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Playa de la Barqueta Panama Real Estate on the Gulf of Chiriqui
July 31st, 2009
Playa de la Barqueta is a area of secluded beach on the Gulf of Chiriqui in Chiriqui Province, Panama. Playa de la Barqueta is close to services and shopping in David, the capital of Chiriqui Province, and sufficiently far from Panama City that there is no weekend traffic from the capital. If you are looking for Panama beach front real estate this is an ideal area on Panama’s Pacific coast.
The Gulf of Chiriqui has two large marine national parks, Coiba and Gulf of Chiriqui National parks. These marine parks are famous for their scuba diving and snorkeling and the adjacent waters for their fishing.
At Playa de la Barqueta you only need to walk out your front door to dip your toes in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Part of the beach at Playa del la Barqueta is a wildlife refuge consisting of nearly 15,000 acres of beach, wetland, and mangrove forest with nature trails and lots of wildlife to see.
Real estate at Playa de la Barqueta, Panama is reasonably priced and this idyllic Panama beachfront real estate is conducive to a tranquil life style coupled with an active outdoor life. Not only can you surf the waves here but there are surf camps nearby. You can go fishing just off the beach or take a charter to Coiba where the Hannibal Bank will provide you with trophy fish longer than you are tall. If all that running around does not appeal to you try walking the secluded beach and let the cares of the world fall away at Playa de la Barqueta, Panama.
Investment in Panama Clean Energy
July 30th, 2009
Cable and Wireless of Panama has just announced the installation of a solar and wind power project in a 2,000 person village in Panama. The Embera village just off the Pan American Highway cost $60,000 for research and development and will provide energy without use of fossil fuels.
From an investment perspective Panama is a greal place for alternative energy investment. There are high winds in several mountain passes where wind farms are already being constructed or in the works. Panama has several hydro electric dams. In fact, on one day last December after a particularly rainy period Panama derived all of its electric power from hydroelectric.
Panama investment opportunities with alternative energy sources range from purchasing and distributing the materials for construction or power generation. These projects need to be tied into the power grid and those who own land along the way will receive lease payments for placement of towers for the transmission lines.
Likewise wind farms need land and the owner of appropriate land need only lease the property to receive payments for several lifetimes.
If direct investment in alternative energy projects interests you or if you are interested in Panama real estate that may benefit from alternative energy development come to see us at ABPanama where we have over 23 years experience managing real estate portfolios, are bilingual, and do business throughout Panama.
Real Estate in Boquete, Panama to Benefit
July 29th, 2009
Real estate in Boquete, Panama will benefit from a new four lane highway connecting the mountain community to the provincial capital of David. The highway was discussed during the previous administration but nothing came of it. Now the four land road is back.
We can expect that easier transit between David and the Boquete area will make Boquete more attractive on two counts. First of all it will be easier for tourists to get to Boquete and will benefit the many tourist services in the area. Second, shopping and services in David will be easier to access once the road is completed making living in Boquete that much easier and attractive.
We expect to see real estate values in Boquete, Panama increase with the completion of the new road in a few years as Panama continues its program of road improvements.
Hotels Investing in the Future in Panama
July 28th, 2009
While the world works its way out of a global recession hotels are refurbishing, adding on, and otherwise investing in the future in Panama.
Normally a third of more of hotel reservations in Panama come from North Americans. With the recession there has been a slight decrease in traffic from this segment of Panama’s hotel industry. Nevertheless, while much of the world is struggling with the recession major hotels in Panama are using the pause in growth to rennovate, refurbish, add on, and otherwise propare for the expected surge in occupancy that will accompany the resolution of the global recession.
Panama City’s Hotel el Panama has added an elegant black and beige marble lobbly fit for a king as part of its recently completed rennovation. The Marriott and Sheridan are adding rooms and space for more services.
Both local and international hotel chains have decided that investment in Panama is investment in the future. Panama’s economy is growing despite the recession elsewhere. Panama will likely resume its yearly ten percent economic growth after the recession clears and the megaprojects envisioned by the Martinelli administration will not only provide jobs and economic stimulus but further modernize this 500 year old city.
Panama property investment, Panama business investment, and investment in Panama’s labor force has does well for a decade or more. We expect to see a surge in activity in all sectors this next year. Apparently so do Panama hotels.
Panama Investment in Education
July 27th, 2009
A report published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reveals that Panama is providing more education to its children. The same study reveals that the economic value per year of education past 12 years has gone down. More advanced education for Panama workers allows employers to pick, choose, and pay lower salaries.
Now we hear that President Martinelli is pushing to provide uniforms and books for all public school students. For those from North America this may sound strange but historically there has been a large gap between the rich and the not so rich in Panama. The ECLAC study mentioned above notes that in 2001 the average education of a worker in Panama was 8.7 years and by 2007 it was 9.3 years. However, the average education for a worker in the cities is 10.5 years versus 4.3 in the comarcas, the indigenous areas of Panama.
The main investment that Panama needs to make in education is in the outlying areas. The simple measures of providing uniforms and books for all students will be a good place to start.
Investment in general in Panama has helped alleviate poverty over the last two decades according to ECLAC’s Social Panaorama of Latin America study. Now as Panama invests more in its people as well as its infrastructure we can expect a better educated and trained workforce to continue to make Panama more prosperous.
Real Estate in Coronado, Panama
July 26th, 2009
Beach front real estate on the Pacific Coast of Panama never goes out of demand. The gated communities in and around Coronado, Panama are still sought after even as demand for real estate in general in Panama has dipped a little with the recession.
Playa Coronado is a black, volcanic sand, beach with plenty of access even if your home is back from the water. Coronado, Panama real estate has been used for vacation homes and weekend retreats for many years. Because the area is on the edge of Panama’a Arco Seca or dry arch it receives less rain than Panama City and a lot less than the Caribbean coast of Panama. Thus the weather is ideal year round at Coronado.
With a lot of North American retirees Coronado, Panama has social associations and expat clubs to keep you in touch with other expats. At the same time Spanish lessons are freely available for those who want to immerse themselves in Latino culture. The area is just over an hour by car from Panana City and its excellent restaurants, upscale malls, and exciting night life.
If you are interested in looking at real estate in Coronado, Panama contact us at ABPanama.
Less Crime in Panama Already
July 24th, 2009
According to a press conference held by Panama’s National Police a step up in enforcement activities has paid off with significant reductions in Panama crime activity in the first 23 days of the Martinelli administration.
One of the first actions of the the new administration was to increase pay for police officers from the top administrative officials on down to the cop on the beat. Enforcement activities have been stepped up. Martinelli talked about the problem of crime in the barrios during his candidacy for the presidency. Now it appears that concrete steps have been taken leading to concrete results.
According to the press conference compared to last year at the same time there has been a 16 percent reduction in armed robbery and a 2 percent reduction in petty theft. Homicides are down 40 percent.
As an addendum the police have stepped up efforts to recapture escapees from Panama’s sometimes porous prison system and 99 individuals have been recaptured in the last three weeks.
Although the vast majority of expatriates in Panama are never the victim of crime this has not been the case in some barrios. As such the news of more effective law enforcement activities and its deterrent affects is welcome news for those concerned about crime in Panama.
Why Retirement in Panama Beats Other Central American Choices
July 24th, 2009
Retirement in Panama beats the other choices in Central America.
The Latino news outlets are reporting that deposed Honduran president, Manual Zelaya, is camped out on the Nicaraguan/Honduran border trying to convince the border guards to let him enter Honduras and not arrest him. Zelaya was deposed by the military a few weeks ago causing a big flap and a reminder of the civil wars and coups that plagued Central America for much of the 20th century.
Since the ouster of military stongman Manuel Noriega Panama has had a democratic government and laws very friendly to foreign investment, foreign tourism, and foreign retirement with residency in Panama. Unlike Honduras where Zelaya started talking about abolishing presidential term limits on the way to being another “president for life” like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Panama just saw the ruling party lose the elections and step aside as Ricardo Martinelli’s administration took over.
Unlike Daniel Ortega, who is back in power in Nicaragua and trying form new regional power blocks, Panama’s presidents tend to stay home and mind the store. When Panama’s presidents visit neighboring country it is often to help negotiate contentious local issues as Panama is respected throughout the region. A case in point is the smoldering vestiges of a civil war in Colombia and Panama’s past president talking the both the government and the FARC rebels.
If you talk to North Americans who have chosen retirement in Panama you hear a recurring theme. They had a vacation home in Belize (or El Salvador or Nicaragua or Honduras or Costa Rica or Guatemala or Mexico) and over time they liked the place less and less. The common complaint about other Central American countries is that the services and infrastructure don’t work and you cannot find common consumer goods. In addition high crime rates are a problem, compared to Panama.
These same Panama retirement types will tell you that every year they have been in Panama they like it more and more. Panama has the Latino flavor and lifestyle, as well as a tropical climate, that people want but also has a working infrastructure. In Panama City the malls have pretty much everything that you will find in a North American mall and typically for less.
Panama Tourism Stimulus Package 2009
July 23rd, 2009
Panama’s tourism authority has announced a plan to stimulate tourism in Panama.
With the worldwide recession reducing visits in May 2009 18 percent from May 2008 the government is placing ads internationally and promoting a 25 percent reduction in hotel, car rental, airline, and restaurant rates. Service providers will be encouraged to sign up and areas with lower than average traffic will be targeted.
A combination of concerns about the new flu and the global recession, have reduced visitors to Panama. Hotels are nearly full but there is no longer the long wait for reservations that we saw last year. The tourism authority will be targeting areas most affected in an effort to beef up traffic in these areas.
Panama tourism is a major business and competes with construction, the insurance business, banking, and the Panama Canal as a major revenue producer. With a beautiful country to show off and first world infrastructure Panama should be able to attract more travel to this Central American paradise with a few discounts.
Panama Transportation Moves Forward
July 21st, 2009
Panama economic growth has brought a substantially larger number of new cars into Panama City but no new city buses. Panama City still relies upon antiquated US school buses, its “red devils” or diablos rojos in Spanish. The new administration is publicizing extensive plans to revamp and upgrade Panama’s transportation systems. One of these is the plan to phase out the diablos rojos within the next year.
There are more traffic jams in Panama City, Panama because there are more cars on the road every month and, until Avenida Balboa was improved along with the Cinta Costera project, no new city streets. As Panama has subsidized low income housing there has been a rush to buy homes in Panama City’s far suburbs. This fact has put a lot of people into buses for longer commutes twice a day and added to traffic jams farther out from the city center.
The current bus system is one in which private owners have a concession to a route, typically drive their own buses, and collect the fares as their income. Buses tend to be polluting, loud, and, at times, dangerous. Over the years attempts to upgrade the system have been stymied by political maneuvering. Now, it would appear, that the new administration is taking the bull, or Diablo rojo, by the horns. Bids will be solicited for bus concessions throughout the city and the basic requirement will be that the concessionaires operate with modern buses and that the drivers will be paid a salary. The owners of the olds buses will be able to bid also.
The Martinelli administration intends to develop a metro system within the capital city and the new bus concessions will be set up to integrate with the metro, similar to Atlanta’s MARTA. We have already commented on the decision to build a tram line the will take visitors from the Cinta Costera to Casco Viejo, Plaza Cinco de Mayo, and Amador. This sort of integrated transport system will go a long way towards reducing and organizing road traffic and the headaches involved.
The problems that Panama is addressing are the problems that come with success. Panama has had economic growth similar to China’s for more than a decade. This success has put more money in people’s pockets and more cars on the roads. The successful government subsidy of mortgages for first time home buyers and the rebates of property taxes on new construction have put more people in the suburbs. This also means more folks commuting and new highway construction to meet increasing transport demands.
Reduction in Panama Cost of Living
July 21st, 2009
Panama is taking another step to control food costs and thus help control inflation. There will be ten percent reduction in import taxes imposed on some imported processed meats such as ham and Vienna sausage. Although the cost of the government’s hypothetical weekly food basket, the “canasta basica,” has leveled off Panama is taking preemptive steps to reduce the cost of living in Panama. Panama’s real estate boom has been partially based upon the low cost of living in Panama. Part of the affect of a lower cost of living might be a stimulus to other parts of the economy such as housing construction.
Although this example only applies to imported ham and sausage it is an example of the steps that Panama is taking to reduce the cost of food and the cost of living in this country. Over the last two decades since the ouster of dictator Manuel Noriega foreign investment in Panama has driven job growth but not necessarily higher wages. The low wage scale in Panama, in fact, attracts business.
Because more people are working at more jobs in Panama the level of poverty has gone down dramatically. However, inflation started to eat away at financial gains of Panama workers last year and was, in part, why President Martinelli’s Democratic Change Party won the election so handily. The government seems to be carrying out its promises made during the election campaign to work to better the lives of the average Panamanians.
A side benefit will be to reduce the cost of living for expatriates too. Thus Panama will retain its reputation as an inexpensive tropical paradise with easy residency requirements that is friendly to investment. This will, in turn, continue to provide jobs and drive Panama’s continually growing economy.
Panama Metro and Tram
July 20th, 2009
The Panama Metro system, which will break ground within the year, will likely include a tram that connects the Cinta Costera green strip along the Bay of Panama with the Amador Causeway. Included in stops along the way will be connections to Plaza Cinca de Mayo and Casco Viejo. The new tram system will help tourism in Panama by making popular destinations more accessible to visitors.
Panama tourism will get a boost when Panama develops its metro system. Visitors will be able to just stay on the tram line to see popular tourist destinations. This sort of development will also further stimulate the renaissance in Casco Viejo.
The new Metro Executive Secretary states that the first spade will go in the ground on the metro project within the year. This project will be huge and will eventually solve a most of Panama’s public transportation dilemma which has been worsened by rapid growth. The addition of the tram connection will be welcome as this sort of open air tram connection is popular with tourists from Cartagena to San Francisco and a draw all by itself.
Panama Trade Increases 8.9 Percent in Colon Free Zone
July 19th, 2009
In the first half of the year Colon Free Zone trade increased 8.9 percent over last year. This growth happened despite a global recession. Imports were substantially up whereas exports were down 15 percent. This is typical as one comes out of a recession and businesses import goods and materials to gear up for the recovery whereas day to day business is still slow.
Panama has been touched by the recession elsewhere but has experienced slow growth, not a recession. Panama trade is strong and a harbinger of economic growth to come. Free trade agreements such as the one pending with Panama and Canada will further stimulate growth in this Central American economic miracle.
Business Week Retirement Suggestion: Panama
July 18th, 2009
Business Week just ran a set of retirement articles. Guess who they refer to as the “New Florida.” Yep, it is Panama.
For anyone who has spent a little time in retirement in Panama there is nothing new in the article. Anyone who has found retirement in Panama knows about low prices, retiree discounts, the gorgeous climate, the laid back lifestyle, and the first world infrastructure.
But, for those who do not know Panama a reputable source such as News Week may convince more people to travel to Panama to take a look.
With Panama real estate prices in “pause mode” there are exceptionally attractive deals right now for the smart investor. Panama has announced a reduction in electric rates which will ripple through the economy helping to keep prices down.
With discounts on everything from doctor visits to airline tickets retirement and residency in Panama is still a deal that you will not want to pass up.
COPA Panama Orders More Boeing 737 800's
July 17th, 2009
COPA, Panama’s flag carrier has ordered 13 new Boeing 737-800 jets and placed an option for another 8. While the rest of the world is struggling with financial hard times Panama is planning for and investing in the future. Panama’s economy has slowed down with the global recession but there is still economic growth in this little country at the crossroads of the Americas.
Boeing and COPA have issued a joint statement stating that with conversion of previous options to buy planes and new orders COPA has 27 new Boeing jets on order. COPA flies out of Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport and has nearly fifty connections throughout North and South America as well as Europe.
According the joint statement, “Copa operates from Tocumen International Airport, a time-saving hub on long routes between the United States, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. The airline flies four of the world’s longest 737 routes from there – to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Sao Paulo and Los Angeles – thanks to the 737-800′s exceptional range.”
Panama is a natural for making air connections with its central location on the land bridge connecting the Americas. As Panama expands its air net we can expect to see more business pass through and to Panama, especially as the recession mends itself in the coming year. Investing in Panama has been successful in the past decade or more and investing in Panama will become wiser in years to come.
Panama’s economy is thriving despite a world wide recession. Panama is often referred to as the place to ride out the recession. Investing in Panama with its strong economy is best plan for years to come.
Amador Panama Real Estate Development Problems
July 16th, 2009
Yesterday the President of Panama had a Panama real estate project demolished on the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama. According to the government the developer of this project owes the government some $3 million in least payments and illegally filled in part of the Bay of Panama to complete the small island on which he was building.
ABPanama has commented previously on the need for sound advice in Panama real estate development as well as the need to play by the rules. Panama is not the Wild Wild West. Panama is a nation of laws and, even if the wheels of government move slowly, you need to follow the rules.
There are a number of pitfalls in Panama real estate development that ABPanama has commented on. Last year we mentioned a real estate development in La Chorrera where a housing project was substantially devalued because the builders were not aware of the pending construction of a cement plant across the highway.
This spring a historic building restoration was put on hold in Casco Viejo because the developers did not follow historic preservation guidelines.
Now an impatient developer moved ahead without government permission and saw his project reduced to rubble.
If you are pursuing real estate development in Panama, deal with a competent and trustworthy realtor and advisor such as ABPanama. With more than 23 years experience managing real estate portfolios we do business throughout Panama and have a bilingual staff so communication is not an issue.
Panama Residency the Wrong Way Just Got Harder
July 14th, 2009
There are a number of reasons for obtaining residency in Panama and all of them require that you proceed legally. However, there has been a little “side business” running a counterfeit document ring from inside of the Tribune Electoral, the Passport Department, the Public Ministry, and the Judicial Investigation Directorate. Apparently these folks have been selling counterfeit passports, identity cards, and drivers licenses.
According to the senior Anti-Organized Crime prosecutor, Jose Ayu Prado, seventeen people have been arrested, some public employees and some foreign nationals. The problem extends beyond Panama in that a Panamanian passport will allow its holder to enter other nations, including the USA and Great Britain.
It is often frustrating to deal with immigration issues in Panama. The system is tedious and often just seems to be a money making machine for Panama. However, to gain residency in Panama whether for retirement in Panama, business in Panama, or to rent or purchase real estate in Panama you need to have the appropriate documents. Anyone who tried to cut corners in getting their residency visa in Panama may have problems as this investigation moves forward.
Real Estate and Corruption's Comeupance in Panama
July 13th, 2009
A large part of the recent boom in real estate in Panama has been the trust in the basic fairness of the laws and their application in Panama. This really applies to the whole investment scene in this thriving Central American country. However, there may be a few details to attend to. The new government in Panama is publicizing its plans to investigage charges of corruption against the former administration. The press reports that the charges may involve irregularities in purchasing, overcharging for fuel for government vehicles, and a matter of $2 million in gold bullion and diamond jewelry.
Corruption in Panama has always been its bugaboo. Even in the last few years of stellar economic growth, reduction of poverty, and the highest per capita rate of foreign investment in Latin America Panama rates poorly on international surveys of government corruption.
Our hope is that if there was wrong doing that it will be dealt with. If there was none we hope that the new administration does not try to “settle scores” as this would just be another matter of corruption in high places.
According to press reports the new administation is looking into several matters and will be forwarding information to the new attorney general. It would appear that due process is being followed in these matters. This, by itself, separates the current era from the years of military dictatorship in Panama.
The last vestiges of corruption in government in Panama are hopefully on their way out. The recession shows signs of abating worldwide and Panama’s non recession and slowing of the its economy are on their way to mending. Panama’s next stage of growth will be much more vigorous without any taint of government corruption.
Living in Panama: Futbol
July 12th, 2009
If you are living in Panama you will need to develop and appreciation for futbol. Now, the Brits already play the game, although cricket is the more uniquely British sport. Canadians know futbol too although they may refer to it as soccer. Estados Unidienses, (United Statesians) have only recently become familiar with the “hands off” sport. However, much of the play unfolds like ice hockey, minus the fights.
Living in Panama it is much easier to find a futbol game on the tele than it is to find NFL football and certainly easier than finding the Canadians or Maple Leafs. Rugby and cricket? Check the scores on BBC radio.
Anyway, Panama is in an uproar because one of its players received a red card and cannot play in today’s game against Nicaragua in the run up to the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is futbol (OK, soccer) bragging rights in the Americas and is of only slightly less importance here than the World Cup.
The Mexican coach tried to trip a Panamanian player during play and when play stopped the Panamanian player shoved the Mexican coach. (You need to realize than South American stadiums have erupted into riots for less reason.) The Mexican coach was ejected from the game and the red card disqualifies the Panamanian player from today’s game which Panama needs to win to stay in the running for the Gold Cup.
Panama living will be easier if you tune into the match today between Nicaragua and Panama and then tomorrow you will have a better appreciation of why your taxi driver is totally ecstatic or absolutely morose. It’s the futbol, you know.
What Will Be the Affects of Panama Banking Changes
July 10th, 2009
According to press reports Panama is going to make changes in its banking system. Panama has been under pressure from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to make its banking system more transparent. The concern of the OECD is that multinational corporations and individuals are hiding taxable income in off shore banks such as in Panama.
The OECD has threatened sanctions, including blacklisting, unless Panama makes changes. For years Panama stated that so long as Switzerland, the world’s largest “off shore” banking system, did not share information neither would Panama. Switzerland has complied with OECD and other requests for sharing of banking information removing Panama’s last excuse.
Apparently some banks, such as Banco General, have already made changes in the anonymous corporate accounts that have allowed individuals to set up a Panama Bearer Share Corporation and bank with the corporation leaving their name private. Now, it would appear, that the name of the owner of a bank account will be available to outsiders although the rules and regulations under which this will happen are in no way clear.
It is also unclear what affect this change in laws and procedures will have on investment in Panama, especially in real estate in Panama. It is quite possible that changes in banking privacy rules may have no effect on investment in Panama real estate as the main draw is the strength of Panama’s economy and the promise of continuing profits over the years as Panama real estate continues to appreciate.
The many hydro electric projects in the works and on the drawing boards in Chiriqui Provence, Panama are in the news again. Environmental groups are asking President Martinelli to fulfill his campaign promise to evaluate each Panama hydro electric project and its environmental impact statement.
Energy and the Environment
There are two concerns here. Panama has to import all of its fossil fuels. Last year
Panama saw skyrocketing inflation, largely driven by electric costs and gas prices, as oil reached $150 a barrel. It behooves Panama to develop alternative energy sources. For example, if Panama goes ahead with a much needed metropolitan transit system the trains can be electric, driven by power from hydroelectric dams in the interior.
The other legitimate concerns are environmental, personal, and financial.
Much of Panama’s interior, including the Chiriqui highlands, is relatively unspoiled nature. Environmental groups are rightly concerns about the carving up of Panama’s natural heritage for the profit of foreign companies and cost savings in the capital city.
There are people whose families have lived in Panama’s interior for generations untold. To ask these people to move, change their lifestyles, and lose their heritage is more than just a little unfair.
And, for those more recent residents of Panama who have purchased real estate in Panama’s unspoiled interior it seems unfair that someone should drastically change the view out of their window, the stream flowing by their home, and, naturally, the value of their real estate in Panama. Buying a home in Chiriqui in a remote location only to wake up one morning to huge trucks rolling by, 24 hours a day, damaging your only road down the mountain, seems unfair too.
One of the frustrations of environmentalists is the lack of transparency and, apparent, lack of due process involved in granting permission for hydroelectric projects in Panama. The press cites the fact that ANAM (Panama’s environmental agency) does not maintain an up to date map of hydroelectric projects.
The main concerns are in the Boquete and Dolega districts of Chiriqui. Environmentalists claim that many of the ongoing projects do not have environmental impact statements and that the projects have been bought and sold a number of times making ownership and responsibility difficult to determine when checking paperwork.
Panama Government and Transparency, of the Lack of the Same
The long term rap against Panama is back room deals. Issues disappear from the public eye only to emerge when the deal is done and profits are to be made. Considering that Panama has to develop hydroelectric projects to protect itself against the rising price of oil and that Panama needs to be mindful of its environment one hopes that the new administration makes the whole process truly transparent and fair.
It is not realistic to expect that Panama will shut down its hydro electric projects. However, it is realistic to expect that accurate, up to date information regarding each project is available to the public. It is also realistic to expect that those projects that do not satisfy a standard set of environmental concerns will not proceed.
Regarding one’s real estate purchase in Panama it is best to deal with a bilingual realtor such as ABPanama. Someone who does business throughout the country and keeps up with the issues of the day will help you avoid buying real estate in Panama for your dream home and seeing your dream be shattered by a power plant out your front door.
Boost for Real Estate around Panama City
July 8th, 2009
We will shortly see a boost for real estate around Panama City. Today is the day the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) ranks the three consortia that have submitted technical plans for the new multibillion dollar locks for the canal expansion.
This will be followed by unsealing the bids for each consortium. According to a predetermined point system ACP will determine a winner of the bidding and the multibillion dollar lock project will begin. This will take five years and will involve many administrative and technical people moving to Panama or spending a lot of time in Panama for years.
This influx of talent for the lock project will provide an influx of cash to the real estate market in Panama City just as the end of the “pause” in the market is coming into sight. We expect to see a surge in high end real estate sales and rentals in Panama City. Depending upon how fast staff are moved here and how many people are needed on site we may see a year long surge in Panama City real estate sales.
Real Estate Safety in Panama and Earthquakes
July 7th, 2009
After 2 tremors centered on the Caribbean Coast of Panama over the weekend some are wondering about whether it is safe to buy real estate in Panama. The quick answer is, yes, it is safe to buy real estate in Panama.
Panama lies at the juncture of four different techtonic plates and has roughly 7,000 “earthquakes” a year. However, these twenty or so earthquakes each day are usually tiny and no one notices them. The last time before this last weekend than anyone noticed an earthquake in Panama City was seven years ago and that was a 5 on the Richter Scale.
Earthquakes in the 5 and 6 range on the Richter Scale are more common near the Costa Rican border in the province of Chiriqui. These can rattle dishes but very rarely cause any structural damage and certainly no deaths. The 6.4 quake and its 5.2 aftershock are the kind of earth quake that dissipates pressure at the edges of tectonic plates. With this kind of dissipation there is rarelly the significant buildup of pressure that results in stronger and more dangerous earthquakes.
It is of note that the Panama Canal was built in an area known to have few earthquakes. Real estate in Panama City does not need to be continually rebuilt, unlike real estate in other Central American cities.
Since we are on the subject of safety please note that Panama does not get earthquakes! Every one turns North off of its equatorial tract before reaching Panama. Costa Rica gets a major hurricane every twenty or thirty years and that is the closest they get to Panama.
Real Estate in Building Safety in Panama
This writer glanced out onto his balcony after the first earthquake last weekend to see that the 46 story high rise going up across Via Espana in the banking district was, and is, still standing. The bedrock in Panama is similar to that in Manhattan, basalt. This is pretty hard rock that was laid down with lava flows about ten million years ago. Panama’s building boom is built on secure rock. In addition, sloppy construction of fifty story buildings can lead to collapse. None of Panama’s skyscrapers is collapsing. There have been no published reports of building damage in Panama City from the recent earthquake and aftershock.
Panama City was founded in 1519. Unlike the first capital of Guatemala, Panama City did not need to be moved over the years because of natural disastors. The city was never destroyed like San Salvador in 1839. Panama City’s only problem was pirates years ago and now that Spanish gold no longer passes overland from Panama City to Portobelo the pirates are gone.
Since Panama City real estate has been major earthquake free for 500 years we can probably trust that the next 500 years will continue to have unnoticed tremors, taking off pressure, and no major earthquakes.
Hope for Reduced Inflation in Panama
July 5th, 2009
One of the items that raised the cost of living in Panama last year was the cost of electricity. Inflation in Panama became a political issue that helped bring a change of government. At the first cabinet meeting of the Martinelli administration one of the issues was the cost of electricity. Panama’s new secretary of energy proposed that the government freeze its prices for electricity generated by government owned plants.
In addition the minister proposed more development of hydroelectric and wind power as Panama has to import all of its fossil fuels.
Panama, according to Mr. Martinelli, has some of the world’s highest electric rates. Thus he promised in his campaign to work to reduce electric costs in Panama. It appears that the new government is serious about reducing electric costs which in turn will help Panama keep inflation in check.
Panama Earthquake Does Not Damage Property in Panama City
July 4th, 2009
Last night there was an earthquake below the Caribbean coast of Panama about 25 miles deep and 90 miles from the capital city. The quake occurred about ten minutes before midnight and awakened residents from their sleep with about thirty seconds of shaking.
As of this morning there appears to be no structural damage to real estate in Panama City although the “terramoto” is the subject of conversation. As a rule earthquakes in Panama occur in Chiriqui or near the border with Costa Rica, not so near to Panama City and the Panama Canal. This one was, in fact, nearly a hundred miles away.
The narrowest part of the continent is where they built the Panama Canal. This is also where earthquakes have been vanishingly infrequent, but, as last night proves, not nonexistent.
Despite a 6.0 earthquake on the Richter scale Panama’s high rises are fine and traffic is already picking up this Saturday morning.