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Guide to buying land in Panama

Red Frog Beach

An often repeated piece of investment advice is that purchasing real estate is always a smart move that practically guarantees that you’ll at least double your investment down the line. While in general, property values only do seem to keep going up, it’s still important for you to consider the place you’ll be investing in and its potential for growth. There are many factors that make a city or even a country an attractive investment destination, from the available infrastructure, the exchange rate, to the economy

If you’re setting your sights internationally, you may want to take a good look at Panama. With its attractive location, robust economy, and openness to foreign investors, this Central American paradise can provide you exactly what you’re looking for – whether it’s a property investment that you’re hoping to grow or simply a piece of land that will play host to your second home.

Panama has already welcomed many foreign buyers of real estate; you’ll want to have all the information you need to make sure that the process goes smoothly for you.

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The boom in the Panama real estate market began in the mid-2000s, with the government opening up the market to foreign investors to help finance the construction of real estate and various infrastructure. Still, the conditions have to be right to get any foreign investor interested, and fortunately, Panama has much to offer.

Let’s count the ways:

  • Panama is considered one of the most politically stable countries in the region. The country also offers generous tax incentives for investors, and its strong economy, which has been bouncing back since the pandemic, with a growth of 13.5% in 2022 compared with the previous year. It also helps that Panama has a dollarized economy, allowing it to avoid risks and offer a more stable investment climate.
  • Panama is gorgeous. The country is blessed with sweeping shorelines, sparkling blue waters, lush rainforests, and an abundance of wildlife, making it a stunning location for anyone looking for a second home or a place to retire to.

If you have your heart set on buying available Panama land for sale, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Find a local real estate agent

    Experienced, reliable ones are members of Asociación Panameña de Corredores y Promotores de Bienes Raíces or The Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Promoters (ACOBIR). Working with a local real estate agent will help you walk into the process armed with important information and knowledge about your chosen neighborhood.

    Your real estate agent will give you a truthful, complete picture of the real estate market in the country, find good deals, and help you get to know the country better before you move. Preferably, you should find an agent who has worked with foreign buyers previously and would even have experience conducting transactions remotely, assuming there will be instances when you will not be able to be physically present in Panama for some phases of the transaction.

  2. Employ a reputable local attorney

    Once you’ve found the right property, negotiations with the seller can begin. During this time, you will also need a reputable local attorney on your team. They will be in charge of tasks like verifying the details of property on the public registry, and checking ownership and liens on the property. This is to make sure that the person selling the property is really the registered owner, and to ensure that there aren’t any outstanding fees and mortgages associated with the property. Your attorney will also be tasked with reviewing or drafting the reservation agreement and contract between you and the seller.

  3. Understand the documents

    Speaking of documents, the first document to be completed so that you can get the transaction started is the Promesa de Compra y Venta or “Promise of Purchase and Sales Agreement.” This is basically a promissory note that lays out in detail how the transaction will proceed. It provides information about the total amount you will be paying, the down payment, your methods of payment, and the time frame to complete the process.

    The final contract between you and the seller is the deed, which will be submitted to the public registry. Ideally, you should be in Panama to sign this deed, which will then be notarized. Otherwise, you should give your attorney the power of attorney to sign it on your behalf.

  4. Understand the timeline

    Once the deed is registered, the process of transferring the title from the seller’s name to yours can then begin; this will take about 10 days.

    Your real estate agent should then send a copy of the deed to the tax records department.Overall, you can expect the process of buying a property in Panama to span a period of about 30 days or so, provided that the title is clean, there aren’t any unpaid liens, you and the seller quickly came to an agreement about the details, and there are no other hurdles to overcome.

  5. Review your financing options

    Another detail that you need to sort out is the kind of financing you need to pay for the property.
    Panama has many reliable banks that offer numerous mortgage products. Banks have a number of requirements for mortgage applications. You will need to submit a copy of your current passport, a copy of another ID, a photocopy of a utility bill with the same address as the one on your ID and other documents, your curriculum vitae, the original certificate of title of deed from Panama’s public registry, and a property appraisal document.

    Banks generally accept a down payment of 30% from foreign buyers. If you’re purchasing directly from a seller, people are generally willing to accept a 10% down payment.

    If you’re a first-time property buyer in Panama, you may also be eligible for special incentives given certain conditions. For example, the property you are buying should be newly built to be used for residential purposes.

    If you have a retirement visa under the Panama Pensionado Program, you may also be entitled to lower interest rates on mortgages.

    If you want owner financing, which is having the seller help you buy their property, call your real estate agent. Owner financing is fairly common in Panama so let your agent handle the negotiations, which include details such as the down payment, the interest rates, the purchase price, and the terms. The seller generally accepts a downpayment of 5% to 10% in this situation. This option is suitable for those who are interested in buying a property but are unable to fully pay for it until they have sold off their primary property.

The process of buying land in Panama, or indeed, any type of property, is fairly straightforward, but as a foreign national, you are no doubt wondering if there are some unique rules that apply to you. The following section should answer some of your urgent questions if you want to buy land in Panama as a foreign national.

Browse land for sale in Panama


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Buying property in another country means being even more mindful of local laws, guidelines, practices, and requirements.

Here are some of the questions that you most likely have when it comes to buying land in Panama along with some quick answers.

Q: Is it really okay for foreigners to buy land in Panama?

A: Yes, and you don’t even need to have a special visa or a certain relationship with the country. You’re also not required to be a major investor in any business in Panama. When you buy property here, even as a foreign national, you’ll have the same property rights as Panamanians do, with a few exceptions.

Q: What are the exceptions for foreign buyers?

A: If you’re eyeing to buy a piece of untitled land in Panama:

  • It must have been owned first by a citizen of Panama for at least two years before it’s sold to you; your real estate agent will be able to help you check the details.
  • You will have to abide by Article 286 of the country’s constitution, which prohibits foreign ownership of a property located within 10 miles of the international border. Panama is located between Costa Rica and Colombia.
  • You can buy land in Panama if it’s not located in a military zone or an indigenous reservation.

Q: How many properties am I allowed to buy?

A: As many as you want and can afford. There is no limit to the number of properties you are allowed to buy, as long as you’re able to pay for them. There is no limit to the size of properties either; you can buy anything from a small apartment to huge parcels of undeveloped land to agricultural land and even to your very own island.

Q: What kinds of property can I buy?

A: Every kind of property is available for you to purchase, save for the exceptions listed above. You can even buy your own island in Panama. It all depends on what your needs are and what you plan to do with the property.

Q: Do I need to be in Panama during the entire transaction?

A: It would be a good idea just so you could get a feel for the area and the community and to be able to witness the transaction firsthand. But if you’re unable to make it, then you can have your attorney handle the process.

Q: Do I have to know how to communicate in Spanish for my transaction to go through?

A: English is the second most widely spoken language in the country, so you won’t need to be fluent in Spanish throughout the process of buying Panama land for sale. But it may help to learn the language so you assimilate better into the community and get to know the culture better.

Q: Do the documents related to the purchase have to be written in Spanish?

A: You will only need to have a document written in Spanish in case of a dispute between you and the seller. In this case, the contract that you two signed will need to be translated into Spanish first before it is filed in court for review. You can save time by having the contract written in both English and Spanish in the first place, even before a dispute arises.

Q: Do I have to have a good credit score to buy land in Panama or any other type of property?

A: Credit scores are a concern of lenders in the US. In Panama, what mainly matters is your ability to pay, and for that, sellers and banks will look at several documents, such as the last two years of your financial statements, the last two years of your personal income tax returns, two financial reference letters attesting to your income and ability to pay, and a copy of the Promise to Purchase Agreement.

Of course, you most likely have a whole slew of other questions related to your unique situation about buying Panama land for sale. In that case, you may contact a local real estate agent in Panama who deals with foreign buyers. They’ll be able to clear up any issues and give you better insight into the Panama real estate market.

Browse land for sale in Panama


Build your Dream Home

At this point, your plans to purchase land are crystallizing and you have a better idea what to expect when purchasing property in Panama. There’s a number of currently available Panama land for sale and it would be a good idea to check them out yourself. Seeing the properties in person gives you a better idea of the communities they’re in, your buying power, the range of available properties, and how much you’ll need overall to complete the transaction. Plus it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Beachfront lots are a popular type of property in Panama. As in most beachfront lots, they can be rare and come at a premium. The asking price for a 0.37-acre property in a private resort is $395,000 and offers quick access to rainforest trails, the island beach club, as well as to the sand and the sea.

Hillside lots are great if you want breathtaking ocean views. They offer the same access to amenities with the added bonus of sweeping vistas. Some elevated lots already have a solid foundation in place, making it easy for you to start building your dream home.

Whichever lot you select, you’re guaranteed a pristine haven with the privacy you need, and plenty of room to build a home that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Browse land for sale in Panama


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If you’re looking for a reliable partner who can help you find that perfect piece of land in Panama, we at Red Frog Beach can help. Aside from showing you available properties and advocating for you during every step of the transaction, we’ll also help you with visa applications and with choosing the right community. We’ve assisted countless expats in getting settled here in Panama, and we can’t wait to do the same for you.

Give us a call at 281.892.1344 (US) or 507.6951.6518 (Panama). You can also send us an email or contact us here. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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