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Three Key People in Panama – Straight Talk. For Expats Purchasing Property in Panama

Three Key People in Panama

Straight Talk. For Expats Purchasing Property in Panama ~ Based on Real Life Personal Experience 

There are as many reasons for uprooting your current existence, packing up and moving to a foreign destination as there are people who make those decisions.

You may have been planning the bold move, to begin expat life associated with retirement at a specific date in the future, and have been working toward since you first began your career.

You may have just decided it’s time to go and jumped forward without considering any of the consequences.

Whatever and however aside, you are now an expat living in Panama. 

Making that decision sets off a whole new set of choices regarding how and where you will live. Based on our personal adventure and experience, we have found there are three very important resources which can make or break your transition to life in Panama.

Though many were at least subliminally coaxed toward the expat life via House Hunters International, the televised version of the process doesn’t depict the reality of purchasing property abroad. Add in a potential language barrier and now things can get interesting. 

Whether purchasing property is related to your immigration process or not, your choice of a legal representative should be the first decision.

Panama City has many lawyers who can provide services in English but we opted for making connections on Facebook pages for the communities under consideration. We asked questions of those who had previously transitioned. The local Panama communities tend to be very open and generous in assistance and references.

We chose a lawyer in the city and purchased in the beach area. This is a consideration we overlooked as each paper requiring signatures meant another trip to the city. If you are a retiree, that is not a big time constraint but if you are working, it can be an unnecessary interruption to your productivity.

Purchasing property in Panama can take three to six months to complete when immigration is connected. It is key to have a good relationship with your legal team as it doesn’t end when the purchase is concluded.

If you purchase property as a corporation (advantages), the legal team will continue to ‘manage’ the property tax billing and payment, and you will continue to pay an annual fee for this service.

Buying property in Panama is not the same as you may have experience in your native land. Close dates tend to change frequently which was our biggest surprise. We didn’t have an end so our experience complicated things as there was no solid goal for either side of the contract to work toward. 

During the purchase, the legal team should keep you informed of the process and progress. 

In part due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with the process, it is largely a ‘sit and wait’ scenario so be prepared to test your patience. The positive benefit side is that you are waiting in paradise.

We felt that the steps in the legal process were a bit invisible to us as we would only be engaged if there were decisions to be made, money to change hands or signatures to be applied.

This is not very different from buying property in North America, but you must trust that the process continues to move forward and there will be an end date, as for us, everything worked out in the end and we are very happy.

While unnecessary to befriend your lawyer, ensure the relationship is mutually respectful and reciprocal, your questions get answered and you have confidence you will be well represented.

Jose Guillermo of Broce Pinilla Law Firm Services comes highly recommended. He is the founder of Broce-PINILLA & Associates Law Firm since 2005.

Jose’s goal is to provide top quality customer service while building a long time relationship with all his client’s. Along with his incredible team of attorneys that have excellent experience in the field of law, they cover the entire spectrum of what a Person or a Company, whether national or foreign, may need in order to relocate to Panama. 

Jose Guillermo has succeeded in creating management structures for his customers through specializing in the formation of Panama Corporations and Panamanian Foundations. In addition, he offers Panama Immigration services, Panama Real Estate transaction processing and Panama escrow services.

Jose graduated from the University of Santa Maria La Antigua’s School of Law and Political Science and developed in the field of Commercial and Administrative Law. His expertise in the field of business in Panama has increased profitability for his client’s and business owners.

He has vast experience in negotiations between both National and International companies. He is bilingual and lives and works in Panama City and from the Try Panama Coronado beach office. Jose Broce can be reached by email at jbroce@brocepinilla.com.

Once you have a solid legal team at your back, the next key person is your real estate agent. 

First step would be to begin checking neighborhoods and listings online. Research for the real estate companies with listings and the representative agents. Connect and join groups on Facebook communities for references. Facebook local community groups within Panama are highly recommended and a good source of information and are very helpful as they will recommend and refer you to almost anything you are searching. Choose a realtor with whom you can make a connection. 

Agents will tend to specialize locally and several real estate firms have representatives cross country. Our initial real estate agent referred us to an agent in the western part of the country. After traveling around the country, we changed our minds completely regarding locale and ended up back with our original agent. 

Find a real estate agent who works for you, knows the Panamanian rules and regulations, is licensed and genuinely shows interest in meeting your requirements. 

Beth McGuyton, originally from Texas and bilingual, took a leap of faith and moved to Panama. She immediately fell in love with Panama and the Coronado community and began her immigration process with Jose. Beth graduated from Southwestern Adventist University and has a Bachelor degree in Communication. Beth’s opportunity in Real Estate arose with Jose, and she enthusiastically joined Try Panama. 

Beth now manage’s and operates the Try Panama Real Estate office in Coronado, a large affluent and Expat area. Beth attends to the individual needs of each of her clients and strives to assist in all areas of the relocation process offering her “can do” attitude, energetic personality, hard work ethic, outstanding communication and listening skills. She would love to hear from you so feel free to contact her at beth@trypanama.com.

The choices in Panama are almost endless in lifestyle, community and property. Condo or house, city or suburbs, beach or mountain, Panamanian or western style, buy or build, a good guide will get you through to your ultimate goal: owning a home in Panama. 

While the two previous resources are significant, the third and final key person is most important to your sanity throughout. A local Panamanian friend. 

Panamanians are friendly and helpful people. In our first week in Panama, a young gentlemen suggested we needed just such a Panamanian friend and then offered his services gratis. This surprised us. He went on to explain it was different here, good to have someone who could explain the inexplicable. 

This was the best advice received. Tiny often overlooked details such as printing, scanning and copying services, notary services, translations, doctors, grocery stores, where to get medication and sometimes just plain old explanations of how things work can be seamlessly handled. 

Assistance with arrangements for any and everything from a driver to the city to finding reputable local contractors once you are in your new home can pave the way for you in your new community. Introductions to local car rental or sales, bus routes, taxi drivers, artisans, restaurant suggestions, day trips or tours around the country and connections to your new home help build new roots in Panama. 

More than this, learning about the local people, the culture, the depth of familial relationships goes a long way to beginning your understanding and appreciation of your new home. Our Panamanian friend will be a lifelong friend, for us the relationship is the most valuable one forged in Panama. 

If you can put together a solid legal team, real estate team and local champion, there are no promises of smooth sailing. Know you have make some key upfront decisions to weather whatever is sent your way. 

In the end, you will have built solid relationships and a foundation of which all future choices can be made with confidence. 

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One thought on “Three Key People in Panama – Straight Talk. For Expats Purchasing Property in Panama

  • Kathleen Phillips-Hellman
    on October 5, 2019

    Broce Pinilla is an EXCELLENT choice for handling both immigration and real estate matters in Panama! I speak from personal experience and, through them, acquired my visa and cedula more than three years ago. I have dealt with Beth at TRY Panama real estate and know her to be well versed in the Panamanian real estate market, no matter where you choose to purchase in Panama. FYI, I am a widow of 70+ years and speak no Spanish, so particularly valued the bilingual attributes of the companies.

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