From the South Corridor Highway that leads into downtown Panama, the most distinct building in the skyline is the iconic Trump Ocean Club. The curving, 72-story facade, set over the Pacific ocean in Panama’s trendy Punta Pacifica neighborhood has attracted a lot of attention in less than one year of being in operation. Completed during the world-wide financial crisis, the Trump building now enjoys iconic status in Panama and is poised for strong appreciation as the Panama condo market turns the corner and starts to show signs of another climb in prices.
Posting consistent GDP growth over the last 5 years and with unemployment figures at all-time lows, the economy in the Republic of Panama continues to lead Latin America. According to an article in the Financial Times, “Panama is home to the fastest growing economy in the Americas, akin to the Brazilian miracle of the 1970s.” Ongoing infrastructure projects like the underground Metro mass transit imitative and the expansion of the Panama Canal have investors setting their sights on a completely changed landscape two years from now.
The fact that Donald Trump chose Panama to build his first development outside of North America comes as no surprise to those who have followed the success of this small Latin American country, just a 3-hour flight from Miami and the emergent hub of the Americas. It would be safe to say that Panama’s strategic location has always been it’s number one asset.
Battered down by the economic downturn, Panama real estate prices are at four year lows right now, and there are a handful of remaining one, two, and three bedroom condos for sale in the Trump Ocean Club at (or below) opening prices and more importantly, well below what the same units have been selling for on the open market. The fact remains that some select original investors don’t have the funds to close on their properties in Trump, presenting new buyers with the opportunity to get in well below market pricing by taking over existing deposits on unsold units. Investors flocked to the Trump development five years ago, during more promising economic times, but now, talk amongst industry experts is that those investors who are in a position to buy now instead of five years ago are may be in the best position of all.
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The success of the adjoining 400-room hotel and the mixed-use appeal for residents have put Trump on the list as Panama’s TOP all-inclusive residence. Out of town visitors come to dine in one of Trump’s eight restaurants, and commercial tenants are expecting the 2013 high season to be the busiest ever. Residents enjoy an unprecedented level of amenities, including poolside towel service, maid turn down service, and even two full time personal trainers in the 10,000 square foot Ocean Club Gym.
Whenever Trump enters a new market, he becomes the talk of the town, and in the beginning, there were doubts: Could the development be completed? Was there a place for such a high end offering in Panama? Would the hotel be a success? The answer in all three cases is a resounding “yes”. The completed Trump Tower has become an icon in Panama and investors who have been watching the progress are now in the best position to capitalize on the iconic status of the building. Rents in the building are high, sale prices are low, and there is tangible positive momentum now associated with the development.
To see photos, listings, and a full list of the resort-styled amenities that have made the Trump Ocean Club a Panama success story, visit Panama Equity.com.
Kent Davis is founder and head broker for Panama Equity Real Estate, a boutique real estate agency based in Panama City, Panama. Featured in Time Magazine, The Miami Herald, and Capital Financiero, Kent’s agency is known best for its analytical market reports on the Panama real estate market.