We have been getting an increasing stream of emails from nice folks who would like to settle on the Coast somewhere south of Manta and north of Salinas. Also, a number of you have said that you would like a house similar to ours, or would like to build one on a beach front lot.
Rox and I were both licensed Real Estate Agents since 1972, and supervising Brokers since the early 1980's...that said...we are not in the business of selling real estate now...
However, that doesn't mean that we are not paying attention to what is going on real estate-wise in Ecuador. Here are some general observations.
There is no Agent licensing requirement in Ecuador—anyone can set up shop or call himself a Real Estate Agent, and they do! Most of these folks do nothing more than “show” property. For this, many are demanding a 7 percent commission. To have a binding contract, you must pay a lawyer to write it up. For escrow, you must pay a Notary company to handle that. For, a chain of title search, you usually rely on a lawyer again. (this is tricky, if original owners have died and the kids now have the property—everyone will tell you that they have the right to sign off on the property—just send them the check, etc...). To top it off, the Notary has the final word on verifying that the actual owners are signing off, and that there are no competing liens on the property you are buying.
Although there is title insurance available, we haven't had experience with it here. You still must have a lawyer check out all ownership claims.
Financing the property is almost unheard of...you must bring cash. The easiest way, is to get a bank account down here at one of the “Big 3” banks, then wire the dough down here. When we did that, we sent down a hundred bucks first, just to make sure that all the routing numbers worked, and the dough actually arrived. There is a 48 hour waiting period to get the dough into your account after it arrives in-country.
We are most familiar with Real Estate here on the Coast and in Cuenca.
Many, many gringos are buying newer apartments (condos) in the many high rise projects springing up all over Cuenca. These offer the advantage of new amenities, security, parking, nice elevators, etc, plus the “chain of title” is short, and easily verified when you buy. The catch is, that they are going fast, and to get the one you want, you usually begin the purchase about 12 to 24 months before the project is finished..
On the Coast, the picture is totally different. We do not see many high rise projects, compared to Cuenca. Many folks are subdividing up coastal properties and are waiting to sell unimproved lots to unsuspecting Gringos—a lot of these projects fail. Be very careful here. There are several new buildings going up in Manta and Salinas...and it would be good to check out the prices to see if you can handle the “sticker-shock”.
So many people want the same thing on the Coast, that all the “easy” stuff is gone. Lots of cats and dogs are remaining. If an agent shows you a property that has been on the market for over a year, you can bet that dozens of folks of viewed it already and passed.
Except for the larger cities, the Coast has less infrastructure. For example, in a lot of nice beach towns the water is delivered by truck. If you find an unbelievable price for a beach front house on the Internet, you will have to check it out to make sure that it is located where you would actually want to live.
There are high rise condo buildings in Salinas and Cuenca and Bahia, but they are older mostly. This might mean that you would be facing the cost of renovating within the limits of the condo rules.
OK, so with all this doom and gloom, does that mean that living at the Coast is out? Of course not...but it does mean that you will have to do a little work. You might have to beat the bushes, call up a bunch of owners who live in Guayaquil, to see if they might wish to sell, for example.
And...don't forget, any owner would have to be brain-dead not to know that there is a flood of Gringos who are buying property in Ecuador...so, if anything, his price will be much higher, not lower than you would expect, or that it might actually sell for.
A bunch of folks, that we are aware of, have come down here and rented a place while they were working on the details of a permanent visa, and then used that time to carefully look around to see where they would actually like to live. After you have done that, it is not too hard to find someone who can help you locate sellers.
Folks...these are just some thoughts about what is happening here. This entry just gives you a little of our perspective...everyone has a different experience...yours will be, too.
The Internet will only take you so far...then you have to come on down and get your feet wet...