In the News from Panama

Real Estate Expected to Lead Recovery

Panama City’s real estate sector will help lead the country’s economic revival, as things start to open in the weeks ahead.

An “encouraging scenario” is expected to boost the market and help drive the economy, Frank Morrice Arias, president of the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Promoters (ACOBIR), told El Capital Financiero. Economic drivers like the expansion of the metro and the development of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal will create a strong foundation for a bounce-back for real estate, he said.

New laws have helped make it possible for more young families to acquire mortgages, Morrice said. The programs have helped generate $189 million in mortgages approved by the 12 participating banks, he said.

The ACOBIR president is not the only one who thinks Panama’s real estate should be quick to recover. In a Forbes article, Kathleen Peddicord notes Panama “saw far lesser drops in values and quicker recoveries” in the wake of the 2008 collapse, while countries like Spain, Ireland, and Costa Rica saw property prices fall by as much as 70% and more due to “bubble pricing and over-lending.”

In the wake of COVID-19, Panama City offers a wide variety of attributes that should make it a strong bounce-back candidate, she notes. Panama City is “the best example of a city with brand-name resiliency in the Americas,” she wrote. In addition to serving as regional headquarters to hundreds of multinationals, it is a “genuine business and financial hub with deep and diversified pools of both buyers and renters from around the world,” she says.

In addition, Panama’s economy is backstopped by the Panama Canal, which accounts for about 40 percent of Panama’s GDP.

“If you’re in the market for an investment with a short-term horizon, start here,” Peddicord wrote.

By all accounts, private and government leaders are aligned on the need to focus on boosting real estate demand as soon as possible. Promotion strategies are already in development to boost real estate and tourism, at the appropriate times.

Aimeé Sentmat de Grimaldo, president of the board of directors of the Banking Association of Panama (ABP), told El Capital Financiero that his group is working with the real estate sector and housing developers on proposals to revive demand. The industry will continue “to stimulate the purchasing power of the Panamanian family, with public policies and private support,” he said.

Many factors will help drive the real estate market, including retirees from North America and Europe, Morrice told El Capital Financiero. Given the international community’s confidence in Panama, there is no doubt that the real estate sector will be one of the “strongest cards for economic recovery and job creation, promoting opportunities for buyers and investors that look beyond the current crisis,” he said.