Your Last Chance To Get In Early In Panama City
Panama’s economy—and its property market—remained relatively unscathed during the post-2008 global recession. GDP growth rates have reached double digits several times over the past decade and are expected to average 6% per year through 2020 at least.
No surprise that foreign investors are keen to take a position in Panama City’s property market. Trouble is that undervalued property in central Panama City is hard to come by these days. From the oceanfront skyscrapers to the historic old town’s rehabilitated colonial structures, prices in nearly every quadrant of this boom town have moved beyond bargain territory.
High-demand properties are selling for US$3,000 to as much as US$5,000 per square meter and more.
The path of progress has impacted almost all of central Panama City. However, one neighborhood stands out as offering significant potential thanks to targeted government spending in infrastructure and housing.
The dormant value about to be unleashed in the little-known area known as Calidonia makes it one of the last opportunities for investors looking to make a move ahead of the path of progress in central Panama City.
Travel guides and gringos not paying attention will tell you to stay away from Calidonia and its busy pedestrian shopping strip on Avenida Central, warning that this district is dirty and dangerous. These cautions are based on old stereotypes and an irrational fear of local residents. They help to keep interest and values in this neighborhood down, creating a last-chance, early-in opportunity in Panama City for investors.
Calidonia is a neighborhood in transition, with an emerging population of middle-class working residents tucked between the splendors of the old colonial town and the trendsetters of the modern downtown. Within a couple of blocks in any direction from Calidonia, you can find yourself in a slum… or on a tree- and mansion-lined calle.
The demands of Panama’s thriving tourism industry, along with those of the residents of Calidonia, have influenced the government to make improvements in the neighborhood. The plan is to spend US$90 million immediately and more millions longer term. Not only the current president’s administration but also the United Nation’s sustainable urban development branch, UN-Habitat, are involved in the urban renewal efforts.
If you search online for property listings in Panama City, you’ll connect with dozens of agencies offering thousands of condos—next to none of which are in Calidonia.
To find out what’s available for sale in this neighborhood, search the local classifieds. The website Encuentra24, for example, Panama’s answer to Craigslist or Kijiji, includes property listings for all Panama City, including Calidonia, some posted by local agencies, some by owners.
One current listing on Encuentra24 offers a two-story, 500-square-meter, 16-room building with two commercial spaces on the main floor. The building could use some renovations but could be (and is being) rented as is. Currently, each of the 18 units rents for US$300 per month. The asking price for the building is US$350,000.
Also currently listed on Encuentra24 is a rough-and-ready one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit on Calidonia’s Avenida Justo Arosemena for the crazy low price of US$17,000. For a location that’s minutes from the Cinta Costera beltway and Albrook Mall, this is a steal of a deal.