The massive Expo-Habitat Panama real estate fair has just concluded in the Atlapa Convention Center and the results are nothing short of astounding. This year, over 45,000 people attended the trade show, where local developers, along with banks and construction equipment dealers set up shop over a 5 day period.
For someone not accustomed to the event, the fair is essentially a match making exercise between potential buyers, real estate developers and local banks alongside a massive “auto show” featuring ditch diggers, cranes, and bulldozers.
And despite an economy that’s off its 2009 highs, 20% more buyers flocked to the fair this year compared to last, and according to organizers transacted more than $200 million dollars’ worth of business during the 5 day event which ended Sunday the 11th of September.
Of the nearly 400 companies represented, 213 were from the real estate sector and 187 specialized in heavy equipment.
Who was buying at this year’s Expo Habitat?
Panamanians are very active in the home market, most notably on new homes priced up to $120,000, a threshold established by the government for subsidized mortgage rates to combat the current 120,000 unit housing deficit.
Venezuelans, emigrating by the thousands and bringing with them large families and established businesses, were also in attendance by the thousands. After that, it’s a mix of buyers from Central and South American countries, followed by the occasional American and European buyer who happen to attend the fair.
According to the banks, 71% of the mortgages approved in this years fair represented projects priced below $120,000, the rate set by the housing ministry which qualifies buyers for a preferential interest rate.
Presenters from the fair included China, the US, Italy, Canada, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador.
Notable real estate trends for Expo Habitat Panama 2016 included petite, 450 square foot apartments in downtown Panama City, new amenities such as pet-friendly social areas, executive meeting rooms and medical clinics, along with new construction in hot areas such as Capira and Las Cumbres.
What’s fueling the activity? An expanding local economy with low unemployment, government-backed mortgage rates, a young overall population, and a housing deficit spurred on by first time home buyers, wage increases and strong immigration from other countries in Latin America.