We contacted the real estate agent that gave us the tour the first time we were in Panama and told him we were coming back to buy. We set up an appointment to have dinner our first night in town and he made an appointment with a local lawyer for us. Unfortunately we missed our connecting flight into Panama because our plane was delayed. It was a mad rush when we landed the next day to get our rental car and get on the road. We had appointments to keep the following day and we were still in the city five hours away. We decided not to try to drive all the way but stopped in Coronado about an hour outside the city.
The next day we traveled the remaining distance and met with the real estate agent. Keep in mind that Panama has no MLS system and real estate agents do not need licenses. There are very few exclusive listing agreements for the sale of homes. The same home can be listed by multiple agents for different prices. The home owner also may decide to sell their own home despite having an agreement one or more agents. The agent we used had come with several word of mouth recommendations
from people we met the first time we visited.
A few of the homes that we visited originally were still listed for sale. We went back and revisited three of them. My husband had taken several pictures the first time we were in the homes, something that we highly recommend even when buying a house in your own country. We were fortunate that the renters in two of the houses were home. We asked their opinion on several of the deficiencies that we saw in our pictures and we received honest answers. The fourth home we saw was still under construction but close to completion. Immediately we decided that it was the one for us. We’d have a new home without the hassle of building and the finishes could be completed within our schedule. Our agent told us to think about it overnight and the next day with our minds still unchanged we made an offer and started the paperwork.
We had to pay a 10% down payment on the house and agreed to a further two payments of the balance remaining on the agreed to dates in the contract. As soon as we agreed that we were going to buy the house we were asked if we wanted the keys, something that we weren’t used to so we were quite surprised. We decided to leave all the keys in Panama with the builder.
The Residency Process
Anyone applying for residency must by law use a Panamanian immigration lawyer to shepherd you through the immigration process. We used the same lawyer in our new community for our real estate transaction and our immigration. Our lawyer in town took all our documents and forwarded them to her associate in the city who assisted us through the process. Our local abogada was quite pleased at the thoroughness of the documents that we presented. Here is where spending the money to have an expert help us paid off. We returned to the city to begin our residency process.
The abogada in the city was very efficient in shepherding us through the immigration process and everything went very smoothly. We were required to have pictures taken offsite from the immigration office for our file and fill out a multitude of forms and get a doctors certificate. She spent time with us in the immigration office waiting with us for our number to be called. I can only equate the immigration office to something like a walk in medical clinic in Canada. So many people crammed into one spot all waiting for hours on end.