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Wednesday, July 23 2014 @ 08:28 PM EDT

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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. (

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.


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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Everything Is Set For Capac Expo Habitat 2013

Real EstateCapac Expo Habitat 2013 is set for September 11 at the Atlapa Convention Center, which is the most important construction and housing trade show conducted by the Panamanian Construction Chamber.

For 5 days, visitors can analyze the offers of over 400 companies that will show their products and services, 20% more than the companies from 2012. New real estate projects will also expose their products at this trade show.

As part of the event many business seminars will be conducted for trade exchange between the participant companies, with exhibitors from Spain, Italy, China, Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina, among others.

Also, there will be workshops of “Do it yourself” to teach house wives and husbands to do their own repairs.

As part of the program they have also organized a security camp, in which the visitors will learn how to detect defects in vertical structures.

The show will be open to public starting on September 12 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday the schedule will be from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The cost is 1 dollar for senior citizens, $2 for the rest of the audience and it will be free for children under 12 years old. Unlike 2012, CAPAC has made different agreements to increase the amount of parking lots. (Critica)

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OPEN HOUSE - 10 August 2013, 10:00 am until 3:00 pm

Real EstateGRANDBAY – Great deal on Avenida Balboa - Price reduced to $239,000.00!

Seller offers $5000.00 for closing costs on full asking price

This great 140m2,1 bedroom condo, 1.5 baths has an open floor plan living and dining areas, all new kitchen appliances, modern light fixtures are all installed in your apartment as well as private laundry area with ample storage, and 1 parking space.

This condo offers spectacular city views, harmonious living space in the heart of Marbella, one of the city’s premier location.

Convenience is at your doorstep, situated on Ave. Balboa near Mulitcentro mall, walking distance to the financial center, the city’s finest dining and entertainment, and across the street from the Cinta Costera.

This well appointed building offers 24 hour doorman, the spectacular social area with pool, gym and indoor lounge overlooks the Panama Bay

Let’s make a deal - the price is right!

Hosted by:


Office 390-9190

CELL 6070-1830

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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 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
  • 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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