Amazing Ecuador Real Estate and Property
You can find real estate in Ecuador that is both charming and affordable
The prices of real estate in Ecuador have risen slightly in recent years thanks to Ecuador’s growing economy, but they are still inexpensive in comparison with U.S. prices and downright cheap when compared with real estate in Europe. As property prices are steadily appreciating, now is a great time to invest in Ecuador real estate. An oil boom–created by the completion of a new oil pipeline to the coast, combined with record oil prices in 2006–has also added even more intrinsic value to a property investment in Ecuador. Combine this with Ecuador’s equatorial sunshine, the choice of spectacular mountains, high plains, jungle, or coastal settings, and the unvaryingly friendly and welcoming nature of Ecuador’s people, and you have a combination for a quality of life that’s hard to beat.
Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city and the economic center of the southern Sierra. It has an intellectual, artistic, and philosophical tradition that matches its colonial architecture. Because of its history and state of preservation, Cuenca is one of Ecuador’s three UNESCO World Heritage Trust sites (the others are Quito and the Galapagos Islands). In 2006, an international association of urban planners voted Cuenca as one of the two “most livable” cities in Latin America, citing its culture, low crime rate, and “middle class” feel. And in 2009, IL voted Cuenca the best city in the world to retire to. For the fourth year running, Ecuador has won IL’s annual Global Retirement Index in 2012.
With the best restored colonial district in Ecuador, Cuenca is the country’s cultural capital. The city has produced many of Ecuador’s major writers, artists and musicians, and offers a rich program of festivals, concerts, parades and art openings. Although the metropolitan population is 450,000, the central city has a small town feel that has proven popular with tourists and foreign students who attend language schools or one of the city’s seven universities.
Referred to by one travel guide as “South America’s most European city”, Cuenca is attracting growing numbers of foreigners, many of whom have purchased modern but inexpensive apartments just outside the colonial district. Others prefer to take advantage of bargain houses and views on the hills that surround the city.
Property samples in Cuenca:
- A spacious 20-year-old condo located in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of Cuenca’s historic district. The apartment has three bedrooms and four bathrooms, a maid’s quarters, fireplace, built-in bookcases, hardwood floors and a private backyard garden. It is two blocks from a small mall and modern supermarket. Price: $110,000.
- A four-year-old, two-story, 2,200-square-foot home with an open-floor plan, lots of windows, a private back patio and a second-floor balcony. The house also features floating wood floors, nice woodwork in the kitchen along with black granite countertops, and a skylight over the staircase. With three bedrooms and three bathrooms, the master bedroom has a Jacuzzi. The property also comes with secure parking for two cars, an alarm system, and an electric gate opener. Price: $128,000.
Quito has been described as the most beautiful city in South America. Spanish influence here is apparent in its stately colonial architecture. Though the city has about 1.5 million residents, traffic is reasonable, except at rush hour and during major road resurfacing projects. The public transportation system, including taxis, buses, and trams, is excellent. The area is ringed by staggering Andean peaks, providing beautiful views from many properties. The city is in the process of restoring the old colonial center.
Property samples in Quito:
- A late 19th-century, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, located in the heart of Colonial Quito. The house is loaded with charm but needs restoration work. Rooms are large and the living room opens onto an inner courtyard. The house is one story but has a wonderful rooftop terrace with great rooftop view of Colonial Quito. Price: $90,000 (negotiable).
- A luxury, 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom, two-bathroom, 12th-floor condo, attached to the J.W. Marriott hotel in central Quito. Features hardwood cabinets, granite counter tops, custom lighting, hardwood floors and mag key security throughout the building. Great views of surrounding mountains. Comes with a parking space. Price: $115,000.
If you’d like to look out your window at the sparkling ocean and pristine beaches, but also have the opportunity to step outside to a bustling city if the beach life becomes too relaxing…then Manta, on Ecuador’s coast, is your best bet. With a population of 250,000, Manta is Ecuador’s only coastal metropolis and offers the same transportation, medical, and communication services as the larger cities of Quito and Guayaquil. A recent university study of population trends predicts that Manta will be Ecuador’s second most popular expat destination over the next 25 years, trailing only the Andean city of Cuenca.
Property sample in Manta:
- A two-year-old, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,270-square-foot condo within walking distance of the beach. The complex has a pool and recreation area. The condo is on the third floor of a six-story building and has nice views of the ocean. Close to shopping and the airport. Price: $96,000.
How to Purchase Ecuadorian Real Estate
Keep in mind that the real estate business in Ecuador bears little resemblance to what you are probably accustomed to in North America or Europe. There is no such thing as a multiple listing service, for example. Agents in Quito will have no idea what’s available in Manta or Cuenca—or even what’s available from other agents in Quito.
You’ll find that buying a property in Ecuador is more straightforward than you may be accustomed to back home. For example, there are no title or escrow companies, and sellers and buyers are required to pay their own debts outside the sales process, such as insurance, real estate commissions, etc. These issues are not brought to a closing, which is strictly between the buyer, seller, and the notary. Your attorney should be able to guide you through the purchase process, and help you to avoid potential pitfalls.
Remember that in Ecuador, as in most Latin American countries, cash is king. Interest rates are still high here compared to the U.S. so if you can pay with cash you will gain significant bargaining power. We’ve seen several shoppers submit offers of half the original asking price who ended up paying 60% or 70% of the original price.
Foreigners and Ecuadorian natives are on equal footing when it comes to real estate. You do not need to be a resident to own property. To the contrary, property ownership can qualify you for residency. There are certain restrictions in the case of “National Security Areas,” which may include the country’s borders, although these areas are not specifically defined in the law. Your attorney or the notary will inform you if your property requires any type of permission.
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