Warning-real estate in Panama is not what it seems

Hi and what did you find in Coco Beach, sence your move?

Hi there, we have not moved to Coco Beach.  We bought a lot but do not intend to live there for full time.  We live in Canada and are just looking to escape our Winters!

Just wanted some feedback on how your trip went in February? I was very close to parting with my money for investment into CoCo Beach.
Glossy pictures all look good, the promise of positive growth in 5 years. So glad I came across this site. By the way - I’m in talks with a lady called Izabella, she claims the developers are Asa’ Viviendas.

Don’t do it, get out ASAP

So you're not purchasing now?  We went in February and are purchasing a lot. We didn't speak to an Izabella. We found the company very transparent and have nothing but good experiences with the staff and owners

Why you say this?

I’ve spent hours and emails going back and forth with this particular project.
So I was and still am very cautious about it. My financial advisor has told me to back away as he has read into how corruption is rife and that the resort itself although a great proposition may not come into completion.
Similarly I have read comments on another forum saying that the proposed development may not even have anything built on it in the next 5 years.
Also political laws are always changing making any business venture difficult. If you like jumping through hoops every time a law changes then you won’t foresee a problem. These are only a few things I have had to find out myself.
Even looked at their face page, and apart from the glossy stuff again, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of how the construction is going or any updates which is why I was compelled to tell it how it was.
But apologies if I came on too strong previously.

Probably one should be very cautious with developers in Panama, reading on internet about experiences people have over there. However, I think it is not fair to think all developers are like this. For me this company is very transparent and I didn't have any negative experiences with them. They work with investors so already have funds to start developing a project, and don't depend on first selling lots like many others. As a matter of fact we are in the designing process of our house and will start building next January. I will keep you guys updated, even if I will have bad experiences. Maybe that's a fair way to judge about them?

Hi Pills, I understand how you feel about putting your hard earned cash into something that may not materialize.  I know a few things for sure that I can comment on.  I do receive regular updates and I have seen photos from the staff at Panama Portfolio and the building is in progress, there are pipes laid and things are definitely going ahead at Coco Beach.  I spent so much time going back and forth with Henri and the team before going into this.  I looked into EVERY aspect regarding the company (Henri jokingly called me 'Sherlock Holmes')

The contract was signed a couple of months ago between Del Monte and the town itself.  There will be banana production once again in the town of Puerto (from what I understand about $1 million into the economy) this will bring more people seeking accommodation etc.

As Lauke said, the money is already there to build, they have investors. I do get why your financial guy is telling you to back away, but in this case it's not required.

Best rules of thumb for judging a project:. How much of developer's own money is put into the initial investment?  Look for close to 20/25 percent  How many projects have they completed in Panama?   How many complaints have been filed with ACCODECO, the so-called Panamanian consumer reporting agency?  (All they do is take reports, nothing is ever accomplished).      If they check out on all these points, then you might have a 50 percent chance of getting a somewhat finished product.   I know too many people who have had horror stories with developers to ever advise anyone to buy anything in Panama.  Anyone who wishes details please feel free to private message me for all the disastrous investments I have heard about first hand.

I am just curious, why not buy once the development is complete?  You are talking about buying vacant lots correct?  Do developers just take deposits and when the developments are complete, then final payments are made when title to property is transferred at closing?  Do you have to put up the entire amount ahead of time or just a deposit? If only a deposit, how much 10%, 20% or more?

What you're probably going to tell me is that you get a better price & selection if you buy off plan and not wait until the development is complete. The only thing about buying off plan is you're taking a big risk of possibly losing your money if the development isn't completed of if it's delayed for several years like the original poster stated, then you have your monies tied up and you cannot invest in any other developments. Just asking???

Also, I see the original posting started in 2013... looks like this is a continuing problem with new people coming in and being taken advantage of by some developers...

Can someone explain a little further about how all of this works in Panama... Thanks...

Hi Lauke,

Thank you, any information you can afford us would be great and would go along way to making my mind up wether to invest or not.
Is there any timelines on the completion of the whole development and what of the surrounding areas to bring tourism in to CoCo beach?

Hi Brummy,

Can you tell me what the name of your contact, the person you are dealing directly with?

Hi Pills,
We didn't buy land in Coco Beach but in the mountain project of Villas de Chica. It's from the same company, Panama Portfolio. About the timeline of this project, construction of the first 5 houses will start in January 2018 (financed with own money). They sell empty lots but also lots with house on it. Construction in the other mountain project nearby will also start in January 2018, about Coco Beach I don't know. They expect all lots will be sold by mid 2018. People who buy an empty lot must complete construction within 5 years. Deposit is normally 30%, subsequent payments will be done according project progress. Last payment will be when lot is delivered.
They have several projects in Panama, I think now 3 of them are under construction, Coco Beach and the two mountain projects in Chica. All projects seem to develop well, actually next week they will raise prices I think for the remaining lots. Area has a great potential, to me it looks like a good investment and I have no complaints about them at all.

Hi Pills, I'd be happy to.  His name is Henri Kerkhof.   Not sure if I've spelled his last name correctly.  He's extremely open and will tell you anything you want to know - my husband and I met with him and his partner at their office in Panama City.  If you want I can get Henri's number and you can contact him directly.  You can private message me if you like too, and just give me your number.  Everything in the contract has been thoroughly okay'd by a Panamanian Lawyer who we trust.  We feel comfortable with our decision.

Cool, thanks bud, keep me posted how it all goes, hope it works out well for you.

Thank you for sharing your story -- mine is similar but worse.  I'll post as soon as I can find the time as I am now wrapped up in cross-border litigation concerning my apartment.   Same sort of things -- delivered late, cheapest quality, persistent leaks, poor engineering, subpar cabinetry, no fixes, no "playing by the rules".  This story is TYPICAL of buying in Panama, and theirs has a sort of 'happy' ending, mine may not.   They actually received an apt.  I could do a tour in Panama from the city outwards, of all of the abandoned projects, with stops in P.C., Chorrera, Arrijian, Chame, Santa Cruz, San Carlos.  And also up in Boquete, David, Bocas.   I am sure neither International Lying nor Panama Relocation Tours includes those in their itineraries.

Sorry to hear..... I was so close to investing, just seemed a little too good to be true, also I’ve heard the bid Deal Del Monte has not be finalised yet and this was also a big incentive for the growth of Panama.

Is that right Pills?  I thought it had been finalized

Just returned from Panama and promised to give you people an update of the mountain project in Chicá. I talked to the construction company, Aseviviendas, and to people of Panama Portfolio. Everything looks good and on schedule to start building next January. Design of our house is almost ready, we discussed the last details of it and talked with technical engineers about it. They also have interior architects helping us out, and we made a selection of materials. They set out the footprint of our house on the lot to give us an idea of the size and location. This are serious proffesionals and they think even about more things than you would expect. Clearly they have an interest to make this a succesfull operation. Project is in high demand and expected to be sold out in some months. I have no doubts, reliable people to work with and beautiful project to look forward too.

Nice to hear the positive feedback about Coco Beach!  Exciting!

Hi Brummy, I am also canadian, calgarian actually, we bought a house
we could see, feel and occupy immediately, 5 years ago, we bought from
a panamian, no realtor, only a lawyer, who was referred to us by other canadians, who became friends.  Our purchase went good due to my
extremely cautious husband, who was a realtor in canada.  My heart goes
out to you, because its hard when you have your heart set on something,
and want it to work out, however, I think you will be happier and have less regrets later if you listen to the nay sayers on this site.  Out there, will
be more crime, because of the huge loss of jobs, and people don't get employment insurance (EI) At ALL, in fact, the foreigners become the financial off-set, because they feel if they steal from you, you can always
recover, because you come from the land of plenty, where money grows on tree, lol.
We have lived here since 2012, and really, there are lots, and
lots of cdn. or american's who want to sell ALL THE TIME!  It's just that,
they leave rather quietly!!! lol, but there are lots!!,
Also from experience, your place will be full of mold, because of the climate here, if you have no one to go in and air it out once in a while.  And if you leave your keys with a panamian, well, they will just live in your
house while you are away, and drive your vehicle, and a gringo, usually
charges $100./month to do that.  And renting it?? No, people do not sign,
a 10 month lease, and out there in the boondocks, will be next to impossible.
I would test this 100% guarantee of the deposit back.  Make up a story,
of how you need the money for an unexpected health emergency, if you have to, you can always buy back in at a later date, if it ends up being
the real thing, there will ALWAYS be condos at coco beach to buy, no rush!!, despite of what the developers say.  Hope this helps!! Hugs!!,

villas de chica, is close to my house, I believe they are legit, they have
been working on it forever.  The climate is nice, never super hot, cool at nite.  A long ways from a beach.  A looong winding road, to and from the hwy., so roughly 45 min. to the nearest supermarket.  Some of the roads
are extremely steep, so be prepared for a new transmission for your car, about every 2 to 3 years.  But the area is nice, and everything will be new!!  I have panamian friends who right in the village of Chica.  btw, my
neighbour in el limon, is selling his property, with an ocean view, but no gated community, and some of us need that!!


The best option is alway to by something that is already constructed, because of what you said, and also because usually new apartments have filtration problems, buying one used you can see if it has or had filtration problems.

In addition, now all properties higher than US$120,000.00, have property tax exempt for only 10 years, before they had for 20 years, so if you buy a property now that is 10 years old you have 10 more years exempt from taxes, the same as a new property, it just depends what your are looking for.

wow sounds like you have something to sell to me ,, i have been here going on 17 years have bought and sold a number of properties ,, now live in a semi gated community walking distance  from most of my needs ,, 6 miles to my gym and price mart .. paid 65,000 for my house worth 132,000 with the improve,nets i have made ,, across the street is a house like mine for rent for 475 ,, one of mt homes i sold and carried  the note on is for resale for 189,000 appraised for 232,000 ,, never had the kind of problems some people claim but never bought a new apartment in panama city i knew better !!

Hi to All,
Occasionally I will give my own opinion/experience. I have briefly read through the posts.

When we started looking to move to Panama, over 10 years ago, is where I will explain it in my words.

I called it “vapor photos” now it may be called “fake photos” ! Whatever.

Now that I bring this up, after my husband and I did our research and basically went almost everywhere there is in this country, you don’t get it until you see it!

We were off to the tip of the Azuerlos Peninsula on one trip. The internet “vapor ware’ showed plans of a thriving community, plans for an airport, blah, blah. Should have know there was an issue when our contact nor was anyone going to be there!  It was part of what we always were - looking for an adventure  I guess but this was descibed as a place ready for any to live  - what?

Our directions were to pass the 3 big hills and you are there - well that’s not that strange anymore. However, what was is that we drove for hours only to arrive at a place that was nothing - covered with mud and nothing close to being developed! We couldn’t risk driving in to see what was advertised on the internet!

We had a rental car but if something were to happen, there was no cell coverage and no place to stay anywhere even though we had already checked into a hotel in Pedasi I believe. Well it’s a long way down to where we were!

I don’t recall the names of these people nor am I trying to cause any harm. However, about two years after that experience, I sent an email asking if the Airport was open because their timeline specified that it would be ready long before  I sent this email.

Of course it wasn’t! Bottom line I guess? You have to physically see what is being described.

I know much of this was about condos in the city. I am sure there were/are issues there but it wasn’t what we wanted.

Just offering another point of view. We have lived in Panama full time 6 years at the end of this month. It’s s safe to say we haven’t returned to that area since that trip!

I go surfing out there quite a bit, and I like the area... It does indeed have great potential........But the development has been painfully slow.........I have been watching it now for some years.......Best cleanest beach in the whole area if not all Chiriqui.......I dont really know all the details about why it has been moving so slowly, but it is mving again......only one structure on the entire property last I saw.......and still without elect......water it seems has finally arrived........never have met the owners, but I like the way they keep the beach clean and have set up a little rancho with shower facilities for the surfers and beachgoers........its considerate.....and I give em credit........Have yet to see one real house built out there......but Im pullin for em........its a great beach spot whith some of the best surf in all of Chiriqui........

Thx - good to know. As I said, wasn’t trying to discredit anyone, just our experience several years ago.

Hey - I am with you now - we could use a change but Panama is home!

Hi Brummy,

Do you have any updates on Coco Beach? We were interested in buying there, but I've been very leery as their facebook page has been around for nearly 5 years but there is still nothing but artist rendering of the construction.

I’m looking into lawyers from Panama, can you give me his number and name again.
We are planning on be down there for the next IL conference in June. If we like Panama we will be looking for a good lawyer that has great service from other expats.
Thanks in advance
Ginny Peary (and husband, Tom)

Hi Ginny,

I will find his name and details and get back to you with the information.  Best regards,  Kay and Ian

Hi Ginny and Tom,

I can only find the email and name of the Lawyer that dealt with our things in Panama, I don't have his number as we dealt with everything by email.  I would thoroughly recommend him as he understands English and was reasonable in cost


Good Luck!

Update Villas de Chicá project:
We had some (of the usual) delay, so didn't start contstruction in February. However, we are ready to start building now and the house is expected to be finished before the end of this year. As I understand, construction is also going to start in the other project Panama Portfolio has in Chicá (Campana Villas). I don't know about Coco Beach.

I was just out there a couple weeks ago surfing and talkin with the workers there.....Theres one house underway now...They are laying out the foundation, and another bigger one on the drawing board so it is happening.......I really do like that area....The energy is good there.......Long term potential is very good I would say......There will eventually be a hotel with all facilities there......

What do y'all think about purchasing land in bocas del toro? Is it unwise?

Hahahaha......trick question...

Thank you so much for the information!
We were planning on coming down there for the conference, but have had to put a hold on it for medical reasons. But we will be coming down either late June or July sometime.
Just to look around and see what’s happening. I think I’ll like the Volcan area or even David, Tom said I might enjoy Boquete as well. So that will be the jumping off, from there we will just drive around.
He defiantly does NOT want to retire here in the u.s. plus the costs of things here keeps rising. I feel that I will like to be able to get things that I’m used to buying here, plus things from local shops. We should be a pretty good fit. We will both be learning Spanish so that will also help.
Thanks again for the lawyers info.
Ginny & Tom

Hi Brummy,

In 2016 I met with Henri from the developers of Coco Beach. The company headquarters are in Holland, and Henri happened to be in Holland the same time as I was. Though he had to travel 45 min to get to me in Amsterdam, but was happy to spend time with me away from his family, who were Christmas shopping at the time! I  paid a deposit for a plot even before I visited the place.

Due to deaths in my family in 2017, my plans at the time changed. I had absolutely no problem getting the full deposit returned when I informed Henri of this. He and his team communicate very effectively via email. They even offered to fetch me at the airport and show me some places should I decide to visit. They also recommended accommodation as well.

I've read the rest if this string, but see the last entry was a few months ago...

When I last communicated with Henri he indicated phase 1 was nearly sold out, and marketing of phase 2 would be later this year.

To the surfer that regularly visits that area: remember that when the plots are sold the buyer has 5 yrs to start building. So the lack of houses going up is not an indication of lack of 'happenings', if you understand what I'm trying to say.

As anyone else got more recent info on Coco Beach development?

Now, in 2018, my plans to immigrate to Panama from S.A. are back on track, and I'll be visiting next month. I just paid the immigration lawyers, Denfablaw, today to start the process of forming a company. Btw, so far the communication from Denfablaw has been excellent. You really get the feeling this ain't their 1st rodeo!

Hi there, so nice to read your post and not at all surprised about Henri.  He is truly a class act.  My husband and I will always remember him and his team at CoCo Beach.  Incredible service from all of them.

Unfortunately we decided not to purchase in CoCo Beach and have settled on spending our Winters in Huatulco Mexico.  Much closer to home (not that it's that close...) and we don't have to pay for things in the US Dollar

I would love to hear on the development at CoCo Beach also, and wish only the best for all involved.


I've also looked at Mexico, but am very worried about the crime, violence, corruption, xenophobia agsinst Europeans (whites), since I'm fleeing South Africa exactly for those very same reasons.

Panama just sounds much more stable- financially, politically and economically....

Your thoughts perhaps?


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