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Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 04:56 PM EDT

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Interview with Private Island Developer Josh Linnes

Real EstateFounder of Emerging Terrains, Josh Linnes likes a good challenge. He likes finding the best raw land and transforming it into a success story. And that is exactly what he found at Boca Chica, Panama. Why did he choose Boca Chica? Learn the answers and how the process unfolded in our exclusive interview with Emerging Terrains co-founder, Josh Linnes. (more)
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MEF is Doing A Valuation On Noriega's Properties

Real EstateThe Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) began the process of the appraisal on the properties of former General Manuel Antonio Noriega, which are currently under the custody of the institution.

Frank De Lima, Minister of Economy and Finance, said they are doing an update and review of the different properties previously owned by Noriega, among these, the one in Farallon, in Anton, Cocle, and Altos del Golf in San Francisco.

He recalled these two properties were in a bidding process three times already were deserted, and said the government can sell them at 50% of their value, if someone makes an offer.

De Lima stressed they are free to do this type of negotiation directly, according to the Law on Public Procurement.

Currently, the MEF is updating the planes of the four properties in Farallon, which are very valuable for being in front of the sea, in order to start with the auctions.

Moreover, according to information released few weeks ago by the Comptroller, Gioconda de Bianchini, a team will be traveling to Miami to meet with representatives from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), to learn more about the details of Noriega’s account at this institution. (Panama America)

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Price Of Housing Developments Increased in 33% During The Past Five Years

Real EstateThe price of housing has increased in 33% over the past five years due to the increase in the price of building materials and the amount of land available on in the city.

This situation has limited the construction of affordable housing, up to a $35,000 range.

According to analysts, the real estate sector will continue to be active during 2013, with a greater emphasis on projects within the range qualifying for preferential interest ($40 thousand to $120 thousand). There has also been a surge in the sale of high-priced homes.

Last year, 10,183 residences were sold, representing an increase in 1.3% compared with the previous year.

Gross domestic product (GDP) of construction went up in 2012 to $800 million and it is expected to be around $2 billion for 2013. (Prensa)

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In Panama, Are Foreigner Investors At A Disadvantage?

Real EstateBy Kent Davis - Panama City - I saw the boom for high-end luxury real estate in Panama begin (in earnest) in 2006, when the market was made up of almost entirely foreign buyers from the US, Canada, Venezuela, and Spain.

At the time, most were buying up pre-construction condos in areas like Punta Pacifica, Balboa Avenue, and Costa del Este. Inventory was readily available, easy to find, and was being widely promoted by developers via trade expos, magazines, and online campaigns. This period is now widely known as Panama’s boom period and agents like me were selling properties to everyone and their sister.

But today, accessing the market’s true offering is growing increasingly difficult for foreigners trying to search on their own for high-end real estate. Why?

Because Panamanians have begun to re-establish this place as a very closed and homogenous playing field. As challenging as it is to say, local Panamanians with their inside connections, high-level government contacts, connected attorneys, and local affiliations like church and synagogue groups are at a noticeable advantage in 2013 when it comes to getting access to what is truly on the market.

Many of my clients have commented on Panama’s fragmented real estate listing environment which makes things very difficult for an uninformed buyer to find top properties in upscale locations. Why?

Because these properties rarely make it on the market. Rather, they are being sold through an elite and often times (Read More)

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Vista Mar - Beach House - $2,195,000

Real EstateUpdate:Price Reduced from 2.5 Million to 2.1 Million.

Every morning, the sun’s incredible colors emerge from the ocean offering a unique sunrise to start the day. Walk down your private steps to the beach and enjoy the pristine beauty of the Pacific Ocean. A leisurely five minute walk on the sand brings you to a small fishing village where you can select (fresh from the boat) the catch of the day—lobster, corvina, shrimp, red snapper, tuna—whatever is in season. For an extra dollar or two, the fishermen will clean and prepare the fish for tonight’s BBQ. Walking back to the house you will see kids frolicking in the surf, rock formations appearing with the tide and an incredible assortment of colorful seashells.

After a quick dip in the "salt-water" swimming pool you may want to change into your golf clothes and head to the pro shop to meet friends for a challenging game of golf along the water. This spectacular Par 72, 7273 yard Championship golf course has been designed by award winning architect, J. Michael Poellot.

Before returning home, you might want to make weekend reservations at the Terrazas Del Mar Restaurant where Chef Pascal Finet, will invite you to enjoy his delicious food and panoramic view of the ocean. Monsieur Finet specializes in Mediterranean food and is constantly changing the menu to take advantage of the season’s bounty. Expertly prepared fresh fish dishes along with gourmet continental cuisine will await your pleasure.

Back at the house you notice that the tide is coming in and the surf is picking up. You get your board from the "beach-room" located below the sun deck and head to the beach for a fun afternoon of surfing. Both left and right breaks are 100 yards offshore (in your backyard). Gentle, rolling waves for beginners are close to shore. After surfing you can rinse off in a very private shower located next to the "beach Bohio" then go directly to the Jacuzzi.

Before dinner, you can select your fresh salad from the bamboo greenhouse. This unique greenhouse is complete with a sink, misters, growing tables and offers a wide variety of tasty organic vegetables. Flowers and orchids along with a collection of exotic plants are ready for harvest.

Whether you are preparing dinner for two or twenty two the folding kitchen windows that open to the BBQ patio make cooking a delight. Your guests will enjoy the freshest cuisine possible.

After dinner you may want to take a casual walk to the Serenity Garden where exotic plants and nature blend together to create a peaceful natural setting. As the moon comes up, you can stroll by the club house and on to the beach where you can enter the property through the beach gate. Relax in the master bedroom balcony and see a new "show" every night. The stars in the Milky Way are ready to be counted; distant lightening flashes bring the night horizon to life, while the tranquil sound of the ocean prepares you for a perfect nights sleep.

Located only one hour from Panama City, in one of Panama's most exclusive gated developments, with 24 hour security, this custom Panama beach house has it all. If you're looking for the ultimate in Panama Beach real estate.

Large 24 hour Supermarkets and two new Shopping Malls just 10 minutes from house. Two additional shopping malls under construction.

Numerous restaurants, featuring a variety of cuisines, are less than 10 minutes away. Two restaurants are within walking distance.

The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 of which have balconies with a view of the ocean and 5 bathrooms.

In this property there is a salt water infinity pool with a waterfall next to a bohio.

There are private steps down to the beach where there is also a beach shower to remove the sand and a beach room for equipment like surfboards and more.

The house is also equipped a modern security system, and electric front gate to enter the property.

For more information about this property contact don@panama-guide.com or via cell phone at 6614-0451. See below for images of this property. (more)

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An Island for Kings, Lost Boys, and Pirates

Real Estate

First, an open admission: all of this is based on local legend and rumor, so don’t expect a university historian to corroborate it.

Now the juicy part: according to the locals, it’s unquestioned that Boca Chica island off the Panamanian coast, just 15 miles Southeast of the David airport, was the no- kidding hideout for the legendary Captain Morgan, of spiced rum fame.

And with one step out onto the island, it becomes clear why…

The Island remains, even to this day, both wonderfully isolated amidst primeval, moon-of-endor-like forests, and also home to the highest peaks on the coast.

island in Panama

If you don’t want to be seen, you simply will NOT be seen. But if you wanted to see others coming, you’d see them from miles and miles away, since the tallest peak on the island boasts an elevation of 300 feet and offers views all the way back to the Baru Volcano on the mainland, and all the way out to the Chiriqui Marine Park at sea. Either way, it makes for a perfect hideout for a pirate and a perfect fortress of solitude for a superhero.

Also, if you’re willing to go with local custom a bit further, you’d probably also want to know that this island, at least according to the myths, was sacred to the Incan Kings.

All of which means it would be hateful to every romantic bone in a man’s soul to turn the place into condos and restaurants -- which is why Emerging Terrains has dedicated itself to keeping the island a pristine sanctuary for the kind of lost boys and tinkerbells looking for such a place.

And if the legends don’t move you, perhaps the facts will:

Just the Facts:

  • Boca Chica Island is a 400 acre island that’s a 10 minutes boat ride from Panama’s Pacic Coast in waters that are always calm.
  • 99% of the island is covered in primary rainforest, which provides for a truly prehistoric and totally un-touched feel.
  • Boca Chica Island borders Panama’s Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park & the Hannibal Bank -- home to world-class fishing where 90% of the deep sea fishing records have been caught.
  • Boca Chica Island is, in turn, surrounded by 50 other, smaller and uninhabited islands.
  • We bought the entire island, including 400 acres of the island to include 5 contiguous miles of coastline.
 Boca Chica Island’s Natural Beauty

Active Protection for Boca Chica Island’s Natural Beauty

So… unlike a lot of other Latin American real estate investors, our plan is never to buy utterly pristine land in order to create high-density developments of condos, parking lots, and tourist spots. that’s not how we create value.

We create value by finding pristine coastline that can be purchased cheaply and sold directly to the kind of adventurous, self-sufficient people who hunger for unspoiled beauty and privacy, and then we market directly to them.

And a big part of this business model involves protecting buyer’s investments through very low density (very few houses & lots of land) planning that actively protects the natural beauty of the island.

What’s Being Built and Planned for Boca Chica Island:

  • Mango Bay Villa Estate - A villa designed to allow all of the comforts of home in an ancient setting. this is where prospective buyers stay when they come down to walk their reserved lots.
    Mango Bay Villa on Boca Chica Island
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  • A small fishing lodge under development on the North point. We sold this portion of the island to an investor from Texas who shares our eco-friendly vision for the island and who is building his Simple-Is-Beutiful lodge on Boca Chica Island’s North Point.
  • Monte Vida Park, a new 50 Acre Park we are forming expressly to protect and preserve the natural Rainforest while adding value to the surrounding land.
  • Playa Mystica -- a low-impact development of 30 lots on 60 acres that will serve as the anchor community on the island. this is about a 1/5 of typical development density and assures that each lot has 100 feet of rainforest between it and the next structure.

About Playa Mystica

Just like for our earlier (nearly sold out) Playa Burica project, we are quietly and quickly assembling a group of like minded individuals and prospective buyers for Playa Mystica from all over the world. their backgrounds are varied but common values and traits that bind them together: 

  • They all have a pioneering spirit -- meaning that they’re creators who are willing to step out and live their dream, even if that dream takes them a bit off the beaten path.
  • Whether they're fishermen, sailors, backpackers, hikers, or explorers, they all have a need or hunger for nature and natural beauty. It feeds their souls more than most and they feel the need for it more than most.
  • They all have the courage of their convictions -- men and women who, after doing their due diligence, are willing to push play on their plans, willing to actually DO the thing.
  • They all know what does and does not make them happy, and are willing to abandon what doesn’t work for them in order to pursue what does.
  • If you think you might be such a person, and if you’ve been looking either at Panama Real Estate or at finding your own piece of prestige coastline, you owe it to yourself to reserve your lot, come visit and decide for yourself.

Playa Mystica Website

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$150 Million in Transactions At Expo Vivienda

Real EstateExpo Vivienda 2013 concludes today in Atlapa with over 180 exhibitors and more than 300 housing projects.

The organizing committee’s chairman, Carlos Allen, estimates they will achieve transactions for over $150 million during these 4 days.

The main offered projects are located in the city and Panama West and East. The fair is open from 1:00 p.m. and closes at 9:00 p.m. There will be additional parking lots at the Justo Arosemena Institute (IJA) and the entrance to this event is free.

Among the projects offered, are those built in Juan Diaz, Pacora, La Chorrera, Arraijan, San Francisco, Hato Pintado, Pueblo Nuevo, Las Cumbres, 24 de Diciembre, Rio Hato and Coronado. (Critica)

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Clients Vs. Developers

Real EstateThe illusion of buying your first home or a beach house is one of the experiences generating more expectations among consumers.

This is an investment for life, but once the transaction is consummated, in some cases, the relationship between the customer and the seller can be strained.

Usually, discomfort causes incompliance allegations to arise, and this may be claimed by the buyer of this asset and/or the property developer.

A case representing this situation is the issue in Playa Blanca, located in Farallon, Cocle.

A group of owners of the PH Founders – formed by four condo towers – as well as owners of Villa Azul and El Penon in Farallon, argue there are problems such as leaks and cracks, mishaps in gas pipes, in the drinking water supply, and they even see waste water flowing into a local river.

The complainants, mostly foreigners, said when they acquired their apartments they were offered access to the hotel, for using the largest pool in the region and the construction of a sports complex, but this is not being met. The apartments in these buildings were sold between $180,000 and $250,000.

Sandy Schwartz, spokesman and economic adviser of Urbanizacion Playa Blanca, downplayed the allegations, claiming that a tiny group, led by two Americans, is the one making all these unsubstantiated claims.

Schwartz argued this group of complainants does not pay their maintenance fee. In the four towers of the Founders buildings there is a delinquency in maintenance of $258,000.

Angela Sanson, building manager, appointed by the owners, said it is true that they are not paying their maintenance fee, but this is because they are not receiving the benefits promised by the developers. On the other hand, she ensures these problems affect about 300 apartments.

The discrepancies have reached up to the Municipality of Anton, the Magistrate of Rio Hato and the Ombudsman. They have also filed complaints with the National Environmental Authority and the Ministries of Health and Housing.

The owners of those properties alleged to have been affected with the restrictions imposed by the developers, who do not allow the access of gas service providers to the complex, or the representatives of the company in charge of repairing the elevators, among others.

Schwartz said he has only received far-from-peaceful actions and even violent actions from the owners, who do not show any interest in dialogue.

He stated each condominium must pay $50 per month for maintenance, a fee that has not changed during the last four years, despite the rise in minimum wage for workers in the region.

To a certain degree, the reality experienced at the PH Founders multiplies in other regions and other projects.

According to the records of the Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition (ACODECO) from January to March this year, 229 complaints had been reported, and out of this figure, 91 of these complaints are related to real estate.

The main reasons for these complaints are failure to fulfill a contractual obligation, such as the devolution of money and deposits, which together with other issues it reaches an amount exceeding $5.2 million.

Property developers, meanwhile, have always shown they have the largest amount of complaints in ACODECO, because annually around 11 thousand homes are sold in the country, but these claims do not represent a significant percentage if it’s compared with their market size. (Prensa)

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Trumping Transparency - How Much Is The "Donald Trump" Name Worth?

Real EstateBy Jacqueline Palank - How much is the Trump name worth? The developer of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in Panama wants to shield that information from prying eyes during its bankruptcy case.

Newland International Properties Corp. on Monday asked a Manhattan bankruptcy judge “to limit public access” to the licensing and other agreements that enable the developer to use the Trump name for the 2.8-acre tower overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Panama City’s Punta Pacifica Peninsula.

In court papers, Newland said that if confidential terms such as pricing and fees got out, it would put its use of the Trump name in jeopardy and possibly hurt the Donald himself.

“Exposure of this confidential commercial information would be detrimental to the debtor, its estate and creditors, as well as the Trump parties, who are party to various similar agreements with third parties,” Newland said. “The exposure of such terms would be anticompetitive to their business.”

While Chapter 11 is heralded for its transparency, companies can, and often do, ask to shield confidential and proprietary information from public view.

Court papers do show, however, that Newland owes Trump Marks Panama LLC, from which it licenses the Trump name, $15.3 million.

Newland sought Chapter 11 protection last week with a plan in hand to restructure $220 million in bond debt, which a bankruptcy court will consider approving at a May 28 hearing. The developer defaulted on its bond debt in November 2011 as a result of real-estate woes brought on by the global economic downturn.

Trump Ocean Club opened in 2011 and features 630 condo units and 369 hotel condo units as well as various shops, restaurants and offices. A private beach club is slated for completion this September, and Newland is also currently working on adding a 75,000-square-foot casino to the mix. (Wall Street Journal)

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Ave. Balboa - Vista Mar - $285,000

Real EstateThis apartment in the center of Ave. balboa has an amazing view to the Bay of Panama right from the living room and balcony. The Cinta Costera is just across the road, and excellent place for jogging or bike riding.

The building is also located within walking distance to the Calle Uruguay area, where there are many night clubs and entertainment opportunities.

The apartment itself is fully furnished with a size of 108 square meters, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen with all appliances included and a laundry room.

The building has an outstanding social area with a swimming pool, gym and a sauna.

Also the security in the building is 24/7 with a doorman to verify the entry and destination of everyone coming in.

For more information about this property contact don@panama-guide.com or via cell phone at 6614-0451. There are lots of images of this property below. (more)

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