Accommodation in Panama City

Buy house or flat in Panama City

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Housing Market in Panama

There are no restrictions for foreigners who intend to purchase a house in Panama, except for Article 121 of the Panamanian Tax Code. This states that foreign people or foreign Panamanian corporations cannot buy a property located less than ten kilometers from a frontier nor on island.

Also in the favor of expats is that there is more supply than there is demand for buyers, which makes it easier for negotiating a price.

On average, one can find 2-bedroom houses and condos for give or take $100,000 USD. A three-bedroom house or condo will most likely be $200,000 to $250,000 USD. If you are interested in a property that might be older and not in the financial district, it could cost between $80,000 to $100,000 USD depending on the number of bedrooms and amenities.

Panama is also known for its high-end condominiums in the sky high buildings of the financial district. Many of them have such luxurious features like swimming pools, saunas, security and even golf courses. If that is the type of lifestyle you are accustomed to, then properties that will offer that will often start as low as $350,000 USD. Some newer properties might even be exempt from property tax for up to 15 years, so be sure to ask about that during your search. The average mid-range property tax will be around $1,000 to $1,300 USD per year.

How to Search for Real Estate in Panama

One of the tricky things about moving to a new country is dealing with the cultural differences when it comes to navigating a property search. It is good to understand a few for Panama.

  • You should have a good understanding of all the neighborhoods so you know which will be best for your lifestyle. You will most likely want to live in one of the neighborhoods in or near downtown, whether it is residential or in the city. Refer to the basic break-down we offer under geography, as well as this detailed list .
  • Figure out if you want a furnished or unfurnished accommodation. Many in Panama are not furnished.
  • If you are starting your search for apartments and houses online, many real estate companies will show up. You will be best served to type in the neighborhood and apartment size in square meters to have good results.
  • It will be good to know some of the vocabulary used in reference to finding accommodation. For example, kitchen appliances are called linea blanca. The more of these terms you know, the more you can understand some websites that might only be in Spanish or use Spanish terms.
  • You should consider your tolerance for city noise in determining where you live. Of all the streets in Panama City, the worst traffic jams and most noise come from: Avenida Balboa, Via Argentina, Transistmica, Calle 50, Via Porras, and Tumba Muerto. Ironically, those streets tend to have some nice and affordable apartments for rent, so it would benefit you to find an apartment not facing the street, or an apartment on a parallel street.

Online Listings for Real Estate in Panama

Search engines can help you get a general understanding of the current market and find up-to-date listings. Most sites even allow you to create a profile and save your favorite properties or receive notifications by email about them. Here are some popular real estate sites:

Another great online resource is the Panama classifieds on EasyExpat. You can also chat with other expats on the Panama forum or network and receive advice.


Several papers have a helpful classifieds section. Not so many of these papers have listings through their website, so you’ll have to be old-fashioned and pick-up a physical copy. But the most popular websites for classifieds in general that aren’t newspapers are Encuentra 24 and Craigslist.

Public Postings

Facebook expat and local groups like Panama Rentals and Relocation are a great way to find properties and create an instant correspondence with the lister. You can also look out for signs in public places if you are in Panama while you are looking for a rental space.

Estate Agents in Panama

Estate agents are useful for getting on the fast track to finding a rental property. They will know all the nuances and details of the law for buying real estate. Make sure to find an agent who speaks English as the written contract you sign will be in Spanish. An estate agent can explain the terms of the contract to you. Never sign any contract you are given before having a licensed real estate attorney review it first and explain it to you. Estate agents usually ask for a commission of four to five percent.

Making an Offer on Property in Panama

To make an offer on a property, you must notify the owner or the agent that you want to buy the property. If it is still available, you must make a 30% down payment.

Real Estate Contracts in Panama

There are several common real estate contracts in Panama:

  • Promise to Purchase Contract - Before a down payment of 30% is made, the buyer and seller must both sign a Promise to Purchase Contract, which contains pertinent terms and conditions for the buying and selling of the property. A competent real estate attorney that speaks English, or whatever your native language is, should review it before you sign it. The down payment can then be paid once all the parties involved have signed.
  • Buy-Sell Contract - After the owner completes a title search to verify the owner of the property, all parties can then sign a Buy-Sell contract that allows the transfer of the title from the buyer to the seller.

Payment for Real Estate in Panama

The seller will pay a 30% down payment fee after signing a Promise to Purchase contract. Then the final payment of the balance will be made after the title of seller is successfully transferred to the buyer. This transfer occurs when the public deed of the transfer is signed and recorded at the public registry.

In order to avoid paying the seller who doesn’t file the deed at the Public Registry, hire an escrow agent who will be able to pay the seller as well as file the deed.

Real Estate Fees in Panama

Title Transfer Tax - You must pay a 5% share transfer tax, unless you form a corporation to purchase the property.

Notary Fee - You will have to pay a minimal fee when you submit the old title, all previous land documents, and the new tax form to the Notary Public. But if you have a lawyer, they can submit those documents and draft the final purchase and sale contract.

Closing on Property in Panama

Once the final payment has been made, the deed to the property is then given to the buyer's solicitor, including the conveyance or transfer of ownership. The estate agent will then be allowed to release the keys on to you. There are several other last steps:

  • Notify your lender that the sale has been completed and inform your insurance company.
  • Send the title deeds to your mortgage lender who holds them as security until the loan is paid off or the property is sold.

Property Auction in Panama

Buying a property through auction can save you a lot of money in Panama. For one, auctioned properties do not require payment of the social interest rate. If you buy a property at auction, you can also receive up to 95% financing from a bank, and properties are up to 60% less than the real estate market value in Panama. Here are the steps to acquiring an auction property:

  • Identify the properties that you are interested in.
  • Determine if the payment must be paid in full from a per-qualification letter for the Promise to Purchase contract.
  • Make a deposit of no less than five percent of the offered value.
  • In the case you are one of multiple bidders, the property will go to the highest bidder. From there, you can finance the balance up to 95% with financing from a bank.

Update 23/06/2018


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