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Thursday, July 31 2014 @ 07:41 PM EDT

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How Can I Check On The Status Of My Property in Panama?

Real EstateBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Don, Your article today on buying land in Bocas reminded me of an article you wrote last month saying ANATI was going to process 350K property titles. I’ve been waiting on one of these since 2007, needless to say I’m the eternal optimist. However, on the other hand you stated “If you own titled property you damn well better know how to check the public registry online to make sure there's no funny business going on." Do you have a web site to check this out for property in Panama if the Province makes a difference I’m interested in Los Santos. Thanks I really appreciate your site. H."

Editor's Comment: You can check on your property on-line by going to the website of the Public Registry - www.registro-publico.gob.pa. From the home page, click on "Consulta Registral" and then "Consulta de Informacion Registral." If you don't already have an account you will have to register by providing some basic information such as your name, email address, cell phone number, etc. Once you log in you can enter the data on your property to check. Notice there's one section for "Property" and another for "Horizontal Property" which means apartments. Once you find your property registered in the system, you can go back and check on it about once a month or so. Any changes will be registered - and normally if you see something unusual happening (like, someone trying to steal or sell your land) you have a much better chance of putting a stop to it if you start screaming bloody murder, immediately. The guys who get really screwed are the ones who wake up one day and discover their land was stolen three years ago, and it's been sold five times since then.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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"Is It A Good Idea To Invest in Real Estate On Isla Colon in Bocas?

Real Estate By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning I received a question via email asking (in general terms) if I thought it was a good idea to buy real estate on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. The author of the email asked me to not include the specifics out of privacy concerns, but I used that email to springboard off into this general piece of advice, which contains my opinion - for what it's worth - about about the state of affairs in the real estate market in Bocas.

Editor's Comment: In my opinion, buying just about anything in Bocas (right now) is bat-shit crazy. There's no rule of law there. The local authorities are completely and totally corrupt. You have no real guarantee you will actually end up owning whatever you think you're "buying." I've seen so many land disputes in Bocas, and specifically on Isla Colon, that I can no longer recommend with a clear conscience that anyone invest 50 cents there. In terms of buying real estate or building a home, you will end up spending at least $100K or more on land, materials, labor, etc., and you'll get screwed at every turn. Your total investment will probably end up more like $250K, or more - a lot of money to sink into an environment with little or no rule of law and unsure legal security with regards to land ownership.

Keep Your Money: Anyone who wants to live in Bocas del Toro he should keep their money in the bank and rent something for a couple of years. About the only way you can keep from becoming a victim in Bocas del Toro is to be broke, or to not have a lot of money to spend, either on land, construction, or services. Remember the case of the guy who's house was burned down because someone wanted to steal his land? What about the couple who invested their life savings to build a beautiful house next to the beach, but now it turns out that they were scammed years ago and they don't actually own that parcel of land, and what they "actually" own is away from the beach in a mangrove swamp? Their house has been "for sale" for several years, but they will probably never be able to actually sell it, because they don't own the land under the house. This is the "trickle down" effect of an old scam. How do you know you're not going to buy some kind of an old problem like that? For that matter, someone might even try to sell you that specific house.

Not A New Problem: There have literally been dozens, if not hundreds of similar cases. People contact me about these kinds of things all the time. Every local official and Bocas lawyer is corrupt. Remember the lawyers who convinced a large investor to buy land that they knew would be in legal disputes for years? The lawyers wanted the buyers to buy those disputed lands (specifically), because they knew they would get paid again, to fight for or otherwise defend the claim in court. The lawyers in Bocas del Toro have no scruples or morals. They will steer you towards a problem, and then charge you to get the problem fixed, or else they will conspire behind your back with your "legal enemies" to screw you again. So if you are an independently wealthy masochist who loves to bring unnecessary stress into your life, then yes, by all means. Buy something in Bocas del Toro. Go right ahead.

Did You Hear That Disney Is Coming To Panama? On top of the lack of legal security, corrupt local government officials, and unscrupulous lawyers, you should only believe what actually exists. There's always some sort of "plan" to build one thing or another. However, almost none of them every actually take place, or are ever built. Only believe what you can see, touch, hear, smell, feel, spend, lick, or screw. Everything else is a sales pitch. If you rent for a couple of years, then you will be able to determine (without having a significant vested interest) if there's going to be some significant investment in the neighborhood that could increase land values, or if the electrical system is actually going to be upgraded, or whatever. And for the record, from the user's point of view, it should make no difference whatsoever if the power at your wall socket comes from a hydroelectric dam in Changuinola or a nuclear reactor on the moon.

The Bottom Line: My advice - Run! As fast as you can. Hang onto your money, and invest it in something that's much safer (like teak), and then rent something if you really want to live in Bocas. If you're speculating that in the future land values might increase, you should know that the only people who managed to really get themselves hurt as investors in Panama in the past seven years were speculators who had convinced themselves they were going to make a "killing" on one thing or the other. Many of them got ripped off. The lucky ones were able to simply escape with a percentage of their original capital, without getting totally crushed. And of course there have been a few road kills along the way.

Please Make A Note: I suspect many will ignore my advice. In about two or three years from now I expect to be hearing "I should have listened to Don..." You have a tremendous advantage right now - if you still have your money in your hands. Once the check is signed or the funds are transferred, it's too late. I normally hear the horror stories once the bleeding has commenced, and usually people contact me either because they want to hire a lawyer, or to bitch in public about how they got screwed, so I hear about their problems after the fact. Luckily for you in this case it's still very early and the "Exit" sign is lit. Normally all of these deals sound great - and legally bullet proof - when you're going in. But then time passes and one day you turn around and you see that bitch "I told you so" Karma standing there with a strap-on, a bottle of lube, and a mischievous grin...

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Second Phase Of Construction Suspended in Pacora Neighborhood

Real Estate
Home construction site in Pacora, Panama
Home construction site in Pacora, Panama
The Metropolitan Health Director, Jorge Hassan said they will suspend construction on the second phase of the San Juan de Pacora neighborhood, due to a lack of maintenance the company in charge of the project has given to the plant. Residents of this community have closed streets in protest over the accumulation of sewage because the company has not property maintained the sewage pipes. Hassan said the responsible company was given a period of five months to resolve this problem, but to no avail. In his statements to the channel 2 morning news broadcast, he explained that initially they were going to fine the guilty party, but they backed off, because if they went down this road then the company would be able to continue to build. The IDAAN manager for the metropolitan area Abilio Pittí said today they would send equipment to suck part of the excrement from the pipes, but he said this is only a temporary solution. He added they will evaluate the possibility of passing the responsibility of the property to the government entity. Meanwhile, the residents of San Juan in Pacora, keep the street closed. (Dia a Dia)
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Is it time to buy real estate in Panama now?

Real EstateBalboa Ave ocean front one bed condo $128,000. Are prices coming down or is this the best time to pick up some good deals in Panama? These are always the million dollar questions. For each person the answer will be different, depending on if you are looking to retire here, looking for a second home to get out of the cold northern winters, or if you are an investor looking for capital appreciation or current cash flow ROI.

Looking at the fundamentals affecting the market this year we will find it is generally a good time to buy. On the one hand, this year and next will deliver among the highest numbers of finished condos coming on the market while on the other, some of the lowest numbers of new projects starting. These factors combined translate into a current oversupply of ready to move in apartments but a diminishing supply over the next 5 years (in Panama it takes about 5 years from the start of a new project to completion and delivery of ready to move in apartments on the market). (more)



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Government of Panama Tightens Up Rules To Protect Real Estate Buyers

Real EstateBill 421, recently approved by the National Assembly, introduces new measures to limit the abusive practices of real estate developers. The companies that charge a deposit from their clients must now sign a bond (guarantee) with the Ministry of Housing and Land Management. In cases where the promoter abandons the project, this bond will be used to repay client's deposits. In contracts between developers and consumers the clauses which raise the prices due to increased costs of building materials are capped at a maximum of 2% of the total price of the house or apartment, and the developer must be able to prove or demonstrate that the costs of the building materials actually did increase. Also, developers will be required to deliver projects with adequate water and sewer connections and services. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Good. Finally. The government of Panama can do a whole lot more to protect consumers from the abuses of real estate developers. Many members of the English speaking community of expatriates who have purchased property in Panama have fallen victim to some kind of abuse - the stories are varied and the details change with each individual case, however the overall truth remains. The developers have been taking a "screw you, sue me if you want" attitude for years and getting away with it. It's about time the government finally stepped in to put a stop to some of the abuses. And I love the idea of the developers having to obtain a bond or guarantee to protect deposits.

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Proposal To Sell Colon Free Trade Zone Lands Will Be "Consulted"

Real EstatePanama's Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano said today the draft law through which the land of the Colon Free Trade Zone will be sold, will be consulted. According to Quijano the enlargement of the consultations will be done because there is no need to do anything in a hurry. However, while speaking on the channel 2 TVN News, Quijano said the draft law has some advantages, such as the leasing of the Free Zone, which are cheap, plus it will give greater security to the users who will be able to own the land. He also stressed that purchasing the land will not be compulsory. The Minister of Commerce said the Government has invested more than $400 million dollars in projects such as highways, and housing. However, that amount can not be invested every year. In that regard, he added there are provinces with primary resources, such as the Colon Free Zone. Moreover, Quijano disapproved that the Council of Colon met yesterday, in the street at the entrance of the Free Zone as a protest measure to show their opposition to the land sales. (Estrella)

Ricardo Quijano - Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry

Editor's Comment: There has been a lot of chatter in the past couple of days over this proposal to all the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone to be sold to the businesses who are using it. Right now I understand they are all in there on leases, and by selling the land then they will have a more firm footing. And of course all of this would generate more money for the central government of Panama. Ricardo Quijano's name is one that comes up frequently as a possible presidential candidate for the Cambio Democratico political party in 2014.

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Panama Real Estate Report for March 2012 - Rounding out a steady first Quarter

Real EstateFor the first three months of 2012, our agency Panama Equity Real Estate has seen strong demand for rental units in the city and an uptick in demand for the beach areas of Coronado and Gorgona. Absorption on the rental side has been the strongest along Balboa Avenue in buildings such as Bayfront, Grandbay and H20 on fully furnished one- and two-bedroom apartment rentals. Apartments for rent in the Trump Ocean Club have also been moving well for us and a small handful of other agencies that promote them.

Overall, selling/listing prices have remained flat with little movement over the last three months in the neighborhoods we continue to track, including Balboa Avenue and Punta Pacifica. Hotel occupancy has been hovering in the 60-70% range which is good, due in part to the Ironman event (which marked the return of Lance Armstrong to the racing circuit) and the Herbalife convention: both of which took place in the last two months.

The Panamanian “high season” for tourists generally extends through April (synonymous with dry season) meaning occupancy typically drops off in the next few months and then picks up again in December. Hopefully continued coverage from newspaper press in North America press will keep tourists coming in steady supply this year. We're already seeing tangible effects from the New York Times, who ranked Panama the #1 Place To Visit in 2012! Hotel owners are looking to capitalize on a handful of large events including the Macrofest, Expocomer and the IFF Panama which are all coming up in the next few months.

Published developer price lists are showing decent inventory absorption, specifically in the projects we are tracking: Allure, Rivage Panama, Panama Pacifico, Andromeda and Bern’s Playa Bonita project. The amount of time spent on the market for our well-priced in-house listings is generally coming in at around 45-60-day period and competitively priced rental units are being absorbed much faster, with an average of around 15 days or less on the market. A select few developers have started to discount list prices by as much as 25% in certain projects, and we believe this trend will continue until the end of the year.

Looking to sell your Panama real estate? Have a look at our marketing plan or our testimonials section to see how we are different.

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ANATI Will Issue 350,000 Land Titles in Panama

Real EstateStarting in the month of June 2012, the National Authority of Land Management (Anati) will initiate a massive effort to issue titles for 350,000 properties, said the general manager of the authority, Franklin Oduber. The process will begin this Monday, 12 March 2012, with a meeting for interested service providers at the headquarters of the ANATI, said Oduber on TVN News, after saying that the effort to issue titles will be "titanic." After the announcement he confirmed that the controversial parcel of land in Paitilla has already been transferred in the Public Registry, and after the scandal that arose around this parcel of land, it is now wholly owned by the Panamanian Government. "I understand the president wants to build a park," he said. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Hmmm. Interesting. All of the past governments have said they were going to be doing "massive" efforts to issue land titles, and none of them have really come through. In this case, however, it seems like the national government is going to hire, through the ANATI, an outside contractor or service provider to handle the paperwork and to do most of the work. Excellent. In Panama many people live on land that they "own" as "Rights of Possession" property, and in that condition they do not hold a title on their land. As soon as a parcel of land is titled, then the value goes up substantially, mostly because there is some greater degree of protection and less of a chance that someone else will come along and claim ownership. Nothing is guaranteed, however. Remember that there have been many cases of fraudulent land titles issued using forged documents. Crooks come along and create false or forged documents and "steal" the land from the rightful owner. The property is then quickly re-sold or "flipped" several times, in order to put more distance between the original crook and the new victim. Then finally at the fourth or fifth sale, the crook sells the stolen land to a new, unsuspecting victim. There is a whole lot of this sort of stuff going on, and your land can be stolen and gone, right out from under your ass, before you even know it. If you own titled property you damn well better know how to check the public registry online to make sure there's no funny business going on. Normally, if you catch this crap happening early, you can put a stop to it before it's too late. Sleep, and you're screwed.

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The Dump On The Road To Playa Blanca Has Been Closed!

Real EstateBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Well, what to do know about that? I received the following this afternoon via email: "Hi Don, here are a few shots of the closing of the dump. It finally came true. Even the fine combing of the area along the road was accomplished after carnival. Looking forward to meet you again at El Paraiso next week, KB."

Editor's Comment: Last year the dump located on the road to the Playa Blanca resort was on fire. The smoke was terrible, and the residents bitched and complained and held demonstrations and raised a ruckus. Then in February 2011 the Director of Tourism Solomon Shamah visited Playa Blanca and promised residents the dump would be closed and history no later than 15 March 2011. Well, in reality it took more than a year, but apparently it got done. Here are the photos KB sent - you can see that the roadside has been cleaned up, and there's heavy equipment cleaning up and/or burying the piles of trash;







Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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"How Can I 'Force' A Landlord To Uphold His End Of A Rental Agreement (Contract)?"

Real EstateBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Hey Don, Im a huge fan of panama-guide.com and read the news daily. I have a question that I thought you might know something about. I rented an apartment on November 1st, 2011 and I am still waiting on some of the items promised in the lease agreement. Namely the installation of the water heater and the curtains. Are there any legal channels in Panama that I could go through to 'force' the landlord to fulfill their end of the contract? I tried withholding payment but they sought to evict me right away and short of moving I was forced to pay and keep accepting this. Is there a ministry I can go to? Like the ministerio de vivienda or would I just be spinning my wheels? Thanks, JD."

Editor's Comment: Yeah, that's sort of a tough one. You could go to the Ministry of Housing and bitch about the apartment owner not holding up his end of the bargain when it comes to things like the installation of the hot water heater and curtains. However they tend to look at it like the apartment itself is 97% of the value of the contract and the rent. If you don't pay the rent then the owner can and will evict you. I don't know if I have ever heard of someone who has been able to successfully "force" a landlord to comply with this kind of an element in the rental contract. I bet some of the real estate brokers out there who deal with the rental market have probably run into this kind of stuff, and maybe someone could offer some more valuable advice in the comments section. If it were me, I would install my own hot water heater, use it while I lived there, and take it with me when I left. Same for the curtains.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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