DONALD TRUMP can’t be wrong, right? Trump has fallen so in love with Panama that he is building a $220 million, 65-story (2.4 million square foot) hotel/condominium monolith called the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in a posh Panama City neighborhood. Trump will build 500 luxury condo units along with a 312-room hotel. This complex will include a casino, a private beach club and a marina. Opening is scheduled for this Christmas with a completion date in 2009.
Why is Trump doing this in Panama of all places? At a press conference on April 24, 2006 in New York, Donald Trump said that his interest in Panama was sparked three years ago when his “Miss Universe” pageant was held in Panama. He saw that Panama City was “beautiful” and promised that he would develop it there if the right opportunity presented itself. His project was “easily financed”, noting that as many as seven “major financial institutions were struggling to come up with money”. He agreed that “Americans are flocking to Panama,” due to its political stability, low cost of living, low interest rates, and its location out of the path of any hurricane. “It’s great for baby boomers.” Trump said, although the project will be marketed around the world. Condo units will start at $180,000 with unobstructed ocean views.
Panama is beginning to realize a real estate boom!
Besides Trump, many international real estate investors are also discovering Panama.
Bigger than Trump: An even taller skyscraper will be built near Trump Tower. The Ice Tower will be over 100 stories, making it the tallest building in all of Latin America, tied with the Empire State Building for second tallest in the Western Hemisphere and ninth in the world when completed in 2010.
And other! Even before Trump’s Tower and The Ice Tower are completed, another skyscraper (93 stories) called The Bahia Palace will be completed in 2009, costing more than $160 million. They have already sold several dozen condominiums mainly to Europeans because this is a totally European investor project.
I asked the owner of a real estate agency in Panama City, Daniel Hanna (Panama Real Estate Group), what he thought about how Trump’s Ice Tower and Ocean Club will affect real estate prices in Panama. His response echoes most real estate agents in Panama: “As Panama continues to grow in many different industries, these projects will definitely set a new standard of living in Panama, thereby increasing prices throughout the country.” .
So why are all these real estate investors coming to Panama?
A bit of history will help explain these phenomena. Panama has always had a close relationship with the United States, which helped separate Panama from Colombia in 1903 and was the first country to recognize the new Republic of Panama. The US government built the Panama Canal starting in 1904. It was only in the year 2000 that Panama actually took control of its Canal after the US closed all its military bases and left. People used to jokingly refer to Panama as the “United States of Panama” due to its close ties to the US. After the US left, Panama’s economy plummeted. Later, American retirees rediscovered Panama as a peaceful, safe and affordable place to retire.
Economic Growth: In the year 2004, the construction activity of real estate stood out in different parts of the country. Mostly retirement communities nestled among the many beautiful unoccupied beaches and mountain valleys. In 2005, building permits increased 90% while Panama’s economy grew a respectful 6.4%. The Panama Canal posted its third consecutive year of double-digit growth in toll revenue. Tourism and financial services also posted impressive growth gains.
Americans returned to Panama because of excellent American-built infrastructure, low crime, numerous native English speakers, excellent immigration visa programs; the currency has always been the US dollar and great tax incentives.
The best reason is that Panama is so cheap to live! Land, housing, local foods, transportation, leather goods, clothing, and local crafts are much cheaper than anywhere in North America or Europe.
Don’t take my word for it. Read what leading experts have to say about real estate opportunities in Panama.
The NY Times recently wrote: “Panama is increasingly lighting up the radar screens of those seeking an affordable alternative to the more traditional retreats south of the border in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean, where rising prices rival every again with those of America’s own beach fronts”.
Forbes magazine (July 11, 2005) hailed Panama as a recommended “PARADISE FOUND: WHERE TO RETIRE ABROAD” where an American couple “bought land on a hill overlooking a golf course and built a white stucco three-bedroom with a red tile roof (total cost: about $250,000).” in Boquete. “You can hear the sound of the rivers here,” says Janet. “It’s very peaceful.”
National Association of Realtors: Tom Stevens, who is its current president, recently visited Panama and explained: “We are seriously thinking about investing here. It is a great opportunity. The prices are the same as in the US 20 or 25 years ago. years. “
The London Financial Times wrote in its April 14, 2005 edition that Panama is now overtaking Costa Rica as a place to invest. “Like Costa Rica, Panama is full of exquisite beach towns, has attractive tax and property policies for foreigners, and a long history of political stability. In addition, Panama City is a safe, urban city that has long had time a U.S. military and civilian presence because A three-bedroom luxury home in a gated community on a golf course in the mountains can be had for $250,000 to $350,000, real estate experts say… Chuck Bedsole , who oversees real estate in Latin America for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, thinks that Panama is in a real estate boom stage.”
The October 2004 issue of Conde Nast Traveler declared, “Panama is the new Central American bargain where the US dollar, the market currency, goes a long way.”
Is it safe to buy real estate in Panama? Buying Real Estate in Panama is safe for foreigners. The US Department of State verifies this by stating: “The titled land, and the process of purchasing it, is similar in concept to that of the US, and the land titles are duly registered in the Public Registry. ..”
How long will this boom last? It’s just beginning. Donald Trump hasn’t even started yet.
Daniel Hanna, the real estate broker for Panama City, reiterates: “Invest in real estate in Panama now, before the Towers are completed. Panama will become a hot real estate market because it has many attractions besides construction of real estate. Soon, the world knows Panama for its natural beauty, healthy climates and charismatic people. Living in this beautiful country is just a benefit!”
National Geographic Traveler predicted in December 2004: “Panama is now where Costa Rica was 10 years ago. Panama is preparing to explode.”
“Boom” I can hear the distant rumble of a Big Boom to come!