In the News from Panama

Study Tabs Panama City Property as ‘Rising Star’

A new independent study names Panama City as a “rising star” for property investors, with the potential to “outperform the prime world cities” in the coming years. Panama’s unique attributes and growing economy make it one of the few global cities where cheaper properties make the local markets more “accessible and potentially attractive to yield-seeking real estate investors,” according to the Candy GPS Report.

This isn’t the marketing opinion of a real estate promoter. The report is a joint effort of Candy & Candy, the firm owned by the Candy brothers, the developers behind One Hyde Park in London and many other ultra high-end projects; and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management and Savills.

Their research focuses primarily on the habits and investment interests of ultra high-net-worth individuals, the top end buyers who have the resources to invest anywhere in the world. The research spotlighted the potential of 12 “second-tier cities” — including Panama City, Dublin, Miami and Istanbul — which didn’t experience the skyrocketing prices found in many of the biggest cities in recent years.

In recent years, so-called “alpha cities,” such as New York, London and Hong Kong, have been attracting the majority of attention of high-end buyers, the report notes. From 2006 to 2012 prices in the top 10 cities grew by 11 percent annually, compared to an average 5 percent growth rate for other cities, according to data from Savills, the estate agency.

But the growth in the big cities is unsustainable, the report suggests. In many cases, these cities are fully valued.

Anybody who has shopped for property in the big cities knows the reality. Prices are astronomical, pricing out the vast majority of buyers. The report takes it a step further, noting the opportunity for huge price spikes in the big cities has passed. Price growth in the top-tier cities is likely to slide back to a more reasonable 4 to 6 percent, Mark Roberts, head of alternatives and real estate for Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, told Barron’s.

The real growth potential is in smaller cities around the world, which have not experienced the same skyrocketing prices of the top 10 cities, according “The real estate market globally is in the process of broadening,” Roberts says.

The report identified several factors that make Panama attractive, including its role as a growing hub for trade, which is increasing attracting multi-national corporations. “Meanwhile, low residential values mean yields in excess of 8 percent are obtainable, making Panama City a very attractive income play,” the report concludes.

The full report can be found here.

Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.