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Monday, October 23 2017 @ 09:35 AM EDT

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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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Serious Questions About "Beyond Bocas" Real Estate and Mark Johnson

Real Estate By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - This morning a seriously disgruntled individual sent me a stack of documents regarding the Beyond Bocas real estate company in Bocas del Toro, in the Republic of Panama. The source of information freely admits he is severely pissed-off about the way a real estate transaction went down. This is what motivated him to start investigating things on his own, and when he had it all figured out he sent it to me.

A Deal Went Bad: The source made a cash offer to buy a property in Bocas del Toro from a seller, an offer he considered to be fair and valid. Then Mark Johnson from Beyond Bocas Real Estate intervened in the deal. Johnson convinced the seller he could get a much better price for the property, more than what the source was offering. The source then alleges Johnson and the seller colluded to use a "phantom" buyer against him, in an attempt to get more money for the property.

"Revenge Is A Dish..." Angered about how Johnson crapped on his deal, the source started digging. During his independent investigation he uncovered solid and seriously incriminating information indicating Mark Johnson has been illegally operating as a real estate agent in Panama for at least the past four years - since approximately mid-2009. And now, he's dropping a dime. Well, more like a "buck three fifty", in an attempt to get his revenge. (more)

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Two-story Duplex in El Carmen - Price Reduced - Motivated Seller - Make An Offer

Real EstateSpacious penthouse of 205m2 has 4 bedrooms, all with A/C, 4.5 renovated bathrooms, with well distributed interior spaces.

On the Lower level is the open living and dining area, large kitchen with stainless steel appliances and new wood cabinets, 3 full size bathrooms and 2 Bedrooms.

The lower master bedroom has full size in suite bathroom, The second bedroom shares the full size bathroom between both bedrooms. Maid’s quarters with full bathroom adjacent to the kitchen.

Upstairs are 2 more bedrooms that share full size bathroom with a sunken bathtub. A Studio with enclosed terrace with great views and plenty of sunlight is located next to master bedroom, complete laundry area with washer and dryer.

The building has well maintained common areas, social area with swimming pool and lounge, 24 hour security, intercom, 1 covered parking space with electric gate, with available space for rent, water reserve tanks, elevators, fire alarm. Maintenance fee is $150 per month.

This quiet, well established neighborhood is very close to major supermarkets (Super99, Rey, Riba Smith), Arrocha pharmacy, PriceMart, shopping malls, hospitals and medical centers. Quick and easy access to both Via España, Transistmica, Via Brazil, and Via Porras.. Just around the corner you'll find a convenience store, laundry and bakery, and you’ll find a bookstore, gym and day care two blocks away.The neighborhood’s city park is just two blocks away.

Two stations of the new Metro subway system within easy walking distance.

Motivated seller will consider serious offers. Price Reduced - Now Asking $210,000. This property is priced to sell! Highly motivated seller - make an offer. For more details and photos please visit the listing on our website at panamacasarealty.com.

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Affordable condo in El Carmen

Real Estate El Carmen, Panama City $235000 | 4 Bed, 4.5 Bath | 2206.60 Sq Ft / 205 Sq m.

Huge apartment, central location, and the property has the possibility of easily sectioning off one floor to convert to two apartments. Live in one and rent the other, or rent both! Competitive price per square meter, building has a pool and social area, large rooms, great cross ventilation, walk in closets and security. Call today for an appointment! See the full listing and photos on our website at panamaequity.com

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PH Villa Medici - 2 Level Penthouse Apartment in the Middle of Panama City

Real EstateTwo floor, penthouse apartment. Built in 1993 being offered at the very competitive price of just 1150 USD per m2.

The penthouse consists of four bedrooms total, five if you count the maid’s quarters. Four full bathrooms, one half bath. All bathrooms have been completely remodeled, new floor and wall tiles, all new wood and cabinets, plus plumbing fixtures. The penthouse apartment on a dead end street in the middle of Panama city consists of 204 m2 which is situated on 2 levels.

First Floor Details: (103 meters)

Living room and dining room as soon as you walk in the front door. Living room has very nice view towards the park in El Carmen. Expanded and newly remodeled kitchen area. All of the cabinets are new, granite countertop.

Maids quarters with full bathroom and shower, just off of the kitchen. There are two bedrooms downstairs.

The larger of the two has a walk-in closet and private full bathroom with shower (remodeled). This bedroom is normally the master bedroom in the rest of the apartments in these buildings. It comes with a split A/C.

The second bedroom on the first floor has closet space, and comes with a split A/C installed.

Linen closet next to the stairs

Full bathroom and shower in the hallway that doubles as a guest bathroom, just off of the hallway.

Second Floor Details:

Very large master bedroom with excellent view towards the park. Comes with Split A/C installed. Walk in closet. Master bath.

Second bedroom upstairs. Comes with split A/C installed.

Large open family room / play area

Laundry room

Half bathroom (guest) in family room area.

Social Area and additional features: Pool, 24/7 security guard on duty, Vehicle security gate with electric gate and remote activation, Concierge service.

Covered, secure parking for one vehicle, additional spaces can be rented if necessary.

Intercom system to announce and buzz in guests.

Fire alarm, Perimeter security fence.

Two large water tanks to supply entire building.

Six passenger elevator

Entire building recently painted (2009) – excellent maintenance of common areas.

Monthly maintenance fee $150

Location: Exceptionally convenient location in the middle of Panama City – drive almost anywhere in less than five minutes. Very close to three supermarkets (Super99, Rey, Riba Smith), Arrocha pharmacy, PriceMart, shopping malls, hospitals and medical centers. Quick and easy access to both Via Via España, Transistmica, Via Brazil, and Via Porras. Large El Carmen city park just two blocks away. Convenience store, laundry, and bakery on the corner. Bookstore and daycare two blocks away.

The penthouse apartment is extremely well priced at just 1150 USD per m2. The seller is motivated and open to offers!!! For more information see the full listing on PanamaRealtor.com

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Law On Preferential Interests For Mortgage Loans Was Ratified

Real EstatePresident Ricardo Martinelli passed Law 63 modifying the preferential interests in mortgage loans.

With this initiative the preferential interests now apply to mortgage loans for up to 80 thousand dollars, and previously it couldn’t exceed 65 thousand dollars.

The preferential interest can’t exceed 4% for housing developments between 40 and 80 thousand dollars; and 2% when they cost between 80 and 120 thousand dollars.

The Law also says loans with preferential interests can be granted until May 21, 2019.

The preferential mortgage loans approved before this law was ratified will remain with the same interest that was originally applied. This law will be effective 24 hours following its enactment. (TVN)

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Emerging Terrains - Boca Chica Island Development Update

Real EstateBy Tammy Wenhame of Viva Tropical for Panama Guide - I recently posted an interview with Josh Linnes about the 400 acre, private island in Boca Chica Panama that he's developing with Park Wilson of Emerging Terrains.

Read this interview with Park Wilson and learn how they are developing the island:

Boca Chica Island. A project by Josh Linnes

Boca Chica Island. A project by Josh Linnes and Park Wilson

What are your plans for the island? We envision around 15 to 20 owners at the end of the day. Those owners will own between 5 and 50 acres, with the average being around 15 acres.

We are also building the world’s first crowd-funded park (Monte Vida). This is our attempt at learning if we can find the balance between conservation and profit. We're happy to have the park grow as large as the market will bear. We're expecting around 50 acres.

How did you come up with those plans? One of the things that drew us to this particular island was the fact that we could control the whole thing. There are several islands in Boca Chica but very few that were large enough and didn't already have multiple owners. There is even a project out there that claims to be an island, but at low tide is actually connected to another island with dozens of owners.

Island ownership is about exclusivity. I'm not sure what's so exclusive about sharing boundary lines with dozens of different people. Some farmers. Some expats. Some crazy old guys who tried to escape civilization.

So with Boca Chica Island, controlling the whole thing was important. And we actually underestimated just how important that exclusivity is.

We learned this when we tried to replicate our Playa Burica style community on the island. We thought a small development of around 30 lots would have been a nice anchor for the island and provided a base of infrastructure and community for the other 350 acres.

We were wrong. The guy or gal who wants their own private preserve on the island, doesn't want many others around him. They want privacy.

So we've changed our plans accordingly.

We'll be offering around 15 parcels that will range from 5 to 50 acres.

Boca Chica Island. A project by Park Wilson Boca Chica Island.

What's happening on the island now? Well, we're land sellers. Our job is to sell land then help the buyer get going on building their dream, whether that be a vacation villa or a boutique lodge.

The first owner already built a really beautiful villa on 12 acres. That's the Mango Bay Villa.

The next owner is an investor who is building a home on the beach. His idea is to offer a price point for someone who wants to get started in Panama. He's building a 2 bedroom home with a pool that he's offered for $150,000 pre-construction.

The home is small and could serve as a great way to get your toe in the water while building something larger on an adjoining parcel. I also see it as an excellent investment option for someone who wants to buy it for some personal use (there aren't exactly very many $150k homes around today, much less with a pool), as well as rent it to other folks who are planning to build in the area or even on the island. Not to mention the thing has a beautiful, tropical-modern design.

He plans on completing the home by the end of the year.

Then we are in the process of building another dock on the southeastern side of the island. That's no easy feat given the 18' tide change we experience in Panama. The dock should also be completed by the end of the year.

Finally, on the northern point, an investor is building a few bungalows, a pool, and an open-air restaurant area that will serve as a base for himself and other fishermen on the island. He also has some beautiful tropical-modern blueprints.

Tell me more about the Park Monte Vida is the convergence of several concepts. First, we would love for the island (which is loaded with primary rainforest) to remain as pristine as possible. On the other hand, we prefer a place that can be enjoyed. So the first pillar is conservation.

The second piece of the puzzle was a concept that seems to be gaining traction called "social entrepreneurship." It's the idea of a company pursuing innovative solutions to social problems (e.g. deforestation) while finding the balance between a positive return to society with profit. Companies like Patagonia or Nika Water have influenced us in this direction.

Finally, we've looked at crowd-funding (i.e. kickstarter.com) as a source of funding for some of our other projects, so the idea of crowd-funding a Park seems like a great way to empower others to help in a worthy cause.

We envision Monte Vida as being a place where folks can come and experience an ancient rainforest with trails, suspension bridges, and lookout towers. It will be conserved by those who want to help it stay that way.

Some people are intimidated by islands. What do you tell people when they ask about building? We make it simple for our clients to build. From coordinating barge trips, to the use of our project-owned boats, to consulting with their architects, we help with the process. You don't even have to own a boat to build on the island.

We see it as our job to help our customers pursue their dream. We have over 15 years of experience in the region and I have lived in Chiriqui for the last 6. So we use our experience to help others save money and time. And of course we always provide free consultations to make sure every project gets started the right way.

It's not easy to jump into a new country, buy a piece of property, and start construction. Especially for our customers who are usually quite successful and busy. So our role is to help them streamline that process and get where they want to go.

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Almost 30 Percent of Panama City Office Space Empty

Real EstateBy Francys Vallecillo - The vacancy rate in Panama City's office market reached 29.8 percent during the first half of the year, the highest for Latin America.

The city's total stock is 697,000 square meters, with 10,000 square meters added during the first six months, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle. During the first half, 34,000 square meters of office space were absorbed and the firm expects another 137,000 absorbed during the second half.

The unbalanced trend will mostly likely continue for Panama City in the years to come. If all projects are completed in time, the city will have added about 582,000 square meters between 2013 and 2015, almost doubling the current stock, JLL reports. The market conditions have consequently become tenant-favorable, causing stagnant or decreasing rents.

The report highlights a similar trend throughout the region. Latin America added almost one million square meters of new construction during the first half of the year, with 700,000 square meters absorbed, leading to a 30 percent increase in available space from last year.

"Many countries are seeing record investment due to strong macroeconomic fundamentals and an expanding middle class," JLL states. "However, 2013 has been met with slowing growth amidst falling commodity prices, a decelerating China, and stagnant export markets in the U.S. and E.U."

The office market in Monterrey, Mexico, posted a vacancy rate of 18.7 percent, coming in second for the region, despite a decrease from 22 percent last year. There were 20,000 square meters of production during the first half with only 9,000 absorbed, JLL says. Adding to the current supply, there are 250,000 square meters in the pipeline expected to be completed by 2015.

Bucking the trend, the office market in Lima, Peru had a vacancy rate of 2.5 percent during the first half, one of the lowest in the world. There were 78,000 square meters added to the market, with 62,000 square meters absorbed during the first six months.

However, the city's vacancy rate is expected to increase similar to the rest of the region despite reaching record levels of office absorption this year.

"The immense production expected through 2015 should outpace demand and push vacancy rates up in the medium-term," JLL reports.

There are more than six million square meters in planned construction through 2015 for the region. The highest office production correlates with the region's fastest growing economies -- Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Chile. (worldpropertychannel.com)

Editor's Comment: Yup. Builders and developers first saturated the residential market in Panama City by greatly expanding the inventory of apartment spaces. They then turned to alternates, and started building malls, hotels, and new office spaces. As a result, there are now an excess of retail spaces, hotel rooms, and offices available for rent. All of these things should be seen as good news for travelers who want to visit Panama (for example) because hotel operators will have to drop their prices in order to attract business. Retail and office spaces will be cheaper for business operators. And while having any sort of a "glut" is generally a bad thing in the short term, it's usually a good thing from a strategic sense for long-term growth of the overall economy.

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Who Are The Leading Characters In The Juan Hombrón Case?

Real EstateBehind the businesses of lands, estates and property deeds, there is a large number of people linked to the business and other people who are only legal actors, but end up smeared at the end.

The issue on the lands of Juan Hombrón in the Pacific shore, in Cocle, is one of those complex cases in which the high-ranking main characters are placed under the spotlight once again.

As it was published in this newspaper, the case on Juan Hombrón reappears in the national environment, with a Tweet sent by President Ricardo Martinelli in which he apologized, and no one understands why: “regarding speculations that have worn off my patience I want to be clear that I wasn’t, am, or will be a shareholder in Hacienda Sta Monica.”

To understand this case you must first know a little bit about the characters and key assets in this history.

Hacienda (Estate) Santa Mónica

This is the big and exuberant estate part of the inheritance of $50 million from William Lucom, which has gone into a civil war for the lands of Juan Hombrón. These 54 hectares were tried to be taken away by the family of the former minister Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu.

Documents from the Public Registry revealed details on its directive board, which is currently formed by Fernando Duque, Samuel Urrutia, Diego Vallarino, Juan Carlos Fábrega and Héctor Infante. Most of these names are well known in a land close to the estate, El Hotel Bristol Buenaventura, owned by the former minister of Economy and Finances, Alberto Vallarino.

Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu

He was Martinelli’s Chief of Campaign since 2008. He was the closest man to the president, privilege that helped him occupy the position of Presidency Minister until he abandoned it on July 2012.

La Estrella published a letter in which he was presenting his resignation to the position he was occupying since July 1, 2009. Papadimitriu was considered the “superminister” and the brain behind the campaign that helped Martinelli win the Presidency with 60% of the votes.

Trapp Real Estate Corp

This Company is represented by the couple of lawyers Joavana Robles and Luis Fonseca. Both are part of the original structure of companies that requested the recognition of possessory rights to the former Directorate of Cadastre.

During this phase, the Fonseca lawyers appear as the subscribers of three companies who bought possessory rights in Juan Hombrón.

During the second phase of the history about the 54 hectares of Juan Hombrón, the Fonseca lawyers appeared as the directors, subscribers and resident agents of the company Trapp Real Estate.

Today, and after the quick selling-buying process, Trapp Real Estate owns 18.1 hectares in Juan Hombrón. The Fonseca are also linked to companies such as Homrom Empresas de Inversiones and Laufen Holding Corporation, who bought 6.2 hectares from Juan Hombrón, originally given to José Fernández and José Gutiérrez for free.

In this case, Anabelle Villamonte, former director of Ownership in the National Authority of Administration of Lands, was involved as well.

Anabelle Villamonte

On November 15, 2011, she was called by the Comptroller General to explain her role in the ownership process of 54 hectares in Juan Hombrón. A complaint filed for influence peddling, abuse of authority, false statement and environmental crimes was presented before the Public Prosecutor by residents in Punta Chame against Villamonte.

The former official and other three people are being investigated since December 2012 for crimes against the State, for the same case, at the Second Circuit Prosecutor’s Office. Villamonte was dismissed in January and February during the case opened against her for the irregularities in the approval of a land fill in Paitilla.

Buenaventura

This is a hotel community with an exclusive beach. It is next to Santa Mónica Estate and is bordered by the lands of Juan Hombrón, part of the Group Verdeazul, in which many of the directives of the land are appointed. The name Alberto Vallarino also appears in this list.

Alberto Vallarino

He is an Industrial Engineer with an MBA from the University of Cornell, United States. Since 2011 he is the President of Grupo Verdeazul, S.A., a company with Panamanian capital dedicated to the development and construction of real estate, commercial and hotel projects.

He has been involved in important positions in the banking and touristic sector, and was the Minister of Economy and Finances from 2009 and 2011. He was appointed as a member of the Directive Board of the Panama Canal Authority on February 19, 2013 for nine years. (Estrella)

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