Just about every week I get an email from someone who is considering a move to Panama but they are concerned that real estate prices have gone up so much that they cannot afford to buy in Panama. It is true that some real estate prices, in certain areas, are high. Panama City is expensive but even there, you can find some great deals.
There are many really affordable real estate opportunites in Panama for both an owner occupant and for investors. The best way to find the best prices is to ask people who live in that area if they know anyone who needs to sell. You usually won’t find great deals listed with a real estate agent.. especially not an expat real estate agent.
Because there is no widely used MLS system in Panama, there is not an accurate way to determine what a property should be listed at. Therefore, some sellers price their properties way too high. A good example is a neighbor on the road where I live. It’s on a steep slope with ocean views and mountain views. His house is priced at $800,000. Realistically, it is worth $400,000 based on what other similar homes sold for on the same street.
You also have to take in to consideration the neighborhood. Some houses are in communities where all the houses are similar style and price ranges. It is easier to determine an accurate price for those houses.
Other nice houses are built in an area surrounded by cheap little indigeous houses or shacks. This makes it much harder to determine the correct price because the price of the less expensive homes drives down the price of other nicer homes on the same street. The same thing happens in the US and Canada when you spend $500,000 to build a house on a street with $40,000 houses.
In addition, you can’t really go by what it would cost to rebuild the house today because often it is much cheaper to buy an existing property than to build a new house. And building costs are so subjective depending on the costs of the land and how the house is built. There is a huge difference in price of land in Panama just a few miles apart.
If you are buying from the owner directly, you will usually get a much better price. But if the owner is Panamanian and you don’t speak Spanish, there will be a language barrior so it is best to use a Panamanian real estate agent to assist with the negotiations.
SMALL COFFEE FARM IN BOQUETE FOR $125,000
This is a house I had previously rented for $600 a month (fully furnished).
It’s just right for my needs and only a 5 minute drive to downtown Boquete.
Sorry… it is not for sale!
I did a quick search on several websites and Craigslist Panama to see what kind of real estate opportunities are out there. There are MANY! Here’s an example of one mountain property and one beach property.
ONE ACRE PACIFIC VIEW LANDSCAPED GARDEN HOME – $169,500
One Acre Pacific View, Garden Home
This immaculate, beautifully landscaped, former coffee farm, has views clear to the Bay of Chiriqui on the Pacific Ocean and to eastern hills of Costa Rica. This one acre, former coffee plantation has approximately 2,000 square feet, of under-roof living space.
The house comes with 2 bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a dining/lounge area and a living room. The kitchen is centrally located so food can be served through an arch into the living room or via the breakfast nook into the lounge.
19th FLOOR CONDO IN CORONADO WITH OCEAN VIEWS – $249,000
This condo is not right on the ocean but it does have incredible ocean views. Condos on the ocean will cost about $50,000 to $150,000 more and be half as big! A friend is renting a similar unit for $950 a month with a one year lease. Short term leases always cost much more.
Custom designed furniture, barbecue area, standard appliances, pool equipment, and more.
A very slick design. Power is generated by solar panels with a back up generator that runs on propane. Generating your own power is easy and affordable. Water is provided by a well and treated by the included 3 part purification system.
You don’t need your own boat, but the Parcel 6 home enjoys the use of the dock just steps down the beach.
Buy the Parcel 6 home for $20,000 down & $2,171/month.
In Panama, the BEST deals (realistic prices) are usually in Spanish… not English! That’s why it is better to work with a Panamanian Real Estate Agent. I know a guy who bought a nice house in Caldera for $35,000 working with a Panamanian real estate agent.
Here’s an example of a property just outside of Boquete. YES, there are affordable houses near Boquete too! The sytle may not be what you are familiar with but it comfortable and it is very easy and affordable to make modifications to any property. KEEP AN OPEN MIND!
In Panama, you cannot walk in to a real estate office to find out about ALL the properties for sale in an area. Many real esate agents will ONLY show their listings and many do not share commissions so they won’t allow other agents to show their listings.
It has been my experience, that many properties are for sale and for rent with no sign out front. Panamanian real estate agents know about these “off market” opportunities more than expat agents. Many Panamanian real estate agents where born and raised in the town and know everyone and everyone knows and trusts them.
If a property is advertised, there is rarely an exclusive listing. The seller has agreed to pay a commission to who ever finds a buyer. So, it is common to see the same house listed on multiple real estate agent websites and all at different prices.
ALWAYS go see the property before you agree to buy. Never sign anything until YOUR attorney has done a complete title search to make sure the person selling the property is the owner. Have your attorney create the purchase agreement.
You can get a mortgage in Panama but it will require 20-30% down. And you will be required to get life insuranace naming the mortgage company as beneficiary. The mortgage will need to be paid off by the time you are 70 years old.
I don’t recommend building anything in Panama unless you are here every day during the building process so you can keep an eye on everything.