Talking Bocas del Toro Real Estate with United Country Bocas
Readers of The Bocas Breeze often start their journey outside of Panama. They are watching from afar, browsing our website and social media, in order to get a feel of what life is like in Bocas del Toro through the lens of its community newspaper.
These international Bocas Breeze readers tend to be planning their next trip to Bocas, and a lot of times, they are making that relocation leap; investing in real estate and making a new home for themselves in Panama’s Caribbean.
Today we sit down with the owners of our United Country Real Estate, Ryan and Marketa Markley, to get an update on the real estate market in our community.
The Bocas Breeze: What is the current real estate market like from your perspective?
United Country: Well, we would describe it as a good time to sell or buy, because Bocas is actually getting on the map now! We just came out of one of the biggest booms in Bocas history. Our data suggests that recent sales and prices were record breaking.
TBB: Why do you think it was so busy?
UC: Well, Of course, this is a cool place with a unique vibe, but, specifically: COVID…The reactions of governments worldwide made people want to get out of cities. We are getting people from all over the world, especially from bigger cities saying they want a slower pace of life and more freedoms. They are seeking a better life.
TBB: So what did that do to the property prices?
UC: Just supply and demand, more and more people wanting to move here is driving prices up. We had houses sell in a month for over asking price, which is kind of unheard of here. We actually just sold a couple houses on their first day. But Bocas has been one of the lowest priced places you would want to live in the Caribbean forever. Of course, we still have the problem with many people thinking their property is worth more than it is, but those ones are easy to spot. For the most part, if a house was for sale this last 2 years and did not sell, it was probably overpriced, needed large repairs or is far from town.
TBB: How do you guys like working with United Country?
UC: Yes, it has been great. We took over May of 2021. Our first year we helped over 30 people buy or sell. Being an actual international franchise has its benefits. We literally get hundreds of emails a month from people wanting to buy. It is hard to keep up, but it is great for our clients.
TBB: What kind of commissions do you charge?
UC: Our standard commission is 6 % like everybody else. It can be a little higher if it is far from town, or it could be lower for more expensive properties. But honestly when you are trying to sell a high-priced asset, it is all about increasing your chances and getting the most exposure. So even if you pay a half percent more but your house sells faster with no problems, isn’t it worth it? Or it can even mean the difference of selling it or not. Our clients get to take advantage of an international franchise with hundreds of offices in many countries, lists of client databases and multiple websites driving traffic to us, so you get a lot more than a local website with Facebook ads. That can mean the difference of selling in months vs years.
TBB: We hear talk about open and exclusive listings, what is the difference?
UC: That’s a good question, and many people ask. Open listing is kind of weird and not done in most other parts of the world.
Open listing means that you as the seller ask every agent in town to list your house and whichever one sells it gets the commission.
Exclusive means that one agent lists the house, but any agent can sell it, so they share in the commission.
We offer both and it is best to discuss with your agent, but I can tell you a problem with doing an open listing (especially if your agent does not advertise where the customers are) is that they are not guaranteed any commission. So, you really have to ask yourself, are they going to spend any time or money trying to sell my house or just put it on their website?
If you choose exclusive, then that agent should share your listing with all other agents and try to get anyone and everyone to help them sell it. They will not mind working hard or paying out of their pocket for some advertising because they know they will get at least some money when it sells. However; a problem with going exclusive could be selecting an agent that maybe does not put in the effort that you desire or prefers not to share the commission.
TBB: What do you think about off-grid living versus on-grid in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro? What considerations should investors and builders take when approaching their energy and water needs for their new property?
UC: This is a good question. It is important but will only apply to people moving to parts of Isla Colon, Bastimento or Carenero for the moment. All other surrounding islands and many popular “Expat Communities” have no on-grid choice. My personal preference leans towards off-grid because I can control its reliability.
There are questions about infrastructure for power, water and sewer currently: Can it handle the current population? Can it handle all the growth? Setting up a solar system is new to many people and it is expensive, especially if you want air conditioning. If you can, you should set up a hybrid system, especially if you own a business. And everyone should collect as much rainwater as they can afford so that we do not rely so much on the infrastructure.
I can say personally that we have never lost power and any of our off grid properties before. Our on grid properties go out for standard maintenance every couple weeks. So I would say do not let the fear of the unknown stop you from making the right move!
TBB: Well thank you for sharing your insight on the Bocas del Toro real estate market. We’re looking forward to learning more…and buying our Bocas del Toro dream property one day!
UC: Our pleasure. We are happy to talk any time to anyone. We love this stuff!
If you want to talk real estate with the United Country Bocas team, get in touch! Make sure you mention that you read their interview on The Bocas Breeze Newspaper.
+507 6972-6507 WhatsApp
+1 949 484-4448
Check out properties in Bocas del Toro on the United Country Bocas del Toro website.