest in real estate before they ‘missed out’.

The psychology of any bubble market, whether we are talking about the stock market or the real estate market is known as ‘herd mentality’, where everyone follows the herd. This herd mentality is at the heart of any bubble and it has happened numerous times in the past including during the US stock market bubble of the late 1990’s, the Japanese real estate bubble of the 1980’s, and even as far back as the US railroad bubble of the 1870’s. The herd mentality had completely taken over the real estate market until recently.

The bubble continues to rise as long as there is a “greater fool” to buy at a higher price. As there are less and less “greater fools” available or willing to buy homes, the mania disappears. When the hysteria passes, the excessive inventory that was built during the boom time causes prices to plummet. This is true for all three of the historical bubbles mentioned above and many other historical examples. Also of importance to note is that when all three of these historical bubbles burst the US was thrown into recession.

With the changing in mindset related to the real estate market, investors and speculators are getting scared that they will be left holding real estate that will lose money. As a result, not only are they buying less real estate, but they are simultaneously selling their investment properties as well. This is producing huge numbers of homes available for sale on the market at the same time that record new home construction floods the market. These two increasing supply forces, the increasing supply of existing homes for sale coupled with the increasing supply of new homes for sale will further exacerbate the problem and drive all real estate values down.

A recent survey showed that 7 out of 10 people think the real estate bubble will burst before April 2007. This change in the market psychology from ‘must own real estate at any cost’ to a healthy concern that real estate is overpriced is causing the end of the real estate market boom.

The aftershock of the bubble bursting will be enormous and it will affect the global economy tremendously. Billionaire investor George Soros has said that in 2007 the US will be in recession and I agree with him. I think we will be in a recession because as the real estate bubble bursts, jobs will be lost, Americans will no longer be able to cash out money from their homes, and the entire economy will slow down dramatically thus leading to recession.

In conclusion, the three reasons the real estate bubble is bursting are higher interest rates; first-time buyers being priced out of the market; and the psychology about the real estate market is changing. The recently published eBook “How To Prosper In The Changing Real Estate Market. Protect Yourself From The Bubble Now!” discusses these items in more detail.

Louis Hill, MBA received his Masters In Business Administration from the Chapman School at Florida International University, specializing in Finance. He was one of the top graduates in his class and was one of the few graduates inducted into the Beta Gamma Business Honor Society.

Mr. Hill received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida with a double major in Finance and Risk Management.

For the past several years he has been working in a South Florida commercial real estate lender that specializes in financing real estate developers. Mr. Hill has seen firsthand the challenges and pitfalls that real estate developers are experiencing, and how the real estate market has been deteriorating rapidly. He is also a professional consultant to professional real estate developers and investors.

Mistakes Rookie Real Estate Agents Make

Every time I talk to someone about my business and career, it always comes up that “they’ve thought about getting into real estate” or know someone who has. With so many people thinking about getting into real estate, and getting into real estate – why aren’t there more successful Realtors in the world? Well, there’s only so much business to go around, so there can only be so many Real Estate Agents in the world. I feel, however, that the inherent nature of the business, and how different it is from traditional careers, makes it difficult for the average person to successfully make the transition into the Real Estate Business. As a Broker, I see many new agents make their way into my office – for an interview, and sometimes to begin their careers. New Real Estate Agents bring a lot of great qualities to the table – lots of energy and ambition – but they also make a lot of common mistakes. Here are the 7 top mistakes rookie Real Estate Agents Make.

1) No Business Plan or Business Strategy

So many new agents put all their emphasis on which Real Estate Brokerage they will join when their shiny new license comes in the mail. Why? Because most new Real Estate Agents have never been in business for themselves – they’ve only worked as employees. They, mistakenly, believe that getting into the Real Estate business is “getting a new job.” What they’re missing is that they’re about to go into business for themselves. If you’ve ever opened the doors to ANY business, you know that one of the key ingredients is your business plan. Your business plan helps you define where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what it’s going to take for you to make your real estate business a success. Here are the essentials of any good business plan:

  1. A) Goals – What do you want? Make them clear, concise, measurable, and achievable.
  2. B) Services You Provide – you don’t want to be the “jack of all trades & master of none” – choose residential or commercial, buyers/sellers/renters, and what area(s) you want to specialize in. New residential real estate agents tend to have the most success with buyers/renters and then move on to listing homes after they’ve completed a few transactions.
  3. C) Market – who are you marketing yourself to?
  4. D) Budget – consider yourself “new real estate agent, inc.” and write down EVERY expense that you have – gas, groceries, cell phone, etc… Then write down the new expenses you’re taking on – board dues, increased gas, increased cell usage, marketing (very important), etc…
  5. E) Funding – how are you going to pay for your budget w/ no income for the first (at least) 60 days? With the goals you’ve set for yourself, when will you break even?
  6. F) Marketing Plan – how are you going to get the word out about your services? The MOST effective way to market yourself is to your own sphere of influence (people you know). Make sure you do so effectively and systematically.

2) Not Using the Best Possible Closing Team

They say the greatest businesspeople surround themselves with people that are smarter than themselves. It takes a pretty big team to close a transaction – Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Lender, Insurance Agent, Title Officer, Inspector, Appraiser, and sometimes more! As a Real Estate Agent, you are in the position to refer your client to whoever you choose, and you should make sure that anyone you refer in will be an asset to the transaction, not someone who will bring you more headache. And the closing team you refer in, or “put your name to,” are there to make you shine! When they perform well, you get to take part of the credit because you referred them into the transaction.

The deadliest duo out there is the New Real Estate Agent & New Mortgage Broker. They get together and decide that, through their combined marketing efforts, they can take over the world! They’re both focusing on the right part of their business – marketing – but they’re doing each other no favors by choosing to give each other business. If you refer in a bad insurance agent, it might cause a minor hiccup in the transaction – you make a simple phone call and a new agent can bind the property in less than an hour. However, because it typically takes at least two weeks to close a loan, if you use an inexperienced lender, the result can be disastrous! You may find yourself in a position of “begging for a contract extension,” or worse, being denied a contract extension.

A good closing team will typically know more than their role in the transaction. Due to this, you can turn to them with questions, and they will step in (quietly) when they see a potential mistake – because they want to help you, and in return receive more of your business. Using good, experienced players for your closing team will help you infinitely in conducting business worthy of MORE business…and best of all, it’s free!

3) Not Arming Themselves with the Necessary Tools

Getting started as a Real Estate Agent is expensive. In Texas, the license alone is an investment that will cost between $700 and $900 (not taking into account the amount of time you’ll invest.) However, you’ll run into even more expenses when you go to arm yourself with the necessary tools of the trade. And don’t fool yourself – they are necessary – because your competitors are definitely using every tool to help THEM.

  1. A) MLS Access is probably the most expensive necessity you’re going to run into. Joining your local (and state & national, by default) Board of Realtors will allow you to pay for MLS access, and in Austin, Texas, will run around $1000. However, don’t skimp in this area. Getting MLS access is one of the most important things you can do. It’s what differentiates us from your average salesman – we don’t sell homes, we present any of the homes that we have available. With MLS Access, you will have 99% of the homes for sale in your area available to present to your clients.
  2. B) Mobile Phone w/ a Beefy Plan – These days, everyone has a cell phone. But not everyone has a plan that will facilitate the level of use that Real Estate Agents need. Plan on getting at least 2000 minutes per month. You want, and need, to be available to your clients 24/7 – not just nights and weekends.
  3. C) Computer (Preferably a Laptop) – There’s no way around it, you have to have a computer & be savvy enough to use email. You would be wise to invest in some business management software, as well. If you’d like to save some money (and who wouldn’t) then you can get the client & email management software
  4. D) Real Estate Friendly Car – You don’t have to have a Lexus, but your Miata won’t do the trick. Make sure that you have a 4 door car or SUV that is comfortable and presentable. Keep it clean, and for God’s sake, don’t smoke in it! You’re going to spend a LOT of time in your car, and put a lot of miles on it, so if it’s fuel efficient, it’s a BIG plus. If you’re driving a sporty convertible, or still have your KILLER Jeep from college, it’s time to trade it in.

4) Lack of Proper Funding

If you’ve taken the time to create your business plan, than you should definitely have your budget, but I can’t stress enough the importance of having and following your budget. However, the budget alone doesn’t address the important aspect of funding. 90% of all small businesses fail due to lack of funding. Typically, new agents will want to have 3 months of reserves in savings before taking the leap into full time agency. However, money in the bank isn’t the only way to answer the question of funding. Maybe your partner can support you for a certain period of time. You can keep a part-time job that won’t interfere with your business as a Real Estate Agent. Many successful waiters make the transition to successful real estate agents with no money in the bank. When you start your new business, don’t expect to earn any income for, at the least, 60 days.

5) Refusing to Spend Money on Marketing

Most new Real Estate Agents don’t realize that the hardest part of the business is finding the business. Furthermore, they’ve just shelled out around $2000 for their license and board dues, so the LAST thing they want to do is to spend more money! Again, the problem lies in the lack of understanding that you’ve just jumped into the Real Estate Business, you haven’t taken a new job. And any good businessperson will tell you that how much business you GET is directly correlative to how much you SPEND on marketing. If you choose the right brokerage, then you will get some good inbound leads. However, don’t neglect a good, personal marketing campaign from the beginning to get your own name out as the Real Estate Agent to go to.

6) Not Focusing Their Marketing Efforts in the Most Effective Areas

One reason why many new Real Estate Agents who do begin spending money on personal marketing stop is because they spend it in the wrong place. The easiest place, and where conventional Real Estate tells you to spend your money, is in conventional print marketing – the newspaper, real estate magazines, etc… This is the most visible place to see real estate advertising, it’s where large offices spend a good part of their money, and so many new agents mistakenly spend their money here. This becomes very frustrating to new agents because of its low return. Large brokerages can afford to spend their money here because they’re filling two needs – they’re marketing their own properties for sale while creating new buyer traffic for their buyer’s agents. New Real Estate Agents should look to their own sphere of influence and referral marketing to see the most effective return on their investment. An agent can spend as little as $100/month marketing to their family, friends, and colleagues and see an incredible return. There are many great referral systems around that all focus on the same premise – that if you consistently market yourself to your sphere of influence as the Real Estate Agent to go to – then you will get more business. The key is to pick a system and to follow that system. You will see results.

7) Choosing the Wrong Brokerage for the Wrong Reasons

New Real Estate Agents choose their new broker for a variety of reasons – they have a good reputation, they offer the most competitive split, the office is close to their house, etc… While these alone aren’t bad reasons to choose a broker, they aren’t going to do a lot to help you in your success. The #1 reason to choose a broker, and the question to ask is, “What do you offer your new agents.” If the answer is, “The most competitive split in town” you should definitely keep looking. Remember, 100% of $0 is still $0. If you’re leaning towards the largest broker in town, who has a great reputation, remember this: You’re starting a BUSINESS not a JOB. While it might be fantastic to brag to your friends about landing a job at a prestigious company, it’s no accomplishment to hang your license on the same wall in the same office as other successful agents.

Your #1 concern when interviewing new Brokers is what they offer you as a new agent. Do they have incoming leads? What does their training program consist of? What’s their retention level? What’s their average sales price? Do they encourage their agents to promote themselves? A Broker’s purpose is to help new agents start successful careers and to help established Agents progress their careers to the next level. As a new agent, concern yourself less with commission split or agency name and more with specific programs and agency standards.

A new career in Real Estate is very exciting. Starting a Real Estate business provides the new Agent with opportunities for limitless potential and freedom. New Agents have a notoriously high failure rate, however, so a new Real Estate career can also be a very scary prospect. However, if you avoid the 7 Top Mistakes Rookie Real Estate Agents Make, then you’ll be far ahead of the competition!

The Real Estate Market In Panama

Most likely, you have heard of the recent real estate BOOM currently occurring in Panama. Perhaps, there are several internet sites you have read or visited searching for further information on the topic. Or maybe you are one of those persons that have taken the decision already of buying an apartment or a beach house, but you don’t know where to start or wish to start your own real estate project in Panama, yet still need more information. Well, I have prepared this article in a practical and simple way in order to guide you in our real estate market. You will find this paper helpful, whether it’ll be for the direct buying of a property or to start your own real estate project in Panama or simply to have a more complete notion of this rising real estate BOOM.

What is happening in the Panamanian Real Estate market?

What is going on in Panama is without any sort of precedent. The market is growing rapidly and such real estate development has never been experienced before in our country. Monthly, we are visited for hundreds of foreigners interested in buying real estates in Panama, in the City, the coasts and the mountains. The constant rising of the value per square meter is almost in a monthly rate. For example: in January, 2006 it was possible to find apartments in Panama City for around US$ 1,000.00 per square meter, which is nearly impossible nowadays (US$ 1,200 – US$1,400 and rising). This has generated the value per square meter to triplicate in the city and even to quadruplicate in the rest of the country. The main real estate broker associations have foreseen that the general value of the land in Panama could rise up to 30% to 40% in the next three years, due to this price increasing flow.

Extreme luxury towers of over 100 stories, residential houses of over a million dollars, yachts and marine clubs, huge luxury hotels, golf camps designed by well-known international specialists, as well as top of the line malls, are currently under construction or in process of delivering in the next couple of years; renovating the face of the city into an international and cosmopolitan metropolis. Promoters, private investors and international real estate companies, from United States, South America and even Europe, have started the construction of real estate projects of great impact. Also, a great number of international real estate broker companies are currently setting up businesses in our country per month. Specifically we could say that seven of the highest towers under construction in Latin America are being built in Panama City, within the areas known as “Avenida Balboa” (this area is projected as the skyscraper in front of the sea in the city). We could mention, among others: Aqualina, Aquamare, Vitri, Ocean Two and One, Los Faros de Panama and Ice Tower, ready to be delivered for the year 2009; besides the hundreds of apartment towers bring developed around the city. Great beach lot projects, island resorts, as much as in the Caribbean Sea (Bocas del Toro) as in the Pacific Ocean (Pearl Islands); as well as delightful retirement mountains (Boquete, Altos del Maria) are part of the avalanche of real estate projects that seems just to be starting.

Which are the real factors that caused this real estate boost?

We all know that after the hostilities occurred in Panama in 1989, the Panamanian real estate market remained hesitant and the small amount of inversions in this sector were led in its majority into commercial projects. Eleven years had to run by after this event (year 2000) for the leaders in the tourist sector of the Panamanian government (led by the well-known Panamanian singer Ruben Blades) to take action initiating a serious campaign for the enhancement of the country’s image. Panama was shown as “the path less traveled”, stressing not only in the advantages of being and international banking services and offshore center, but also in the social, tourist, ecological and geographic elements that until then were unknown to the rest of the world. This successful campaign was promoted worldwide in the main international television chains, in Europe as well as in the United States. Added to this, something that has to be acknowledged, for the year 2003 Panama comes back to the international field with the announcement that a young Panamanian lady (Justin Pasek) won the Miss Universe contest, situation that allowed by extension the range of advantages of our country as a tourist and commercial destiny. Between the years 2003 and 2005, little by little the number of visitors increased as a consequence of these two important catalysts.

Meanwhile, small groups of professionals (lawyers, brokers, and independent professionals) were offering seminars about the Panama’s advantages or organized small real estate tours to foreigners. Several articles published in international retirement magazines (generation known as “Baby Boomers”) and second residences abroad, started to acknowledged Panama as one of the best countries in the world to live at high standard levels, but with low costs; all of this caused due to excellent projects addressed to this market, as “El Valle Escondido” in Boquete – Chiriqui or “Altos del Maria” in Panama. One of the main triggering factors of this real estate boost in Panama occurred last April 24th, 2006, when Donald Trump announced in New York City the construction in “Punta Pacifica” area in Panama City of a 65-story tower branded as “Trump Ocean Club International Hotel”, with a cost of 220 million dollars. Further more, on October of the same year, the national acceptance for the enlargement of the Panama Canal was given, initiating construction works in the year 2009. Starting from this point, there is no doubt that Panama would become the centre and role model of real estate investments in the area, situation that has been increasing exponentially.

Which are then Panama’s advantages as a real estate destiny?

Well, let’s get into the subject. Let’s study those advantages that Panama offers and that will allow you, effectively, to take the decision to buy a property in our country, as many foreigners have done. From the real estate point of view, we could mention:

-*- Panama offers the best banking center in the region, with the use of the American dollar as legal currency and with top of the line banks (HSBC, CITIBANK, BBVA, etc.) which will facilitate the process of obtaining mortgages for foreigners, offering a fast international bank transaction process for deposits and reservation of properties.

-*- Panamanian immigration law has one of the best retirement programs in the world, which will allow you to become a “resident” in less than two months. This program offers several incentives as the possibility to import goods and personal values into your new properties free of import duties, as well as motor vehicles also free of import duties.

-*- An outstanding service, utilities and infrastructure system for properties, such as: high speed Internet (there are five of the main Internet interconnection Networks crossing through Panama), Cable and Satellite TV, public potable water, wide range of telephony offer, fixed and cellular.

-*- The opportunity to buy extreme luxury apartments with ample spaces to a price amazingly low compare with apartments of the same quality in USA and Europe.

-*- The opportunity to acquire properties exempt to the 0% of property taxes for a period of 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years (depending on the date of construction’s commencement).

-*- A vast variety of companies and bilingual professionals involved in the real estate market.

-*- If you are a businessman, Panamanian law has fiscal benefits to constructors and promoters that start real estate projects in the country.

Additionally, there are other advantages to take into consideration that even when you are not directly involved in the real estate business, they can become helpful at the moment of taking the decision of buying a property:

-*- Panama has been acknowledge for companies as Pinkerton Intelligence Agency as a high standard security country in contrast with the current situation in neighboring countries.

-*- You can hire house keeping services for a low cost (around US$ 150.00 per month)

-*- Up-to-date high standard technology available.
-*- The opportunity to acquire products from all over the world in the Colon Free Zone, due to the noticeable position of the Panama Canal and the transit of over 14,000 ships per year.

-*- The conditions of Panamanian taxation law allow the tax payer not to pay taxes on bank interests or even income taxes when the service and/or business are performed abroad.

-*- An exceptional geographic position to perform international commercial transactions, with fast access to the Pacific Ocean as well as to the Atlantic.

-*- Panama has a low-risk profile in regards to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

These are some of the many advantages that Panama can offer if you decide to acquire a property in our country, whether it is to invest or simply to relocate and enjoy life.

Which are the most attractive places to buy properties?

To better answer this question, we have to divide our answer in four groups: Panama City, the mountains, the Pacific shore and the Atlantic shore.

Panama City

The main seaside view luxury condos are found in Panama City, distributed as follows: Balboa Avenue, Punta Pacifica and Costa del Este. The region known as “Avenida Balboa” has become the icon of real estate development in Panama. The reason for this is due to the current construction of luxury residential apartment towers with an outstanding architecture with a height of over 100 stories, to be concluded in the year 2009. Balboa Avenue offers quick access to the whole city, the banking area, as well as to the main avenues, given that it is the coast boulevard. One hundred meters away from this area you will find restaurants, bars, hotels and several facilities. European promoters, American and South Americans have foreseen the real estate potential in this area, equivalent to condos phenomenon occurred in Miami during the eighties. “Punta Pacifica” area was developed over the old City airport (for the reason that it was next to the pacific coast and inside the city). This region was designed specially to provide an answer to the upcoming real estate demand. The area offers beautiful projects and high standard apartment towers. You will also find in “Punta Pacifica” malls (Multiplaza Pacific), Hospitals (John Hopkins Hospital), corporate buildings and access to highways (Corredor Sur) which will grant you fast access to the international airport in 15 minutes. Is also in this sector where the Trump Organization and K Group will raise their promoted real estate project. Another of the desired areas for foreigners is Costa del Este.

The “other city” as is referred to was also conceived and designed for the development of apartment buildings and closed residential communities. It is the perfect place for a foreigner to completely relocate in Panama. This region has it all schools, malls, wide avenues; this sector offers several real estates with a gorgeous view to the sea or to the city, located five minutes away from the city and only ten from the international airport. It also important to stress out that this luxury tower’s development is not circumscribed to these few areas. There are also urban projects in the region of Punta Paitilla, Coco del Mar and San Francisco (all of them in front of the sea), as well as beautiful developed residential areas in the surroundings of the Panama Canal, such as Albrook, Clayton and Quarry Heights.

The Mountains

Gorgeous mountain projects with cool, fresh weather from 18Cº to 20Cº (64ºF to 68ºF) have been developed in the provinces of Panama, Cocle and Chiriqui. In the province of Panama, the most representative mountain project is found in the region of Sora, 75 minutes away from the City and known as “Altos del Maria”. This project consists of a well-organized foreigner’s community with utilities and spectacular landscapes. Another region of urban development can be found in what is known as “Tierras Altas” (High Lands) located in the province of Chiriqui (Volcan, Boquete and Cerro Punta). Among these places, Boquete has become one of the most relevant real estate centres in the whole country, given that it counts with a wide supply of real estate projects, residential houses in the mountains with amazing landscapes. Boquete has been recognized by specialist in the subject as one of the best places for retirement in the world, fact that has generated in this region the highest concentration of retired foreigners in the country. Finally, in the province of Cocle, you will find the region known as “El Valle”. Located in an extinguished volcano, El Valle offers the perfect weather, rivers, waterfalls and tourist attractions. El Valle is at present taking measures to become one of the most wanted regions in the field of mountain real estate properties, owing to its facilities and infrastructure, as well as to its proximity to Panama City (1hr. 45 mins.)

The Pacific Shore

The supply of lots in front of the sea starts in the pacific coast line of the Province of Panama, and it goes all the way until the mid-country provinces. Most Panamanian high-class families have their beach houses on this sector; due to its proximity to the City (45 minutes). This coast line offers residential areas such as Came, Coronado, Punta Barco, San Carlos, Gorgona, among others. Within these beach residential areas we have to remark the region known as “Coronado”, region which counts with one of the best professional Golf camps in Latin America, pools, beach clubs, equestrian clubs, several restaurants and great supply of houses and apartment buildings in front of the sea. Additionally, further on in the pacific coast line, we can find the region of Playa Blanca. Since the development of the macro hotel project known as “Royal Decameron” in the area, the infrastructure and general surroundings have grow significantly. In Playa Blanca, you will be able to find casinos, swimming pools, restaurants, bars and discotheques, beach clubs and a great variety of real estate projects just right next to the beach. Finally, we should also mention the recent development experienced in the seaside areas the provinces of Los Santos (Pedasi) and Veraguas, such as Playa Arenal, Punta Mala and Playa Venao, among others; which have become the new destiny for many foreigners (mostly Europeans) that are searching for great extensions of lands in front of the sea.

The Caribbean Shore

In this area, we can find a similar supply of real estate properties to the one found in the pacific coastline of the mid-country provinces. There are several properties in front of the sea, as well as vast extensions of hectares next to the beach. This region is located two hours away from Panama City and it offers the option to buy in the well-known Colon Free Zone. On the west side of the country, you will find in the Caribbean coastline, the spectacular region of Bocas del Toro, where properties next of the sea or in the middle of an island are simply astounding. A great variety of international real estate companies have started projects in the crystal clear waters of Bocas del Toro. Bocas is one of the most known tourist destinies in Panama, located only 1hr and 45 minutes away by plane. It offers an amazing night life, restaurant, hotels and tours around the different islands of the area. Bocas del Toro coastline has become the most wanted real estate choice for retired or pensioned foreigners in the Caribbean. Among the best areas of Bocas del Toro you can find Isla Colon, Boca del Drago, Red Frog Beach and Playa Larga. The residential project known as Red Frog is of renowned reputation in the international spheres, given that it offers an incredible exclusively designed development for foreigners in one of the most beautiful islands in Bocas del Toro, Bastimento’s Island. The project has marine clubs, restaurants, houses and a dazzling infrastructure.

Islands

The most notorious group of islands is found in Bocas del Toro, given that, as we already mentioned it offers a wide variety of real estate projects in the Caribbean, scenario of several TV series broadcasted around the world. The most important islands of the archipelago are: Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, Isla Solarte, Isla Cristobal, Isla Popa and Isla Zapatilla. Likewise, we can found several small independent islands for private projects. Bocas’ islands counts with an astonishing ecosystem for scuba diving, marine activities and bird watching. Another group of islands that is raising popularity is the real estate market found in the archipelago of Mosquito’s Gulf, in front of the pacific coastline of the province of Chiriqui. This Gulf has been granted by the Panamanian government the title of Ecological Reserve, as a consequence of the great diversity of marine fauna found in the area. Most of the islands have registered real estate titles, which allow its prompt buying. The surroundings of these islands are famous for being one of the best places in the world for Black Marlin fishing. The Pearl Islands are located within the Gulf of Panama, three hours away from the city in the open sea, offering a group of more than 35 beautiful islands with spectacular landscapes, surrounded by coral reefs and vast vegetation. The beauty of this area attracted the production team of the popular reality show “Survivor”, who has filmed several times in this region. Finally, you will find the island of “Coiba” in the Pacific Ocean, formerly a prison already abolished and currently a National Park. The main island and its small islands such as Isla Iguana have become in top destinies for scuba diving and water sports.

What should I and should not do when buying a property in Panama?

As a final tip, we will recommend you some practical advises in case you decide to buy a property in Panama:

Recommendation # 1 : You can visit the projects on your own, but it is advisable to be assisted by a professional who could properly introduce you to the promoters, avoiding the pointless increase on the price.

Recommendation # 2 : If you are not fluent in Spanish, you should ask the promoter to get you the contract both, in Spanish and in your native language, for all legal transactions to be performed.

Recommendation # 3 : Once you reserve your property, immediately ask for a receipt and the signature of the Promissory Purchase-Sale agreement.

Recommendation # 4 : Once you have signed this agreement, double-check the deadlines for the subsequent down payments of your property. If you miss one of these, you are exposed to lose the money already paid to the promoter.

Recommendation # 5: Try to take a quick decision on acquiring the property; given that once you reserve it, the price is then frozen. Due to the current demand in the market, prices on apartments rise at a monthly rate.

Recommendation # 6: Once you reserve your property, look for the professional advice of lawyers or real estate brokers, in order to verify all documentation and contracts are due to the procedure of registration.

Recommendation # 7: Think about the possibility of acquiring your property through a Panamanian corporation. They are of fast incorporation, considerably cheap and easy to manage. Using a corporation to acquire a property in Panama will ease a future transfer of it, if that’s the case.