Once you’ve decided on a property in Ecuador, the first thing you should do is find a qualified attorney (one who speaks English if you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker). And no money should change hands until that attorney tells you the title is free and clear.
Purchasing Real Estate in Ecuador
The purchase process in Ecuador is as easy as it gets…
- Make a verbal offer either in person, through your agent, or through your attorney.
- If desired, you can execute a sales contract to hold the property. This is called apromesa de compraventa and is useful if you need time to gather the funds or want to specify any special terms or conditions related to the sale. Normally, thepromesa, if used, is accompanied by a 10% to 30% down payment.
- If you don’t need the promesa, you can go right to closing; which is the signing of theescritura de compraventa at the notary.
- Once the escritura is signed, the property must be registered by your attorney. At this time—not before—it’s completely yours. The registered copy of the escrituraserves as the deed.
As you can see, it’s possible to close quickly if you have the cash. One of our correspondents living in Ecuador made an offer on a house at 2:00 p.m., and closed by 5:00 p.m. on the same day. Closing in Ecuador is a transaction only between the buyer and seller (aided by the seller’s attorney). The notary does not hold escrow or disburse funds such as real estate commissions, taxes, etc. Some attorneys however, maintain trust accounts for the purpose of holding escrow and disbursing funds, which is very convenient if you don’t yet have a local bank account.
Foreigners need permission to own real estate within 50 kilometers of international borders and within 50 kilometers of coasts. Owning real estate in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is prohibited.