Buying real estate? …Caveat emptor!

This post is also available in: Spanish

By: Staff at Panama Offshore Legal Services

E-Mail: Phone: (507) 227 – 6645

This is a true story. Greg, a foreigner, came to Panama seven years ago and bought an apartment in one of the more popular beachfront condominium resorts while it was in its pre-construction phase. After many delays, construction was finally completed but the developer changed many of the terms and conditions of the original purchase contract. Greg was not happy with the changes and decided not to complete the purchase.

After several years of negotiations with the builder an agreement was made on a lower purchase price one year ago. Greg signed all of the paperwork, but after one year the deal has not finalized.

Pag 12 Buyer beware_fmtGreg also paid for all of the furniture in the apartment, which the builder has been using for his own purposes.

Seven years later, Greg has not earned one cent on his investment for which he has put in more than $100,000.

Greg has now hired a Panamanian lawyer to help him.

The moral of this sad story is foreigners should always consult with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate attorney in the country he or she wishes to purchase real estate in. Laws differ in every country and it is a buyer beware world.

When purchasing existing real estate, it is best to hire professionals to test the foundation, electrical wiring and plumbing and look for leaks. Purchasers of pre-construction properties face more potential problems, precisely because the property has not yet been built. Many things can change, from the nice-looking model of what the building was supposed to look like to the floor plans outlining the rooms.

Pre-construction contracts are filled with future promises and if something important is left out, the buyer may not be happy with the finished product.

Do not take the word of real estate agents, developers, and builders as oral promises are not binding when buying real estate. Pre-construction purchase contracts are long and not easy for laymen to understand. That is why it is critical to hire a Panama-based real estate law firm from the beginning when buying pre-construction real estate rather than when it might be too late.


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One Comment;

  1. John B Todd said:

    How interesting! 7/8 years ago The Visitor had a front page picture and subsequent article about the Naos Harbor project.If I’m not mistaken ,this is the project alluded to here. The Visitor article was extremely positive and contributed in my decision to purchase.
    I’m in the same “boat” as Greg!!
    John B Todd

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