Headlines - CPN Online - "Florida-Based Realtors Make First Foray into Panama with Marketing of Luxury Condos"

Florida-Based Realtors Make First Foray into Panama with Marketing of Luxury Condos

Thursday, October 12 2006, by Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor


Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors (EWM) is getting into the growing Panamanian market by representing the developers of The Grand Tower at Pacific Village (pictured), a 448-unit, 54-story luxury oceanfront condominium residence that will be built in the Punta Pacifica in Panama City.

"We went down there and were just amazed at the construction and development and the way the infrastructure was set up and primed for this kind of development," Beth Butler, EWM's chief operating officer, told CPN today.

Butler said it is the first time EWM, which has nearly 1,000 associates and 14 offices in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties of Florida, is marketing a property in Panama. "I see a lot of American and European developers are starting to market there. The prices are very compelling."

Although Butler did not know the total development costs of the project, prices will range from $218,000 to $750,000 for units with 980 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet of space. The building will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units as well as several sky lofts.

The Panamanian-based developers, Pacific Realty and Panama Developers, S.A., are getting final approvals and are expected to break ground shortly. She said construction would likely take from two to three years.

Butler said EWM, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire-Hathaway Affiliate, was planning a launch event Oct. 24 in Miami for brokers to learn about the project. The firm also plans to bring groups of brokers and interested parties to Panama for two-day trips to learn more about the development and the country.

Baby-boomers and retirees seeking second homes are among the key targets for the development, Butler said.

"There is a very strong international second-home market in Panama," Jeff Hornberger, international market development manager for the National Association of Realtors, told CPN this afternoon. "A lot of Americans and baby-boomers are catching what we call Panama Fever."

American and European investors are also pouring money into Panama, where the cost of construction is not as high as in the United States, Hornberger said. He said there are at least 100 high-rise projects already up or planned in Panama. Among the developments is Los Faros de Panama (The Lighthouses of Panama), a three-tower project in Panama City that will have one of the world's tallest residential buildings. Grupo Mall, the Spanish company building it, held a groundbreaking last week and plans to finish the project within four years.

Hornberger said there are several reasons why there is a construction boom in Panama. "For starters it is a very stable country and you've got the U.S. dollar as currency." He also noted that the country offers a 20-year real estate tax exemption and has many incentives and discounts geared toward retirees.

Both Butler and Hornberger said the U.S. government's involvement in Panama for so many years running the Panama Canal has resulted in an environment and infrastructure this is very familiar to Americans.

Hornberger said Panama City should appeal to EWM's clientele because it offers oceanfront, high-rise, urban living at a fraction of the cost in the southeast United States.

Source: CPN Online