News

In the News from Panama

Trump Ocean Club: Finding the Best Investment Opportunity (Part 3)

(The latest installment in a series on the Trump Ocean Club provides the inside scoop on what’s really happening with sales and rentals in the Trump from Punta Pacifica Realty Managing Director Jeff Barton, the former Trump Ocean sales manager. His on-going series on the iconic development goes behind the scenes to analyze the history, controversy and investment opportunities in the city’s most recognized building. In this third installment, Jeff offers inside tips on what to look for when purchasing an apartment in the Trump.)

Not all apartments in the Trump Ocean Club resort are created equal. The Trump may earn its reputation as one of the region’s top luxury apartment buildings, but the location and design of the various apartments can make the difference between a marginal investment and a big earner.

There are many factors to be considered when trying to determine the best location and layout at the Trump Ocean Club. I’ve been involved in hundreds of transactions in the resort over the past eight years, which has provided me intimate insight into the does and don’ts at the Trump.

For example, the 11 line is priced higher because of its proximity to the ocean, but did you know if you go one apartment back to the less expensive 13 line you will find some of the only direct views of the Amador Causeway and Ocean Reef Island?

Did you know that five months a year the residences on the 09 line get full direct sun, which may be great for those looking for a tan but at a cost of significantly increased air conditioning bills during those months? And few buyers are aware of the customized curved units that are only two per floor, with two balconies and a vantage point overlooking the city’s skyline that can’t be found in 95 percent of the other units.

Most buyers have no way to be familiar with these nuances which may seem small but can provide great added value – or, conversely, be very costly.

Real estate prices at Trump Ocean Club vary significantly according to the floor and the view. The most sought-after units are located in the front of the sail, with unobstructed views of the sea and cityscapes. The north side of the building overlooks the Grand Tower from floors 47 and above, with the south side of the building overlooking Oasis Tower on floors 58 and above. Apartments below those floors will have partially obstructed views as a result of the adjacent buildings.

Here are more  details to consider when starting your search to purchase at Trump Ocean Club.

  • Two, three and four-bedroom floor plans are available, as well as customized penthouses that were created by combining two or three units into one lavish residence.
  • Regular one-bedroom floor plans do not start until the 36th floor, and a significant premium of more than $50,000 per unit starts above floor 50.
  • The Bay Loft units are fully furnished one-bedroom and studio apartments, overlooking the sea and marina deck. They are 100 percent sold out by the developer and only a few exist on the resale market.
  • Maintenance fee are $4.23 per square meter. This equates to $414 a month for a standard 96 square-meter, one bedroom. But the deal includes 24 hour concierge, gym membership, pool service, and 24 hours room service which are not offered in almost any other condo residence.
  • Electricity is an additional monthly cost to consider, as with any other building in Panama. Trump Ocean Club has a multi-million dollar chiller system on the roof which delivers cooled water to each apartment’s air conditioning condensers to reduce individual unit energy consumption. However, $100 to $300 a month should be budgeted depending on the size of the apartment.
  • Closing costs of $2000 to $6000 should be factorized in on top of the purchase price. These can vary based on apartment size and legal fees. There are a variety of ways to structure a purchase through use of corporations that can minimize those closing costs.

Currently, the most favorable investment opportunities are for investors that have access to multiple unit opportunities, with the developer or cash buyers who know how to make contact with the few distressed owners that still remain.

If you are looking to purchase an apartment as an investment to generate income it is ideal to find one that is already furnished. Most renters in Trump Ocean Club are newly relocated multinational executives with two- to three-year assignments and are only looking for options already furnished. As a result, more than 90 percent of the rentals taking place in Trump Ocean Club by Punta Pacifica Realty are occurring with furnished options.

And what about prices? For most of 2013 prices hovered at their lowest historic point, near $3000 per meter squared before starting to uptick in the last quarter. So far in 2015 prices have risen on average between 3% after seeing an average increase in 2014 of between 5 to 7 percent with some select unit types up more the 10 percent. These averages depend on location and layout with investors cherry picking those with the highest rental demand or a renter already in place.

As always, purchasing property in any foreign country requires an extra degree of due diligence and caution to ensure that costly mistakes are not made. However, even after those preliminary measure have been taken and a specific building has been picked it is still essential to make sure you have someone on the ground with insight into potential benefits and downfalls that could otherwise be missed. Given the inherent lack of transparency it’s just part of doing business in Panama.

Next in the series: “Tips for Renting in the Trump Ocean Club.”

In case you missed the earlier installments in the series:

Trump Ocean Club: The Good, Bad and Ugly (Part 1)

Trump Ocean Club: The State of the Market (Part Two)

Trump Ocean Club: Tips for Renting in the Trump Ocean Club (Part Four)

Jeff Barton is the Managing Director of Punta Pacifica Realty, the leading sales and property management company in the exclusive waterfront skyscraper neighborhood of Punta Pacifica. Jeff can be contacted at jeff@puntapacificarealty.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.