As we have said before, the legal team of Grace and Nelson has done a huge service to the Expat community...They specialize in Visas and Real Estate transactions, among other things.
My Brother Rich and his wife Nancy are now regular visitors to their offices, and I have to say, they, too are getting the first class treatment...
A lot of Gringos arrive down here with their Spanish language proficiency just about what they remember from High School Spanish about a gazilion years ago...
In Cuenca, there are a lot of Gringos, so a person can sort of get along with English and fractured Spanish--not well, but OK. Well, Grace was a foreign exchange student in the US before she became a lawyer, and, with her perfect English, she is a vital link with new and old arrivals as they navigate the constantly changing Visa laws, and also deal with the very different laws pertaining to real estate purchases.
At one time, a guidebook mentioned that Real Estate transactions were just about as complicated as buying a loaf of bread. This could be true, because a seller is always glad to take your money.
However, Escrow and Title services are quite different here in Ecuador, so if you wish to "perfect" your title, you better have someone like Grace and Nelson on your side.
Anyone can be a real estate agent in this country, and they basically just act as guides to properties for sale--the real work is done by the Notary offices and the legal people who write the contract.
In Ecuador the "chain of title" can be quite complicated, especially if the property is old (ie, not new apartment building construction--which is popular with Gringos). When the original owners die, and the property is handed down to children and other heirs, it is difficult to make sure that everyone has "signed off". This is where Grace and Nelson really earn their money. Every buyer wants a clean title containing no "clouds on title"--meaning someone who could conceivably still have an ownership interest in a property that you thought you had purchased cleanly. So...you would have difficulty ever selling without a lot of grief.
Another problem area for the buyer, is ascertaining that the person who cheerfully tells you that you can buy the property by just giving him a check, is actually the real owner, and actually has the legal authority to sell the property or act on the owner's behalf.
We know of one deal where the buyers and Grace and Nelson wasted a month trying to purchase an apartment, where everyone involved, said "give me the money", but none of them had authority to "sign off" for the owner. The buyers eventually, said "enough is enough", and that apartment is still for sale, and the buyers went on to purchase a better place with a cleaner deal.
In addition, Visa requirements are constantly changing. Grace and Nelson are linked right into the headquarters of the Immigration department in Quito, where the only person who can sign your new permanent visa is the head man himself. They have access up there, that a lot of lawyers could only wish for.
So...you new arrivals, and you gonnabe arrivals, check in with Grace and Nelson, find out what you have to do...check the costs...and decide if you want to do it yourself, or get it done right the first time.
Some numbers: Dr. Grace Velastegui, Attorney at Law
Ecuador country phone code 593 7 (Cuenca) 284 2225
Cell: 096 110 451