Before you bring a vehicle to Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 21:02
Here is a question about bringing a North American vehicle to Panama - it was answered by Nasira of Paperwork Panama - a new service that helps people with any paperwork they need done in Panama - a godsend!!! Roberto
We are going to look at a 1986 Dodge Roadtrek camper van this weekend. We are considering buying something like it to drive from Alberta to Panama next winter. Do you think there would be a resale market for it down there? I realize that motor homes and campers are not that common. Wondered if that would work for or against us for selling it when we got there. Hope to drive around Panama and decide if we want to become pensionados and live there at least 6 months of the year and possibly more. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Dodge is not a brand that the Panamanian market knows or handles for sale.
I wouldn't recommend her buying the camper van for resale in Panama for the following reasons:
1) Locals prefer Japanese, Korean, and European cars.
2) None of the mechanics know how to fix those cars.
3) The parts are very difficult to find. Panama is not the target market for those cars.
Roberto's Note: Yes, you could sell it to another expat, but they know you are limited in your resale options, and they know they will have problems finding parts or mechanics who can work on it too - and their offer, if you get one - will reflect that.
An option is don't sell it - keep it and rent it out as housing during peak times or use it yourself. There is one RV park in Panama that I know of - XS Memories in Santa Clara (
). See my article on RV's In Panama in the Panama Destination section.
House prices in Panama City
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 21:05
Here is a reprint of an article that first appeared in the New York Times on April 6, 2010
Housing prices in Panama City
Panama has spent much of the past decade in a real estate boom, with prices rising quickly and a steady stream of new construction. The economic crisis may have slowed the frenzy of the market, but prices have not fallen sharply.
“There is a lot of construction going on,” said Jaime Figueroa Navarro, chief executive of Panama All In One, a real estate investment company. “There are a lot of buildings being built. Every day there are more and more cranes.”
Panama’s economy continues to grow, if more slowly than in years past. The reasons for the growth, said Jianella Torres, a broker at New World Real Estate in Panama City, include the development of an area called Panama Pacifico, a 5,000-acre tract just outside of town that was once a United States air base, as well as Panama’s status as the second-largest free-trade zone in the world. Shoppers from all over the Americas and the Caribbean come in search of tax-free deals.
All of which has kept prices from crashing hard, Ms. Torres said. High-end properties have generally retained their value, while less expensive properties have fallen 10 to 20 percent, she said.
Today, housing prices for new construction in Panama City range from about $1,500 a square meter ($139 a square foot) in the San Francisco area, a middle-class coastal neighborhood, to $2,500 to $4,000 a square meter ($232 to $372 a square foot) in waterfront areas like Punta Pacifica and Balboa Avenue, said Yovana Medina, general manager at Knightsbridge Investment Group, a Panama City real estate company. Older properties sell for about 15 percent less than newer ones, she said.
Unlike the high-rises of Panama City, the majority of homes around Las Cumbres Lake are single-family houses on large lots. They typically range from $700,000 to $1 million. Homes on the road connecting Panama City to Las Cumbres are far cheaper, she added.
Ms. Medina says foreign buyers have been increasingly drawn to Panama City, among them Americans, Venezuelans, Canadians, Colombians and European Union residents.
Most foreigners in Panama City are seeking properties in the $150,000-to-$250,000 range, according to Ms. Torres. “They’re buying a condo in the city, something very well located, that can be rented out,” she said, “so they can get some money until they retire” in the area.
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership. The seller pays all agent fees and taxes; the only financial burdens on the buyer are lawyer fees, which typically range from $1,500 to $2,000, Ms. Medina said.
Foreigners can obtain about 70 percent financing; interest rates run 6.25 to 6.75 percent.
You've got a Freind in Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:41
The Province of Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:44
THE PROVINCE OF PANAMA
(Panama City at sunset. Photo by Roberto Chocolate)
Panama City is the Capital of the Republic. Almost half of the entire country lives in this cosmopolitan city that looks more like Miami than a Central American city.
- It is an international banking center with over 75 banks and 17 financial institutions including Scotiabank, HSBC, Citi Bank, BBVA and Standford Bank.
- The economy continues to grow at a steady pace. Unlike most of the rest of the world - Panama is creating new jobs - not losing them, particularly in the construction industry.
- It is one of the largest marine registration ports in the world (sometimes called flags of convenience).
- It has the second largest Free Trade Zone in the world next to Hong Kong
- The Panama Canal's $5.3 billion dollar third-lane expansion project in full swing (cost may hit $9 Billion)
- Tourism is booming and the real estate demand outside of Panama City continues to grow at an unprecedented pace.
Panama untouched by deadly storm
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 June 2010 16:13
Central America is reeling under the devastation of Tropical Storm Amelia this week. This was not a hurricane. It was "just" a tropical storm with winds under 75 km/hr.
Real Estate Licenses in Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:11
Here is the actual law (In English) on who is eligible to obtain a real estate license in Panama.
Real Estate Broker Decree Law In Panama
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BRANCH
Official Gazette Nº23,837, DECREE LAW Nº6 (Of 8 of July 1999)
"By which the profession of real estate broker is regulated and the Technical board of Real estate is created in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries"
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
In use of its constitutional faculties and especially of which it confers to him
Ordinal 5 of Article 1 of the Law nº 27 of July 5 of 1999, heard the favorable concept of the Council of Cabinet
Real estate broker in Panama as individual person or corporation who habitual ly and professionally evolves as mediator, intermediary, agent, representative or commission agent between the owner of real estate property and third parties, for the effects of its sale or renting. They are excluded from this definition those owners or people who exert other activities related with real estate , such as promotion, administration, collection of renting, maintenances and similar.
To be able to exert the profession of real estate broker in the Republic of Panama it is required to have license of real estate broker, which will be issued by the Technical board of Real estate that is created by means of this Decree Law. For this, it will have to fulfill the following requirements and all those that are established or will be established by the Executive branch:
1. To constitute a guarantee of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), either in cash, or with bonds from Estate, the insurance company, bank guarantee letter or immovable mortgages on bines, previous estimate ordered by the Technical board, in order to respond before the Estate for the the sanctions that prevail to him in conformity with this Decree Law, as well as by the damages that cause to third parties as a result of its negligent or painful performance, previous definitive jurisdictional sentence. This Guarantee will have to be renewed annually, within thirty days previous to its expiration.
2. To pay taxes for the amount of twenty-five dollars ($25.00), by the beneficiary, once the license has been approved.
3. Pass tests of necessary knowledge in matters related with real estate.
4. To fulfill any other requirements that the Executive agency establishes
or adds in the future, in fulfillment of this Decree Law.
The individual person who requests a broker license will have to fulfill the following requirements:
1. To be of Panamanian nationality and domicile in the Republic of Panama, or foreigner with five years or more of residence in the Republic of Panama.
2. Certificate of its criminal and police records, which corroborates that the applicant has not been convicted of a crime against the patrimony or the civil law or against the justice administration or the honor.
3. To have proved, by means of the presentation of the respective examination before Technical board of Real estate, that has the necessary knowledge of matters indicated in article 11 of the present Decree Law.
Paragraph. Those applicants that prove to have exerted in a continuous way the profession of real estate broker during a period of no less than ten years, will be exempted of the obligation to present/display the examinations here mentioned.
the corporations who request the real estate broker license will have to fulfill the following requirements, in addition to the ones indicated in article 2 of this Decree Law, except the one contemplated in numeral 3 of such article:
1. Authenticated copy of the license of real estate broker granted to his president and legal representative, who will have to contain a certification of Technical board of Real estate stating that the same is effective.
2. Certificate of the Public Registry, in which the legal existence of the corporation, its directors and dignitaries, use and resident agent are credited.
the Technical board of Real estate, once it has verified that applicant has fulfilled the requirements demanded by this Decree Law and contemplated in the respective regulations, it will send the license by means of resolution, within a term not greater of thirty working days, counting from the date in which such requirements had been fulfilled.
The Resolution that denies a request of license of real estate broker will admit a reconsideration resource before the Technical board of Real estate and, with it the governmental ways will be exhausted. This resource will have to be interposed and sustained within ten working days after the date of the notification of the respective resolution.
the use of the license of real estate broker will be indefinite since its expedition. However, the Technical board of Real estate will be able to provisionally suspend it for a term of six months, if the real estate broker does not renew the guarantee, within the term fixed on numeral 1 of the second article of this Decree Law. If it passes the term of six months and the broker does not fulfill this requirement, the Technical board of Real estate will proceed to its cancellation.
The broker whose License is cancelled for this reason, will not be able to request it again but after a year, counted as of the date of cancellation.
The Technical board of Real estate is created in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, from now on denominated the Technical board, composed by five members thus:
1. Minister of Commerce and Industry, or the person who it designates, who will preside over.
2. The Minister of Housing or the person who it designates.
3. The Minister of Economy and Finances, or the person who it designates.
4. Two representatives, and their substitutes, from the groups or associations of real estate brokers with legal capacity, designated for a period of three years by the Executive branch and chosen from short lists presented/displayed by these groups.
the Technical board of Real estate will count with a Secretary of Acts and Correspondence that will be in charge of the General Direction of Domestic Trade, who will designate among its officers the secretary who will act in each meeting.
The meeting's records and the resolutions that are emitted will have to be subscribed by the operating president and the secretary. The Technical board, previously called by its president, will have to meet at least once a month.
The members of the Technical board will be prevented to know about businesses that have interest or that are related to their spouses, or its relatives even the fourth degree of consanguinity or second of affinity. The Technical board, of office at the request of part, will be able to decree the impediment and to designate the respective substitute.
The functions of the Technical board of real estate are:
1. To receive and to review the documentation presented/displayed by the applicant, to determine if the same fulfills with what is established in this Decree Law.
2. To guard for the faithful fulfillment of the current Decree Law and promote its disclosure, as well as the professional improvement of the Real Estate brokers, through continuous study programs.
3. To guard so that the professional exercise of the real estate brokers is done in a professional and ethical form, for which an ethic code will be adopted.
4. To approve, program and regulate the tests which need to be presented by the applicants for real estate brokers, with the intention of verifying that they have the necessary preparation and knowledge to exercise the profession.
5. To deliver a test to the applicants for real estate broker and to evaluate the results obtained.
6. To send, by means of resolution, the licenses of real estate brokers, that must have to be signed by president of the Technical board of Real estate and the respective Secretary.
7. To apply the sanctions that are established on the present Decree Law and on its regulations, and the code of ethics of the real estate brokers, approved by the Technical board.
8. To recommend to the Executive agency the reforms that believe are convenient.
9. To dictate its internal procedures.
The examinations that the brokers will have to be put under will be oriented to prove that the applicants have the necessary knowledge to evolve as suitable brokers, mainly on the following matters:
1. Effective legislation in the matter of brokerage and of real estate.
2. Purchase, sale and renting of real estate.
4. Processing Leasing contracts.
5. Urban zoning.
prohibits the real estate brokers:
1. To make acts, in the exercise of its profession, that constitutes crimes against patrimony or against the public faith or the administration of justice, or against the honor and/or any other crime whose nature has relation with the honorability, good behavior and weakness of the broker.
The commission of these crimes will entail the definitive cancellation of the license granted to the violator, which will have to be based on the pertinent condemnatory failure, properly executed and authenticated.
2. To make acts that, even though they do not constitute crimes, cause damage to its clients or to third parties or attempt against professional ethics
The Technical board is authorized to impose the penalties contemplated in this Decree Law and those that pay attention to the different regulations that develop to the present Decree Law, taking care of the gravity of the infraction. Among them, the following ones:
1. To admonish, verbally or in writing, by lack of professional ethics.
2. To impose fines of one hundred dollars ($100.00) up to ten thousand dollars ($10, 000,00) in favor of the National Treasure, by infractions of the present Decree Law.
3. To suspend definitely or temporarily the granted license, depending on the seriousness of the actions taken.
4. To sanction with a fine of ten thousand dollars ($10, 000, 00) to the individual person or corporation whom, in any form, without being dedicated to the business of real estate brokerage without being authorized to make it in accordance with this Decree Law. This fine will be applied without prejudice of the corresponding criminal action.
5. To send to the Public Ministry the performance, on both the brokers and those who infringe the present Decree Law, that it can be considered as crime, so that the possible criminal responsibility of the violator is determined. The Technical board will guarantee to those affected the due process when imposing the sanctions authorized.
The sanctions applied by virtue of this Decree Law will be published in the Official Gazette, but only for aims of public knowledge.
the Technical board will cancel, by its own right or by request of the interested part, the license of real estate broker to all that to whom it is proved that it has been obtained fraudulently.
The cancellation of the license contained in this article will be for a period of one to ten years, depending on the seriousness of the misdemeanor. In case of re-incidents, the cancellation will be definitive.
In all transaction in which a real estate broker participates the obligation of who hires him, to pay the prevailing commission in the market by the benefit of its services will be presumed, unless otherwise is agreed.
The individual person or corporation who at the moment are engaged in real estate brokers activities, protected by its effective commercial license at the time of the expedition of the present Decree Law, it will have a term of six months to obtain the license in accordance with this Decree Law.
The real estate brokers are forced to keep the accounting registries of their activities, in accordance with the effective article 75 of the Code of commerce and other laws.
The Executive branch, through the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, will regulate the present Decree Law.
In everything not specifically foreseen in this Decree Law, the same dispositions of the Code of commerce that are not incompatible with the same one, will supple mentally apply.
This Decree Law revokes all the dispositions that are contrary.
This Decree Law will begin to prevail from its promulgation.
COMMUNICATE AND EXECUTE
Given in the city of Panama, at 8 days of the month July of nine thousand ninety nine (1999)
Advice on buying a vehicle in Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:34
This is an e-mail inquiry about buying a car in Panama.
On Apr 30, 2010, at 12:34 PM, Kevin wrote:
Roberto, do you have any tips for buying and registering a car in Panama?
Check the site under "Destinations" and click on Panama - I have 3 articles on buying or registering vehicles in Panama. Hope you enjoy. RC
PS: It can be an very, very frustrating process - especially f you are not fluent in Spanish. I am using Nasira who just started Paperwork Panama to do all my vehicle registration, plates, stickers and insurance - contact her at:
Parasailing (and Pizza) in Panama
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:41
Flyin’ high in Farallon
By Roberto Chocolaté
As the Billy Joel song says; “Captain Jack will get you high tonight.” In our case, it’s Captain Jim, who runs the parasailing jet boat at Panama Water Sport Adventures located at The Royal Decameron Resort in Farallon. Captain Jim will indeed get you high, and does so for dozens of thrilled folks everyday who come to soar high above the white-sand beaches of Farallon.
I sign my life away promising not to to hold the company harmless in the event that I become maimed, dismembered or spindled in any way. I advise the skipper that I have no intention of holding anyone – harmless or not. We don our lifejackets from the rack, and I inspect the cornucopia of water-sports on offer – windsurfing, Jet Skiing, rubber banana boating, kayaking, rubber inner tubing, knee boarding, wake boarding, paddle boating - a near endless array of things to get you if not wet, at least out there and having fun on the water.
We step into a beached fiberglass panga and ride out to the anchored jet boat. On the way out, we pass ‘La Gorota’; a sailing vessel that Captain Dennis, owner of PWSA, insists it is 73 feet. Captain Jim estimates it is around 60 feet. As a former charter boat operator, I know where the discrepancy lies; there is a large bowsprit with netting extending beyond the bow of the vessel – marinas charge for this length, as it must be accommodated in a slip, yet it does not increase the waterline length. Different perspectives. No matter the length, this beautiful double-mast sailing vessel is used as a snorkeling/party-barge and in season (March – August) for whale watching. Today it is filled with 15 bikini-clad Finnish flight attendants. Suddenly a day of sailing appeals to me much more than parasailing, but it's too late to switch horses in mid-stream, so to speak. I wave as they sail off. They wave back, and chugging rum punch and singing what I assumed to be Finish sailing or drinking songs, we go our separate ways.
After a safety check, the jet boat is ready and it is flight time. Since I suffer from vertigo, I elect to stay firmly on the deck and take photographs. My two traveling companions bravely climb into their harnesses and wave the ‘go’ signal. The boat edge ahead as a beautiful 32’ parachute fills out, a striking Panamanian-flag inspired design by Captain Jim. The chute expands out of its cover as my comrades are lifted effortlessly up into the brilliant blue sky. Squeals of excitement change to laughter as Captain Jim slows the boat, dipping the them into the water for a refreshing splash then raising them up, up and away again. It is a fifteen minute ride that seems to last much longer. Safely back on the deck they both declare their inaugural flight a ball, and claim that they’ll be back tomorrow, with friends.
We return our life jackets to the rack, and I head on my merry way to meet up with Woody and friends at Woody’s Beach Bar and Grill just up the beach. This lot has just returned from Captain Dennis’s famous five-hour fishing trip. Over cocktails I hear all about the ones that got away and more impressively the one's that didn't, including three large snapper ready for the grill. It is clear they also had all the liquid refreshments they could handle. They invite me to join them for their fish fry – the perfect end to a perfect beach/action day at Farallon, and a more than acceptable consolation prize for the Finnish ship that got away. It’s a very good thing that it did get away, as I would have had a very difficult time explaining to my wife how my parasailing trip with Jim ended up as a drinking game with fifteen blondes. They say that God takes care of drunks, fools and sailors. I ponder which one I am.
For more information on all of the water sports, and for reservation, prices and parking directions, call: 993- 2255 or 993- 2327 or E-mail:
Coming Soon.... Captain Jim is opening a Pizza Parlor inside Woody's 11 located at Playa Blanca - open to the public!
Logo design by Yolanda Van Der Kolk
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:44
Panama: The name Panama means “an abundance of fish”. Some say it also meant an abundance of fish and butterflies.
Population: 2006 census: 3,191,319 million, 70% mestizo (Spanish origin) AmerIndian 14% White: 10% other: 6%.
Capital City: Panama City. Population 1.3 million
Currency: Panama has used the US Dollar since 1903.
Area Code: (507) Dial 001 first to reach the US or Canada. To call to Panama, they must dial 011 first.
Government: Democratically elected every 5 years, last election was in November 2009 - 2014 Ricardo Martinelli, President
Land Area: 75,990 square kilometers (29,340 sq. miles) 80 - 177 kilometers wide. (larger than Ireland, slightly smaller than South Carolina)
Religion: 84% Roman Catholic, Protestant 15%, however most other religions (1%) are active.
Language: Spanish is the primary language although most tourist operations have someone that speaks a little English. Chinese and Aboriginal dialects are also spoken.
Climate: The dry season is December - April, the wet season is May - November. Temperature depends more on altitude, as it is much cooler in the mountain areas getting hotter the lower down you go. Panama City, which is sea level is hot and humid all year long.
Annual Precipitation: 2,907 mm/year (114.4 inches)
Major Resources: copper, shrimp, hydroelectric, tourism, coffee, bananas, cattle, corn, rice, sugarcane, timber
Economic Performance: GDP growth 2007 11.2%, 2006 8.1%, 2005 6.9% (Highest GDP in Central America)
Armed Forces: paramilitary
Geography: Costa Rica to the west, Columbia to the southeast. An S-shaped isthmus with Caribbean to the north and the Pacific to the south. Coastal plains on each coast rising to a central mountain corridor (highest peak 11,000 meters)
Taxis: To the airport $25 US. Do not take the taxi's parked outside the hotels or by the malls. They charge you $5 when the going rate almost everywhere around the city is $1.50 - $3.00 - ask before you get in! Tipping taxis is not customary.
Tipping in Restaurants: Ask. Half the time, tip is included in the bill, otherwise 10 - 15% is usual.
Prostitution: Legal in Panama. AIDS is a serious public health problem, and many reported pick-pocketing incidents are related to prostitutes ripping off johns.
Gambling: Legal in Panama. There are many casinos, especially in Panama City but in most other cities.
Cellphones: Talking on the cellphone while driving is illegal, as is driving in the passing (left) lane when not passing.
Many traffic cops are corrupt. If pulled over, speak only English (even if you know Spanish). Politely apologize. Do not get angry or rude. Some people slip a $5 - $20 bill in their passports and are sent on their way without a ticket. I am sorry if this upsets you, but it has happened to me in Costa Rica as well. Except there I was NOT speeding. I was just a rich, white-haired gringo. If the idea of paying off the police bothers you, accept the ticket. You will have to spend an entire day in Panama City paying the fine which is usually five to ten times more than the bribe.
English Radio: Listen to The Living Room with DJ Nikki on Power 92.1 FM. Mon. - Fri., 8am - 10am
Maps: The best maps of the City and Country are sold at Exedra Books on Via Espana. Spanish/English translation pocket computers, travel books and magazines in English are also available. Tel: 263- 4252. Focus Panama Magazine (published 2 x/year, free at all hotels) has a terrific pull out map of the City on one side and the country on the other. Tel: 225- 6638 E-Mail:
Online at www.focuspanama.com.
All National Car Rental offices hand out excellent maps for free as well.
The Cycle of life
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 19:05
Turning off the Interamericana towards the Omar Torrijos Park, I reached the end of the dirt road leading towards the mountains. There, I paused to admire the view that the residents of an old cemetery enjoy: row upon row of mountains, and lush green valleys spreading out for as far as the eye can see. It was strange to find myself here.
Just moments earlier, no one else in view, I’d witnessed the amazing sight of a calf being born in an open field.
Nature was doing its thing without human intervention.
I watched, fascinated, as the mother of the latest edition to the the herd licked the newborn clean, and the umbilical cord severed as the calf bleated its first tentative sounds.
Mom stood guard, glaring at me with threatening eyes as I took photographs of her newborn’s first shaky steps.
The calf struggled to its feet and stood there. I called out hoping it would turn its head and look at me, a move that elicited a threatening move from the new mother.
The youngster eventually turned and looked at me, took its first steps and quickly discerned where the lunchroom was located. I retreated to let baby eat in peace.
A short distance after, the road ended at an ancient cemetery, the final resting place of rural folks, I figured. Though some of its monuments had fallen into disrepair, a few of the graves were carefully tended.
I mused on what each person had done during their lifetime guided by the cross that had been chosen to adorn the grave.
One cross was made of fine mosaic tile, another a simple wooden cross, and another made of of two pieces of rusted steel welded together.
A well-to-do resident laid to rest on the highest point of the hill overlooking the mountains had a tidy roof structure to shade her from the blistering sun.
A heap of discarded crosses at the entrance to the cemetery struck me as a somber testament to how brief and insignificant our stay on this planet can be.
I am not a morbid person, but seeing a site like this all by yourself, you tend to consider your own mortality.
I stood there thinking of how unimportant our little upsets are in the overall scheme of life, and began to list all the quips about life I could recall.
It is, so they say, way too short. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
The floodgates open and truisms about the circle of life and death swirl around in my mind.
I stop myself when I get to that old cycle of life joke about our goals never really change, how we start out with trying not to dirty our diapers at one year old and ending the same at 93.
I vowed to spend less time arguing over the little things, to try to enjoy each day and make the lives of the people around me a little more enjoyable, unless of course they disrupt my newly found philosophical bent.
I turned my truck around, and headed back toward the highway.
Yes, life is short, and we must all try to enjoy the time we have. Lucky for me — and you —we live here, in this beautiful place, where we can awake everyday to the promise of a breathtaking vista, a warm, gentle breeze and a bounty of natural wonders that serve to remind us how greatlife is, if only we take the time to enjoy it.