Real estate in Cuenca, Ecuador
After years of steady appreciation, the real estate market in Cuenca has recently stabilized. It all started when the recession of 2008 brought a steady stream of Ecuadorians home from working abroad, mainly in the U.S. and Spain. Their return created a housing boom throughout the country and especially in the urban centers of Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca. The stream has now become a trickle, and combined with recent tax increases on imported building materials the housing industry has slowed significantly.
Compared to prices in North America, real estate in Cuenca continues to be a bargain. Many newly-arrived expats use the purchase of real estate (a tax assessed value of only $25,000 is necessary to qualify) to obtain their residence visa.
Foreigners have the same right to own real estate as locals, and the purchase process is fairly straightforward. Be aware, however, that mortgages are not generally available, so the full purchase price will be needed to complete the transaction.
Here are some sample properties recently on the market:
- Thought the days of the $50,000 condo in Cuenca were over? We found a furnished studio overlooking the Tomebamba river that’s near shopping and the bus line. Stove, refrigerator, and water heater are also included. Price: $45,000.
- A fully furnished one-bedroom, one-bath condo with fantastic views in one of Cuenca’s best areas. Nice sized kitchen, big closets, and separate laundry area. Price: $68,000.
- A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath townhome with 1,500 square feet close to public transportation and 15 minutes from the city. Modern kitchen, parking, and a small garden. Price: $75,500.
- A new three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom townhome, plus an office with 1,592 square feet. The unit has a private patio and parking and is part of a small development with 24 hour gated security. Price: $117,500.
- A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom condo with 1,335 square feet overlooking the Yanuncay river. The unit has built-in closets, granite countertops in a spacious kitchen, and a large private terrace. Close to El Centro, supermarkets, and shopping. Price: $139,000.
IL always recommends renting before you buy, and the best way to do both is to get “boots on the ground.” Decide what features you are looking for and walk around different neighborhoods looking for “Se Vende” (For Sale) and “Se Arrienda” (For Rent) signs. Ask the security guards in desirable buildings if anything is available.
Be aware that the real estate market in Ecuador in no way resembles what you’re probably used to. There is no MLS and agents are very protective of their own listings. Many great opportunities are never listed at all, so network with everyone you meet—locals often know a friend or relative who owns available housing.
The classified section of local newspapers are a good source of real estate information. If you aren’t fluent in Spanish, hire a bilingual facilitator to assist you. Real estate agents will be happy to show you their listings but generally don’t get involved in the rental market.