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Monday, September 01 2014 @ 03:35 AM EDT

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National Assembly Discussing Public Access to Beaches

Real EstateThe Commission on Public Infrastructure of the National Assembly has the discussion of Bill No. 379 on their agenda, which includes the right and the need of people to enjoy and use public beaches, not only on the mainland but also on the islands of Panama. National Assembly Deputy from the Panameñista political party Alcibíades Vásquez Velásquez made ​​it clear they have been working on this initiative for two years, and among the agreements - they intend to establish the conditions required for easements and public access roads to the beaches, which is being challenged by the country's hotel industry. Vasquez said for the moment the Bill "has been left in the committee until the completion of all consultations have occurred will all sectors concerned, but the issue has never been managed in a manner without consultation." (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The representatives from the hotel industry are bitching, because the draft version of the Bill apparently makes them responsible for lighting and maintaining the public easements. There's sort of a dilemma here. Let's say I'm a hotel owner and my property is right up against the beach, and there's an easement running right through the middle of my property. By law, any citizen from the public should be able to wander right through there in order to access the beach. In Panama, no one can "own" the beach, anywhere. Supposedly. But in reality what happens is the hotel owners block or otherwise obscure the easements and access roads. They will plant bushes, place large rocks in front of them, or take other actions to make it hard or impossible for the public to first find and then use the easements. Apparently the National Assembly is going to include language in this law forcing the hotel owners to make sure the easements are not blocked, that they are actually open to the public, and can be used. Want a practical demonstration of the problem? Try to take your family to Kobbe beach for a nice day of sun and fun, without being a guest at the hotel...

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Panama Punta Chame - Problems With Titled Land

Real Estate
Whoever put up the fences in Punta Chame removed this land survey marker installed by the American land owner - and simply tossed it aside.
Whoever put up the fences in Punta Chame removed this land survey marker installed by the American land owner - and simply tossed it aside.
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Yesterday I became aware of a problem with titled land ownership in the area of Punta Chame. An American investor is trying to sell two plots of land he owns in Punta Chame. A potential buyer came forward who was interested in the land. The buyer went to see the land with his real estate agent last week. While they were there, they noticed someone had erected a fence "behind" the land on the ocean (South) side of the property. Naturally, they asked the owner (seller) "what's up with the fence?" That's how all of this started.

Executive Summary: A company was created. They supposedly obtained Rights of Possession (ROP) over a parcel of land between the existing titled lot owned by the American landowner and the ocean. They supposedly obtained these Rights of Possession from people who had supposedly been living on them for five years. They registered these documents in the office of the local "Corregiduria" (Justice of the Peace) in Chame. The company then applied to the National Land Authority (ANATI) for title over these lands, based on the ROP documents. They drew up a plan for the plot of land in June 2011. The National Director of Land Titles at the time, Anabelle Villamonte Murgas - the same person who signed off on all of the documents in the Juan Hombrón scandal - granted title to these lands, for free, on 7 October 2011. At the time ANATI granted title, they listed the tax value of the land as $56,288.88 in the documents. The company now has these lands listed for sale on several Internet websites. They are trying to sell the land for $1.5 million dollars. So in effect, they "inserted" these titled plots in between the titled land which has been held by land owners for decades - and the ocean. No one had realized this had been done, and literally they are just waking up to the reality of the situation.

My Investigation Is Just Getting Started: So far the land owners on Punta Chame have not had time to file any kind of a criminal complaint or action - because they just found out about this yesterday. They met with lawyers today and are devising their plan on how to proceed. I am also starting my own investigation and will be reporting on this situation as it develops. It's also important to say that I know what I know right now, and of course there are still many holes to be filled in, and details to be developed. I suspect this will be another relatively large scandal in the Panamanian media once the details are known, mostly because it's another beachfront land scandal that seems to be very similar to the Juan Hombrón scandal, with many of the exactly same players. And the documents were apparently executed at about the same time as the documents in the Juan Hombrón scandal. So, there's a lot of overlap. No matter what, I couldn't just ignore it... (more)

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Juan Hombrón Lands Will Be Sold At Public Auction

Real Estate Las Tablas - Los Santos: The President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, revealed on Tuesday, July 17 in Las Tablas, "Now that Juan Hombrón will be delivered (back to State ownership), they are going to auction it off, so that these funds can enter to the Panamanian state." Martinelli said it would be a public tender and he invited all those who said this land was worth millions of dollars to participate. He added with the goal of preventing people from taking advantage of these coastal lands, they have to change the way Rights of Possession are granted for beachfront properties. "We're going to have to do it (sell the land in Juan Hombron), so there is no doubt, or belief we are trying to benefit or help someone else," he said. He added - without elaborating - that they will have to modify this law "respecting the rights of possession, but before doing so, to give a title, there should be a pristine process." He did not specify whether he was referring to the law of the National Authority of Land Management (Anati).

Editor's Comment: Hoo Boy. Martinelli went up to Las Tablas to inaugurate a new road. While there he announced that these lands in Juan Hombron would be sold via public auction. Now ask yourself - who in their right mind would invest a few million dollars to buy this land, knowing there's a 100% chance that someone is immediately going to file some sort of a legal action, suit, or claim against it? You would have to be start raving MAD to buy that land, under practically any circumstances. Nuts. Loco. Smoking bat guano for lunch. With that having been said, I love this plan. More shoot from the hip crazy shit from the CD guys. It's always entertaining. Oh, and while we're at it, just toss in a couple of references to making some more changes to the way beachfront land is bought and sold. Because, you know, there's nothing international investors like more than Executive improvisation. Just make it up as you go along, that's the spirit...

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Differences Over Bill To Regulate Real Estate Sector

Real EstateElisa Suarez and M. Gabriel Diez, representing real estate developers, explained their position on the creation of a bill being promoted by the Consumer Authority. The developers say the measures should not be applied to everyone, when there are only certain companies who fail to comply with their customers. Suarez, who is the Executive Director of the National Housing Promoters (Convivienda), said the Bill as currently written goes against free enterprise. Both Suarez and Diez support the position of protecting customers, and they are willing to sit down with the representatives of the Consumer Authority to reach an agreement that benefits all parties, and to implement regulations against those developers who do not measure up. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The developers have been getting away with murder for more than a decade. If they were going to police themselves, they would have done it by now. Most of these new proposed regulations would enhance protection for consumers, which would be a good (great) thing for Panama over the long haul. Foreigners are mostly concerned with the possibilities of getting screwed over in Panama, and any effort to shut that crap down would be welcomed. And of course the larger developers don't want to be reeled in. They'll get over it.

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Things To Consider Before Renting An Apartment in Panama City

Real EstateBy Kent Davis - The owner of Panama Equity, a Panama real estate agency that specializes in Panama City rentals. Check out my candid warning about the market before you get in too deep!

If you are moving to Panama (or perhaps already live here), than you realize that there are certain cultural nuances that you have had to or will have to get used to. In short, moving to Panama requires some adaptation because, in the end, it is a Central American country and if you have never lived in Central America (or Latin America), then you may have some new things to get used to! The same is true when you are picking out an apartment to rent in Panama: The process will be different than what you are used to, the properties/amenities will be different, and there are certain things that you need to be aware of (and in some cases downright AVOID) when choosing what type of property you want to rent.

First and foremost, it is important to have some idea about what you are looking for before you start your search. Obviously, you’ll want to do some homework on what different types of rental properties cost based on size and location. A simple Google search of “Panama apartments for rent” will bring up a long list of real estate agencies and classified websites offering apartment rentals in Panama.

I like to recommend newcomers spend some time adjusting the size and neighborhood within the search functionality of the website to get a feel for what rental prices really go for, keeping in mind that neighborhood, floor height (high floor vs low floor), furnished vs unfurnished, and the type of amenities offered all play a significant factor in the monthly rental price point.

Once you are ready to hit the road and start looking at available rental apartments, there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for and in some cases AVOID entirely: Street noise, blaring horns, blasting home and car stereos at all hours of the day and night, and the constant humming of construction noise are all a part of Panama city life. You can, however, choose to control the noise level you are exposed to by choosing to live on a higher floor if downtown (or in the suburbs). It is advisable to visit the apartment during rush hour (5:15-6:30) if you think that traffic noise is going to be an issue. If you live next to a public space such as a park, public square, or public beach access, consider the increased flow of traffic and noise levels when an event is going on.

Major thoroughfares in Panama City (aka potential noise generators) are Via Argentina, Transistmica, Avenida Balboa, Via Porras, and Calle 50. All of these streets offer very nice apartments for rent, however you’ll want to be high above the traffic or choose an apartment that is facing the other direction of the street. Another obvious solution would be to pick one street parallel to these main arteries to live on.

Another noise related issue is neighbors. Since common courtesy is sometimes less in Panama, neighbors can be a real issue. Don’t be afraid to have your real estate agent do some digging on the neighbors both next to you and above you. Without asking, you won’t know if your future neighbors are rock stars or retirees, and this can make all the difference when trying to get a good night’s sleep in your apartment.

Another important factor when determining the right Panama apartment for rent is the specific building you choose to look in. Some buildings are built better than others, which is where it is important to use a Panama real estate agent who is an expert about water issues, parking issues (like a 7th floor parking stall), building restrictions (like not being able to use the pool after 7pm), future or ongoing construction projects, and any other issues that come to mind when visiting.

If the lobby of a building that is supposedly only 2-3 years old is already deteriorating faster than the norm (which in Panama is pretty fast), then pay extra attention to things like windows, under sinks, and plumbing connections when deciding if a particular apartment is the one you’ll be living in for the next 12 months. Again, the use of an expert can be beneficial here since newcomers can get caught up in the honeymoon phase and overlook these kinds of disasters-waiting-to-happen.

Something else to make sure your real estate agent tracks down for you is the details on the owner, or more importantly the property administrator. Oftentimes, owners of apartments do not live in Panama and they hire third party property managers to handle tenant issues including routine and emergency maintenance.

NEVER try to rent a property from an owner who does not have a local Panama-based property manager or you’ll find yourself having to do many things yourself. Be sure to ask specifically “who will be the person I need to call when there is a problem with the apartment.” If your agent gives you an owners email or a long distance number, think twice.

Some other issues to avoid, or at least considerations to think about:

  • Loft style apartments with large windows often have tremendous cooling bills
  • Pay special attention to renting a penthouse unit, as this is the most exposed to the elements since your ceiling is directly below the roof, which is where many building leaks originate
  • Be conscious of Western facing apartments, as the Panama afternoon sun can be a scorcher
  • Make sure your property manager is servicing your air conditioning units at least every six months or else your cooling bills will be higher than they have to be
  • Some buildings include free internet and cable, a potential money saver
  • Take a look at your water heater: if it’s gas, then it’s free. If it’s electric, then you pay every time you use it.

Generally real estate agents in Panama tend to focus on properties above the $1,000/month mark since they are paid based on the monthly rental amount. In most cases, an agent will make the first month’s rent as commission and most owners under the $1,000/month price point tend to use platforms such as La Prensa and Craigslist (so know what you are getting into when you browse for rentals there).

My firm, Panama Equity Real Estate works with owners, property administrators and fellow real estate agents to help our clients source the right fit for their rental needs and we have literally hundreds of rental options to choose from.

All the Best, Kent Davis

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

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Cpanama Real Estate Corp - Panama Real Estate for Investors, Retirees, and Second Homes

Real Estate CPanama Real Estate Corporation: North American company, North American work ethic. Come by our offices on Balboa avenue in the heart of Panama; we know the level of service you expect, and we deliver. We have been selling real estate in Panama for more than five years, and our agents Know Panama. Pre construction projects, existing condos and homes, raw land. City, beach, and mountain property. Turnkey investment consulting, including in house legal and banking services, personalized real estate tours, and some of the most diverse inventory in the market. (more)
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Purchasing Land in Panama - Some Elements To Consider

Real EstateIf you are an investor, a developer or simply someone looking for a plot of land for sale in Panama, the marketplace is as varied as the topography of this isthmus. In general, land for sale in Panama can be categorized into one of several distinct offerings, specifically use of the land, location of the land, zoning, and for pricing purposes usable area, services available, and views. For general purposes, we will cover three areas for discussion, namely land for sale in Panama City, beachfront land for sale on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and farmland for sale.

Land for sale in Panama City is classified as either residential, commercial, or industrial with a myriad of density, height and use restrictions associated with each category. To receive a full list of the zoning categories on land for sale in Panama, please contact the author at Kent@panamaequity.com. There are several areas near Panama City with no existing zoning and in this case, per the administrative board known locally as MIVI, the zoning for a particular piece of land can be requested according to the intended use. Having land nearby with the desired zoning makes the approval process much easier if there is an existing precedent.

During Panama City’s boom-town period from around 2001-2006, speculators made tremendous profits purchasing older homes, joining adjacent parcels, and applying for rezoning to build newer, high density residential towers. Because the infrastructure improvements have not kept up with the increased population density and horizontal growth of new residential construction, the governing bodies of the MIVI, ANAM and local policy boards have passed moratoriums for new residential construction in certain areas of the city including the districts of San Francisco and some parts of the Bella Vista districts.

Pricing on land for sale within Panama City, Panama varies greatly, depending on population density, nearby development, usable area, as well as zoning restrictions. Prime grade A commercially zoned land in a majorly populated area such as along Calle 50, Via Espana, or Via Brasil generally sells for between $900 - $1,500 per meter, or roughly $4MM per acre. This would be considered the top end of the market on land for sale in any one of Panama City’s major high end population centers, since the streets mentioned above are considered to be main thoroughfares traversing Panama City. Well-located, flat land in Panama City’s urban centric neighborhoods like Marbella, Bella Vista, El Cangrejo, and Obarrio are in short supply and are generally selling for a premium.

Because Panama has two coasts, the Atlantic and Pacific, the market for beachfront land for sale varies depending on the coast. In general, the Pacific side is much further along in terms of infrastructure and residential/commercial development than the Atlantic or “Caribbean” coast.

Prices for beachfront land along Panama’s Pacific coast vary, once again, depending on several factors. Pricing on land within a gated community, for instance, an oceanfront lot for sale in Vista Mar Panama or any other of Panama’s high end developments generally fetches a premium in the market when compared to something that may not have as direct access to the water or be in any already-developed neighborhood. In general, beachfront land in developments such as Buenaventura, Vista Mar, and Coronado tend to be more expensive than beachfront lots for sale in Punta Chame, Gorgona, Playa Corona, and other less developed beachfront communities in Panama.

We have seen a marked rise in real estate prices on land for sale near Rio Hato because of the future international airport, which is already in construction and due for completion in early 2014. This news has brought several major players into the development arena, including the Mariott hotel chain who is completing a massive hotel project in the Panama’s Rio Mar township, a region we've been preaching for years now.

Oceanfront Caribbean Parcels in Panama are generally less expensive than similar land for sale along the Pacific coast, mainly because there is only one main road traversing the Caribbean coast and development is still in its infancy.  In a general sense, and to use beachfront pricing as an example, one could expect to pay anywhere from $150 - $300 per meter for a titled beachfront parcel on the Atlantic Coast. The high side of the Caribbean land market would be within a development such as San Marino or near Isla Grande, and the low side would be for a large piece in an area that’s a bit more off the radar and as far as 3-4 hours drive from Panama City. One factor that has contributed to fairly high pricing on the Caribbean Coast is scarcity of titled land, since most of the land along Panama’s Atlantic region is often untitled, or “Right of Possession. These types of transactions are risky and may take a long time. In the Atlantic side, large lots of titled oceanfront parcels can still be purchased in places like Nombre de Dios, Pelenque, and Coclecito.

Land for sale in Panama’s interior depends on the area, topography, views, proximity to the ocean or mountains, and a number of other factors. For example, prices on land for sale in Altos del Maria Panama differ depending on the elevation, usable area, and proximity to the entrance of this gated community. Farmland for sale in Panama varies with the offering depending on what conveys, including any livestock, equipment and other items related to the business.

In general, land for sale in the interior varies significantly in price point for a number of factors, so it is difficult to generalize on price points. Titled land for sale in Panama with rustic gravel road access and limited services can still be purchased for less than $4,000 per acre, or $1.00 per meter however these offerings generally tend to be larger parcels that may or may not have 100% buildable topography.

Panama Equity real estate agents have brokered a high volume of land deals over the years, and our agents are standing by to help you identify the right parcel for your needs.

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An Update On The Luxury Real Estate Market in Panama

Real Estate By Kent Davis - The luxury sector in the Panama city real estate market has seen a resurgence in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Real estate developers for high-end projects have been reporting steady absorption in the $1,000,000+ price point. Most recent May sales include several units in Bahia Pacifica and The Point, both of which are projects delivered by the luxury development specialist Desarrollo Bahia.

According to our contacts within this development, approximately four $1 million+ units were sold in the last five weeks, meaning that the last remaining units in Bahia Pacifica are now almost depleted, with an estimated 24 units left in The Point. Luxury sales on the secondary market have also been strong, with Panama real estate agencies and project promoters reporting 21 high profile $1MM condo closings over the last six weeks. Venezuelans are still a large part of the demand for luxury real estate in Panama, continuing to expatriate their capital to Panama and oftentimes relocating entire businesses and large families to the city. High profile Venezuelans fleeing the Chavez regime bring seven figure bank accounts with them and have been typically drawn to the Costa del Este and Punta Pacifica neighborhoods, in a handful of cases, purchasing multiple properties for both investment and relocating family members.

According to fellow agents and what we have also seen from in house demand, a new segment of the Panama luxury real estate market is the European buyer coming from countries such as Italy, Spain, and Switzerland among other EU nations. Given the current economic crisis in Europe, some see this as a capital flight from the euro to the dollar. Top executives from major companies such as Oberecht, Caterpillar, and Proctor & Gamble have also made large apartment purchases in the first quarter of 2012 in buildings such as Allure, Pacific Point, and the Trump Ocean Club.

The construction and development pipeline of new supply for high end luxury real estate offerings has slowed down over the last four quarters, meaning future prospects for appreciation over the next 12-24 months are starting to strengthen on the uptick in demand and slowing down of supply. The long term prospects for a resilient luxury real estate market in Panama are strong, supported in part by the completion of major city infrastructure projects along with increased purchasing power and wealth creation in the local economy. This week’s announcement that Mersk will be relocating their regional headquarters will bring another wave of high level executives looking for high end housing solutions.

Punta Pacifica, Costa del Este, and Balboa Avenue are the three principal sectors where developers are still focusing on new luxury condo projects. Clayton, Albrook, Camino del Cruces and the new Santa Maria Country Club are the most prominent four neighborhoods for single family homes that have the highest offering for luxury homes in Panama. Based on feedback from buyers, the developers of the Santa Maria project have been reluctant to give deep discounts, implying absorption in the project has been sufficient enough to meet their sales targets and debt obligations.

Rental absorption in the luxury segment has also been consistent in the first six months of the year, with a large number of $6,000/month apartment rentals coming off of the market.

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Judge Tosses Appeals Filed By Fishermen, Upholds Evictions From Beaches

Real EstateThe governor of Cocle, Fernando Nuñez Fabrega, confirmed that the First Alternate Judge in charge, Kitzel Vega, denied the three guarantee protections that had been filed against the eviction orders from the La Pacora beach, and from the beach in Santa Clara. Last week the judge admitted the appeals filed on behalf of fishermen against eviction orders issued by the Justice of the Peace in Rio Hato. The eviction orders were issued against the fishermen because, according to the Governor, there are families living on privately owned property, and these are people who have been living there for many years. The fishermen protested and even made ​​street closures for this topic. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Panama needs to scrap this whole "rights of possession" thing and start over. There is little or no judicial security when it comes to property ownership. The farther away you are from Panama City, the worse it gets. At one point in time there were titles issued for practically the entire country - some of them going back to when Panama was a part of Colombia. Then Omar Torrijos woke up one day and started handing land to poor farmers, under the idea that "if you live on it (possess it), then it's yours." That was the origin of the whole "rights of possession" debacle. And now, forty years later, people are coming back with those old titles, presenting them in court, and winning, such as in this case. So if I have a title from 1955 for 200 hectares of land, then all of those "rights of possession" claims are no longer valid? Did you buy ROP land? Do you own it? Really? Keep your money, and rent.

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ANATI Is Processing Claim For Island

Real Estate There has been an application for a "special concession" in the National Authority of Land Management (Anati) since 13 July 2011 for a parcel of land measuring 141.5 hectares on the Canales de Tierra island, in the municipality of Bahia Honda, province of Veraguas. The request was made by the Italian-French businessman Jean Pigozzi, who since the late 1990's began to acquire large tracts of land in Panama, together with the American art dealer Daniel Wolf.

Pigozzi gained local prominence this week following a visit made by the president, Ricardo Martinelli, to Bahia Honda and El Pixvae, two coastal communities south of Veraguas where he has land disputes with the locals. As reported by some members of both communities, the surprise presidential visit included the threat of sending to jail those who do not cede their possessory rights Pigozzi.

Pigozzi's request has not had drawbacks in the Anati. On 4 April, the Director of Certification and Regularization, Carlos Dutari, set an edict so that anyone who thinks they have a better claim to the land can file an opposition within the next two months. In addition, the edict was taken yesterday to the office of the Justice of the Peace in Bahia Honda by ANATI officials, which also must be placed in view of the community.

Pigozzi sustained the application on Article 26 of Law 2 of 2006 which regulates concessions for tourism investment and the sale of island territory for tourist use purposes, and allows the concession for 90 years of island property, in case it can be proven the possession was for a period not less than two years. Pigozzi will not have trouble meeting this requirement of Panamanian law. Since 2003 he built a marine laboratory research on the island, and then a unique ensemble that includes a house on top of the island. And now, the Canales de Tierra island is now called Simca island, referring to the Pigozzi family car company. (Prensa)

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