A New Kind of Blog

There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Real Estate

Just 15 minutes outside of Cuenca by car or taxi, is a suburb called Challuabamba.  Not many years ago, it was a small farming community but since it has recently been incorporated into the City of Cuenca, it is exploding with new home construction and all the necessary stores to support a growing community. Much of its charm comes from the fact that Challuabamba is located at a lower altitude where it gets less rain and is about 5 degrees warmer than nearby Cuenca.  When we first saw it, we fell in love with the town and bought a big home, a mansion by anyone’s terms, that is located on a mountainside with views that go on forever.

We did a huge amount of redecorating and remodeling to suit our North American tastes that included a glass roof over the indoor swimming pool, the construction of a large terrace with BBQ and fireplace, a modern master bathroom with Jacuzzi, hand crafted closets everywhere as there were no closets in the house at all, and a wonderful, large kitchen with granite counter tops. The house has six bedrooms and seven baths and will be sold unfurnished. Why, you might ask do we have such an incredible house up for sale? It is a long story, but briefly, we were foolish and took no safety precautions. We left the doors unlocked and the gate open. Plus, our lifestyle made us stand out as potentially rich gringos and the house was robbed. We have since installed a motion sensor security system and beefed up the entry gate security. But, our grandson was very frightened by the experience. The house was also far from the school he knew and wanted to attend. Though we still love this dream house, we have decided to place our grandsons’ needs first and have moved into an apartment in Cuenca.

As far as buying real estate in Ecuador, you will find that realtors do not operate like in the US. We believe there is no such thing as an official real estate license. All it seems to take is to print a card, open up a website and post houses for sale or rent. You seldom see a for sale sign in front of a home as people do not want to advertise that the house is empty. Commissions run from 3% if you are an Ecuadorian to 5% if you are a foreigner. The commission the realtor charges will be higher if the realtor does all the paper work for you. But, most often the realtor recommends a lawyer who does the title search, the notary requirements and the bill of sale. It is a much less formal system than in the US, with the clear title search probably being the most important aspect as you need to know if there are any hidden liens or title problems.

 So, in essence, often the realtor merely does the job of locating homes or condos for sale and then shows them to you. There is no such thing as MLS listings in Ecuador. Homes for sale are located by chance or from heresay.

The next step with a realtor, if you come to an agreement with a seller, is to go to a lawyer who will then do all the paper work.
But back to our house for sale in Challuabamba. Take a look at some of the photos. The tennis court in front of the house is still owned by the previous owner but can also be purchased. If you are interested, please be in touch with us and we will pass on whatever information you might need plus more photos than can be posted here. The purchase price for the house is $375,000 which for 7000 square feet under roof is quite a bargain even by Ecuadorian standards. If you come to visit, we would be pleased to show it to you. And, by purchasing directly from us, you would save a 5% commission.  If you like the house, we would put you in touch with a great lawyer who speaks English and is probably the best in town.

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