Panama, Casco Viejo: Buying Real Estate in Casco Antiguo, Panama

Panama, Casco Antiguo



Buying real estate in Casco Antiguo is a research intensive
task. It is about information (of course) but also about gut feeling. A mix between
what you want and what you can afford plus what is out there that could make a good
match.

So, what to look for? Where is the best, less risk investment? Am I looking for a
home, for a retirement or vacation apartment, or for a project? So many things to
consider.

Questions can pour like rain, but focus is your best ally. And always, always, go
back to basics. So here it is, your own guide to get organized and analyze each opportunity:





1. Home vs Investment?: This is a very important question. Home owners look
at things differently, more detailed. Investors may be focused only on appreciation
and cashflow. So many times it is a combination, where you are looking for a vacation
home that you can rent now and live in later. Having these scenarios sorted is extremely
useful.



2. What is your Wish List? :  This will give you a starting point. Take
a piece of paper and write it down, all the things you would like. As you research,
you’ll start cutting things out, it is normal. Especially when it comes to the financial
part of the analysis!


 

3. Pre Construction or Existing Unit? :
it all depends on your personal needs. An existing unit is great because you can already
see it, walk it, rent it (if it isn’t rented already) and you might get some locations
that might be very difficult otherwise.


 

However, keep in mind most early projects (mainly before
2001) in Casco Antiguo had a different quality than current ones. The market back
then was not as international as it is now, so unless the owner re selling the unit
lived in it and made some important changes most likely you’ll have a closed kitchen,
plain finishes and in some cases your ventilation won’t be as good.


 

Modern pre construction designs offer better finishes,
beautiful layouts and since they will be delivered within 2 years, they’ll be worth
far more than when you signed them. Depending on the project you may even have central
air conditioning or central gas, a choice for parking and some might even offer storage
space. Also, developer prices reflect the current market. Owners of existing units
tend to price using a different criteria.


 

4. One or Two Bedrooms, View or no View?=
Budget: 
Now we
are getting to an economic issue. Two bedrooms offer you more flexibility and views
definatly add value to your unit forever. But as these type of apartments come in
a truly “Limited Edition” they tend to be more expensive.  


 

Meditate about where is your “top case scenario”.  There
is always a ceiling for a purchase. Of course it will highly depend on the unit and
your gut feeling, but this is the most defining factor on your capacity to acquire
a unit that has all the items in your wish list. Think about what is absolutely important
for you. Sometimes you can get the view, but it will be a smaller apartment or maybe
more expensive than what you want to spend. Sometimes you’ll get the space and the
parking for the price you want, but not with plaza or water views. What is really
important for you?  


 

Also, remember financing is always available if your credit
is good. Banks in

Panama

tend to require a lot of paperwork, but they do provide credit to foreigners!


 


 

5. Location?  Ten
years ago, when Casco started to develop most buyers wouldn’t look past First and

Second Street

. Today, the strongest area is actually

10th
street

. One street per year!…. well… almost! So don’t worry about being on the “right
address”. There is no right address, it is all Casco Antiguo. It is all protected
and will all appreciate. Think more on terms of how you feel when you walk this or
that area. Research about what is going on around it in terms of projects, future
hotels, etc. Open yourself to new corners,  take a fresh
look at those streets that right now look like the movie “Black Hawk Down” but where
there are several projects going on.


 

6. Final Advice: follow
your gut feeling.  Walk around. Imagine. Do you like how
you feel about the area right now, before it changes?  Then
you are ready to make a decision in Casco Antiguo.


 

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