Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Property Investing in Panama

View a database of carefully selected investment property in Panama

SUMMARY : Panama City is one of the world's least expensive first-world cities. It is also among the most modern and prosperous cities in Latin America with over 3 million people. The city's array of tall skyscrapers is reminiscent of Miami. It boasts incredible shopping where almost any product from the U.S. may be easily found. During the past several years Panama has been consistently rated in the top ten for the best retirement locations worldwide. A welcoming community, safe environment, low crime statistics, excellent incentives for retirees, together with the natural beauty and ethnic diversity that is Panama, all appeal to the increasing number of baby boomers from North America and Europe who are looking for a different option for retirement.

Currency: (USD) Dollar

US Dollar: A global benchmark currency. Little or no exchange rate parity fluctuation against Middle East currencies. The cost of living is significantly lower than that of Western Europe.

Economic climate: The trend towards an open economy and possible trade pacts with such nations as the U.S. and Mexico are conducive to investment in Panama. There are also no government expropriation or interference as in many Latin American countries. A business-oriented government encourages foreign investment. A government that realizes the value of private business to a developing country backs all investment. In 1946 Panama's business-oriented mentality led to the creation of the Colon Duty Free Zone, considered to be the second largest free trade center in the world, after Hong Kong. In addition, the Panamanian government offers foreigners who invest in Panama many attractive incentives such as legal residency and tax privileges.

Capital Gains tax: Since the enactment of Law 8 of 1956, successive legislation has been passed offering tax benefits to developers. It has been widely accepted that, as a result of these incentives purchasers of real property have also benefitted. This tax is applicable if there is a capital gain. This tax is also regulated by Article 701 and applied at a flat 10% rate, whether a corporation or an individual is acting as a seller, on the gain resulting from the price of the sale minus the price of the acquisition by seller, as well as registration, notary and real estate agent expenses. If there is no capital gain on the transfer of a property, the 2% transfer tax, is also paid in advance for the sale, levied on the difference between the price of the sale or an appraised value increased at a 5% yearly rate (whichever is higher) and the price of acquisition by the seller.

Popular investment areas: Panama City has become a cosmopolitan modern metropolis - there are many raise buildings overlooking the ocean and the Bay of Panama. Exclusive residential areas like Marbella, Paitilla, Coco del Mar, Punta Pacifica and San Francisco offer a good range of apartments and condominiums for sale. Suburban residential areas in the former Canal Zone like Amador Heights, Balboa, Albrook and Clayton offer large and attractive single-family homes and condominiums. Casco Viejo -- the oldest city on the Pacific Coast of the Americas -- has become a desirable place for real estate investment, encouraged by the Panamanian government Casco Viejo investment incentives for the restoration of the historic Casco Viejo district. Outside Panama City, there are beautiful real estate properties located in popular destinations including, Chiriqui, El Valle, and Altos de Maria. Known mostly for their cooler climates, incredible flora and quiet peaceful atmosphere, real estate in the highlands of Panama are ideal for those interested in retiring abroad. Bocas del Toro is another popular destination for Panama real estate. Most known for its crystal clear waters, rich Antillean culture, unique over-the-water architecture and laidback tropical atmosphere. In recent times, Bocas del Toro has become a booming center for European and American Expats, as well as an impressive number of tourists. Several of these destinations are also considered Tourism Development Zones, where additional tax benefits are granted to investors in hotel projects. Real Estate Values in Panama and primarily in these Pacific Coast Beach areas has been appreciating very steadily, and as interest and growth increases so to do the real estate values.

Price ranges: The Panamanian government incentives for the restoration of the historic Casco Viejo district encourage investment here, this area reminiscent of New Orleans or SoHo years ago abounds with shells of graceful buildings that are crying out for renovation. Outside of Panama City excellent real estate properties are available for developers and individuals. The more remote the location the more reasonable the cost but be aware that you may be far from utilities or roads. The real estate in Bocas del Toro offers beautiful Caribbean beach property. Here palm-fringed golden sands surround the islands and turquoise waters where the rain forest meets the ocean. Here families shop by boat, enjoy water sports and the natural beauty of this wonderful location - better yet it is still affordable.

Budgetary guide: Prices per square meter in Panama vary according to the location (city, mountain, beach). In the city, you may find prices starting 1000$ per square meter in a new condominium. In the mountain, the price may drop down to 20$...yes this is not typo however in those cases you might want to research the access possibilities to this property. Many areas in the mountains have no road of access and local transportation might not be available. In the beach, prices depend on the zone. An hour away from the capital prices start at 600$ per square meter depending on the quality of the beach and neighborhood.

Service Fees: Fees charged by the Public Notary and the Public Registry which total in the range of $200 to $300 for registering a buy/sell contract for the sale of real estate in Panama.The closing costs vary depending on the particular transaction. For example, if the property is held in the sellers personal name, and the buyer is transferring the property title to a Panamanian corporation (most recommended), then the closing costs would include; (1) the legal property transaction fee of US$1200 (includes; title search, buy/sell contract, closing, & property title transfer service), (2) public registry title transfer fees of approx. US$2.50 per every US$1,000 of the sales price and – if applicable - the mortgage amount, (3) escrow fees from 0.5% to 1% of the transaction amount (vary depending on amount of transaction), and (4) incorporation fee of US$1000 to setup the Panama corporation. However, if the property is held by a Panama corporation already, and the buyer is purchasing the shares of the corporation, then the transaction is relatively simple because there is no registration of title transfer, meaning that there is no title transfer tax, and no public registry title transfer fees. In this case, the closing costs would include; (1) the legal property transaction fee (includes; title search, review of tax liabilities, purchase of shares contract, and closing for US$800), (2) change of directors / resident agent of the corporation (approx. $350), and (3) escrow fees from 0.5% to 1% of the transaction amount (vary depending on amount of transaction).The notary and public registry costs total up to approximately $200 to $300 depending on the particular transaction. Title transfer taxes are by law paid by the seller. Escrow fees (if an escrow company is used), are normally paid by the buyer, and range from one half of one percent (0.5%) up to one percent (1%) of the transaction.

Mortgages: Between 60% - 70% of the purchase price or appraised market value, whichever is the lesser. Interest Rate from 5.5% to 6.5%, plus FECI tax of 1% per year.

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