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Q & A - Questions & Answers about Cartagena Real Estate

NOTE: Periodically, we review questions, comments and suggestions offered by Buyers and Sellers.
Bookmark this page,
and return for the latest Questions and Answers about: Cartagena Real Estate.

MOST RECENT QUESTIONS ARE:

Q “My wife and I will soon retire, and we have been looking at the new apartment projects shown on your website. Sometimes the "sold" information changes quickly. Last month you began promoting a new project, and the first day there were already nine units sold. Now you show that six of the nine units are available again! What's going on? Is there something wrong with the project, or are the buyers getting cold feet?"
Q “What is the best way to get money into Colombia in order to buy real estate?”
Q “The Internet has many web sites directed to men who are interested in moving to, and finding a marriage partner in Colombia. What about this?”
Q “Your web site has very few “Listings” for apartments, houses, land, etc. Why don’t you show more Listings?

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE ANSWERS

LINKS to Previous Q & A’s:

Q “Why does your web site have so many photographs of Apartments?
Q “Exactly what information does Paul need in order to find just what we are looking for?”
Q “Our retirement pension is in Canadian dollars. How will we get Pesos for our day-to-day living expenses in Cartagena?”
Q “Please give us some actual examples of what things cost in Cartagena?”
Q “What are the various real estate commission rates, and how do they compare with those back here in the U.S.?”
Q “What kinds of Agency Agreements does Paul Juan work with?
Q “You use the words honest, and honesty, many times on your web site. My husband is Latino and he has a more liberal definition of many such words than I, a third generation South Carolinian”.
Q “Our neighbors son and his new bride recently married and honeymooned in Cartagena. Everybody had a great time, and their always talking about the good food and restaurants. Name your favorite restaurants?”
Q “Colombia has a 40 year reputation for kidnappings, killings, and gorilla activities. How has Cartagena escaped these problems?”
Q “I’m a Colombian, working as a real estate agent in Miami. I have referred your web site to both Colombians and Americans. My Broker is not interested in trying to hassle with Referral Fees from down south. He says: the commissions are so low, it’s not worth the problems. It might not be much, but I could use the referral money.”


Q “My wife and I will soon retire, and we have been looking at the new apartment projects shown on your website. Sometimes the "sold" information changes quickly. Last month you began promoting a new project, and the first day there were already nine units sold. Now you show that six of the nine units are available again! What's going on? Is there something wrong with the project, or are the buyers getting cold feet?"

A Thanks for your great question. Your idea about buyers getting "cold feet", comes close. Here's what often happens: when the project developers tell (brag?) their family and friends about a new project, there are always a few who are quick to sign up and reserve "their unit". Out of courtesy... and culture, the developers are happy to do so. In a couple of weeks, when the reservation payment is long past due, and which often is before the first concrete is poured, many family and friends "buyers" will make an excuse and back out. Very seldom will they mention the real reason: "we don't have the money!" .

In the Hispanic culture, letting family and friends in on a "good deal" is not only common, it's expected. The idea is to: "help each other", to always "get along" and never say: "no"!

In other cultures, perhaps yours, family and friends are seldom cultivated, or even considered as primary prospects in a marketing plan. In fact, some companies frown upon sales persons selling to family or friends!

Once the apartment building is under construction, and the completion date is on schedule, very few buyer's will back out. With nearly every project, there are always a few buyers who will never occupy the apartment. They are real estate investors who quickly re-sell at a profit, when the project is completed and sold out! They know from experience that some buyer's will pay a premium price (20-40% more?) to get something that is "brand new", "sold out" and "no longer available"! People are funny.


Q “What is the best way to get money into Colombia in order to buy real estate?”

A Most Colombian Sellers do not have bank accounts outside of Colombia. When they do, the account is usually with a U.S. bank, and we suggest that the proceeds of the sale be deposited directly into the Seller's U.S. bank account. Usually, the Buyer must transfer the purchase money to a bank here in Cartagena where it will be changed into Pesos and deposited into your account. A bank-to-bank wire transfer is secure, and will take from one to three days to complete. The average transfer cost is about $40. u.s. or less. Plus the cost of exchanging foreign currency into Pesos changes day to day and banks will give you almost TRM.

NOTE: When you visit Cartagena, I will be happy to personally introduce you to an account representative of a well respected international bank where you can establish your Cartagena bank account, But, a Cedula (colombian ID) is mandatory in orther to open a bank account. The account rep. holds dual citizenship (Colombia and U.S.), and speaks perfect English. We know from personal experience that her bank provides a very favorable exchange rate, and that that she, and her bank, will take the time and effort to show you how to legally reduce the tax, to almost nothing! When you open your account, you will be presented with a debit card(s), which can be used to make purchases at major stores, and to withdraw Pesos from your savings account, at hundreds of 24 hour automatic teller machines located throughout Cartagena.


Q “I have noticed many web sites where men, and especially retired men, are interested in moving to, and finding a marriage partner in Colombia. What about this?”

A It’s true, many of the E mail enquiries I receive are from men who want to stretch their pension, “live like a King”, and get married to “a good Colombian woman”.

NOTE: Paul Juan Realty is not involved in Internet companies that introduce Cartagena woman looking for a marriage partner, (even Yahoo and Microsoft are in this business!) but a client recently sent us a URL of such a company. Click here to learn about Colombian women, language, cultural, religious differences, money, marriage, dating, etc. The information is well presented, and very interesting!


Q “Your web site has very few Listings for particular apartments, houses, land, etc. Why don’t you show more Listings?

A In Latin American countries, the people, including most real estate companies, do not understand the advantages (for everybody involved) of using Agency Listing Contracts, and so they are not in current use. Here, a Listing is not a legal Contract, but only a listing of information that is generally available thru other real estate companies, or huckster “salesmen” working off the street. The “Listings” used in most Latino countries have no legal basis, and in most cases are nothing more than a contact source of misunderstanding, price increases, “side deals”, and frustration for both Sellers and Buyers. My goal at Paul Juan Realty, is to help make your Cartagena Buying experience both fun, and profitable, with NO surprises!

NOTE: From Paul: Legal Agency Listing Contracts help establish and maintain professionalism in real estate. They encourage real estate companies to work together for the benefit of both Buyers and Sellers. They reduce the time that a property is “For Sale”, thus improving the economy. They help establish Buyer and Seller honesty, in pricing and sales information. They legally obligate the Seller’s Agent to spend money and time in properly promoting the property. They add value to real estate, causing a uniform and responsible increase in prices and commissions which keeps pace with, and sometimes, when the demand is great, outstrips inflation. When it is time to sell, Sellers can make more money from the orderly appreciation of their investment. Latinos do not understand this practice of Listings, and for Buyer’s this ignorance is GREAT NEWS, and just another reason, in addition to the low wages, why real estate prices are CHEAP.


LINK TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

Q “Why does your web site (which is full of neat informative), have so many photographs of Apartments?

A In Cartagena, apartments are very popular, especially among foreign buyers. They can be found in all price ranges and locations. For most investors and buyers who want to live here, Cartagena apartments offer many advantages. One of the first questions asked in an E-Mail is: “Can you send me a photo of the apartment building and some photos of the interior of the apartment?” We feature photographs of the apartment buildings to create interest, save Buyers time and reduce frustration. Most Buyers are quickly turned ON, or OFF by their first impression of the EXTERIOR of an apartment building, or a home. We have been in beautiful apartments that were within non-appealing buildings. In the real estate business, this first impression is called: “curb appeal”. Most Buyer’s will insist on good curb appeal, for they know that when it comes to sell, they will get more money, and the sale will take place in less time!

NOTE: To help you narrow your search, please spend a little time on my web site, and:

1. Do your best to determine the area of your interest.

2. Check out the photos of the apartment buildings or residences, etc., that relate to your area(s) of interest.

Note: Photos of some of the very tall apartments may appear to be distorted. The buildings are ok, it is the software stitching process where we link perhaps 3 or 4 photos together to form a single photograph, that causes the distortion. Sorry.

3. When you have selected some choices that appeal to you, send me an E-Mail, and we will take it from there.

Paul Juan Realty uses contacts working or living in many Cartagena apartments and neighborhoods. We pay these people a small referral fee when we close on a property they helped us locate. Because we pay, (always in full, and within 24 hours of the closing), these contacts are a quick, and mostly reliable source, as to what is currently available.

If you select an apartment where we do not have current up-to-date information, I will personally visit the apartments, meet with the administrators, knock on doors, and get you good reliable information, including photos and prices. We will e-mail you this information, usually within 24 hours. When you are satisfied that we have found you some good properties to personally inspect, its time for you to take an “investment” vacation to Cartagena. Check with your tax advisor for easy steps you must take to legally save on your taxes while you inspect potential investment properties, AND enjoy yourselves while you are in beautiful Cartagena, on the Caribbean.


Q “Exactly what information do you need in order to find just what we are looking for?”

A FIRST, please review my web site. To quickly locate various topics or find answers to most of your questions use: Google: “SEARCH THIS SITE”, which is located here:


Search this site Search the www

or it can be found on the first page of my web site.

When you send me an e-mail, please try to tell me, what AREA, and what TYPE of property (commercial, farm, house, apartment, etc.) you are looking for. DESCRIBE the property-how many bedrooms, baths, or if it’s a farm, how many acres and what is the use- cattle, crops, etc., etc. AND tell me the PRICE RANGE of you budget. I do not set asking prices, the buyer do, so please be honest with me regarding your budget. A lot of time, (yours, and ours), is wasted if we are looking for property which is outside of your price range. We work equally hard to help Buyers find properties that are LOW COST, or HIGH COST-to us, it makes little difference! We know from experience, that a satisfied client is our absolute best advertisement. True, our commission is based on selling price, but first, we work for CUSTOMER SATISFACTION. Only then, do we feel that we have earned our commission.


Q “Our retirement pension is in dollars. How will we get Pesos for our day-to-day living expenses in Cartagena?”

A Each month, your “back home” bank will automatically transfer whatever amount you designate for direct deposit into your Cartagena savings account where it is exchanged into Pesos. From there it is just as easy to get quick access to your funds. The most convenient way is to get a debit card against your Cartagena bank savings account. There are hundreds of 24 hour automatic teller machines all over Cartagena. These machines are located in many large stores as well. The maximum amount you can withdraw from machines located within stores is Pesos 500,000. PER DAY, and machines located in small air conditioned booths on the street: 300,000 Pesos PER DAY. Note: 500,000 Pesos (about $170.u.s.) is about 25% more than the monthly legal minimum wage in Colombia-here, that’s a lot of money! The screens and instructions of most teller machines are both in Spanish and English. They are fast, easy to use, and of course, provide you with a printed receipt of the transaction. Typically, a transaction fee of 1,000 Pesos (less than 40 cents u.s.) per transaction will be deducted from your monthly bank statement. Some banks offer on-line banking. There is no charge to check your balance when you use these machines. When you make a personal deposit at the bank, or the bank receives a direct deposit from your “home” bank, the amount is immediately posted and available from the machines. Monthly Statements are hand delivered to your Cartagena residence. Clients in the process of obtaining a residence, can use my mailing address, where their statements will be signed for, and held for your return.

About money changers who work in the street. Unless your eyes are faster than their lightening quick hands, stay away. And even if the transaction is nice and slow, the money they give you may not be the real stuff. Our best advice-stay away! When changing money, deal only with Cambio tiendas (change stores=changing Dollars for Pesos) where you can go in off the street to change your money. Check the exchange prices with two or three, Casas De Cambio, to find the best exchange rate. Banks will change your money, but it is slow for you, and government reporting is a hassle for them, so many will suggest that you use the Cambio tiendas. BUT, when you use banks to receive large transactions, and you will get exchange rates that are much better than the Cambio tiendas. E-Mail me with the amount you are thinking of transferring, and I will check for the best bank rates currently available.


Q “Give us some actual examples of what things cost in Cartagena?”

A The biggest factor in determining why prices for certain goods are what they are, is the country of origin. Taxes on imported goods are 15%. Plus there is a xx tax on retail sales. If goods are bought “off the books”, or from street vendors, you may save the sales tax but, you will not receive a legal receipt. In many cases when trying to save on taxes, a warrantee will be honored, but not always, so try to deal with reliable merchants. In Colombia, a foreigner is treated as a guest. In general, you are treated by the government more favorably than the treatment received by a Colombian citizen! Do not take advantage of your status. It’s always best to pay all taxes due, and to obey all laws.

The following prices converted to u.s. dollars at the average Casa De Cambio price of 2,600Pesos=$1u.s., were for August 2003 and are prices we gathered from the largest food/department store chain in Cartagena. Other stores may be less and buying vegetables, fruits, fish, etc. from the street vendors is least expensive, and usually a good value. Whenever possible, internationally distributed brands are used for this comparison. Buying local Colombia brands can save you 20% or more. Vitamins, cosmetics, peanut butter, batteries, are expensive. Eye glasses, prescriptions, elective dental and medical procedures are considered to be high quality and are priced about 60% less than u.s. Many Latinos residing in the U.S. routinely visit Cartagena to vacation and save on their medical related needs.

Bulk dry milk, sugar, rice, flour, local vegetables and fruits, etc. are available at low prices. Leather Shoes, leather accessories, clothing, fabric yard goods, building tiles, steel, cement, appliances, medicines, gold, emeralds, and thousands of other Colombian produced or manufactured items, are offered at prices which are typically 20-40% less than in the u.s.

CONVERSION INFO:

1 sq m [m2]
10,000 cm2
1.1960 yd2
1 litre [l]
1 dm3
1.76 pt
1 fluid ounce [fl oz]
28.413 ml
1 fluid ounce
1.0408 UK fl oz
29.574 ml
1 gram [g]
1,000 mg
0.0353 oz
1 kilogram [kg]
1,000 g
2.2046 lb
imperial ->
metric
1 ounce [oz]
437.5 grain
28.35 g
1 pound [lb]
16 oz
0.4536 kg

Fancy birthday cake-round 2 layer 18,000P ($8.00)
12 roll pack of good quality toilet paper 13,000P ($5.75 or .48/roll)
Large loaf of white bread 2,650P ($1.00)
Loaf of whole wheat bread 2,050P ($.90)
Coke or Pepsi 2.5 lt. Plastic bottle 2,500P ($.96)
CD’s-music knock offs sold in the street (5,000P) ($1.90)
Gillette 2.8 oz. (79 gm) deodorant stick 8,850P ($3.90)
Lux hand soap 3 bars 4,700P ($1.80 or .60/bar)
Colgate Toothpaste 152 gm ($1.26)
Gillette Foamy shaving cream 14.78 oz 9,960P ($3.80)
Purina Dog Food 4 Kg 9,900P ($3.80)
Milk 1 lt. 1,000P ($.40)
Ice Cream 1 lt. 7,100P ($2.75)
Margarine 500 gm 3,300 ($1.25)
Butter 100 gm 880P ($.40)
Yogurt 1 lt. Pkg. 2,500P ($.96)
Country Hill Orange Juice 2,000 cu cm. 8,000P ($3.50)
Clorox 1 gal 5,700P ($2.20)
Laundry soap powder 1,000 gm 4,220P ($1.90)
Broom plastic bristles 4,700P Mop 4,500P ($1.75)
Lunch meat-chicken 575 gm 3,350P ($1.50)
Chicken breasts fzn. skinless 755kg 5000P ($2.20)
Chicken legs fzn. 6,800kg 4,420P ($1.95)
Chicken fzn. whole per kg 1,948P ($.85)
Chicken nuggets fzn. 48 count 17,550P ($7.75)
French Fries fzn. 1000g 4,260P ($1.95)
Fish-Pargo Fillets 500 g 7,820P ($3.50)
Bottled water 5 ltr. plastic jug 1,900P ($.75)
Ruffles potato chips 12 pks 6,050P ($2.90)
California Pear Juice 1 ltr 2,550P ($1.10)
Gato Negro-Chile wine .75 ltr. 17,700P ($7.85)
Marlboro cigarettes ctn. of 10 pks. 26,000P ($10.00)
Nabisco crackers 9 dbl pks. of 3 ea 1,650P ($.65)
Oreo cookies 12 pks. of 4 ea 3,050P ($1.20 or 2.5 cents ea.)
Royal jello 800P ($.30)
Kellogg’s corn flakes 500g 5,400P ($2.10)
Nescafe instant coffee 17 oz 6,350P ($2.45)
Eggs doz. 3,130P ($1.20)
Soup pkg 1,100P ($.42)
Sugar 2.5Kg 3,800P ($1.45)
Rice 3 Kilos 4,630P ($1.80)
Vegetable cooking oil 3000cc 10,200P ($2.90)
Garbanzo beans pkg. 1,580P ($.60)
Pasta 500 gm 1,300P ($.50)
Hellmann’s Ketchup 1000 gm 4,900P ($1.90)
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise 230 Gm 2,200P ($.85)
Platinos per kilo 1000P ($.40)
Potatoes per kilo 1,180P ($.45)
Pineapple ea. 2,200P ($.85)
Window 12,000 b.t.u. A/C LG Brand 989,900P ($380.)
Refrig/freezer frostless 13 cu ft. LG 949,000P ($365.)
Whirlpool clothes washer 20# 899,000P ($345.)
Samsung clothes washer 14# 539,900P ($208.)
4 burner stove/oven gas 440,900P ($173.)
1.1 cu ft. Whirlpool microwave oven 229,900P ($88.)
TV color Sony 25” 999,900P ($385.)
TV color Panasonic 14” 389,900P ($150.)

THE COST OF LABOR IS CHEAP

Note: as in every country, when you are shopping for personal services, especially those which are expensive, FIRST, GET YOUR ESTIMATE IN WRITEING, before you have anything done.

MAIDS
A live-in maid/cook where you provide her a room and food, or a 40 hour per week day maid, where you provide lunch, or the popular one day week maid to do the laundry, clean the windows and a general cleaning will cost about 15-20% of the average cost in the U.S.

PERSONAL ASSISTANTS
Trusted people to make or withdraw money from the bank, make utility payments, go shopping, deliver things, etc. etc. etc. are readily available at modest prices depending on travel (bus fees, taxi fees) and time required.

MECHANICS, CARPENTERS, ETC.
The government has schools to train people in the various crafts and trades, and the quality of workmanship from graduates is good to very high… and the costs for their service is very little… sometimes only 15-20% of what you would have to pay back home.

PROFESSIONALS
Doctors, Dentists, Attorneys, Accountants fee charges are typically 60 to 65% LESS than you would pay back home. Many prices are regulated by the government. Ask to see a Price List for services. For Home Pages of Cartagena Professionals click here.


Q “What are the various real estate commission rates and how do they compare with the U.S.?”

A In both countries, commission rates are: suggested, and negotiable depending on the amount of the sale. Expensive properties are commonly negotiated for, at lower commission rates.

In Colombia, most residential properties are sold with a total commission of 3%, or about one half the commission rate the States. When an Agent for the Buyer, works with an Agent for the Seller, the total commission of 3% of the amount of the sale, is normally split 50-50. Commissions for selling farms, land, and commercial property are equally low compared to real estate commissions in the states which typically are:

6% for re-sales- houses, apartments or condos
5% for new houses, apartments or condos
10% for commercial, farm, lots, or industrial properties


Q “What kinds of Agency Agreements does Paul Juan work with?

A Paul Juan Realty is flexible. If there are no objections from the Seller, Paul will work with Buyers who are more comfortable in using one of the following Agreements of Agency:

1. Buyer’s Broker Agreement
Forward a non-refundable retainer of $200. u.s. If you make a purchase, this retainer is credited in full, toward the commission paid by you, the Buyer. I will search for what you want, and negotiate the very best terms and price, for you, the Buyer. The Buyer pays the entire commission, and I use this fact as an incentive to help get the lowest price from the Seller. I accept no fees or commissions from the Seller. I owe both Buyer and Seller complete honesty, but my loyalty remains with the Buyer. The term of the Agreement is for 90 days, during which time I will keep you fully appraised via E-Mail and photographs as to what I am finding that meets your needs. I reserve the right not to accept a Buyer’s Broker Agreement and retainer, if I feel that I cannot find, or meet the Buyers requirements. The amount of the retainer is non negotiable. When I enter into this type of Agreement, I know that the Buyer is serious and will not waste my time, and the Buyer is protected because the retainer is credited 100% toward the commission.

2. Intermediary between both Buyer and Seller
Paul Juan will also act as an Intermediary. My job is to locate properties which the Buyer may have an interest and to negotiate a price that is approved by both Buyer and Seller who split the commission 50-50. My obligation to both parties is to establish any facts which may effect the value of the property, and to make both parties aware of my findings. To encourage both the Buyer and Seller to make and accept reasonable offers which are to the benefit of both parties. I owe both Buyer and Seller complete disclosure and honesty, and I will show no favoritism to either party. NOTE FROM PAUL: Personally, I prefer this type of agency!

3. Seller pays total commission
I owe both Buyer and Seller complete honesty and will do my best to find what the Buyer is looking for. My commission is being paid by the Seller, or an Agent of the Seller, and therefore I will do my best to get the best price for the Seller.

Paul Juan will work with efficiency under any type of recognized agency which is agreeable to all parties. When Paul Juan Realty introduces Buyer and Seller, and a sale results between the two parties, we are legally entitled to receive the agreed upon commission, due at time of closing. If Buyer and or Seller choose to deal together to evade the commission due, Paul Juan Realty will, without exception, will engage our corporate lawyer to either block or delay the sale, in order to collect the commission due.


Q “You use the words honest, and honesty, many times on your web site. My husband is Latino and he has a more liberal definition of many such words than I, a third generation South Carolinian.

A A good and tough question. Having lived in both the states and in Cartagena for long periods of my life, I agree with you 100%. Cultural differences do exist, and it is important that they be understood and properly dealt with, especially in business transactions.

Here is an example of completing a sale while remaining “honest”. Some of the more exclusive neighborhoods in Colombia cherish the family history and image of their residents and neighborhood. Some sellers from these neighborhoods will try to make it a point to meet the Seller and pass judgment. If the proposed Buyers are acceptabel, the Sellers can inform the neighbors, so all can feel comfortable with their new neighbor. If there is a personality conflict, which is not uncommon, the sale may not take place. Here is where my personal assurance of the Buyers character, honesty, and lack of any bad habits can let the sale proceed unhindered.

The mention of, or the introduction of foreign Buyers (especially “American’s”) into preliminary discussions will usually result in an upward adjustment in the asking price. When representing Buyers, I do so without divulging personal details such as where they are from, details which could end up costing the Buyers more money than necessary.

Granted, neighborhood snobbishness exists in one form or another, all over the world, but I feel that it should not result in an economic penalty when doing business.

Many feel that there is actually more privacy in living in an apartment than in a neighborhood. Perhaps this is a reason why very few apartment Sellers will insist on passing judgment over Buyers before the deal is consumated.


Q “Our neighbors daughter recently married and honeymooned inCartagena. everybody had a great time, and their always talking about the good food and restaurants. Can you recommend your favorites?”

A We brag a lot about our Cartagena restaurants, and eating out two or three times a week is a popular gastronomic pastime for many Cartagena families. With so many types of food, and so many favorite restaurants to choose from I know better than to make personal recommendations.

My best advice, visit: www.cartagenarestaurants.com. This popular web site features Home Pages of many of Cartagena’s favorite restaurants, plus it offers many Colombia and Cartagena recipes! What is unique about this Dinning Portal is that most restaurants present complete scanned Menu’s, from the front to the back cover! Many are in English as well as Spanish, and of course all have current prices. If you want to see CHEAP prices check out this portal! Bon Appetite!


Q “Colombia has a negative reputation for kidnappings, killings, and guerrilla activities. How has Cartagena escaped these problems?”

A This question has a direct bearing on the current cheap prices of real estate. President Alvaro Uribe Velez, of Colombia is making measurable progress toward restoring peace to all of Colombia. His support among the Colombian people is the highest in South America-greater than 75%! He is intelligent and hard working, routinely putting in 15 hour days, 7 days a week. He expects the same dedication from all of those who serve the people of Colombia. He is honest, and recognized as: a good person who represents the hope of the people for lasting peace and prosperity. Many economists believe that when peace is restored, Colombia’s economy will take off like a rocket, and real estate prices, in general, will double or triple in value, within two years. Select property, of course should increase even more!

Some say that Cartagena has escaped these problems: “by the Grace of God”. We give thanks for His Grace, but we know that there are other reasons too.

First- is GEOGRAPHY. Colombia is a very large country-the size of Texas and California combined! The problems have centered far to the South of the Caribbean coast and Cartagena. Geography was also the reason for the founding of Cartagena, nearly 500 years ago. The City is geographically easy to protect, being nearly surrounded by water. The three access roads into the City are heavily guarded and patrolled. The Colombia Navy is headquartered in Cartagena and routinely patrols the waters. Our International Airport also serves as a point of defense for the Colombia Naval Aviation Forces. Additionally, the Colombia Drug Interdiction Command, with the financial, logistics, and communications assistance of the U.S. Government D.E.A. is head quartered in our Port City of Cartagena. Personal security is a top priority for all of these agencies, permitting visitors and the people of Cartagena to live and enjoy Cartagena in peace. Note: Many believe that personal acts of aggression against foreigners and tourists is less in Cartagena than in many cities in the U.S.?

Second- is ECONOMICS. It is impossible to prove, but often said, that one third of the finest apartments and large residence mansions in the City are owned by families whose source of immense wealth is questionable. These investments are valued at hundreds of millions of u.s. dollars. These investments would sharply decline overnight, if there were problems of personal safety in Cartagena Many of these luxurious “digs” also serve as personal residences, and residences for their extended families. Cartagena, for many reasons, is also the favorite City for the Rich and Famous-not only from Colombia but from other countries throughout the world.

Cartagena is a world class city that is favored by the “mafia”, the Rich and Famous, and of course the politicians. The families of these diverse groups come to Cartagena to enjoy the history and romance of this great city, the beaches, islands, diving, gambling, shopping, food, etc. etc. Many of these families socially inter mingle, and are friends, with enough discretion not to ask personal questions, but to enjoy the City, and the fun and good times of each others company.

Whenever Colombia is the location for an international meeting involving foreign politicians, business leaders, entertainers, the Rich and Famous, and other VIP’s, Cartagena is the place. Our International Airport (CTG) is only 12 minutes from the city and routinely hosts private jets from distant countries. President Clinton has not visited the Colombia Capital, Bogotá, but he has made repeated trips to Cartagena, and is rumored to be looking for a residence here? Note from Paul Juan: “if this is true, I invite the former President, or his associate, to contact me

Cartagena has a Colonial history of Spanish and Pirate violence and mayhem (Cartagena is home to The Palace of The Inquisition!) that was unprecedented in the Western Hemisphere. Down through the generations, Cartagena’s battles and hero’s have been studied and re- enacted in the History classes of our children. Is it possible that the people of Cartagena have learned from our past? Perhaps we are unique, and truly value, and appreciate living in peace and tranquility? It is said: “even the dogs don’t bark, in Cartagena!”

Third- is our HISTORY. All Colombian’s respect and are proud of the history of “their Cartagena”. The hero of Grand Colombia, an area which included what is now the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama, was Simon Bolivar. Like George Washington, he is thought of as the Father of these countries. After his soldiers successful struggles to liberate Grand Colombia from Spanish colonial rule, he said (loosely translated): Caracas gave me life, but Cartagena gave me glory.

Cartagena, with all of her riches, was the first city that Bolivar liberated from Spain. In each of the Grand Colombia countries which has a park, it is named: Plaza Bolivar. There is even a statue of Bolivar atop his horse, just across the border from Mexico, in the United States!


Q “I’m a Colombian, working as a real estate agent in Miami. I have referred your web site to both Colombians and Americans. My Broker is not interested in trying to hassle with Referral Fees from down south. He says: the commissions are so low, it’s not worth the hassle of trying to collect the small fees. It might not be much, but I could use the referral money.”

A Your Broker is right, the commissions here in Colombia are one half of what is normal in the U.S. and therefore we can only pay one half of the normal Referral Fee, or, 0.5% of the total sales price when both Buyer and Seller are brought together by Paul Juan. But a small fee is better than no fee and your Broker (and you) should be receiving some compensation for your time when your recommendations to Paul Juan Realty result in a sale.

Getting Referral Fee’s from “down south” real estate companies can be a hassle, but with us, it’s easy. My company, Paul Juan Realty, is affiliated with: Waterfront Realty, Inc. a Florida registered company. Waterfront will mail a company check for the referral, to your Broker, in the name of your real estate company, within 24 hours of the closing. I Paul Juan, Guarantee it! The next time you have a prospect for Cartagena realty, register your clients name with me by E-Mail, along with the name of your Real Estate Company, the company’s license number, your name, and your license number. I will keep you informed as to the progress we are making. Next time you are in Cartagena, stop in for a cold Agula, and good luck in your selling career! Thanks for your E-Mail.


Q “Last year our family vacationed in Cartagena, and we really enjoyed it. While there, we looked at some apartments. Our plan is to buy now, while the prices are low, to rent it out, and when we retire, to live in it. In our search, we became confused, frustrated, and wasted a lot of time before we had to return home. I have learned a lot from your web site, and we want you to help find…”

A Thanks for your E-Mail. Below are some photographs and information, including asking prices, on apartments that may interest you.

Sounds like you have a good plan in place! Your comments about confusion and frustration are common. This is the major reason that the Paul Juan Realty Home Page has so many buying tips and current information-to reduce the confusion and frustration to as near zero, as possible.

Cartagena is a Buyer's Market, and there are many reasons why prices are CHEAP. One reason relates to the way real estate is sold in Cartagena. In your E-Mail, you mentioned seeing the signs of 4 or 5 different real estate companies in the windows of a single apartment. When you called these companies, you were told different “facts”, about the same apartment! Additionally, you also mentioned that you let it be known that you were looking for an apartment, and as you said: everybody on the street seemed to know-instantly! The economy is bad, real estate prices are depressed, and now is the time to buy. A bad economy causes everybody in the city to want to help you find an apartment. The result, of course, is confusion.

There are many good real estate companies here in Cartagena. Most of them have a Home Page on the Internet. When buying something as important as Real Estate, it is always best to deal with a professional. When dealing with a professional, Colombia Laws exist to protect both Buyers and Sellers from fraud, deception and dishonesty. Find a real estate person that really speaks, and understands, your language. This is especially important when large amounts of money are involved, such as with the purchase of realty.

Another possible reason for your confusion and frustration was the fact that you and your wife are “Americans”. Mention the single word: “Americans” and the natural tendency, especially in a poor economy, is to think: MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

To receive fair prices you need representation that will NOT divulge that you are a foreigner, until a price, or the entire deal, is firmly established. This is a major reason why we take the effort to E-mail Buyers photographs of apartments they may be interested in. It gives Buyers more information on which to make good decisions. It helps us protect the Buyers by nailing down prices. When buyers visit Cartagena, to inspect the properties we have found, there are no surprises!


Q “Can a foreign person legally buy property in Cartagena?

A Of course, but to comply with the Law, there is one additional step that may be necessary? With the increase of the drug and money laundering problems, the U.S. government has encouraged other governments to use certifiable identification whenever large money transactions, such as buying or selling real estate, occur. A foreign government cannot certify identification documents issued by another country. For example: Colombia can accept or reject your U.S. Passport, but they cannot certify it as authentic. This certified proof of identity law helps catch some “bad guys”, but it also adds an additional step to the closing process of real estate.

Unless you have Colombian issued identity, such as a Cedula, which is a Colombian government of Colombia photo I.D. issued by the Foreign Department of D.A.S., (with an office here in Cartagena) the method of recording titles for foreigners, is as follows:

1. The Buyer(s) give Power of Attorney to your Colombia Attorney, Paul Juan, or others you trust, who have proof of certifiable Colombian identification, to sign for you as buyer(s) of the property. This is done in front of, and at an Office of the Notary. The Power of Attorney will state that you, describing you by Name(s) and Passport Number(s), are the actual buyer(s) of the property. This extra step puts you in full compliance with the law. It only takes a few minutes to accomplish, and adds a couple of dollars to the cost of your transaction.

2. As is usual, a copy of the Title, with your name(s) as the new owner(s) will be available from the Recorders Office in ten working days.

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E-Mail: paul@cartagenarealty.com. Phone Call Reception: Mon Thru Friday 9:30am - 1:00pm and 2:00pm - 6:00pm. Saturday 9:30am - 1:00 pm.
Office: Bocagrande, Cra. 1 Calle 13 Edificio Cartagena de Indias - Local 1. Tel.: (57 5) 665 0515. Celular: (57) 311 660 2756. Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

© Paul Juan Realty, and/or its clients. All rights reserved. All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.