Friday, August 27, 2010

How To Buy Real Estate In Panama

This Guest post By Lucia Haines gives us a brief Panama Guide on how to buy real estate in this wonderful Latin American country.

Requesting a title search is the first step in buying panama real estate. It's is not mandatory but it is highly recommended to ensure that the property you want has clear title, and is free of any liens or liabilities. The cost for the title search is usually comprised in the legal fees between 1 and 3 percent of the total price of the property. It's worth to mention that these fees may vary depending on the attorney.

The Promise to Buy/Sell Agreement which translates to Promesa de Compra y Venta in Spanish is the next formal step to close on a property as well as a down payment required to be paid to the seller, which most of the times will be 10% of the property price but may vary from sale to sale.

There are different stipulations that can be agreed by the Buyer and Seller as part of the Buy Sell Agreement. For example, the amount of time it will take the seller or buyer to close on the property.

This agreement creates a legal document between both parties stating that the Seller promises to sell the property and the Buyer promises to buy the property. In case one of the parties back out of the transaction, they could face certain consequences.

The agreement usually stipulates that if the seller decided to cancel the transaction they would need to return the down payment in addition to an equal amount. For example, if you made a down payment of 10% the seller would be required by law to return 10% plus another 10% as penalty.

It is very important to point out that the down payment is a very important step in the process of buying panama real estate. If a down payment isn't made, the seller has no legal obligation to hold a property before the actual close is made and may take a better deal if it comes along or not sell the property at all. Although the word escrow is not a used term in Panama, you can find various attorneys that will provide you with this service. This is the equivalent of holding money in escrow to allow you to secure the property before paying the seller.

In other words, if the seller received 0 down on a property and a better deal came along before the close takes place, by law they would be required to return the down payment of 0 plus an equal amount of 0, which totals 0.

Once the Promise to Buy and Sell Agreement is signed, and initial down payment made, the Seller must comply with a few obligations necessary to complete the transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer. These obligations include:

1. 2% payment of the transfer tax, assessed according to the negotiated sales price.

2. Paying the capital gains which is 3% of the negotiated sales price.

3. Obtain certificates and paz y salvos of good standing including:

* Paz y Salvo for Property Taxes

* Paz y Salvo from IDAAN (water bill) Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados Nacionales

* If the property to be sold is part of a building or community that requires a maintenance fee, a letter of good standing needs to be provided confirming that all these fees are up to date

Depending on the stipulations outlined in the Promise to Buy Sell Contract and the complexity of the real estate transaction, transferring the property usually takes around 30 days in Panama.

Once all the requirements for transfer are met, the Promise to Buy Sell agreement is elevated to a Buy Sell Contract, signed and then inscribed in the Panama public registry. The new deed is generally approved and released from the public registry within a period of 10 business days.

About the Author:

Editors Note - There's a lot more to discover about Panama and one thing I know for certain is that their system for titling land makes it very, very safe for foreigners to hold property there. That's why I believe Panama is the Best Place to Invest in Real Estate today.

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