El Cangrejo, Panama real estate update

Tuesday, October 08 2013 @ 04:52 pm EDT

Contributed by: Don Winner

THE WORDS “Walking-friendly” and “Panama” don’t generally tend to be used in the same sentence these days, but if there is any exception to the standard “fend for yourself and watch where you step” feel of neighborhoods in Panama, it’s El Cangrejo.

Yes, the sidewalks are still a hodge-podge of uncovered man-holes, uneven and worn down concrete, and parked cars where they shouldn't be parked. But in the end, it’s the most walkable of all neighborhoods and the fact that it’s also the only neighborhood in Panama City that will have two metro subway stops (to open in January 2014) doesn't hurt El Cangrejo’s potential. Yes, traffic is still terrible, but I can't name another area in the city that isn't a mess right now. Mark my words, once those two gaping metro station holes are filled in on Via Espana, and all of the Avenida Brasil overpasses are complete, the sailing’s going to be smoother than it has been in the last 10 years.

And just imagine what things could be like if they actually started enforcing parking laws! That day too is coming, as just last week I saw a young lady writing tickets for expired meters and illegal parked cars along Via Argentina.

But this article is about real estate in El Cangrejo, so we’ll keep it Panama real estate focused.

Luxor Towers, the two-tower development on the corner of Calle Alberto Navarro (two blocks up from the Roberto Duran restaurant, or one block behind the Fruteria Mimi on Via Argentina) seems to be renting well and filling up. And don’t forget that this is Panama, so just because you only see 30 out of 200 apartments with lights on for any given night doesn’t necessarily mean that there are 170 unoccupied or unsold apartments .

People still buy properties in Panama and use them only a few months out of the year, or in some cases not at all.

Average per square meter pricing on Luxor Tower 300, due for delivery in 2016 (don’t hold your breath…plan on 2017) is coming in at over $1,700 per square meter and having followed the changes on the price lists over the last 8 months, the project is averaging 4-5 unit sales per month (showing nearly 80% absorption), meaning they’ll be 100% sold out by the end of the year.

On the whole, apartments for sale in El Cangrejo tend to be smaller and older than those in places like Punta Pacifica or Costa del Este.

Average price-per-square meter on a 120-meter three bedroom condo in El Cangrejo in a building between 8 and 15 years old is just under $1,400/meter. Average pricing on towers less than 8 years old vary anywhere from $1,600 to as much as $2,000 per meter.

There are currently four towers in development in El Cangrejo with an average size offering of just over 115 meters. The Miro Tower, next to Vitro behind Via Veneto is the next in line to be completed (plan for Q3 of 2014) and will have 100 total apartments ranging from 90 meters to 125 meters, all two bedrooms.

Overall, appreciation has been flat over the last three years in El Cangrejo, reflecting the overall trend in the Panama City market. However, given the fact that pre construction developments are selling well, neighborhood improvement issues are being addressed (buried cable lines, parking issues, sidewalk improvements, etc), and the underground mass transit Metro will be ready in January, there seems to be a strong case for some modest appreciation in 2014.

Kent Davis is owner of Panama Equity real estate and can be reached at Kent@panamaequity.com.

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