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Panama - Finding Property
Before a license is issued an estate agent will be assessed on their knowledge of several different areas of the estate agent’s business. These include the legislation which surrounds the buying and selling of property, the procedures which are connected to buying, selling and letting, the financial concerns with buying and selling and urban zoning regulations.
Estate agents fees are variable but it is the seller that pays the fee rather than the buyer. The fees will be agreed when the seller puts the property on the market and it will usually be a percentage of the final sale price. The standard fee is usually 5% but this is open to negotiation and many people will negotiate a different percentage with their agent. The money is taken directly from the monies that the seller receives when the sale is processed.
One of the most popular ways to find a property in Panama is to use one of the many property websites which are available. As an expat you will find that there are many estate agents that are clamouring to get your business and as a result there are many global property search sites which have Panamanian properties listed and which can link you directly with the estate agents that are representing them.
Most property search sites will give you the option to search based on the type of property, the location and the price range that you are considering. Some of the larger estate agents also have their own websites for searching for property and there are several which cover large parts of the country and not just one town or city. When searching the site should tell you if the agents employed by the company are all licensed. If the site does not give you this information then you should contact them to ask. Dealing with an unlicensed agent can lead to headaches further along in the buying process. The larger estate agents will assign one staff member to deal with particular parts of the country.
Estate agents in Panama do not just deal with house sales but can also give advice on financial issues and legal matters, carry out property appraisals, prepare the legal documentation and register the property with the Public Registry. The estate agent will also draft the Promissory Letter of Purchase which details the relationship between the buyer and the seller and that between the seller and the agent.
There is the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Agents has a code of ethics for all members of the organisation. If you have a conflict with your estate agent the organisation is able to step in and mediate. The details of your agent’s affiliation with this organisation will be in any documentation that the agent gives you.
There may be some expats who may not be able to view a property before they purchase and for this reason a third party can be assigned to oversee the purchase in Panama. It is not essential for an individual to be in Panama in person for a sale to be completed. This can be done in the name of a corporation and individuals in Panama can be appointed as directors to sign on your behalf. Alternatively you can give power of attorney to a local who has been approved.
There are a number of English language newspapers in Panama which carry listings of properties for sale. A number of these newspapers, such as the Visitor, are handed out free of charge. They also have ads for legal services and estate agents.
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