Panama Expat Market Update – What’s New with Market Conditions in Panama?
While I moved to Costa Rica last year, I’m hearing a LOT about all the recent changes in Panama, especially in Panama City. This Panama Expat Market Update post is in regards to real estate market conditions, as well as the new requirements on expat residency visas (and enforcement). All very interesting stuff, especially since I lived there full-time from 2008 to mid 2015 (and part-time until early 2016).
So, let’s jump in.
Panama Expat Market Update: Real Estate Conditions
First off, the market has swung widely in the past two years. Two years ago – in 2015 – prices in downtown Panama City were at an all-time high. They had held stable for two-three years and even a one-bed apartment was renting at a minimum of $1800. Today, in mid 2017, the market has now swung down – in a big way. According to my real estate broker contacts in Panama, pricing is plummeting – in some cases as much as 25% between list price and purchase price. That’s significant in a market that held sway over buyers for almost ten years.
Panama Real Estate: A Buyer’s Market
What’s changed? Well, a number of things. First, the Panama Canal expansion finished construction a year ago (in mid-2016). The thousands of jobs that contributed to marketplace stability in Panama as part of that project have evaporated, including a number of expat executive positions. The individuals who worked for the consulting firms and service providers to the Canal expansion have since packed up and left the country, taking their execs with them. That’s a contributing factor in the form of less demand in the rental and sales market and some vacant spots in local private schools, much less the contribution to consumer consumption overall.
It’s simple economics, folks: when demand is high and supply is low, pricing goes up. That was the case in Panama for many, many years. Now, the market has swung, as all markets do, eventually. Demand is down and supply is up, thus pricing is decreasing.
If you’re in the market to buy in Panama, this does seem like it would be a great time to buy Panama Real Estate
It’s somewhat ironic that I now work in Costa Rica in real estate and not Panama. 🙂 But, if you need a referral to an ethical, established, knowledgable broker inPanama, I’ve got a few listed in my second book about Panama here. (Note that I do NOT give referrals lightly – there are VERY FEW I trust in Panama, even after having lived and worked there for years.)
Panama Expat Market Update: Residency Visas in Panama: Stricter Enforcement
There’s been a recent law passed in Panama that has some expats living in Panama on repetitive tourist visas running scared. Or maybe I should say, running for the border. 🙂 At least, that’s what the Government of Panama appears to be enforcing – their borders. And, frankly, it’s about time.
Let me be specific.
Panama is now enforcing their own immigration rules, via an existing law that is now being enforced. Until recently, if you chose to live in Panama and not take advantage of one of their very reasonable methods for becoming a legal resident, that may have meant that you came and went every six months, so that you seemed to have a perpetual tourist visa. (Tourists may come to Panama and stay in country for up to six months).
Panama’s Immigration system has now put a stop to illegal residents who take advantage of their tourist visas.
Here’s what’s happened. If you have been or plan to be one of these “perpetual tourists”, the new system will catch you. For those that have stayed in Panama for up to six months – on a tourist visa, legally up to that point, yes – are now getting banned from the country for at least 30 days when they leave for the same amount of time they stayed (as a tourist) without applying for a legal residency visa. (Note that if you have already applied, and your paperwork is in the system, you will be fine. If you have not, then you won’t be allowed to return to Panama for the same number of months that you previously stayed in Panama on your tourist visa.)
Panama Illegal Immigration – New Rules – Example:
John Smith enters Panama on January 1. His tourist visa allows him to stay in country up to six months. He departs on June 15, thinking he will take a three-day vacation to Costa Rica (or wherever) and then return to get another tourist visa. But, a-ha! While this method has worked in the past in Panama, it no longer does. When John goes to leave the country on June 15, he is informed by Immigration (which you must pass through before you go through Airport Security) that he will not be allowed to re-enter Panama for at least 30 days. I’ve heard rumors of some horror stories that some immigration officials – probably fed up with what they’ve seen until now – are requiring John to stay out of the country for the same period of time he stayed in Panama on that initial tourist visa, in this case, up to 5 1/2 months. (These are not substantiated so I can’t say if they are accurate.)
You can see how this is causing some illegals in Panama to get their proverbial ducks in a row. And, frankly, good for the country! It’s about time. It’s not fair for people to come in, live and not pay taxes or contribute to the economic welfare like those of us who are legal. That’s my two cents. Plus, Panama has PLENTY of options for becoming a legal resident, so why not take advantage of one? It’s much, much harder in other Latin American countries, such as neighboring Costa Rica.
Considering a Move to Panama or Retiring in Panama?
You might wish to check out my bestselling books about Panama on Amazon. Here are the links:
Panama is not for everyone! Do your homework before you make a big investment to be sure it is for you. Contact me if you have a specific question about Panama.
Meanwhile, I’m back to Pura Vida land…
I’ve got some writing to do over here about expat living along the South Pacific coast. And, if per chance Costa Rica Real Estate is also on your consideration list, we’d be happy to help you at my new boutique real estate firm here. We’ve recently put out a couple of helpful reports on insider questions one should consider before buying in Costa Rica. So, come check it out!
More on me as a Writer / Author / Inspirer at JuliAnne Murphy.com.