How to Retire and Buy Panama Real Estate
For worry-free and hassle-free property searching Panama Real Estate would be happy to do all the hard work for you. We have over 2000 listings on our own website and we have shared listing agreements with nearly 50 other Panamanian brokers countrywide, we will also use our network of local agents to source the home of you desires. Once you have given us the full specifications of what you want we will do all the searching and present you with the results for your consideration. From this list we will agree a schedule with you and when you come to Panama we will show all the properties you require to see, also leaving you vacation time as well of course.
Speaking Spanish is nice but not necessary. We don’t recommend driving on your first trip. The Lonely Planet Panama Guide or the Hunter Panama Guide are excellent, very complete country guides and available on Amazon.com.
There are unfortunately a lot of unreliable and unlicensed Realtors in Panama. Please ensure that you are happy with the Realtor you are working with, that they are reliable and responsive to your needs and that you develop a close working relationship with them. Below you will find Panama Real Estate Investment Brokers SA’s Real estate License number and a link to the government web portal (Dept. of Commerce) showing us listed as an approved and Licensed realtor.
When you have found the property you like, hire a large reputable lawyer who specializes in real estate and immigration services. Below is General Information on Property Buying and we can recommend a law firms that provides excellent services to foreigners, please ask.
There are many visas and they are listed in our VISAS & RETIREMENT section. But here are two of the most common with simple general guidelines:-
There are two simple visas- the retirement visa (Pensionado) and the person of means or home buyers visa.
Retired Persons Visa: If you are already retired and can show an income of $1000 per month and an additional $150 for dependents you can apply for a Pensionado ( Retired Persons) Visa.
Home Buyers Visa: If you buy a home for $300,000 or more, no matter your age, you can get a residency visa.
You must hire a lawyer to get your visa. Expect to pay around $1500 in lawyers fees plus government fees depending on the type of visa. We can recommend a large reputable lawyers specializing in real estate and immigration, please ask.
General Requirements for All Panamanian Visas:
1. Certificate of AIDS test- You must be free of AIDS. You can get the test done in Panama. for $25.
2. Certificate of Good Health- A Panamanian doctor can write this letter.
3. A police report from the town you most recently lived.( If you are a convicted felon you’re not eligible.)
There are two very different kinds of real estate in Panama: titled property and “rights of possession property”.
Titled Property: The process in the purchase of titled property is similar in concept to that in the U.S.. Panama has a reliable Public Registry system, and this office maintains a record of all titled properties throughout most of Panama. Information regarding titled properties is readily available through the Public Registry, and is a fairly routine process to undertake through due diligence on a lot or property (finca). Your attorney can issue you in writing an abstract title of the land.
Rights of Possession Property: The purchase of “rights of possession” (derecho posesorio) or concession rights is an entirely different process. A right of possession is not titled land. On the mainland it may be converted to titled land . If the property is near the coast or on islands it currently cannot. However, the government is currently working on legislation to make Rights of Possession property easier to convert to titled land including coastal and beach properties. Panama Real Estate does not recommend non titled property unless you are very experienced in this areas. Generally we DO NOT deal in this type of property unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Real estate transactions are usually done in two steps. The Promise to Purchase Agreement is preliminary contract between the buyer and seller, and gives the buyer time to work out financing and due diligence before committing to buy. It also can be used to get the seller to meet certain commitments and conditions before the sale occurs, and list “contingencies” under which the buyer can be released from obligation to buy if questions are not resolved, or if hidden defects are later found. Only when the buyer is completely satisfied should the sale close.
If the buyer is satisfied, a Purchase and Sale Agreement (or Contract) is made in the form of a public deed and registered at the Public Registry of Panama, at which time the buyer becomes the owner.
The safest way to pay is by using reputable ESCROW services thereby ensuring the safety of your money at all times. We can arrange ESCROW services for you (please ask) and you are assured of safety at all times during the transaction. The ESCROW Company holding the funds issues the irrevocable letter of payment to the seller and pays it as soon as it is presented with the registered public deed transferring title to the buyer, at the same time paying all other disbursements which are deducted from the seller’s payment. The buyer pays the ESCROW company for this service, it is currently between 1 – 3 %, but our associate ESCROW company will do it for 0.85% of the funds handled.
Real estate agents are normally paid in two ways:-
- Where an ESCROW service is used the commission amount is written into the contract and paid by the ESCROW Company only when the sale closes.
- Where ESCROW services are not used the commission is still written into the contract but 50% is paid on the seller receiving the 10% non-refundable down payment and 50% is paid on closing.
Valid contracts once signed are legally binding documents, and you should ensure that you have read and understood them completely before signing. While a good real estate agent can help you through the steps of buying, he cannot provide you with legal advice; an attorney does that. Title insurance is not generally used or needed in Panama, but it is available and we can arrange on request.