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Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 09:18 AM EDT

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Real Estate Prices in Clayton to Double … Again?

Real EstateConstruction progress on the new UN Regional Hub in Clayton Panama is now fully underway, with two crews working around-the-clock shifts on the project, due for completion in 2015. Panama residents, especially those who live in the Clayton neighborhood can remember what happened back in 2006 when the United States announced their new Clayton Embassy location. We all watched prices on land double in Clayton almost overnight, along with five residential projects starting construction at the same time. Most of those new projects have been completed, along with three internationally credited schools.

All eyes are on Clayton at this moment and in particular the construction site that will house over 700 full time UN workers spread across 17 organizations including UNICEF, the World Food Program, the UN International strategy for disaster response, and the World Health Organization, among others. The project, or “hub” as it is being called, will consist of 17,500m˛ of office space and common services, such as an auditorium, cafeteria, restaurant, day care facility, library, gym, travel agency and bank.

UNOPS Regional Director for Latin America and Caribbean, Maria Noel Vaeza, thanked the government of Panama for their support and said: “As a green building on a green site, the UN Regional Hub in Panama is the first of its kind in the world. It offers a unique opportunity for the UN to raise the bar and set an example both within and outside of the UN, achieving a major step in UN system coherence and effectiveness.”

Sustainable construction - The new hub aims to lead the way in terms of carbon neutrality, sustainability and increased UN integration and effectiveness. It is designed to be a unique model of good practices in the implementation of sustainable construction in the Latin-American region and at a global level. It is CO2 neutral, energy positive and water self-sufficient.

The construction is expected to cost $38 million and will be funded by the government of Panama. Pricing on homes for sale in Clayton Panama are expected to see a jump once the hub nears completion and workers look to relocate.

Interested in real estate in the Clayton area that may benefit from this all of this new construction? This home for sale in Clayton is literally the closest available property to the new HUB and was just listed by Panama Equity in February.

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Conflict Over Land And Beach Access in Pedasi

Real EstateThe local residents in Pedasi, in the province of Los Santos, are worried that at any minute they might lose their right to go to the beach, because big corporations are fencing off areas they have always used for public recreation.

The locals complained that a consortium has closed off the access road they have always used to get to the shore at Playa La Garita.

Land in Pedasi, in the province of Los Santos, costs millions of dollars thanks to the potential for tourism, and the construction of fences in beach areas is making people upset.

Not only the local Panamanian residents, but also among the community of foreigners who have purchased property in the area.

The unrest comes after a multi million dollar consortium fenced off an area that was for public enjoyment, and they also took part of the parcel of land owned by another foreigner.

The American Thomas Gibbs, who has been residing in Pedasi for year and who claims to have title over the land, reported he has lost some of his land due to the construction of a fence.

It is unknown who authorized the international consortium to build a fence on the beach.

So far, it has not been possible to obtain a statement from the mayor of Pedasi about the complaint. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: One sided story. So, which is it. Is the "international consortium" fencing off an area that has always been used for public enjoyment? Or are they fencing off a road that the locals have always used to get to the beach? Or, are they stealing land from a gringo? It's not only difficult to make a call on these kinds of situations without first having seen the actual plans, it actually takes a technically competent investigation to go back and reconstruct the plans and paperwork to see how we got from "there" (historical situation) to "here" (current situation). I learned during the Chame investigation that just because someone holds title over a parcel of land does not mean they should have title. The ANATI in Panama is hopelessly corrupt - witness the cases in Paitilla, Juan Hombron, Chame, Bocas del Toro, and others - and they will sign paperwork and hand out land titles to anyone for the right price. It's also perfectly possible that the "international consortium" made a fully legal purchase, went through all the right steps, did nothing wrong, and all they are doing is changing the status quo. The local residents used to be able to access the beach that way, but in fact now it's private property and the new owners might be fully within their rights to fence it off (and of course the locals won't like that, but it might not be illegal.) With respect to the stealing of land from Thomas Gibbs, again, I have no idea who's right there. The conflict will make it's way through the courts and one thing is certain - he who pays the most bribes will win. This is Panama. There is no judicial security over land ownership. None.

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Trying To Put Some Order In Panama's Real Estate Market

Real EstatePanama's economic growth in recent years can be reflected in real estate, where the market for commercial, industrial, and office buildings continues to rise, suggesting there will be a lot of activity in 2013.

During 2012 there was an increase in real estate deals in residential and business properties, after a massive opening of buildings that were under construction, according to members of the Panamanian Association of Brokers and Real Estate (Acobir).

According to figures from the Panama Economy Insight consulting firm, the growth rate in this sector in 2012 was 11%, almost 4 percentage points more than in 2011.

Although Acobir members agree that the market is growing, since the 2008 crisis, the mishandling of information keeps the number of transactions from being even greater, or for them to be executed with total transparency.

Panama's Authority for Consumer Protection and Competition (ACODECO) received 3,055 complaints between May 2006 and January 2013 filed against property developers.

In response to these problems, Acobir recently launched a tool designed to manage and provide greater accuracy in the property sector.

"With the multiple listing system (MLS, for its acronym in English) Acobir has a clear set of rules that facilitates the handling and exchange of information for the benefit of buyers, owners and the housing market in general," explains Nicole Tribaldos , administrative manager of the Tribaldos Real State Corp., an Acobir member.

The tool works through a multiple listing, an exclusive database that is shared among the 276 registered commercial agents representing over 100 real estate companies who are members of Acobir.

By concentrating all market information in one place (www.mlsacobir.com) the offer accurate and current figures of the sector and the real prices of each property.

"With this tool the activity in the sector will increase, because both the seller and the buyer will have access to current and transparent information. This gives greater credibility and certainty to the market," says Frank Morrice Arias, the manager of Semusa Realty.

The Parties will act, during the entire transaction process, under the terms of a previously signed contract to provide benefits for those involved.

Of these 3,055 complaints published by Acodeco in its last report in February 2013, involving a total of $223.5 million, 85 were due to a lack of information ($2.6 million); a line that sits in seventh place out of 20 that are registered in the report.

As a consequence of the strong competition that exists in the business and with the desire to get the commission, some agents may take information without authorization from other partners, and offer the property for sale at a cheaper price as if it were their own, making it more attractive for sale.

This is one of several cases mentioning by Acobir members, who recognize the "prostitution" that exists is in terms of the information used in the market.

Eric Van Hoorde summarizes the tool as the preamble to an era that will work with real and transparent information, and that gives peace of mind and confidence.

The commercial market continues to rise -

"Right now we have a lot of supply in business unites and office buildings," says Aracelli Roy de Jaen, director of the Tribaldos Real Estate Corp.

"The residential inventory has been consumed quickly after the opening of several projects in 2012," she adds.

According to a study conducted by CBRE Richard Ellis, the average rental price per square meter during the second half of 2012 was $40.16 per month for Class A commercial centers.

What's more, the increase moved the average sale price to $3,245.50 per meter for the month.

In this semester, Panama City still has commercial office building projects that are still at the early phases of construction, such as moving earth and the implementation phase.

There is some 25,000 square meters under construction in the banking district, another 86,810 square meters under construction in the Southern part of the city (San Francisco, Marbella, Bella Vista and Avenida Balboa) and an additional 50,539 square meters under construction in the Costa del Este area. These are the primary sub-markets that continue with the most square meters of new space under construction.

In the office market, the average rental price increased slightly from $23.30 to $24.41 per square meter per month, compared to the previous quarter/

The sales price decreased slightly from $2,844 to $2,557 per square meter.

In the residential market, figures from the first half of 2012 show that the average rental price fell to $11.31 per square meter compared with the previous quarter, and the average sales price decreased from $2,590 per square meter to $2,112 per square meter. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I will be meeting with Frank Morrice from Semusa on Monday. He's been wanting to tell me about their new MLS initiative. Many people have tried to start an MLS system in Panama in the past and they have all failed for one reason or another. Just looking at this most recent ACOBIR system from the surface, it also seems doomed to fail for a couple of reasons. First of all, most of the real estate agents in Panama are not members of ACOBIR. Their organization is sort of an "old boy's" network, comprised of the small handful of real estate agents who ran the market before the boom started, and they make it hard for new agents to become members. When they do join, there's really not much of an incentive to stay - other than the fact that you can put an "ACOBIR" stamp on your website. The high cost / lack of benefits ratio usually causes most of the real estate agents to eventually depart. In looking at their new MLS which they are trying to launch, they only have about 180 properties listed which is less than one property for every ACOBIR member. The problem with all of these MLS efforts is that under most schemes the sellers are obligated to sign an exclusive contract with just one listing agent which prevents them from listing the property with anyone else. In this "free for all" market, there's a whole lot of downside. Anyone who really wants to sell their property will list their property with anyone and everyone, to increase their chances of finding a buyer who is willing to pay their price. The MLS only works when everyone is playing by the same rules. Hence, it seems to me like this most recent ACOBIR effort will also eventually stall.

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Panama Farms and Farmland for sale

Real EstateLooking for farms for sale in Panama? Most farmers and those selling farmland do not use the traditional marketing channels for selling this type of real estate, which means the key to identifying well-priced farmland is having a local scout in the area with contacts to the land owners, farming tenants, and syndicate developers. Panama Equity has those connections and always has a specialist available to assist in your search for quality farmland and farms for sale in Panama’s three specific farming zones.

As global food prices continue to rise, investors have begun to buy up massive parcels of producing farmland in areas all over the world. Farms for sale in Panama are still relatively inexpensive because the local ranchers and farmers are still farming the way their grandfathers did and still getting the same yields. Most are not using modern seed technology, soil therapy, crop rotation, etc. And why not? If you inherited the land for nothing or bought it 50 years ago for almost nothing?

Good cropland in America’s farm belt is currently selling for as much as $30,000 per hectare (2.47 acres). In most of these areas such as Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois, the farmer yields one crop per year, with the rest of the year being too cold to plant. In Panama, crops are year-round and get between 2 to 3 rotations, and a few of our land scouts in selected areas of the country have identified over 20,000 hectares and counting of good farmland with prices starting at $10,000 per hectare.

Roughly 9% of Panama´s land is cultivated for farm use, with the primary agricultural exports being coffee, pineapple, melon, banana, fish, shrimp, and timber (mahogany and cedar). Of the top 20 products exported from Panama, more than 10 reported an increase this year based on records from the last 5 years, while other crops such as watermelons, onions, and rice are down drastically. Exportation from Panama is mostly to the United State and Europe, especially within the fruits sector. The export of agricultural products in Panama is over $700M per year, and there is definitely room for growth in the farming sector, especially for a well capitalized investor who has farm and ranching experience.

Click here for the full article on farms for sale in Panama.

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City Council Delays Eviction In Calidonia

Real EstateResidents of a building known as "Bam" in the district of Calidonia, who were about to be evicted, will stay in place, after the City Council approved this Friday, February 15, a resolution suspending the action.

Javier Ortega, Council president, said the eviction is stopped until the Housing Ministry can find a housing solution for those affected, who said they were aware that they would have to leave the property.

However, it was learned that there is an extension until 20 February, and after that date they must vacate the building.

Local residents staged protests this morning, prompting the presence of anti-riot units and causing a traffic jam on the National Avenue. (Estrella)

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Short Notice Eviction Prompts Protests and Street Closures

Real EstateThe inhabitants of the area of San Miguel in Calidonia had a sad Valentine's day, when they woke up on Thursday with an eviction order from the authorities.

The residents who live in the house called "Bam" located on Calle P have been ordered to leave, and they were given six days to vacate.

In response the residents decided to shut down Ave. Nacional at noon, causing a massive traffic jam and causing drivers to take detours.

The evicted residents are demanding a solution from the government and say they've tried to talk to the authorities, but state that this communication has been denied. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Once again, we don't get the full story here. I'm certain that if you took a look at the full and complete story, you will see that the owner of this property has been fighting in court for years to have these "residents" removed from his property. This sort of thing happens all the time. There are properties (old apartment buildings) in places like Calidonia where the building itself is useless, but the land underneath has great potential value due to the location. But first the owners have to pry out the current residents - who are often dug in like ticks and they don't want to go. When the government finally acts in accordance with the law and evicts those unwanted residents, then they whine, bitch, moan, protest, close streets, and make everyone's lives miserable. The short answer is "shut the fuck up, and get out." They probably also owe the property owner thousands of dollars in back rent, which he will never collect, not a dime. Sadly, these sorts of stories are all too common in Panama, where there is little respect for the law, and a great tendency to allow whoever bitches and moans the loudest off the hook. Now they will close streets until the government gives them a free apartment. The "nanny state" at it's finest. Sheesh...

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Review of Real Estate Market - Panama's Pacific Beach Areas (Video)

Real EstateBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This afternoon I interviewed Kaye Ashbridge of Panama Realtor. We talked about the current status of the real estate market along Panama's Pacific coast. Kaye covers everything from Chame to Rio Hato, including beach properties at Gorgona, Coronado, San Carlos, Rio Mar, Corona, Vistamar, Decameron, Playa Blanca, and Malibu. She's an expert who has been dealing in real estate in this area for a long time who know's what's going on. There are now at least 400 or more English speaking expatriates living full time in the Coronado area, with more moving in every day, converting this area that used to be exclusively a weekend beach retreat for rich Panamanians into a desirable enclave. The center of gravity is Coronado because of the stores, shopping, and services. No matter how much you think you know about the real estate market in Panama, I'll guarantee you'll learn something if you watch this video.

Copyright 2013 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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Land Invaders Evicted in Felipillo

Real EstateAbout 100 families were evicted on Wednesday from private land located in the Felipillo sector in the district of La 24 de Diciembre.

The invaders did not exert any resistance to the eviction, but they disagreed with the action, because they claim they do not have their own house, so they began clearing the land, and they are demanding housing solutions from the Ministry of Housing and Land Management (Miviot).

Meanwhile, yesterday the Executive Cabinet Council approved a proposal to pass a law that would amend the Criminal Code to toughen penalties on those who are involved in the invasion of private and/or state land.

The proposal is that anyone who promotes, sponsors, induces, finances, facilitates, collaborates, or permits the invasion of lands who then divides, builds, or constructs on private or state land, without the proper permission from the owner or the appropriate government authority, shall be punished with imprisonment of six to eight years. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Right now there is this attitude in Panama that "if I'm on it, then it must be mine." This stems from the adoption of the "Rights of Possession" framework. For example these poor people who don't have a house simply go on someone else's land, and start building. If you own property you might wake up one day to find out that there are now 100 people living in little makeshift shacks - and they don't want to leave. This initiative by the Cabinet Council would seek to stop those kinds of actions, or at least make the penalties for the invaders stiffer.

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Martinelli Vows To Veto Bill 102 On Land Appropriation

Real EstateBill 102, which would give the government the authority to take over lands that are considered to be idle or unproductive farms, and which authorizes the land to be titled in favor of it's occupants, does not have the backing of the president, Ricardo Martinelli.

Through his Twitter account the president wrote, "The Executive does not know whether or not it will sign Bill 102 on expropriations. It is an initiative of one Deputy (in the National Assembly). It's not going to happen," referring to the initiative undertaken by Deputy Hernan Delgado, a member of his CD political party.

Among other things, the bill would establish a broader concept of the social motives that can lead to expropriation of the land for the benefit of individuals and communities, in response to the failure of the owners of large tracts of land in meeting social functions. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, I concur. It's a bad idea.

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Government Grants Sea Bed

Real EstateThe Cabinet Council last week ordered that two parcels of land - part of the project to build artificial islands for the Punta Pacifica project - should be "disaffected" from their current status as being part of the public domain or publicly owned property (as part of the floor of the ocean), and they will be converted into a capital asset (finca). (more)

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