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Transferring funds to Panama can vary in difficulty depending on what country you are transferring from, but for Canadians in particular, the instructions provided by the receiving bank almost never include the physical address, which is needed by most Canadian banks.


Here is a great website to look up the physical address of the receiving bank using the SWIFT code, which is almost always provided by the receiving bank here in Panama.


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Learn How to Calculate your Annual Panama Real Estate Taxes:


In Panama,  real estate tax, also known as property tax, is not municipal, but national and the entity responsible for its collection is the Ministry of Economics and Finance located on Ave. Peru, in Panama City. It must be paid according to the official assessment value, which is usually the declared value on the sale document.


Real estate located in Panama, whether urban or rural, is subject to property taxes.

The tax base depends on the total value of the land, plus all improvements, as appraised by Land Commission (Oficina de Catastro).


Real estate transactions at prices above the appraisal value automatically increase their value for tax purposes.


The maximum annual percentage of assessment is 2.10%, which is based upon two items:

- Over the value of the land, and
- Over the declared value of the improvements built.


The taxable base will depend upon the total value of the land plus all improvements.


Certain properties and improvements are exempt or can obtain exemptions from real estate taxes according to special incentive tax laws. In order to have received a 20-year exoneration on improvements, construction permits would have been need to be approved by July 1st, 2009 and need to be filed via the Public Registry before December 31st, 2011.


Properties currently under the old 20 year property tax exemption will continue to enjoy those benefits. If your property is not applicable for the 20-year tax exemption, then the following revised Panama property tax exemption exists:

Property Tax Exemption: Residential

  • 15 years Up to US$ 100,000.00
  • 10 years From US$ 100,000.00 to US$ 250,000.00
  • 5 years Above US$ 250,000.00
  • Commercial Use/Non-residential improvements have  10 year exoneration no matter property value


Taxes can be paid in three installments, namely by April 30th, August 31st, and December 31st. Property taxes are only levied on properties that have a registered value of US$30,000 or more (registered value is the value stated on the public deed that is registered at the Public Registry).

The maximum annual property tax is 2.1% for any property valued above $75,000.



Possession Rights properties do not incur property taxes, since the property technically belongs to the government of Panama. A Property taxes cover the fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30. Current taxes may be paid in full on or before August 31.


Individuals also can pay half of their property taxes on or before August 15, and pay the other half on or before January 15 without interest and penalty.


Panama Property Tax: Property Tax Rate for Real Estate (Excluding Condos):

Value of the property                                Property Tax Rate
US$ 0.00 up to US$ 30K (exempted)                     0%
US$ 30K up to US$ 50K                                  1.75%
US$ 50K up to US$ 75K                                  1.95%
US$ 75K and above                                         2.10%


Panama property tax is calculated based on the value of the land plus the value of all constructed/registered improvements.  The property tax calculation under Panamanian Law is as follows (assuming a $100,000 property)

* The First $30,000 of the property value is exempt from tax.
* The next $20,000 is taxed at a rate of 1.75%, which works out to $350.00
* The next $25,000 is taxed at a rate of 1.95%, which works out to $487.50
* The balance $100,000 - $75,000 = $25,000 is taxed at a rate of 2.10%, which works out to $525.00
* Now you have to add up the dollar amounts above: $350.00 + $487.50 + $525.00 giving you a total of $1362.50 per year in property taxes.


However, real estate tax differs for condominiums (apartment buildings) in Panama.


Property Tax Rate for Condos:

Value of the property                  Property Tax Rate
US$ 0.00 up to US$ 30K (exempted)           0%
US$ 30K up to US$ 100K                           0.75%
US$ 100K and above                                  1.0%

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Introducing a great and innovative way to design your dream house!  3D Cube Design appears at the forefront of 'do-it-yourself' home design!  Its a free platform, with a easy signup and login process (you can sign up with your facebook account as well to post up your designs in your FB as well!!).  


This site is surely to be a great hit for those of you building in Panama and would like to explore your options and design your own dream home or vacation getaway!!  



You don't need to be a professional architect, nor need the heavy design software to do it...  This incredible site has built all that for you, giving you the power and tools to build whatever you want.  Once you complete your designs, you can take these to your builder.  You can design intertior, exterior and landscapping areas with the easy of point and click, drag and drop, in a professional and creative system.  



Use it for doing serious designs for your own property or just for fun and exercise your creative side.  After you finish your design, this incredible system allows you to print, send to your builder, upload to social media, and create video walk-throughs!  Don't worry about losing any data either as they have their own cloud network which will store your work for easy and quick reference.  


One of the aspects that is very intriguing as this system takes care of the plumbing and electrical setup automatically in the presets.  This is a welcome relief as the majority of us are not plumbers or electricians!  


Give this a try, see how it works for you and your designs.  They are also running contests for designs with prizes as well.  Do give their site a visit and sign up (for free) for an account and start utilizing a new generation of architectual design!


Happy Building!!


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When it comes to the world of smart phones, the apps just keep on coming.  This makes life easier for not only toursists in Panama, but full and part-time residents as well!  There are a few apps that I owe a lot to, and I know you will love as well.



1)  WAZE



My number one most used app is Waze.  Waze is a navigation/social tool that allows you to check traffic, plan routes, navigate, and check for oncoming traffic problems.  In fact, the social aspect of the app not only allows you to communicate with other users, but to warn them of police speed traps, accidents, hazzards, heavy traffic, and bad weather.  It has a great map system, and actually allows users to edit the map should they run into a changed or incorrect route.  For this reason, the map stays very current, even with road closures, and the hectic pace of construction here in the city.


Whether you are new to Panama, a tourist, or have been here for years, this app always has a use while you are driving.  Even if you know the route perfectly, Waze can redirect you in the event of a traffic accident, and warn you if you are approaching a radar gun.  For you tourists, make sure you have an unlocked phone, pick up a sim card at the airport when you arrive, and boom, you're in business!






Your all too important voice or text translation app for a country where very little english is spoken.  That's right folks, not many people here in Panama speak english, so you can either page through a spanish/english dictionary, or download a translation app.


There are a lot to choose from.  iTranslate, google translate, etc. but they all require live data (internet) connections.  Not Jibbago!!  The entire dictionary downloads to you phone, and it does a fantastic job.  No data, no problem!!





WhatsApp is a free texting service that not only outreaches borders, but allows you to share any sort of media and even exchange voice memos.  Everyone in Panama uses this app, and I have heard that it is quickly becoming the largest social networking tool out there.


WhatsApp is actually very similar to the blackberry messenger system in many ways, where you have a picture, status, and can see when your message has been received and read.


One of the greatest features is that as soon as you make a new contact, WhatsApp instantly picks it up, and if your new contact also uses WhatsApp, you instantly become whatsApp contacts.  It's more useful in Panama than it may be in North America because the texting packages sold with your telephone here can be expensive, and WhatsApp remains a free app.  It also allows you to text and send media free to anyone in the world that also has the app.


4)  Life360



Not unlike WhatsApp and Waze, this is a bit of social networking mixed in with a useful application.  The app offers messaging and the uploading of photos, but also introduces global positioning of your contact's telephone, and panic buttons in case of an emergency.


Leaving my family two and a half years ago wasn't easy, but the dream of living in the tropics for me was really compelling.  If you are in Panama with me, you can without a doubt relate.  It's hard though.  I've left everything I knew, and so much that I never thought I would miss, I do.  Especially my family.  So any piece of technology that I can find to help me feel closer, and help me more easily communicate with them is welcome.


That's not all this app is useful for though.  Younger and younger families are making the move to Panama.  Back home, we feel that we have a close network of neighbors, friends, and family that keeps us all safe.  In Panama, we can sometimes feel a little isolated if we haven't learned the language, and if one of the youngsters go missing,  or doesn't call home, it would surely be a frustrating experience.  I like this app, because I can keep tabs on my offspring, family, and friends, not only in Panama, but in various time zones around the globe. 


5)  Duolingo



Learn the language!!  You owe it to all of the call center workers you have cussed out ;)  


Now get out there and explore!!


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Having been involved in a few real estate transactions in my time here in Panama, I have seen a bucket full of owners attempting to assist the showing intermediary with the presentation and sale of their property.  This is a mistake 90% of the time.  I'll explain further.


In Canada, we are blessed to have a well organized MLS and a licensing system that, for the most part, ensures that someone qualified to sell your home will be showing the home.  For that reason, I think Canadians are "trained" to step aside and allow the agent to show the home.  There is usually a lock box left on the door handle or railing, and the realtor simply lets himself in and does his thing.  That very thing that has made him or her successful and allowed him or her to stand the test of time in the business. You liked this system, so why do you fight it in Panama?


In this blog, I am going to list a few of the top issues that realtors face here in Panama when trying to effectively sell your home.  Things that seriously hinder the sale of your property and cost you serious time and money.


Make your home easy to show!!


The worst thing you can do is make your home difficult to show.  Top real estate agents will show many properties per day in Panama, and spend most evenings scheduling the next day of viewings.  If your unit is rented, or the agent has to stumble around making 5 phone calls and cocrdinating 3 people just to get a key, or someone to let them into the property, that agent is likely to show something else.  A top producing agent simply does not have the time to deal with a hard to show property.  


Another reason your hard to show property isn't selling is that often, agents are thinking on the go.  In other words, a client sometimes shares a piece of information that changes the direction in which the agent is headed.  The agent often has to change his or her gameplan mid-show.  So, that means that if your property wasn't on the list of showings at 9:00 am, it could suddenly be at 2:00 pm, and if the agent can't get in, you lose.  There is plenty of real estate for sale here in Panama, with owners that list exclusively and hand a key to the agent so that he or she can show the property quickly and easlily, and on the fly if necessary.  If you haven't sold your home, the first thing you should ask yourself is how easy do you make it for your agent(s) to show.


Panama is the land of immigration, foreign executives, vacation home buyers, etc.  It just so happens that many people fly here, grab a hotel, and head out for anywhere from 3 days to a week to find and decide on a home.  You must make your home available to show.  Every missed showing is a missed oportunity, and to sell, you have to show.  Please do not assume that if the porperty is unavailable to show one day, that the client will reschedule.  They almost never do, and again, there is another condo up two floors or house in the next neighborhood that shows easily and will sell.


My friends, please stay out of the way.


If there is just one thing that a seller should take away from this blog, it is that your realtor is a professional.  He or she should know what they are doing by now.  They are making a career of marketing and selling real estate and they are successful at it.  Showing your home is where we shine.  


Taking pride in your home is very important, but just as important is to get out of the way and allow your agent to do what you are paying him or her to do.  Hovering over your agent and his clients pointing out each upgrade, and sharing each memory does NOT sell your home.  People want to envision themselves in each property they look at.  They want to take mental ownership and imagine how their life fits the home.  Having the owners there painting a picture of someone else's life in the home will unsell your home.  In fact, it's even a good idea to remove personal family photos.  Statistics support this.  Homes sell better when the owners are not present.


Overpricing won't fool the buyers.

There are few possessions more personal than your home.  And for that matter, few investments made as large.  You've spent countless hours entertaining, renovating, perfecting and just loving your home.  But now it comes time to price it acurately.  Maybe your entire retirement budget relies on the money you can get for the property.


It doesn't matter how much you paid for your property, or how much you love it.  Your agent is in the trenches each and every day helping people buy and sell property.  He or she will tell you how to competitively price your home so that it sells quickly and for the most money possible.  Overpricing is VERY common in Panama and the number one reason a home does not sell.  Your overpriced home will sit on the market for months, and years, and gain a reputation as unsellable, or undesirable with buyers and agents.  It may end up selling for far less than your agent's original suggestion.


The internet makes this even more of a problem than it once was, as 99% of buyers will scour the internet before and during their purchase to ensure that they are paying the right price.  Information is so readily available to your buyers, so you must be competitive to sell.


Don't be so sensitive!

Just as in life, in negotiations you must be sure not to take things too personally.  Don't outright decline a low ball offer.  Again, buyers want to ensure they are getting the best possible price, so if they start a little low, all you need do is correct them with a counter.  This is a business transaction, negotiation will often net you a positive result if you just keep emotion out of it. 


So these are a few of the bigger issues that hinder the sale of a property in Panama.  Some others small things include clutter, needed repairs not being made, listing with multiple agents or FSBO, and of course bad photos on the MLS.


On a side note, don't forget what you are paying your agent for.  Showing the home is only 10% of it!  A successful agent must build and maintain one or more websites, keep an office with staff, maintain a presence in the community, build and grow a network of clients and other agents, pay to advertise no only your property, but their brand.  The brand brings clients.  You want a realtor with a large network, and attracting clients through marketing and networking costs a lot of money. It's a business with expenses, so don't ever feel like you're not getting your money's worth.





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I'm putting this blog out there today for a couple of reasons.  First, I have several clients making use of this particular visa, so it will be fast and easy to refer to my blog, but secondly, and more importantly is that it just may not be around much longer.


There have been a number of changes since the new president took office here in Panama this summer.  He has sharpened up the presence of police in the streets, placed price caps on certain food items, gotten tough on crime gangs, and is getting tougher on immigration.  It is rumored (I say rumored because I haven't taken the time to confirm for myself) that the so called "melting pot" visa is to be eliminated.  I don't know much about it, but from what I hear, it's like a 3 day immigration marathon, where illegals and people who don't normally qualify under normal parameters can sit in a stadium for 3 days solid and make themselves legal.


With the end to this program, it makes me wonder if it is only the beginning.  So, I post this blog to help you along, to qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa while it still exists.  It is unique in the fact that it allows you permanent residence AND the ability to get a legal work permit.  To live just like a local.  


So here is what you need:


1)  Criminal report from all the applicants (from FBI for Americans, and RCMP for Canadians),

2)  Marriage Certificate if you are married,

3)  Eight passport sized photos,

4)  A complete copy of your passport, from cover to cover.  Every page,

5)  A copy of another photo ID, for example, driver's license,

6)  A utility bill for your property here in Panama.  Not important if you are renting, or if you own.  A rental agreement or Hotel reservation will even work for this.


Now, the first two documents need to be legalized in your home country.  A public notary can do this for you.  In Canada, an attorney can do it as well, but I'm unsure about the USA.   Once notarized, they need to go to the Panamanian Embassy, or Consulate for their OK.  In Canada, you may need to send these documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs before the consulate as well.  It would be wise to confirm that with the Panamanian Embassy.  Don't do all of this too early, because many of these documents expire after 3 or 6 months.


In order to qualify for this visa, you will also have to have a Panamanian bank account.  Normally, your immigration lawyer can assist you with this.  I have attempted to assist a few clients but it can be time consuming, and the lawyers are better suited to it.  This account will have to have a minimum of $5000 USD plus $2000 for every dependant that will be applying.


You must prove employment, or the promise of employment.  In order to do this, you will have to set up your own corporation, and hire yourself to run it.  There, you have a job.  (If you really do have a job, then no company required).  The lawyer will take care of this step for you as well.  The cost is normally in the $1000 dollar range.  You will have a further expense of $300 dollars per year to renew your Tasa Unica (keeps your company on the books) and $250 per year for your resident agent, which is usually your lawyer as well.  This is the government's contact if they need to speak to the confidential owner of a corporation.  That $250 dollar fee may vary with what attorney you choose, but I'm not 100% on that.


The fees involved with the visa itself look like this.  There is an $800 dollar "repatriation fee" for each applicant, and $250 for the National Treasurer (just a fee I guess) for each applicant.  Legal fees will be additional and could run around from $1200 to $2500 per person.


That leaves you at about $3500 for the lawyer, and another $1000 or so in fees.  Probably a pretty average figure of $5000 dollars if you get shopping from firm to firm, but I would definitely advise doing your own price shopping.  You need to be sure to get an all in price, because charges and fees, translations of documents, stamps, temporal cards, permanent cards, and multiple entry visas will just keep coming, it is a long process, and there are many steps involved.


Here's a little bit about the process.  To start, once you have all your documents, bank accounts, corporation etc., you will have to physically visit the immigration office here in Panama to register.  Quite the experience, with hundreds, maybe even thousands of people there at every moment of the business day.  You will bring with you, your passport, and 2 passport sized photos.  The lawyers will accompany you normally.  They translate for you, and assist you to find the right windows etc.  An English speaker would be 150% lost in there without a lawyer I think.  In fact, when you think about their fee, and the time they spend in that immigration office, at $450 dollars an hour in Canada, the same process would probably cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it does in many countries.  Another fact is that the lawyer or an assistant is usually there 3 or 4 hours early just to wait in line to get a low number.  Quite the process!


Once you are there and registered, and the Immigration Department has all of your documentation, you will receive a temporary residence card.  This will allow you to stay in the country until your permanent residence application is prosessed.  You must not leave once this visa is granted until you have asked your attorney for a multiple entry visa, or you will be fined $2000 dollars upon your return.  A multiple entry visa can be applied for and granted within 3 days.


The entire process, depending on many factors, can take from 6 months, up to a year.  And what a bargain!!


I hope that helps, if anyone has anything to add, feel free in the comments section below.  Panama has many laws, but quite often they are more suggestions or guidelines, so some people may have slightly varying experiences.


Cheers!!!  See you in Panama!

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Panama has put together the most appealing program of special benefits for foreign residents and retirees you’ll find anywhere in the world today.  These benefits are available to anyone over the age of 18 who meets the requirements for a Pensionado Visa.   All you need is a guaranteed pension income of only $500 per month ($600 per month for a couple). It must be a pension from a government agency (social security, disability, or armed forces) or from a private company.

As a qualified pensionado/retiree in Panama, you will be entitled to:

  • 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country (movies, theaters, concerts, sporting events)
  • 30% off bus, boat, and train fares
  • 25% off airline tickets
  • 50% off hotel stays from Monday through Thursday
  • 30% off hotels stays from Friday through Sunday
  • 25% off at restaurants
  • 15% off at fast-food restaurants
  • 15% off hospital bills (if no insurance applies)
  • 10% off prescription medicines
  • 20% off medical consultations
  • 15% off dental and eye exams
  • 20% off professional and technical services
  • 50% closing costs for home loans and more…

In addition you are entitled to a one-time exemption of duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation or local purchase of a car. All this, and you can “retire” in Panama starting at age 18.


Plus Panama’s pensionado law stipulates that anyone entering the country as a qualified pensioner today is guaranteed that status as long as he chooses to stay in the country.

The general rules

  • All visa applications must be made through a Panamanian lawyer.
  • There is no age limit required for applying for any of these visas, save for the minimum legal age of 18 years. Youngsters under 18 will qualify for a visa as dependents of their parents.
  • All overseas documents to be presented to the authorities in Panama must be authenticated by a Notary and by the Panamanian consulate nearest you, or by a notary and the Apostille. The Apostille (The Hague Convention of 1961) is a faster way of authenticating documents and is normally obtained through the Secretary of State in your home state (in the United States) or through the Foreign Office (in Britain). For Canada, please check with the Panamanian Embassy or consulate nearest to your home city.
  • All documents must be fresh (within three months of visa application) and passports must have at least one year to run.
  • Dependents: Bring a marriage certificate. However, original marriage certificates are not acceptable if over three months old, so you’ll need to request fresh ones. If your children under 18 are to be covered by your visa, you’ll need to bring fresh birth certificates (not originals).
  • None of these visas grant work permits.
  • All visa applications require that you obtain a health certificate in Panama.

The Tourist Pensioner Visa (Turista Pensionado)

This visa is designed for persons whose pension from a government entity or private corporation is $500 or more ($600 or more for a couple per month). It is granted indefinitely. The benefits include one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000) and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car (sales tax will still apply). However, please note that under this visa you cannot qualify to acquire Panamanian nationality.



Private Income Retiree Visa (Rentista Retirado)

This visa is for persons who don’t have a monthly pension, are no longer working, and have received a retirement lump sum. As a visa requirement, that money is to be deposited on a five-year certificate of deposit with the National Bank of Panama, to yield at least $750 a month (at current rates the face value of the CD would need to be approximately $220,000). The visa is renewable every five years, as long as the CD is renewed. The Private Income Retiree Visa includes such benefits as a travelling Panamanian passport (that however does NOT grant nationality), a one-time exemption of duties for the importation of household goods (up to $10,000), and an exemption every two years of duties for the importation of a car.  Currently, the Private Income Retiree Visa is considered the quickest means available by which to obtain a Panamaniam passport.

Person of Means Visa (Solvencia Económica Propia)

Designed for those who wish to live in Panama off their own means, without the need to work or start a business. The person must have a two-year certificate of deposit in any local bank of at least $200,000. The visa is granted in two steps: first a one year provisional visa is granted, and then the process is repeated and the visa is approved permanently, with the right to a cedula (local identity card). Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.

Investor Visa (Inversionista) Designed for those who wish to establish a business in Panama (note, though, that some retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $150,000 and minimum of three, permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.



Forestry Investor Visa (Inversionista Forestal)

Note: Although currently suspended, this visa is being revised to be brought back.
Designed for those who wish to make long-term investments in reforestation and take advantage of tax breaks. There must be a minimum investment of $40,000 into a duly accredited reforestation company. This investment must be kept until final harvest (approximately 20 years). This visa is granted provisionally for one year and after renewal it is granted permanently with the right to be issued a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to apply for Panamanian nationality.



Small Business Investor Visa (Inversionista de Pequeña Empresa)


Designed for those who wish to establish a small business in Panama (note that retail businesses and some professions are reserved to Panamanians). There must be a minimum investment of $40,000 and minimum of three permanent Panamanian employees hired. It is granted provisionally for one year, and needs to be renewed three more times before it is granted permanently with the right to a cedula. Five years after obtaining the permanent visa, holders will be eligible to obtain Panamanian nationality.

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Frequent visitors to Panama have no doubt gotten used to being handed the flyer at the airport announding 30 days of free health insurance in Panama.  As of June 30, 2014, this is no longer the case.  This program has been cancelled by the new "Minister of Tourism".


Visitors to Panama will now be wise to invest in health insurance before entering the country.  Even though the cost of a visit to the doctor in Panama is very cheap, anything major could become rather costly.


Safe travels!!

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So everyone is telling you not to list exclusively in Panama!!  Why?  They probably don't even know, but I am going to attempt to explain it here, and sell you on the fact that with the right agent it is far more beneficial to list exclusively in Panama in 2014!


Yes folks, it's 2014!  Not 1985.  There's a little thing here in Panama called the internet.  Statistically, almost 100% of real estate buyers use it.  It allows almost any agent you choose, to list your property in almost every place every other agent is going to list your property.  It's a great tool, that may not have been available to near as many Panamanians even 5 years ago.  Now, almost every agent you list with is going to go ahead and list in 3 places for sure.  Those places are,, and quite often, their own site, if they have one.


That's great right?  But why advertise your property 7 times with 7 different agents on the same websites?  It definitley confuses the heck out of the buyer.  You may remember when you bought your property.  Just how confusing and difficult is was, with listings duplicated all over the place, old listings and sold listings never taken down, and agents not even returning emails and phone calls.  


Now, the reason the property is only going to be advertised on these two sites, and a homepage, is that you have listed the property with 2, 3, 7 or whatever number of agents.  Whether the consumer in general wants to admit it or not, a real estate marketing professional provides a very valuable service.  In order to provide this service, an agent has to accumulate many listings, so that he can afford to buy clothes, gasoline, food, pay for advertising your listings, carting around clients etc.  Yes!  It's a business, and for any business to remain in business, it must be smart business.  And you want a smart agent to sell your property fast and effectively.


It is BAD business for any company to take a listing and invest any significant time or energy marketing that property when it has no guarantee of being paid on that investment.  As a consumer, and a person that one day will have to retire on what you have spent a lifetime saving, you would never invest your hard earned dollars, or valuable time on an investment that only has a one in 7, or even a 50% chance of paying off.  Come on!  Anyone can see that these 7 agents just cannot take the risk.  All they can afford to do is throw the property on a couple of free, or almost free classifieds sites, and wait for the phone to ring.


Now that they have your listing up on their home page for content, they are going to go ahead and concetrate on selling their exclusive listings.  Every client that they get, is going to be shown those exclusives first, and the non-exclusives quickly become an after thought, and only get shown when a client specifically requests a viewing.   I think we can all agree, that a lot of people don't know what they want until they see it, and that with no viewings, you probably won't sell. 


List with one competent agent who will spend time and resourses working to sell your property because he knows for certain it is a good business investment to sell that property as quickly as possible.  That agent becomes accountable to you, and knows that as soon as he sells that property, he can pay the month's bills.


A competent agent will have a long list of email addresses for agents that he works with for marketing purposes, will utilize all of the social networking tools made available, will maximize SEO to make it easier for potential clients to find him, and will be operating legally within the system.  You see, there really is no need to cause yourself a bunch of headache by listing with more than one company.  Your agent is easy to find, and is spending time and money to sell.  If not, you found the wrong agent, and you can fire him.


Another issue in Panama is that everyone is telling you that there is no MLS system like there was back home.  Wrong! is a selling tool available only to those of you who choose to list exclusively with an ACOBIR licensed real estate company in Panama.  All buyers can use this tool of course.  This not only allows us as real estate professionals to network with trusted professionals, but gives the seller and buyer a certainty that the transaction will be conducted by professionals, and will limit the number of "Panama-isms" that may occur to hinder the deal from moving smoothly.


The bottom line is that if your property has been sitting on the market for too long, you have either overpriced, or have it listed non-exclusively, and no one is accountable.  Who can you blame if you've got 5 agents that cannot sell your property?  How do you know whether it is overpriced, or if all 5 agents are just concentrating on their exclusives and leaving your property to flail in the breeze?


The Remax advantage.  A franchised company will usually give the seller an edge as well. gets something like 20,000 hits a day from all over the world.  That's serious!


If you're serious about selling, list for the right price, and the best agent, and you WILL sell.




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Here is a website that is pretty interestingly accurate.  A little high on some items in Panama, but for the most part, reliable.

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A potential expat will, understandably, spend vast amounts of time scouring the internet for useful facts and tidbits of information that will assist them with this faithful leap into the unknown.  


Included in what these potential expats will find when doing their research, are blogs of course, and social pages like Facebook and Yahoo.  Great places to interface with people who are already with feet on the ground here in panama and learning the ropes.  


But like pain, there are things that cannot be properly expressed in an article, or potential expat's "guide".  There is no way you can put into words, how much it hurts when you hit your head on the cupboard door you left open, on the way back up from kneeling down to pick up that dropped knife in the kitchen!   Often a good analogy for the trials you will face here in Panama!


You will read the posts from some of the grumpy expats living here, that just cannot stop complaining about the small things that are unchangable, at least in the short term.  I'm not sure if these people had "poopy pants" back home, but some are finding it difficult to adjust.


Your experience living in Panama will vary greatly on a couple of things.  First, the area you choose to call home will obviously be a very important factor in the "quality" of life you are going to live.  I could write forever on that topic, but not in this blurb.  What I'm talking about here is attitude!


Panama.  Beaches, mountains, blue waters, islands, lower cost of living, very north americanized, familiar US currency, advantageous tax laws, ease of immigration, lots of fellow countrymen, drinkable water, beautiful latin people, parties, warm weather, predictable climate, one could go on and on....  and on!  Then why is it that so many people move to Panama from another country and can do nothing but gripe?  That is the question, and to answer it, you have to understand the differences in our cultures.


I recently gave the best real estate tour to a couple from North America.  We had spent a wonderful, sun-shiney morning up in El Valle, looking at a few area and houses for sale, and taking in the local market.  We decided to stop in for lunch at one of the quaint restaurants that line the main road through the town.  Now me, having lived here for a couple of years now, settled in.  I ordered a cerveza, and two more for my guests, leaned back and shifted to relax mode.  To make what could be a long story short, the food came out in a typical Panamanian time frame (45 minutes or so), but at the 20 minute mark, my clients were bouncing off the walls!  You are going to wait a lot in Panama, for everything.  


There are long lines at the supermarket, at the red lights, at the green lights, at the place where you get your license, at immigration, at the till in the mall, and just about everywhere else.  And nobody moves fast.  I sometimes count the seconds between the beeps at the check-out in the grocery store.  I swear the cashier is actually moving in slow motion.  I'm not joking!!  Her arms swipe each item across the scanner at half speed.  If you're in a hurry, people, it's agonizing!


I could go on and on here with "things that make you go hmmmmmmm" experiences, but I digress to the point.  If you are the type of person who cannot relax and needs to live life at a full 100 Km/hr speed limit, Panama is going to either defeat you, or change you fundamentally.


I'm telling you now.  You are not going to change ANYTHING here.  No more than a Panamanian is going to get off the bus in Toronto and ask if everyone could just slow the heck down!  This is a cultural machine that demands it's cogs to move in key with all of the rest, and if you cannot slow down, and take things as they come, you may live out your time here in the proverbial poopy pants, and no one likes a poopy pants.


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Golfers need not go without their fix in Panama.  There are a variety of courses spread far and wide, some private, some public.  Some of the courses catering to members only are The Panama Golf Club (Club de Golf) near Tocumen, and the Santa Maria golf course edging the Costa del Este area of the city.


In an effort to focus only on the area where I market real estate, and have become somewhat an expert, I will keep to courses within a couple hours drive of the city, but there are courses further out, such as the Chitre Golf Club, Valle Escondido near Boquete, Lucero near Boquete, and the Changinola Golf Club located near Bocas del Toro.


In the are of Panama City, and the beaches of the dry arch, you will find many beautiful and challenging golf courses open to the public, including the Tucan Country Club, Summit Golf & Resort, Coronado golf course, Vista Mar, Costa Blanca, and Bijao.


Tucan Country Club:  This is an 18 hole, par 72 course with 7,561 yards for the pros, 6,925 for us regular fellas, and 4,624 for the ladies.  Located beside the Panama Canal near the old Howard Airforce Base, the course provides a feel of the tropical rainforest with distant city views.  Enjoy the 19th hole restaurant and proshop before calling it a day.


Summit Golf & Resort:  Also a canal zone club.  Located in Camino de Cruces National Park, this course offers a magnificient rain forest golf experience as well.  Summit is a semi-private club offering 18 holes, a welcoming club house, a pro-shop, and restaurant.  American designer Jeffrey Myers is responsible for the appealing layout of this 72 par championship race, offering 6,626 yards.


Coronado:  Created by the famous designer Tom and George Fazio, this 72 par 18 hole, 7,116 yard course offers a challenging day of golf, even if you consider yourself a pro.  The course is located inside the gates of Playa Coronado,  only an hour drive from the city, which boasts some of the largest luxury beachfront homes in all of Panama.  The club also offers the Hotel Coronado Panama, restaurants, pro-shop, and 9 hole par 3 executive course.


Vista Mar:  Located just 10 minutes up the road from Coronado, and only 20 minutes from the new Scarlett Martinez International Airport, this course may be the best in all of Central America.  Designed and maintained by the international company of architect J. Michael Poellot, this course offers spectacular ocean, lake, and mountain views.  The 72 par, 18 hole course lies in the center of the exclusive Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort, so if you like it enough, set up residence, or just a vacation hang-out.


Bijao:  Now, just a little further up the road from Coronado is Bijao.  Luxury living, and a beautifully kept 9 hole, Ron Garl desined course.  Enjoy a beautiful pro-shop, the nearby Sheraton Bijao Hotel and beach club, and stunning sea and mountain views.  This resort truly is a pleasure.


Costa Blanca:  This property and golf club are known by many names.  Located behind the Royal Decameron all-inclusive resort, the property is also commonly called Decameron, Costa Blanca, and it's proper name, the Mantaraya Golf Club.  There are a multitude of hotels in the area, making it easy to enjoy the Randall Thompson designed 18 hole course.  Or arrange to rent one of the many villas lining the fairways.  


Now, tee up!!!


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MAY 6, 2014 10:34AM

Panama Dodges a Bullet

Panamanians voted on Sunday against the efforts of their president, Ricardo Martinelli, to stay in power even though he was constitutionally barred from seeking reelection. It’s not an overstatement to say that in doing so, Panama overcame the greatest challenge in it’s 25 year-old democracy.


For several years Martinelli looked for a way to get rid of the constitutional ban on reelection. He couldn’t do it through a constitutional amendment since the vote of two separate legislatures is required to change the Constitution. And given that polls consistently showed that public opinion was firmly against the idea of introducing consecutive presidential reelection, a referendum was also out of the question. Thus, Martinelli tried to pack the Supreme Court with three new justices. The idea was that a friendly Supreme Court would rule that the ban on reelection was unconstitutional (as occurred in the case of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua). However, Panamanians took to the streets and Martinelli backtracked. Then he opted for a less overt strategy: supporting a successor and appointing his wife as his vice-presidential candidate. As Mary O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Martinelli moved his queen to stay in power.


Despite a legal prohibition to do so, Martinelli actively campaigned for his candidate José Domingo Arias and his wife, while viciously attacking their rivals. His government spent millions of dollars in publicity and the president toured the country giving away goodies such as digital TV boxes and inaugurating infrastructure projects (he ordered that the new metro in Panama City not charge a fee until after the election). It is ironic that while Panama has been the most outspoken critic of Venezuela in Latin America, Martinelli’s government engaged in similar electoral tactics as those of Chavismo.


Fortunately, it didn’t work. Juan Carlos Varela, who is Martinelli’s vice-president turned bitter rival, handily defeated Arias by 39.1% versus 31.7%. Panama City’s former mayor, Juan Carlos Navarro, came in third with 27.9%. Even though Martinelli accepted his candidate’s defeat, he didn’t call Varela on Sunday to congratulate him, claiming he had lost his phone number. That doesn’t bode well for a smooth transition. Martinelli is well-known for holding bitter grudges. After splitting with Varela, the National Assembly he controls voted to increase taxes on liquor sales to fund a subsidy for elderly people. As it happens, Varela’s family owns a rum-distillery.


One of the areas where Varela could find a nasty surprise is in public finances. Total government debt (in absolute terms) has increased by 70% during Martinelli’s watch and it wouldn’t be too surprising if the incoming administration finds that the fiscal figures have been doctored to make them look less grave. The Martinelli administration has already engaged in accounting tricks such as postponing payments, relying on turnkey projects to build infrastructure, and taking public enterprises off the books to feign a lower fiscal deficit.

The high levels of government spending have been masked by the fact that the economy grew at an annual average rate of 8% for the last 5 years. While the economy was growing at such a high pace, the fiscal deficit and the public debt (as a percentage of GDP) seemed under control. However, now that the economy is decelerating, the fiscal iceberg is becoming more apparent: the central government deficit was 4.4% of GDP last year. And, after years of declining thanks to high growth rates, total public debt as a percentage of GDP (39% by the end of 2013) is expected to start rising again in 2014.  


Varela will also have to deal with the cronies that Martinelli placed in several key posts such as the Comptroller General, the Attorney General and the head of a recently created tax authority with vast powers. Varela will also face a National Assembly with a majority that belongs to Martinelli’s party.


If Panamanians want to avoid having a president with authoritarian leanings, they should look at amending the Constitution (but not holding a Constituent Assembly as some propose) so the executive doesn’t enjoy so much power in appointing key officials in the government. For example, the next president will be able to appoint four Supreme Court Justices (out of nine), one Electoral Court Justice, and six board members to the Canal Authority (out of eleven), among others. It’s too much power to place in a single person. The constitutional reform should also grant greater independence to the Judiciary.


Panamanians dodged a bullet on Sunday. But their ability to do so in the future depends on restructuring their institutions in order to have a weaker president and a stronger republic.

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Well today is the day we find out who with take control of Panama for the next 5 years.  The current administration is the party Cambio Democratico, led by Ricardo Martinelli.  His replacement running for the president is Jose Domingo Arias. 


Mr. Arias has two very strong contenders, with Juan Carlos Navarro heading up the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), and Juan Carlos Varela heading up the Panamenista Party (PP).  All have run strong campaigns.


Many say that a decision made be the Cambio Democratico may have hurt their chances to win the next govenment.  I don't pay a lot of attention to politics, and maybe I should, but that decision had something to do with appointing Ricardo Martielli's wife as the Vice President if Mr. Arias wins.  Many believe this would give Mr. Martinelli another 5 years in office, and they may reject the party based on the principle alone.


One hitch with Panamanian politics is that if the current governing party looses office, so does every government employee.  The new governing party rehires party loyalists to hold all govenment positions, so it can make it difficult for the government employees to vote based on their concience, rather than their livelihoods.  


It's very interesting to watch, and I am sure whoever takes the next presidency will do a fantastic job!!

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This country takes their elections seriously!!!  Almost everyone goes to vote, largely because if they are govenment employees, or have family members employed by the government, their jobs are at stake.  So, not terribly suprisingly, alcohol sales become illegal for 2 or 3 days. 


Normally, on any given weekend in my Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood, I can hear the music from various shakers blasting up and down the streets, bouncing off the neighboring highrises, and can even watch a few drunken rowdies mosying up and down the streets, or smoking with beer in hand on the balcony.  It's kind of nice actually.  The latin tunes, the sound of people having a good time.  It's refreshing, coming from a society where we have the right to ask a person to turn the music down at 11, and usually do.  Here, the music thumps all night long.  The party really is only beginning at 11.  There are many Sunday mornings that I am crawling out of bed to make my coffee, and can watch the partiers still having a nice time, watching the sun come up.  Well not this weekend!!


I sure hope the needy remembered to stock up!!  

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Here is a great video provided by Chris from  No where in Panama is without problems, just as no where in the world, but Chris has done a nice job of showing some of the reality of the town of Coronado, and has painted a great picture of where the pretty beach town is headed.  


Prices are still very affordable here when you consider other beachfront communities around the world, especially that are being developed and modernized at a pace as quicly as Coronado.  If it were me spending my hard earned dollars, both from an investment standpoint, and a quality of life in Panama standpoint, Coronado is #1 on my list!


As Chris mentioned in the video, you don't have to buy inside the gates of Coronado to enjoy it's charm either.  Pretty much every popular beach development selling today is within 30 minutes of Coronado, so prices and lifestyles vary greatly.  It's something that has to be seen to be appreciated.


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Sunwing Scarlett Martinez International

This is hopefully just the beginning, and it should be, with many hotels and new beach resorts being built on the beaches of Coronado, Rio Hato, Playa Blanca, Farallon, Playa Corona, Punta Barco, Gorgona, San Carlos, El Palmar, and area, it just makes sense that this airport is going to see some significant traffic in the years to come.  


Sunwing made it's maiden voyage into the Scarlett Martinez International Airport yesterday, and they will continue to do so every Friday for the forseeable future.  Welcome!!

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Panama English Service Providers


Greetings to all.


We would like to introduce to you a new website to help all with moving, services, contacting agencies and professionals throughout Panama


If you are a business owner, service provider, or have something to sell online, please visit the site and sign up for an account.  Signing up is easy, and free.  Your first basic add is free and if you want more adds or a more robust display, you can certainly go ahead and purchase more!  It’s cheap and easy to get your name, product or service out there for all to see.


For the average user, this site is their one stop shop for finding everything whether they are vacationing in Panama, relocating to Panama, purchasing an investment in Panama, looking for merchandise or services in Panama, who provide an English component to get over any communication barriers.


New traffic is arriving daily on the site, and providers are signing up already!  Please check it out and get your name, product or service out there!

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A few basic requirements for opening a bank account here in Panama.


1)  Personal interview with the Branch Manager after you have all of the required documentation collected.


2)  Original Passport (the bank will photocopy every individual page)


3)  At least one banking reference from your home country.  If you have only one banking reference, there should be a letter stating a long-term relationship with this bank.


4)  At least one personal reference letter (friends, coworkers, etc.).  I was told at my bank that it is often easier if you can provide Panamanian references who speak spanish, as the interviewers are better equiped to verify, but this isn't mandatory.  Letters must include a contact phone number.


5)  Business reference letter (job letter).  If you are retired, the bank will want a letter from the last place you worked to verify retirement.


6)  Reference letter from Panamanian attorney.  In most banks, you will have to own or a very least, rent real estate here in Panama, OR, have some sort of immigration status, so you should have an attorney that you used when you drew contracts or started your immigration process.


7)  You will have to provide a brief description of your background, and recent and current activities.  This is usually done by a form that the bank has on-hand.


8)  The bank reserves the right to request any additional information if it considers it necessary.  Best to introduce yourself to your future Branch Manager before making your trip down to open your account.


For an introduction to a FANTASTIC Branch Manager here in Panama, just let me know.



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The exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollars isn't something I have had to pay much attention to over the last several years, but now, it seems it is becoming, and will continue to be an important factor in where you are going to buy real estate. 


In Panama, the currency is the American dollar, and no matter how you feel about that currency, it seems the Canadian dollar is losing ground!!  Two months ago, if you were thinking of buying a 100,000 dollar condo in Panama, and decided to wait, it has cost you pretty significantly.


Today, that 100,000 dollar condo will cost you 7,000 dollars more, just on the exchange.  That's not to mention that the minimum wage in Panama is expected to increase from 460 (ish) per month to 750 per month come January, 2014.  


Can you imagine the inflation that would take place in Canada or the USA if minimum wage suddenly doubled?  Real estate is a great investment, but if you aren't making the move in Panama today, It may cost you.

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