Monday, March 31, 2008

Panama’s Next Real Estate Hot Spots

Written by halloranc

Is the real estate party be over in Panama City, Panama?

With worries of Panama’s city condo market overheating, investors are looking to lesser-known destinations throughout the country where more affordable property prices exist. While an argument can be made for some of Panama’s established hot spots, the following is my personal list of the most current “in” and “out” investment areas.


Panama City — Prices may not yet have peaked, but the glut of condos about to come on to the market has this writer wary that the upside may be shrinking…and fast. Many claim that new buyers arriving daily from places as diverse as China, Venezuela and Spain can keep this afloat, but I think there are safer bets out there. There is a silver lining: in the near-term, those who expect their pre-construction condos delivered soon will find the market for short and long-term rentals to be very appealing.

Aerial view of over-developed Playa Coronado

Playa Coronado — While proximity (50 mins) to the city would seem like a benefit, this location suffers from sharing much of the same overbuilt vibe as the Capital. It’s basically Panama City — at the beach. Developers are building too big, too ugly and too fast for this destination (and the boring, copycat projects at nearby beaches) to have any chance at sustaining value or any interest from discerning vacationers.

Boquete, Chiriqui — Panama’s first retirement destination success story is unfortunately, a victim of its own success. Services and infrastructure just haven’t been able to keep up with the soaring prices. It sure is lovely, but with the skyrocketing prices, it’s easy for a buyer to convince themselves that ‘paradise’ can be found more affordably.


Boca Chica, Chiriqui — This Pacific coastal area is in my opinion, the most attractive section of shoreline that’s also highly accessible from the growing David International airport. It has fantastic fishing, dozens of islands to explore and terrain that’s seemingly ideal for marina development. Some smart investors are already working on plans to take this region very big, very soon.

Santa Catalina, Veraguas — A long-shot only because of accessibility, this area is among Panama’s most virgin and beautiful Pacific spots. It also is very close to Panama’s greatest nature spot, Coiba Island. Watch for this to become Panama’s best known eco-destination over the next few years.

Surf photographer at recent competition in Venao

Playa Venao, Los Santos — Anyone who has read my articles knows that I’m a big believer in the Azuero Peninsula. This surfing beach reminds me very much of a handful of once-sleepy beach towns in Costa Rica. Today, those beaches (Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Tamarindo) are well known among the non-surfing crowd. As they became popular to the masses, infrastructure improved land prices naturally rose. The regional airport in Pedasi is now receiving regular flights and the roads in the area are excellent. Bigtime investment is entering the region and I could almost smell the excitement (or was that Panama red?) about the possibilities at the recent surfing competitions. In addition to the famous waves, the Frailes Islands offshore offer solid tuna fishing.

Who knows what the next 2-3 years holds for Panama real estate trends? For now, only one thing is certain - Plenty of investors are betting large and on very different destinations.

Coronado photo from:

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