I am looking for a place to live in Panama. There are some websites for expats on Panamanian housing, claiming that houses and apartments are cheap, but those stories are probably written some years ago.
Due to the political situation in their homeland, Panama is welcoming lots and lots of (wealthy) immigrants from Venezuela lately and the cost of property is skyrocketing. Houses costing 80.000 US dollars 2 years ago are now on the market for $200.000.
So this is what we do: we look for “SE VENDE” (for sale) signs and knock on doors or give the owner a call which seems to be the best way to get directly in contact with the selling party.
During a sightseeing trip we spotted a “SE VENDE” sign on a nice lot. No house but a lot. We called the number and found that this was a realtor who told us the lot was for sale for $34.000. We made an appointment at her office the next day.
I asked if this was a fixed price, was it negotiable? She said bottom line would be $30.000. Take it or leave it.
Wow! Even better,but it did get us worrying.
What could be wrong with the lot?
The owner was, she told me, an old and sick man, living in the United States and wanted to get rid of the property ASAP.
We needed an expert to take a look at it and asked an experienced constructor to do so.
He said “go for it!”
We called the realtor, signed a pro forma contract, did a down payment and waited. The owner had to fly in from the States to sign his part of the agreement and receive the rest of the money.
We waited.. called the realtor.. waited.. called the realtor… waited some more. The old sick man from the States turned out to be the realtor’s uncle. The uncle finally announced his arrival on the 17th and the 18th we were to meet at the realtor’s office. She would call to confirm the time.
She never called the 17th so we phoned her. “What is happening?”
“Well.. what a coincidence! I just talked to my uncle. He is still in the USA.”
She would call us as soon as possible.
We waited 3 days. No uncle yet.
We waited a week. No calls from the realtor. No uncle.
We waited 3 more days and called her for the umpteenth time. No uncle yet. But again the “coincidence”: She had just finished talking to him.
A week later we phoned her again. “Well what a coincidence, I just talked to my uncle. He is still in the United States but he will be here next Monday. However, there is a minor problem: he wants 70.000 US$ now!”
I told her to forget it.
She told me to come over and get my money back.
End of story.