Many markets around the world ground to a halt in 2023, as interest rates surged, strife spread around the world and wariness of financial systems grew. But not in Panama’s real estate market, as buyers saw Panama as a safe haven to diversify their portfolios and escape turmoil in their home countries.
With a new generation of world-class projects in development or completion, Panama’s market was vibrant, attracting new investors. Sales were consistent and strong in top projects. Even protests over the government’s Cobre Panama mining contract late in the year could not slow interest in Panama property from investors, home buyers, and renters. Looking back, here are a few of the themes that shaped the market in 2023.
Looking back, here are a few of the themes that shaped the market in 2023.
Ocean Reef Hits FOMO Stage
The Ocean Reef Signature Resort Collection entered its next stage in 2023 as the most successful series of projects in Panama history. Seascape delivered on all its promise as a wellness-focused resort; condos in the newly completed Beach Club Residences condos became prized rental properties: The Palms was a hot seller — the last big resort-style property on the islands.
With many projects either sold out, complete, or in the final stages, Ocean Reef Islands is taking on more of the feel of a mature community. There were few resales available, as buyers enjoyed their new island homes. The supply of new units was limited, sparking a fear of missing out among buyers. The big news came at the end of the year with the launch of Club Residences, a spectacular development in the heart of the second island, including private office space, luxury car parking, and rooftop paddle sports.
Rise of Costa del Este and Santa Maria
Costa del Este and the Santa Maria Golf and Country Club continue to emerge as vibrant suburbs of downtown Panama City. Always popular with buyers, each area has now hit the critical mass, becoming diverse communities of families, young couples, and executives. In 2023, both areas started to face a low inventory of units in top buildings. Both areas offer beautiful, amenity-filled projects, ocean breezes, and the convenience of living minutes away from the heart of the city. And both are unique in Panama. Coste del Este is an exciting urban center; Santa Maria offers the type of country club living found in only the highest-quality destinations — and nowhere else in Panama.
The Rental Market Surges
Punta Pacifica Realty’s market-leading property management team had a solid year. Vacancies decreased and rental rates grew, as more executives and families continued to flock to Panama. In response, Panama’s property team continued to add team members, clients, and new services. In its constant effort to improve efficiency and customer service, the management team implemented the Operational Excellence (OpEx) philosophy to create a framework to continuously monitor PPR performance and customer satisfaction. As part of this commitment, PPR hired a new Chief Operating Officer, Candy Barcenas Justiniani, a Panamanian with more than 30 years of experience working for multinational companies in the United States.
Branded Developments Pay Dividend
Our sales team has spotted many trends in buying habits in recent months, but none was as clear in 2023 as the move toward branded properties. People respond to the name and reputation of a top brand. The Wanders and Yoo, led by the designs of Philippe Starck, has been a huge success downtown and is now attracting top rental rates, following up on the continued success of the original Yoo Panama. In Santa Maria, La Maison by Fendi, located in the prestigious Santa Maria Golf and Country Club in Panama City, has been a proven winner with local and international buyers. The track record shows the brand premium pays off.
Visa Programs Spur New Interest
Our PPR team saw a dramatic increase in inquiries about Panama’s generous visa programs, which make it easier than ever to enjoy the benefits of living in Panama. Panama’s version of a “Golden Visa” received widespread attention, in part due to its easy application process, which can be largely completed from abroad. Panama also led the way with a remote work visa that taps into one of the biggest trends in the workplace with a visa that makes it easy to set up operations in Panama. Both projects helped provide a steady flow of buyers and renters.
Tourism Marketing Surges
You hear people ask all the time, “Why don’t more people know about Panama?” That’s changing, as Panama ramps up marketing efforts around the world. Efforts have focused on eco-tourists and cultural aspects of the country that have never received much attention in the past. Tourism is still seen as a relatively untapped gold mine, which will support all aspects of the Panama real estate market. The government has signaled it is committed to more investment to spread the Panama message around the world.
There is a growing buzz about new activity along the beautiful beaches in west Panama. People are saying Panama is on the path to joining Costa Rica and Hawaii as great beach resort destinations. There has always been potential. Playa Caracol is already on the radar. But people think the spectacular west beaches are ready to explode. And we think they’re right. You can expect to hear more about that in 2024.
From all of us at PPR, thank you for being our clients, friends, and partners for 2023. We are only as good as our people and the trust we build together. It’s been an exciting year and we look forward to working together in 2024.