Aug 29, 2019

Panama real estate: what you have to know before purchasing an apartment in a gated community

If you are considering relocation to Panama, you have probably thought of the possibility to buy an apartment or a house in a closed community. Even though living in a gated area has a number of advantages, there are some restrictions to be borne in mind too.

Panama real estate: What is there to pay for?

A gated community in Panama is a union of estate owners who trust a Condo & Homeowners Association (CHA) to maintain their property. This Association provides a series of services to the homeowners.

In case of a high-rise building, the construction company that has erected it establishes an association that manages the building during one year after the construction completion. After the first year of residence, the apartment owners can elect a President, a Treasure, and a Secretary thus creating their own house maintenance association. In most cases, however, apartment owners choose to hire an existing maintenance company to manage their building.

When purchasing an apartment in such a closed community, you have to compare its price with the prices of other apartments in vicinity. Of course, you have to take into consideration the state of the building, the proximity of transportation hubs, as well as many other factors.

You also have to pay attention to the quality of the maintenance services that the managing association provides. If it does not perform its duties very well, if the apartment owners are not happy with the work it does, the apartments in this building are not going to be popular with the buyers and their prices are probably going to fall.

In the opposite case, when the managing company works well, the prices for the apartments are naturally going to grow in such a condominium. There you will find the following:

  • Full range of services is provided to the apartment owners.
  • The residents feel calm and secure living in this building.
  • They are satisfied with the quality of the services provided.

At the same time, choosing to live in a condominium, you have to be prepared to pay higher utility bills. But it is worth it as the price of the apartments in this condo is going to grow with time.

It is very important to come to an understanding if the asking price for the apartment equals its market price.

If you see that the asking price is not adequate, you can bargain for a reduction with the apartment owner in Panama in order to secure a good deal.

Panama real estate: Know your neighbors

A gated community does not necessarily mean that only foreign nationals are going to reside there. If this issue is important for you, you have to find out in advance who lives in the condominium you are considering.

In Panama City, for example, condominiums in such districts as Santa Maria or Costa del Este will be populated both by foreigners and by locals.

The same goes for the condo-hotels in the popular Playa Blanca resort area in Coclé province.

However, if you choose the gated community of Valle Escondido condo-hotel in the town of Boquete in Chiriquí province, your neighbors will be mostly expats from the United States and other counties.

Panama real estate: Rules and restrictions in gated communities

When purchasing property in a CHA type of residential estate or in some other kind of gated community, you have to realize that together with the advantages come certain rules and regulations. Lodging there, you will have to abide by these rules.

The first thing you have to do before making the purchase deal is to carefully read the CHA charter or bylaws. You have to make sure that the charter suits you and you are prepared to follow the rules and regulations.

Please do not cherish the hope that you will be able to change a rule that you dislike. Practice shows that mustering a quorum at a general meeting is very difficult.

The CHA charter will often contain restrictions concerning the number and types of pets you are allowed to have in the house or apartment.

In addition to that, there will be requirements as to the general meetings that apartment owners shall have, some rules for the guests, limitations regarding the color of the building façade, the use of the courtyard, and so on and so forth.

Panama real estate: To live in or to rent out?

If you would like to let your house or apartment on a lease while you are away from Panama, you have to ascertain with the CHA administration that it is possible.

Most CHA’s will welcome long-term rent agreements (those exceeding six of twelve months); however, many of them will prohibit making short-term rent agreements. This is an important issue to pay heed to before buying the property.

Panama real estate: Can you put your house or apartment on Airbnb?

If you are going to spend plenty of time outside Panama and want to rent your property out via the Airbnb service, you have to find out in advance if this is allowed with your CHA.

As a matter of fact, rent through Airbnb is often prohibited in gated communities. This attitude is conditioned by the following factors:

  • The impossibility to identify the person entering the building by the security guards.
  • Unauthorized access by the renter to the commonly used amenities such as the swimming pool, the beach club, and so on.
  • Violation of the rights of other condominium community members caused by illegal conduct on the part of one of the apartment owners.

Panama real estate: Assets, liabilities and the emergency fund of the gated community

One of the most important things to do when considering purchase of a house or an apartment in a gated community is acquiring the information about the CHA budget. In particular, you have to find out the current balance, the amount of the emergency fund, and the planned maintenance expenditures.

You have to acquaint yourself not only with the overall figures but also understand each expenditure item. It is imperative to know how much money is allocated to minor and major repairs, to the swimming pool maintenance, adjacent roads repairs, courtyard maintenance, and how much money is reserved for possible emergency situations (such as a natural disaster, for example).

If you see that the expenses that the condominium incurs exceed its incomes, this means that this particular owners association is experiencing financial difficulties and buying an apartment in this residential complex can turn out quite risky.

Panama real estate: What do you know about the developer or the CHA administration?

In addition to the factors mentioned above, you should enquire about the reputation of the company that manages the gated community.

You can find this out with the existing residents and ask them if any contract violations have taken place; if there have been conflicts between the property owners and the managing company administration; if the full range of services is provided indeed; if the current residents are happy with the managing company; and so on.

Answers to these questions will let you see if the quality of the services provided in this particular condominium is going to live up to your expectations.

Panama real estate: What services are included in your monthly utility bills?

The next important issue concerns your monthly utility bills. You can ask to see the payment slips and check what services are indicated there and how much they cost. The bill also has to show the portions of the overall payment allocated to wages, building upkeep, and premise maintenance.

The information that you will find in the bill will let you see how much you would have to pay monthly if you bought an apartment in this condominium.

You also have to clarify the following issues: Is it possible to make payments on-line? Do you have to pay monthly or yearly? Do you have to pay by a bank transfer from a local bank only? These requirements differ with every CHA.

Apart from that, you should enquire when was the last time the tariffs were raised. Have any improvements been made that entail a price raise?

Is a property revaluation expected in the near future? If yes, are the tariffs going to grow considerably? Who sets the CHA prices?

As a rule, the major expenses that need to be covered are maintenance of the building, the commonly used facilities, and the adjacent roads. 

You have to be aware that tariffs differ with different CHA’s. Their amounts depend on a number of factors.

Each CHA will have a fixed rate of payment per 1 square meter (almost 1.2 sq. yards) of the premises that you occupy. This rate can be anywhere between US$ 0.80 and US$ 3.50 per square meter.

The rate will depend on the number of apartments in the buildings, the number and variety of amenities, the number of elevators, the number of maintenance staff, and other factors.

The rate per square meter in a standard condominium with a swimming pool, a gym, and round-the-clock security surveillance will be between US$ 1.00 and US$ 1.80.

Once in a few years, CHA’s will also often charge ‘extraordinary payments’ that go towards covering some extraordinary expenses. Usually, such expenses include building repair, new lobby furniture, swimming pool construction or major repair of the existing one, and so on.  

Panama real estate: The adjacent premises and architectural standards

Take a walk around the residential estate you are considering buying an apartment in. You will see the conditions of the sidewalks, the roads, the parkways, the playgrounds, the water in the swimming pool, the quality of the beach club (if there is any), and other social objects. These small details will let you determine if you are going to feel comfortable living in this building.

As far as the architectural standards are concerned, this issue is important in case you are planning to make some redecorations or renovations in your place of residence.

Each gated community will have its own architectural restrictions and you cannot violate these rules. If you unknowingly introduce a prohibited redecoration, for example, it may lead to legal action on the part of your neighbors or the CHA administration, which will cost you a pretty penny.

There are often limitations concerning the color (or color range) of the façade, its décor, the roof material, and so on. If you want to make repairs, you will have to keep within the set limits.

If you are planning, for instance, to put solar panels on the roof of your house in a gated community, you have to find out with the managing company if this is allowed in this particular community. Such rules and limitations are set in order to maintain a uniform exterior of the condominium or the village that would make them different from other condominiums or closed villages.  

Panama real estate: Security standards in a gated community

When walking around the gated community you can check if there are surveillance cameras and security patrols.

You also have to find out about the access to the building. How do security guards identify the apartment owners? How does the maintenance staff access the premises? How do the guests get in? What happens if somebody you did not expect is knocking on your door?

It is a good idea to ask if any crimes have been committed on the premises of the gated community. The crime rate in the district where the condominium is located is also important to know.

Enquire about the effectiveness of the local emergency services. How soon will they come if you dial 911? This issue will be of especial importance if you are considering a condominium located is a remote beach resort area in Panama.

Panama real estate: A luxurious apartment in the new La Maison tower

Offshore Pro Group is honored to offer you an apartment in La Maison tower in the popular Santa Maria district of Panama City.

Fendi Casa that is a branch of the world-famous Italian Fendi brand has designed this building. This is a work of modern art without exaggeration.  

La Maison residential estate is part of Santa Maria Golf & Country Club in Panama City known for its 18-hole golf course.  

This country club is especially attractive because it is located close to trade centers, boutiques, supermarkets, restaurants, banks, hospitals, and private schools.  

La Maison residents can also avail themselves of a convenient transportation hub giving easy access to the South Corridor highway. This highway will bring you to international Tocumen airport within just a few minutes.

There is a choice of 318 square meter (380 sq. yard), 362 sq. meter (433 sq. yard), and 410 sq. meter (490 sq. yard) apartments on the 65 floors of this building. There are two apartment on each floor. In addition, there are two penthouses: one of 672 square meters (804 sq. yards) and the other of 971 sq. meters (1,161 sq. yards). The larger penthouse comes with a private swimming pool.

The lobby of La Maison is truly impressive. There are two halls that look as if they were placed right in the middle of a tropical forest. The building administration provides for 24/7 security surveillance and concierge service. The building also has the following social zones and amenities:  

  • A business center.
  • A SPA salon.
  • A swimming pool with the view of the Panama bay.
  • A solarium.
  • A fitness center.
  • A squash court.
  • A golf course.
  • A gymnasium.
  • Children’s playgrounds.
  • An exclusive Cigar & Cognac Lounge.
  • A wine bar Champagnerie.

Our company offers only the best pieces of real estate in Panama. We will be happy to help you choose the property and strike the purchase deal.

Our managers have been living in Panama capital for many years now. They are fluent in Spanish, English, and Russian and they know the local legislation back to front. They can assist you in finding the right piece of property to buy in Panama and help solve any issues that may come up in the process. Please write to us to [email protected] and we will promptly reply to you.

When purchasing real estate in Panama, you are not only making a profitable investment. Foreign nationals owning property in Panama are eligible to apply for permanent residence in the country.

There are multiple ‘residence for investment’ immigration programs that the Panamanian Government has put into place in order to attract foreign capital to the country. We invite you to read about the following three most popular such programs.

  1. Economic Investor immigration program.
  2. Pensionado immigration program.
  3. Friendly Nations immigration program.

Panama is the only country on the planet that has access to both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and its warm tropical climate provides for summer temperatures all the year round.

Panama City offers the same level of comfort and luxury that the residents of large Western European and North American cities are used to. At the same time, the cost of living in Panama is at least twice as low as that in the well-developed countries.

We invite you to apply for a free consultation with us on relocating to Panama and acquiring a permanent residence permit there. You can also ask us any questions about this wonderful tropical country by sending us a message to [email protected]. We will be happy to serve you.