Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Buying Real Estate in Panama

Panama is becoming a popular place for people to retire and for expats to buy real estate. Property in Panama is relatively cheap, and foreign owners have the same rights as domestic owners. Panama’s real estate system is similar to many other countries, and it is straight forward. The most important part is doing adequate research before you sign the contract.

Attorneys and Real Estate Agents

An attorney is very helpful in conducting some of the research when you are buying real estate in Panama. They help with all issues of validity and security, to make sure there are no confusions in the future.

Real estate agents can be helpful, but they are not necessary. Sometimes a real estate agent may want to try to sell a property no matter what it takes, even if it is a fraudulent or faulty one, so you must be careful of this.

Rules, Regulations and Restrictions

Foreigners cannot buy property in Panama within 10 miles of the national borders of Costa Rica or Columbia.

Other than that, there are no legal restrictions against the foreign ownership of real estate in Panama. They have the same rights as citizens.

General Process

First, you should do research and settle on a property. Then, make an offer to the seller.

If you are considering signing a contract to buy the property, you should first investigate its background. You should check the property and owner records in Panama’s Public Registry and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. You should fully check out if there are any financial issues or legal restrictions that might get in the way of transferring the title of property. If you have a lawyer, they can help you with this process.

Then the promise of sale contract must be drafted. This document is required to be in Spanish, so if you want a copy in your native language, you can request an authorized public translation. This contract is not uniform, and differs according to each sale. However, all contracts must include the payment method, each party’s obligations and penalties if there is a breach of contract.

The seller of the property must supply documents that state that their property has no financial issues like outstanding debt or liability. They should have taken care of any debt on any maintenance fees like water or sewage, as well as assorted tax payments. The seller must also take care of their mortgage with the bank before the property is transferred.

When all of this is taken care of, you and the seller must both sign the public deed of sale and then have it confirmed by a Notary Public in Panama. This is then sent to the Public Registry, along with the seller’s documents that prove no debt on the property. The once this deed of sale is sent and registered with the Public Registry, then the property title is transferred to you. It takes about 10 working days to transfer the title.

Once this is passed, you should take a copy of the public deed of sale to the Property Registry and the Registry of Government Property in the Ministry of Economy and Finance. After all the bureaucracy clears out, the property is yours.


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