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Panama Real Estate - Only Skin Deep?

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 22 September 2008 09:16
The hype and puffery of Panama's real estate roar manifested itself last weekend at the City's annual Atlapa convention, nurse an event which visitors will remember less for its investment insight and more for its plethora of beautiful women, free snacks, and complimentary mouse pads embossed with seductive floor plans. If you haven't been to the Atlapa Convention Center in San Francisco, it's an elaborate collection of passageways, giant showrooms, and similar-looking doorways all of which could be inferred as a secret ploy meant to disorient convention goers into buying something spectacular. To add to the confusion were rows and rows of identical real estate projects (primarily located in the City) boasting the same graphic renderings we've become accustomed to identifying as Panama real estate (seeing as though a very small percentage of the market offers a tangible product).

Tall 3-D models of condo buildings reminded me of a time in my youth when I was addicted to the seemingly simple game Jenga, behind which was a surprisingly daring disposition that built to a suspenseful, high-spirited climax. I was never very good at Jenga, so instead reverted to coughing or burping to disrupt my opponent's flow.

Entrance to the convention was three dollars, the value of which could easily be consumed as free danishes, puff pastries, and baby goblets of Merlot. The amount of paper handouts were overwhelming, though some of the more creative developers used various gimmicks to draw clientele. There was a construction company for example, who attached all its representatives via rock climbing ropes to a pulley system situated on top of the booth. While some found the ropes to be innovative, I interpreted them simply as leashes: the owner's way of making sure none of his employees escaped before ten.

The floors of Atlapa were crawling with cleavage-laden promotional girls handing out free flyers, very few of whom had any idea about what they were representing. "So can you tell me a little bit about the financing for the two-bedroom condos?" I asked one particularly voluptuous vixen. "Beats me," she said, "my day job is at a strip club."

"That's where I remembered you from," I revealed. "But no, seriously, what are the terms of the financing?"

"No, seriously, I'm a stripper."

To be fair, a number of real estate booths saw great results from the convention, most of which was attended not by foreigners as expected but by Panamanians. Take the Bala Beach Resort project for example located on Panama's Caribbean coast, where well-informed representatives used valuable floor time to educate buyers not just about their development but social, economic, and political trends of the region as a whole. Or the Playa Blanca Resort where, if you wanted to, pretty girls could explain to you the implications of building a man-made lagoon.

The majority of Panama's real estate convention at Atlapa though was shamefully humdrum. To some, this beauty-is-only-skin-deep notion is actually quite representative of the country's real estate crisis as a whole, seeing as though much of the speculation surrounding the Republic of Panama's development explosion is just that, speculative. In many of the nation's ultra-boom regions, there is a very nervous feeling that maybe Panama's hype exceeds its true potential. Has the biggest real estate thrust in Central America gotten in over its head?

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ba humbug
written by Get outta here , September 22, 2008
why are you so negative on Panama? yours and sites like okke ornsteins just are depressing. try to look on the bright side for once in your life.
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Right on
written by Daniel , September 22, 2008
I couldn't agree more. The overheated markets in Panama are due to suffer. Irrational exuberance is just that... irrational. I'm glad rational minds like yours exist. Great article.


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Boobs everywhere
written by Agree , September 22, 2008
I had the same stripper encounters when i roaming, i would ask senoritas about the project that they were promoting and it was like a deer in the head lights.

Scotia Bank take the cake for food hand outs. If you spoke to a representative they would hand you a plate of 3 cheese, 2 meats and a cop of wine.

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Okke Ornstein
Yes, why so negative?
written by ornstein , September 22, 2008
Yes, Matt, why so negative? Don't you see you're depressing your readers? Can't you just lie to these poor suckers who invested their life savings in some badly built highrise?
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Ba Humbug: Relax
written by Becky , September 23, 2008
It's really frustrating to hear people complain when someone writes the good and the BAD about Panama. People who are contemplating a move (or investment) to Panama need to know what they are getting in to. Panama is a great country, but it's not all roses. It would be irresponsible not to tell people about the not so great stuff in Panama.

When someone bitches about people writing about negative aspects of life in Panama, it makes me wonder: "Is the negative publicity hurting your chance of selling your overpriced condo that you know you never should have bought?"
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Believe the hype!
written by casey , September 24, 2008
Can anybody please tell me 10 good, defensible reasons why the condo prices in Panama City will NOT fall within 12 months? Matt's article is spot-on. Being realistic and telling the truth isn't being negative. There's waaaay too much hype and prices in Panama (including cost of living) are exploding because of so much speculation. Too many of the stats thrown around to justify the parabolic upward curves are fluff. We have glitz to spare, but not enough substance to maintain the prices. There was so much hope just 24 months ago...back when you could find a 2BR apartment for $90k and buy beach land at reasonable prices. What changed? Not much, except for gobs of speculation.

Warren Buffet said it best: "Buy fear, sell GREED." So is this the time to buy, or sell?
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Good Article
written by MRWOOHOO , October 14, 2008
Great article
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State of Panama's Real estate
written by Geoff Real Estate worker , December 19, 2008
Dont agree or disagree with your comments all I ask is are you really qualified to make comments regarding Real Estate in Panama. Real Estate is like any other business and needs a qualified person who understand the market to actually say if things are good or bad.

I am no expert but i have travelled and Panama's Real estate market seems to be in a far better condition than most I have seen.

Investors and buyer have to purchase something or they are not investors so isnt it good news that at least Panama is performing better than most countries?

This situation might result in a upmarket for the country.

Confidence is good and if the developers have it then dont knock it.

If the market in Panama fails then so do many other business's who knows people might stop reading your report and developers will stop advertising on your site and your web site will become redundant.

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what do you mean by "qualified", Geoff?!
written by Lamer , January 06, 2009
Honesty sells best, don't ya know that, Geoff ? And what do you mean by 'qualified to make comments about real estate in Panama"? Anybody who lives in Panama or who went there courting or buying real estate is qualified to make comments about real estate, even more so than the ones who have an agenda to sell anything at any rate.
Dialogue and debate are at the heart of both good business and true democracy. Would you rather have dictatorial views in politics and real estate in Panama? You would be left on your own, then. In stale waters.
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Different style
written by Ivan , February 04, 2009
It's great somedody like you takes time to inform about this type of events so people can be informed. Although, I think you are being a little subjective when it comes to describe the event. I am a US Citizen born and raised in Panama. Right know I live in Miami. Let me tell you this, I have treee properties in Florida. I am losing money in all of them. I have one in Avenida Balboa, and you what ? I am making money with it. Do you really think a beautiful model handing out fliers,( by the way... you are not obligated to take them ) is gonna get you the info ? You ask for the person in charge. That's exactly what they do at the Miami Beach Convention Center in simimilar events. Finally, what do you expect to see in real estate fair ? Buildings, towers, houses , etc ? I am sure things were not as bad as you described.
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Geoff Sinking
written by Pat Mabawbag , March 07, 2009
That is your name, right? BOOOM! It's all going wrong.....
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Last Updated on Monday, 22 September 2008 09:56
 
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