What is Playa Venao?
Playa Venao is Panama’s best-known surf destination. This beautiful bay is located 5 hours west of Panama City and half an hour west of the town of Pedasi. 15 years ago this bay was virtually undeveloped and lacked a paved road and electrical power. Since then a small handful of developers and owners have been steadily building a beachside community in this year-round surf destination.
Why Playa Venao?
If you don’t surf or fish, the Pedasi/Playa Venao area is not likely to be on your travel radar. But if you do either, you will LOVE this area. It is amazingly beautiful and still really affordable compared to similar places around the world- including other parts of Panama and certainly Costa Rica. “El Sitio Village” is selling beach condos that are right in front of a great, year-round surf wave for $180/ft2. “Blue Playa Venao” promises more amenities and is also more expensive, but still has units today for $220/ft2. The lots in the hills above the beach start at $70k but for a good one you’ll pay twice that much. We believe that in the long-term everyone who buys in Playa Venao or Pedasi now will be glad they did.
Recent Developments and sales
Despite a slow real estate market in Panama in general the last couple of years, Panama Equity is bullish enough on Playa Venao’s future to have opened up a new sales office there this April. That’s because sales of land and pre-construction beach developments have soared. Between them, the three beachfront developments of Villa Marina, Blue by Dekel and El Sitio Village have sold over 100 units and counting. While early in the construction phases, owners should begin moving into their new homes in early 2017.
In terms of growth, Pedasi has grown slightly in the last few years while Playa Venao has experienced an explosion of growth. This means that the Playa Venao area will have some growing pains in the next 1-3 years as inventory gets finished and new owners deal with the inevitable punch lists and fixes that happen when developers start to deliver the first units. That said, we are confident that this will work itself out and that investors who have the right expectations are ultimately going to be very happy with their new homes.
Playa Venao is being developed by several different groups. Our main concern on that front is that each developer does a good job with the basic infrastructure- both the physical infrastructure like roads, water and power- and also the legal infrastructure like HOAs and CC&Rs. Like everywhere, here in Panama there are usually two ways to get things done- the harder more expensive way and the cheaper easier way. Given that these are by and large small-scale undertakings we understand the draw of doing things quicker and easier, but any prospective buyer should be aware of what this means to them. We are on top of this for you.
Probably because Pedasi is an established town and Playa Venao is not, our clients who buy in Pedasi tend to be folks who intend to live here either part time or full time. Conversely, most of the buyers in Playa Venao are looking at rental income first and then perhaps moving here in a few years. The challenge for the would-be landlords is that this area is not very touristy to begin with and what tourism we do have is mostly in the dry season (December through May). Unless some major tourism/activity infrastructure is built; i.e. a marina, golf course, amusement park, etc, we may not see the enormous uptick in visitors that many expect.
Neither the government nor the private sector is seriously contemplating this type of infrastructure (despite constant rumors). It’s going to be very interesting to see how much rental income investors get on their beach homes when 200+ units enter the market in the next 5 years. We tell our clients – temper your expectations! There tends to be a chicken and egg thing when a new market is opening up. The best case scenario is that new residences and new businesses open apace. We’re starting to see this already and we hope it continues.
Why Panama Equity?
As the only independent real estate company with offices in the area for the last several years, we feel a special commitment to educate both buyers and sellers about the current market conditions. We want informed purchasers and an influx of good people who are mentally and financially prepared to make a great go of it here. This is our home too and we want to see it grow in the right way. An informed buyer is a smart buyer and a better new neighbor!
If you’re thinking of investing in Pedasi/Playa Venao then there is absolutely no substitute for coming and experiencing it for yourself. We look forward to meeting you and sharing our knowledge with you. You can also take advantage of special travel offers offered exclusively to our clients. Drop us a note if you’d like more information. See you soon!