Facts and Myths About Buying Real Estate in Panama

The booming Panama offers a wide variety of real estate. You’ll find everything in Panama’s most popular expat destinations such as townhouses, apartments, duplexes, cottages, and many more.

In the heart of Panama City’s bustling district, condos are in good supply, and we are expecting some lower prices this year, around $195,000 for 100 square meters.

In the central hub of Panama’s Pacific coast, Coronado—one of Panama’s most active expat communities—there are apartments that cost about $190 per square foot and houses that cost as little as $150.

In the cool, fresh climate and pristine natural surroundings of Boquete, houses are more common in the past, but nowadays apartments are becoming accessible, both in Boquete and the neighboring city of David. There are prices that as low as $83 per square foot in this area.

Prior to buying real estate in Panama, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Fact 1: Panama has plenty of titled property

Titled properties all around the country are measured and properly recorded in Panama’s Public Registry. This helps you know exactly who the owner is and what you are buying. A Panamanian attorney is highly recommended to do the research in order to make sure that there aren’t any claims on the property you want to purchase.

Facts and Myths About Buying Real Estate in Panama

A few regions in Panama—specifically Bocas del Toro—have a lot of untitled or right of possession (ROP) property. It should be avoided since you are at risk of having multiple claims of ownership on the same plot.

Fact 2: Panama has licensed realtors

Only Panamanian citizens are allowed to work legally as real estate agents in Panama. You must always ask for a license in any agent you work for and have your attorney to conduct a research to know if there exists some registered complaints. Ensuring that the real agent is reputable and registered can guarantee a smooth buying process.

Fact 3: Panama has no MLS

Same with other countries outside the U.S., there is no single general platform for listing (multiple listing service, or MLS). So expect for a U.S. seller to give a real estate agent an exclusive listing.

***UPDATE: In Mid 2019, Panama launched its MLS site.  You can see it here: Panama MLS

Well that’s how things are usually done here in Panama. The seller will give his or her listing to a particular agent or team of agents. It’s pretty normal for prospective buyers to meet up with numerous real estate agents. No need to stick to only one. It’s like shopping for some antique items—you need to look around to get the best deal.

Facts and Myths About Buying Real Estate in Panama

Myth: Foreigners can’t own beach property in Panama

The truth is, anyone can own a property in Panama – foreigners enjoy the same property rights as Panamanians. There are even no requirements when buying real estate in Panama. With that, I always advise to rent for a few months first.  **There is one small restriction with foreigners owning property that is within 10 km of the Costa Rica border.

There are many expats that lived in one neighborhood and then fall in love with another place. Renting temporarily can help you ensure that you’ve settled in the right neighborhood.

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