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Selling Panama Property - Like Pulling Teeth

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 11:00
Panama real estateWhile tempted by the investment often, stuff my parents never sprung for a second or vacation home but rather opted to rent: a choice I was able to identify, even at the age of four, as second-best. We'd gather for down-home weeks at the beach, enjoying family, friends and great weather, but to me there was always an underlying feeling of greed and resentment knowing that the property wasn't really ours. There seemed to be a certain power to owning a second home, which I knew because several of my friends proudly exhibited it. It wasn't until my high school years that my dream came true and my family became the proud owner of two homes. This was not done on purpose however, instead reeling the effects of a terrible housing crisis and stuck, in the process of relocating to another state, with a home that simply wouldn't sell. Our Princeton home sat on the dry real estate market for what seemed like eons, a financially distressful situation to my parents, but a fantasy and dream-like scenario to me.

"Hey want to come over to my house and play Nintendo?" I'd ask.
"OK, sounds good, which house?" my friends would filter. These were the words I had been wanting to hear all my life.

I remember playing host to town real estate agents and their clients, being asked to wait outside with my soccer ball until the showing was over. I never quite understood why it was inappropriate for me to be inside the house, as if the agent was trying to convince her buyer no one had ever lived there. "Oh those clothes and the bed?" she might say. "They're just props we use to make the house feel more ‘lived in'". I could even envision the snooty agent making the quotation marks around the words 'lived in' with her hands---hands I wanted to rip off and feed to a feral cat.

I also remember feeling an inner working of disgust for buyers who had the nerve to come in and sharply criticize things like the moldings or the roofing or the foundation: small glitches I had developed a familial love for. Plus, I had two homes, how many did they have? I saw the scenario akin to an orphanage, with some wealthy couple browsing through children like they were puppies or used cars, pointing out any possible burdens in the foreseeable future.

The next few years will see lots of property showings in Panama, whether the prices rise, fall or stay the same. Especially in booming hotspots such as Panama City, the Pacific beaches (Gorgona, Coronado) and Mountain Communities (Boquete, Altos de Maria) where (whether you like it or not) there are a bunch of other properties just like yours, the importance of making your property POP will be more important than ever. The following home-staging tips, necessary for the impending oversaturated market in Panama, come courtesy of me.

Terrible Picture1. Pictures: A picture says a thousand words. Get a professional photographer to come in (Tito Herrera, photographer for the New York Times can be hired freelance for very little), choose the right lighting, and get that perfect shot that agents can then use to really make a difference.

2. Lighting: If you're showing your property in the day, open every single window and door possible to let the light in. If you're showing it at night, turn on every single light. Use dimmers (if you have them) to set a mood: if the buyer doesn't like your apartment, maybe at least they'll consider sleeping with you.

3. Organization: Make the Panama property look as spacious as possible. This means organizing book shelves, arranging furniture, and removing clutter. Put all your "stuff" that's not needed in storage.

4. Reduce Distractions: Anything to take the buyer's eye off the prize is of counter interest. If your property has a special personality, maybe tone it down and make it look more generic. Not everyone likes the purple bathroom your daughter painted last Sunday. Family photographs, obnoxious pieces of art, and annoying pets are no-no's.

5. Spruce It Up: Basic improvements like new carpet, new paint, and landscaping are worthy investments in selling your Panama real estate for sale. Investing a few thousand dollars, when the rest of the chumps are too cheap to do so, will put your property on another level. It's surprising how little things like incense sticks or nice potpourri convey a sense of maintenance and quality.

6. Client Profiling: This is a fun one. Identify who you think your buyers will be (Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Latin Americans) and make small changes to cater to their likes. This is not to say you should leave a fake baguette for the French buyers or a can of Molson for the Canuck. But do keep in mind buyers do like buying from their fellow countrymen, especially in a foreign place.

7. Flowers: So easy to do yet no one does it. Invest a few hundred bucks in a ton of flowers, and put them everywhere. When they start to die, buy new ones. This gives an alive feeling to the property as opposed to a dead one.

Bad LightingNote: These all apply to livable properties but if it's a piece of raw land you're selling in Panama, the following should also be preparations to consider.

- Fence lines: With raw land in Panama, one of the most important buying factors is title and clearly designated cercas (or fence lines). Have your caretaker cleanly mark these lines throughout the entire property.

- Entrance: Nothing says "don't buy me" like a shitty entrance. Invest a little in landscaping. While some investors that have a vision are able to see through the ugly factor, the majority are not.

- Infrastructure: While significantly more costly, adding things like roads, electricity, and water can seriously put you on a different playing field than the other guy who isn't willing to spend a dime. The goal here is to a) make the property more turn-key and b) set yourself apart from the competition and when so much of Panama land for sale is buy long-time farmers, this is a distinction you should be willing and able to make.

- Comps: Offer buyers, though this should be the job of the agent, information on similar properties in the area and what they're selling for. Showing, on paper, why your property makes more sense in a clean and organized way can persuade even the savviest of investors.

The process of selling your Panama real estate can (and will) be far more arduous and challenging than many agents and optimists predict. With the amount of supply soon to hit the market in hotspots, selling will not be as easy as it once was. However, with the right preparations it doesn't need to be painful. If worst comes to worst, consider the fact that you are the proud owner of property and chances are, your less-fortunate buyer is not.

Images:
http://www.buffaloniagararealestatehomesales.com/wnyrealtor/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/278893_401_18.jpg
http://realestate-dreams.com/fileadmin/matze/re-d_DB_backend/red.objektefotos/at.de.alpen/a2070314090300.0.jpeg
http://activerain.com/image_store/uploads/1/6/8/9/8/ar117631101489861.jpg
http://thefcblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/cliffmay_pomona.jpg

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funny stuff
written by Hahah , September 23, 2008
nice article, probably applies to real estate anywhere. although the people in panama will certainly need this help when the bust comes!
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...
written by ya, it's me , September 24, 2008
This is funny. Staging for Panama realtors is unheard of at this time.
Looking at websites over last couple of years, there's toilet seats up, dishes sitting on counters, etc.
...at least you know it's lived in then...

LOL
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yesm but can we really fool anybody ?
written by Lamer , January 05, 2009
I could not agree more with Matt and 'Ya it's true" is right as well, I saw these crappy adds myself and wondered. Yet, a piece of good property is a piece of good property no matter what and those who have eyes see it beyond the nick knacks (or lack of). Provided that you have some extra cash, you can always change a place or restore it BUT you can't change the view from your balcony, your neighborhood or a faulty piece of land. Unfortunately, some areas in Panama have been destroyed beyond repair. I mean, who wants to buy a condo in a building surrounded on all four and really close too, by other buildings - mind you, skyscrapers? Who wants to buy an apartment with poor interior planning that can't be changed because of its structure? Who wants to buy in Casco (which remains one of my favorite places) on a very narrow street at the back of a building? You will say everything has its price...but I don't see this law in Panama city...unless we're talking slums.
I'd say do what you can to beautify your existing for sale property ... if you bought wisely in the first place...or if you've been plain lucky... -- and that's difficult without any control and urban planning on the side of the government.
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Skin deep?
written by Pat Mabawbag , March 07, 2009
Man, you must spend a wholelottatime in hospital if your skin is this thin.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 16:37
 
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