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Wednesday, April 23 2014 @ 10:29 AM EDT

Real Estate in Panama

Most people who visit Panama-Guide.com are interested in the booming real estate market here in one way or another. There are new towers going up all over Panama City and the skyline is dotted with construction cranes. Along the beaches new developments are popping up so fast it's hard to keep track. In this section you will find articles related to real estate in Panama. If you require additional information about this or any other category of information regarding the Republic of Panama please take advantage of our powerful in-house search engine. And if you still can't find what you're looking for we sometimes take requests. Welcome aboard, and please remember to tell your friends about Panama-Guide.com, the #1 English Language Website about the Republic of Panama. Salud.
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Several Mafias Falsifying Titles And Land Documents - Stealing Land Worth Millions in Panama

Real EstateIn mid-2008, when the then governor of Cocle, Darío Fernández, discovered his mother had been involved in the illegal transfer of a property in the area of Piña, in Colon, he never imagined this would be the cause of his assassination three years later. (more)

Editor's Comment: (If you already own property in Panama, or if you are thinking about investing here - then you really need to read this article, as well as my comments at the end. And you can do that by subscribing to this website.)

You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.

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Is The War Against Vacation Rentals Lost?

Real EstateIn the Central America region Panama is where the phenomenon of Holiday Rentals shows the highest growth, despite a law prohibiting it. According to an article in Prensa.com, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) "... has imposed eleven fines of $55,000 for renting out apartments to tourists for periods of less than 45 days."

Law 80 of November 8, 2012 in Article 21 reads: "any lease of less than forty-five days in the district of Panama, by people who do not possess public accommodation tourist permits (for buildings or residences) is prohibited. This act will be sanctioned by the Tourism Authority of Panama, with a fine of between five thousand dollars (B/.5, 000.00) to Fifty Thousand Dollars (B/.50, 000.00), depending on the seriousness of the offense and / or repetition of such act, by the lessor. Also subject to these penalties are people who by any means, including electronic ones, advertise these services. "

It is clear that activity damages the formal hotel sector, where entities must bear all the costs of exercising a formal trade and paying taxes, against a totally casual competitor.

In Europe, where in Spain alone holiday rentals generate $4 billion a year-the problem is confronted in various ways, ranging from a draconian ban in the Panamanian style, to its formalization by regulation and taxation. The main argument of those who oppose the ban is that the phenomenon will occur anyhow as holiday rentals are increasingly in demand by tourists, and therefore the best option is to regulate it. (centralamericadata.com)

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Panama Capitalizes On Glimmers Of Resurgence

Real EstateBy Kevin Brass (NY Times) PANAMA — At the tip of Punta Pacifica, a neighborhood in Panama covered with skyscrapers, a narrow bridge leads to a new 25-acre artificial island.

The island, which covers 10 hectares, is the first part of a residential and marina development called Ocean Reef, originally announced in 1998 by Empresas ICA, a Mexican conglomerate.

Today, Grupo Los Pueblos, a Panamanian company hired by Empresas ICA to develop the project, is handing over the first lots to buyers planning to build homes there.

The project, with a marina and resort-style amenities, has all the elements of a development designed for international buyers seeking a second home. But of the 63 buyers so far, 56 are from Panama, said Alfredo Aleman, executive vice president of Grupo Los Pueblos.

Sales to foreign buyers dried up here after the 2008 global economic crisis. But developers like Mr. Aleman are reviving their global marketing efforts amid signs of renewed interest from international buyers in a city that is often called the Miami of Latin America.

Such optimism in the residential market is fueled by the continued strength of the local economy, analysts say. The $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is scheduled for completion in 2015, although it has been mired in dispute and work suspensions. And First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian company, is planning a $6 billion copper mining operation in western Panama.

In the residential market, “a lot of the growth will come from existing multinationals that already have moved here,” said Justin Boyar, who tracks the market for Jones Lang LaSalle, a property consulting firm.

There is no central source of reliable real estate data in Panama. But agents say that prices increased 10 percent or more in the last year, with a jump in buyers from Venezuela, Colombia and North America.

For example, apartments selling for $186 a square foot six months ago now are selling for $205 to $214 a square foot, said Duncan McGowan president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a local estate agent (Panama real estate is typically transacted in dollars.)

The price increase is a contrast to the steady declines of recent years. After a building boom in which dozens of residential towers were completed, prices in many projects dropped 30 percent to 50 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to industry estimates. At the time, more than 300 towers were in the planning stages, under construction or recently completed in the city.

More than 50 percent of the buyers in Trump Ocean Club — which opened in 2011 as the tallest building in Central America at 932 feet — forfeited their deposits rather than complete the purchase of units that had significantly dropped in value.

Even as the global economy recovered, prices in the city were slow to rebound. And projects completed after the downturn have added more than 4,000 apartments to the market over the past three years, according to data tracked by Panama Equity, a local estate agency.

Yet many say that they believe that the canal and mining projects will attract more buyers.

“I think there will be two Panamas: the Panama before the expansion of the canal and the Panama afterward,” said Jose Bern, president of Empresas Bern, one of the most prolific residential builders in the city along Avenida Balboa, the main road on the central city’s waterfront.

Industry supporters and local residents also hope that the completion of a long list of infrastructure projects will help ease the city’s longstanding problems with sewage and traffic. A citywide subway system, the first in Central America, is scheduled to open this spring.

“The biggest hope is that it will release us from the massive amount of cars on the road here,” said Sandie Davis, a Seattle native who invested in real estate even before she moved to the city five years ago.

In 2006, Ms. Davis paid a preconstruction price of $117,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot apartment in the Costa del Este, a fast-growing master-planned, 310-acre development a few miles outside the city center. She rented it out for $1,800 to $2,000 a month, finally selling it in 2012 for $180,000.

Ms. Davis now lives in a 2,368-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in an older building in Obarrio, the city’s banking district, about a block from a new metro station. She paid $240,000 for the apartment, including the furniture, in 2009.

With the market in decline at the time, “it was a little bit of an emotional play,” she said, adding, “I’d seen the apartment a year before and fell in love with it.”

Most of the new residential activity in the city has come from Costa del Este. Empresas Bern is shifting its emphasis to the newer area, said Mr. Bern, the company president.

"We’ve completed delivery of our last building on Avenida Balboa,” he said.

Development is also increasing in Panama Pacifico, a 3,450-acre project at the former Howard Air Force Base, on the west side of the Panama Canal. Developed by the British company London & Regional Properties, the project plans for more than 20,000 residential units as well as office and commercial space.

So far, about 800 homes have been sold, most in the past two years, said Marco Ruiz, London & Regional’s director of residential development. As for construction, 270 homes were built in 2013, with 600 scheduled for completion this year, he said.

Eric Carrasco, a Panamanian who runs a tour company, recently purchased a four-bedroom, 3,330-square-foot home being built in Panama Pacifico. He says the new house will give his family a different life than what they now have in a congested Panama neighborhood.

“Now I drive my kids to school and it takes 45 minutes,” Mr. Carrasco said. “There, they will be able to ride their bicycles to school.”

About 80 percent of the buyers in Panama Pacifico are Panamanian, but the developers expects international sales to account for a larger percentage in the future.

“We know it’s going to turn around,” Mr. Ruiz said. “The demographics are there. They’ve always been there.”

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Why Boca Chica Could Be Panama’s Smartest Real Estate Investment

Real EstateFor those who are ingrained with a North American concept of real estate valuation, understanding property values in Panama can be a crap shoot at best. Sure, some of the same familiar factors still come into play (e.g. location, location, location). But there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

You have to consider things like how much the land is worth to the locals based on how they're using it, what the property's potential pool of buyers looks like, and whether or not there's even a decent road that offers access to the area.

After over 17 years of combined experience deciphering the Latin American real estate market, we've learned how to dig around and uncover areas or specific properties that offer the best potential return for investors. And we want to tell you a little more about our latest find.

It's none other than Boca Chica, Panama.

Here's why we think it could be one of the best real estate buys in Panama.

Boca Chica is at a pivotal point in the Panama market stage progression.

Even if you have a pretty good understanding of real estate terms, you probably aren't familiar with the concept of market stages. That's because it's basically a classification system we developed to help potential investors understand the natural progression that emerging markets go through as they transition from local villages to established communities.

Boca Chica is teetering between stages 2 and 3 of the model, with 1 being a completely undeveloped area and 5 being...well, Panama City. Without going into too much detail here, that basically means that most of the land in the area consists of large tracts owned by pioneers like us who've jumped through all the hoops necessary to buy the land from locals for rock-bottom prices.

They're beginning to break the land up into smaller lots that are accessible and affordable to a variety of end users: would-be expats who want to build a private residence, small business owners looking to launch a tourism company, or investors hoping to build a small housing community.

At this stage properties are still affordable, but much of the difficult legwork has already been done for you. Land is easy to buy. You can build to suit. And there's still plenty of room for appreciation.

Boca Chica has a multi-faceted appeal.

We mentioned that it's important, when determining the value of property in Panama, to consider who the land will ultimately appeal to. Boca Chica's audience is wide open.

There are so many different flavors to choose from in Boca Chica. There's an established local community on the mainland. Plus there are over 50 islands off the coast, and they cover every inch of the spectrum.

There are light sand beaches, dark sand beaches, mangrove forests, islands covered almost completely in rain-forest...you name it. Buyers can opt for a house on the mainland or own their own island just a short boat ride away.

Because of its varied topography, Boca Chica also offers a whole host of activities sure to please even the most adventurous expat. There are great spots for diving and surfing, islands to explore, and some of the world's best sport fishing.

Another huge part of Boca Chica's appeal is its exclusivity. While only a short distance away from one of Panama's largest cities, the area feels completely remote. It's the best of both worlds.

Boca Chica and its surrounding islands are less than an hour from the city of David.

There are a lot of remote destinations in Panama, but there aren't any that feel as isolated as Boca Chica yet are such a short distance away from shopping, culture, and an international airport.

The city of David is one of the country's largest, and it's growing fast. It offers all the goods and services you could possibly need (e.g. banks, dry cleaners, auto mechanics, etc.), and even in a slow boat you can get there from Boca Chica Island in about 40 minutes.

Not only is the proximity to David a great benefit to Boca Chica, the feeling is actually mutual. Boca Chica's beaches are frequented by many residents of David, as there just aren't a lot of other options nearby. Las Lajas is great, but it's over 2 hours away. There's also La Barqueta, but its dangerous rip current deters many would-be swimmers.

As a result, Boca Chica is most city dwellers' beach of choice, a trend that is likely to grow along with the city's population.

David's airport expansion will mean big things for Boca Chica.

One of the surest ways to bump an area from one market stage to the next is by adding infrastructure. And David's Enrique Malek International Airport is currently undergoing a massive expansion to the tune of a new 48,000 square foot terminal, 1,640 feet of additional runway, almost 158,000 square yards of repaving, and a whopping $27 million in total infrastructure investment.

These improvements will allow for heavier 737 traffic, and even frequent 757's. The airport will be safer at night and during inclement weather. The new terminal will accommodate much more activity, including customs operations, making way for international flights from the U.S. as well as other countries.

We anticipate that this increased accessibility will have the same effect as similar airport projects, like those in Costa Rica. When Liberia's international airport was built in the 1970's, it turned Guanacaste into a world-class destination at an exponential rate. It went from virtually nothing to a coveted destination packed with resorts like the Four Seasons and a Hilton.

The same thing happened when mere rumors surfaced about a Southern Zone airport in Costa Rica. Even though construction still hasn't begun, there are already tourism operations opening up shop, and property values are on the rise.

Boca Chica delivers big on its promises.

Essentially, for real estate values to increase, there has to be a demand for your property. In order for people to even see your property, you've got to make it easy for them to get there. And, when they do, it had better knock their socks off.

We can already see that the airport expansion is going to drive up traffic to Boca Chica. And, whether it's an investor who hopes to buy a $50,000 private island, an expat who wants to retire to a little cabana on the mainland, or a millionaire who's looking for a dream place to dock his yacht, we're confident that what awaits them in Boca Chica will not disappoint.

You can learn more about the real estate concepts outlined in this article (plus a lot more) in our free 56-page guide to Central American markets. Based on our years of experience, it's a blueprint for investing abroad that explains how we've repeatedly earned incredible returns, even during some tough years for the international real estate market.

It's a free download, so grab your copy today.

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Boca Chica, Panama

Real EstateThere are destinations all across Panama that are generating a lot of buzz among would-be expats. And they usually fall into one of several categories.

There are the established cities, with their modern infrastructure, quality shopping venues, and state-of-the art medical facilities. Then there are remote destinations that promise a peaceful retreat in the serenity of an undisturbed natural environment.

Still more claim to be an adventure lover's paradise, offering land and sea attractions sure to keep even the most active expat engaged. Last, but not least, there are the up-and-coming places, still relatively unknown and sure to bring a good return on investment once they start to generate more widespread attention.

While those are all desirable qualities when looking for a new home abroad, what's unfortunate is that most people don't always fit so neatly into one (and only one) of those categories.

Maybe you enjoy the solitude of your own private beach 95% of the time, but then there's also the part of you that gets a hankering to hop in the car and go eat at TGIFriday's on "gringo" night. Perhaps you crave the excitement of surfing 20-foot swells or reeling in a 350-pound yellowfin tuna, but you also want to live somewhere that isn't an overpriced overcrowded tourist trap.

If you previously thought those conditions couldn't coexist, think again. They can. And they do. And you can find them in Boca Chica, Panama.

It's one of the only places in Central America where you can not only improve your state of mind and well-being, but you can also do yourself a financial favor by investing in prime real estate that is still relatively inexpensive despite the area's growing appeal.

That's why Boca Chica, Panama, may be the single best place to buy real estate in Central America.

Be Happier Living in Your Ideal Setting

The town of Boca Chica, as well as its neighboring archipelago, is among the most beautiful landscapes in Central America. From the lush rolling hills of the mainland to the beautiful Pacific with its "myriad emerald isles strewn like jewels in a sapphire sea," as Natural Geographic described them, it's simply breathtaking.

There are deserted sand beaches, ancient rainforests, and ghostly mangroves. And they're all accessible within a short radius. Much of the islands and their surrounding waters are completely untouched and unexplored, with thousands of unclassified species and sights unlike anything you've ever seen.

This wild habitat is juxtaposed against the shoreline of the Chiriqui province, which is home to large cities like Boquete (an expat favorite) and David (which has every service and amenity you could possibly need). It's rare to find a place that feels so primitive, yet lies less than an hour away from shopping malls and a multiplex theater.

Be Healthier Enjoying an Active, Sustainable Lifestyle

Boca Chica is a place for someone who wants more exercise than just the amount they'd get walking back and forth from the pool in their gated community full of other expats. Sure, it's a great place to get away and relax. But it offers so much more than just a nice spot to hang a hammock.

Because of its location, Boca Chica is an ocean lover's dream. Would-be explorers can go island-hopping to one of over 50 islands, most of which are completely uninhabited. It's also a great place for surfing and diving, as well as one of Central America's top spots for sportfishing (boasting many world records).

Boca Chica, Panama, is a very eco-friendly community. Its local residents and expats alike share a desire to preserve the natural environment, and many local businesses are committed to operating sustainably. It's also great for nature lovers, offering a variety of flora and fauna on both land and sea.

And because spending time in nature provides proven benefits to your health, it's the perfect destination for someone who's looking to improve their overall wellbeing. In Boca Chica, you can unplug, recharge, and just...be.

Be Wealthier by Investing in Boca Chica Now

As mentioned, real estate values in and around Boca Chica are still surprisingly low given everything the area has to offer. However, that's soon likely to change.

A massive renovation project that is currently underway at Enrique Malek International Airport in David, less than an hour from Boca Chica, will have a tremendous impact on the surrounding area.

When the airport opens its runways to direct international flights from the U.S., a process that has already been set in motion, what will result is increased traffic to the area, new business ventures, and subsequently a rise in property values.

It's a tried and true formula for real estate appreciation. When infrastructure improves, areas grow, and real estate becomes more valuable.

Be Part of an Adventure Colony

One of the best places to experience all that this region of Panama has to offer is on Boca Chica Island, home of Emerging Terrains' latest Adventure Colony. It's a 400-acre private island with a few lots still available to those who share founders Josh Linnes and Park Wilson's vision for sustainable living, in harmony with the island's beautiful natural surroundings.

If you resolved to be happier, healthier, or wealthier (or all of the above) in 2014, an Adventure Colony could be your 3-in-1 solution. Visit vivatropical.com/bocachicaisland to learn more.

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New Roads Drive Buyers In Panama, But Only After Insiders Get First Pick

Real EstateWhen former Panamanian President Ernesto “the Bull” Balledares purchased property near Rodeo Viejo in 2004, the only access was a dirt road used mostly by farmers and villagers coming down from neighboring mountain towns. Prices were less than $1,800/acre.

But upon executing a convenient new government road project to the destination, real estate prices shot up to over $8,400/acre, an increase of 400%.

Today, the past seems to be repeating itself as Panama City, Panama’s most famous surf beach, Playa Teta, is getting a makeover starting with a paved road over the 1.2 kilometer stretch from the Pan American Highway all the way down to the beach.

Developers began months ago on new projects in anticipation of the announcement, and property values are expected to follow a similar (if not more emphasized) trend.

It happened first in Costa Rica in the ‘90s and it happened in Panama’s Playa Venao: dirt roads keep people away and keep land prices low...

The the government announces a road development project with little fanfare...

Then the speculators move in.

And once the new road project is completed, the masses follow suit.

But information on new road projects is kept closely guarded with typically government insiders the only ones in a position to capitalize.

And this series of events is now predicted to take place in Punta Barco, the beach town next door to Coronado, as its new government road project unfolds over the next three months.

Known for the consistent surf at Playa Teta, Punta Barco will change in 2014 as developers are seeing strong sales on the four residential projects directly accessed by the newly-announced paved road.

The most impressive of these projects by far is the Punta Barco Country Club, which will feature 180 homes within a gated community, offering luxury-style amenities at a “mid-range” price point.

Carved out on 10 hectares, the development group Danvivienda is looking to fill a niche on the beach that’s seen strong demand from foreign buyers and upper middle class Panamanians: Single Family Homes under $250,000.

On the heels of this new road announcement, and before they have even completed their model showroom, reports show that Punta Barco Country Club has sold more than 30 homes “off-plan” in the gated community, which is a small but very obvious indication that early buyers knew about the road and knew that prices are going to be shooting through the roof in this, a previously sleepy surf beach.

Investors will be watching this development and others closely as the new road moves in and the area gains popularity through better access from Panama City and Coronado.

For more information, contact our experts at Panama Equity Real Estate.

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Panama Prices on the Rise!

Real EstateMake no mistake, the last six months in Panama have seen a noticeable rise in property values, especially along waterfront districts like Balboa Avenue, Punta Pacifica, and Costa del Este.

Strong demand from the US and Canada, Venezuela and Colombia, along with an uptick in the economy of European countries like the Spain and the UK in 2013, and a decreased supply of new apartments for sale have driven up prices by as much as 10% in certain areas.

Because developers were not building new high rises between 2009 and 2012, the next 12-24 months supply of brand new apartments will be limited to a handful of projects; this as opposed to the roughly 4,000 new apartments that hit the market over the last three years.

This slackening of new inventory, combined with steady/rising demand will continue to drive prices up.

Now is the right time to take a serious look at the market, which after being flat for over three years is once again trending upwards. In real estate, its not just about location, it’s about timing.

2014 is going to be a game changer for Panama. The Metro will open and the road reorganization projects throughout the city will be completed, plus the historic renovations in old town and the Cinta Costera 3 will also all be completed, breathing new life into a city that’s felt like it has been under construction for the last five years.

All the Best,

Kent Davis

Panama Equity Real Estate

Panama City, Panamá

El Cangrejo, Argentina Tower

Office: +(507) 396-0931 Mobile: 011 (507)6030-6782 USA Number: 404 865 1629

Skype: kentpd22

View listings at www.panamaequity.com

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A Band Of Criminals Is Forging Documents To Steal Property From Foreigners in Panama

Real EstateJudicial authorities in Chiriqui are investigating a new forgery scandal involving the illegal transfer of land - valued at two million dollars - through the forging of official documents, in a scam targeting foreign landowners.

According to preliminary investigations, it is a criminal network formed by lawyers and those are supposed to be responsible for safekeeping the properties that have been stolen, which has been operating for several years .

Criminal investigators have not ruled out the possibly complicity of government employees of the Public Registry in the province.

Some of the illegal operations include; the overpricing of the land acquired by foreigners, more than one title being issued on the same parcel of land, obtaining loans from local financial institutions by using the false titles and other forged documents, the theft of the land and livestock from the rightful owners, and falsifying documents to transfer land in order to strip it away from the rightful owners.

Joaquín Yves Brant, a retired American, bought a farm in 2008 from the Panamanian Abel Obando Serrano, located in San Lorenzo, Chiriqui.

The land was not titled, so he hired the lawyer Cley Estenio González Caballero to conduct this legal proceeding (obtain title for the land).

In this way, González Caballero obtained plans (survey) for the 38 hectares of land, and he later titled the land in the name of Obando Serrano, who sold the property to Brant.

A year later Brant learned that the parcel of land he had acquired had been mortgaged in favor of the Universal Bank, SA.

When he started investigating, he found that the same number on the plan that had been approved, was used to obtain another title for Rodolfo Carlos Figueroa, but with a different registration number but located within the boundaries of the same land he had acquired from Obando.

Meanwhile, Figueroa sold the "cloned" farm to Adalberto Polanco Rodriguez, who then later transferred it to the company González y Polanco, S.A., owned by González Caballero, the same lawyer who had advised Brant.

Finally, the "cloned" farm was mortgaged to the Universal Bank in exchange for a loan to Polanco Rodriguez for $240,000 according to the complaint.

This same modus operandi was followed with another farm located in Chiriqui, the property of the company Dos Ríos de Santa Rosa, S.A., also represented by Brant.

In this case the same plan number was used to "make" a new estate in the Public Register in the name of Rodolfo Figueroa, on the same grounds.

Then the fake farm was passed to Polanco Rodriguez, who then transferred it to the company González y Polanco, S.A., which was then used to obtain a mortgage loan for $125,000.

This property is currently being repossessed (by the bank).

Len Petry is another foreigner who was also a victim of this scam.

According to the investigations he also hired the lawyer González Caballero to create a company called Brynanna, S.A. which he used to acquire three farms in Boquete in 2011.

The subscribers of the company Brynanna SA turned out to be González Caballero himself, Daniel Polanco, and Rodolfo Figueroa.

The three subscribers then obtained mortgages of the lands without Petry's approval, according to the complaint.

Another case was that of British retiree Christopher Field, who demanded a exhibitoria diligence in April this year in the offices of the lawyer Gonzalez Caballero by the Fifth Circuit Court of David, in order to try to recover the shares of a shares of a number of companies the accused lawyer had created.

When the judicial diligence was performed, it was confirmed that Gonzalez Caballero and Daniel Polanco had modified the Boards of the companies in June 2012, removing themselves from them.

According to the investigations, Field transferred $835,573 to Gonzalez Caballero between 2010 and 2012 in order to acquire the shares.

Later it was confirmed that one of the farms he purchased in June of 2011 was transferred, through these companies, on 5 December 2012, to Itza Dania Muñoz, who in turn mortgaged the property seven days later to a credit corporation for a loan worth "thousands of dollars." The foreigner lost the properties.

Another foreign company, Bella Vista Uno, SA, also formed by González Caballero, filed a complaint this year over the loss of 200 head of livestock acquired as collateral for a loan of $70,000 - a herd that was under the supervision of Daniel Polanco Rodriguez.

The case files for these complaints are sitting in the offices of the Fourth Criminal Prosecutor of Chiriquí, but so far no formal charges have yet been filed.

Oliver Quiel Miranda, the lawyer representing Cley Gonzalez, said the allegations against his client are unfounded and that no such crimes exist.

An attempt was made to locate Cley González but he did not answer calls made to his office in David, Chiriquí. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Panama really (really) has to get a handle on these land scams. Foreigners are frequently targeted, because they come to Panama with bags of money to buy land and invest - and then the crooked lawyers steal it all. The worst part is when they then use the money they stole to PAY THE BRIBES necessary to keep themselves from being prosecuted. And why have no charges been filed in this case? Because this guilty stinking lawyer has about a million dollars to throw around within the prosecutor's office, judges chambers, and anyone else he needs to buy. These cocksuckers should be hung, shot, set on fire, then hung again. And for the record - there is no judicial security in Panama. None. If you're a foreigner prepared for the very strong possibility of getting fucked over. The more money you have, the greater the odds.

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Rent Has Increased In 40% In The Past Five Years

Real EstateIf you can afford paying $3,000 for rent, you are within the exclusive group of the population that could live in areas such as Punta Pacífica, Costa del Este and Avenida Balboa.

The arrival of foreigners and multinational companies in the country has increased the cost of rentals in the city to a 40% in the last five years.

In areas considered to be “class A,” the square meter of rent is $11.30, which means, renting out a 250 square meter apartment costs approximately $2,825 a month.

Also, the construction of public spaces such as the Coastal Beltway has given them more value.

This situation has caused a chain effect throughout the entire city, because in zones like Carrasquilla and Parque Lefevre renting a 70 square meter apartment costs approximately $800, when it was never over $500 a month in the past. (Prensa)

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El Cangrejo, Panama real estate update

Real EstateTHE 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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