Naked condos. Yes, I said naked, or “nekkid” if you are a southerner like I am. If I had a balboa (the dollar, not the beer) for every look of total shock I see on North American buyers when they see a developer condo I would be rich!
Why are the North Americans shocked when they see a developer condo in Panama? Because these condos are sold naked. Typically, a developer condo in Panama is sold as a “shell,” meaning no lights, no air conditioners, and no appliances. So it can be surprising when you walk in and there are wires hanging where you would expect to see a light. And what the heck is that big pipe coming out of the wall? It is where the a/c splits are to be installed, silly.
Once you get over the shock of the naked condo, it is time to accept the reality of buying a developer condo vs. buying a resale condo. When you buy a developer condo you need to buy more than just the furniture. Your standard list of things to buy AFTER you close on the property (and AFTER you have the electricity hooked up) looks like this:
(Be sure you know which plugs are 220V and which are 110V.) Is your stove/oven gas or electric? What about the hot water heater – gas or electric?
Most of the condos in Panama are plumbed for A/C splits. I actually love this: you only cool the room you are in, which can save you a boatload of moolah. You can see the big, fat pipe coming from the wall, but don’t forget to find out where the compressor will be installed and the measurements allocated. A few developments do have central A/C.
Lights and Fans
Yep, you need to buy all of these. And the most-often forgotten one on the list: the one in the shower.
Whew, you’ve got all of the above! Now to find someone to install them. Let me be the first to tell you (from my very recent experience of buying a naked condo) that this is a FULL time job, because once you find the installation person you have to hop on the scheduling rollercoaster. This IS Latin America, and mañana does not necessarily mean “tomorrow” — it just means, “not today.”
So take my advice: always have a book, a chair, something to drink, and a sense of humor while you sit in your naked condo waiting for your deliveries and installations. One of my favorite sayings is “laugh or leave” and it really applies to this task. Please don’t get me wrong – I would gladly do it all over again. I love my new condo! But I would like to think I just saved you from the look of utter shock when seeing your first developer condo. You will also avoid the HUGE mistake of making a comment like, “Why would I buy this resale condo when the developer condo is that much cheaper?” which is certain to inspire a “silly gringo” look in your direction.
Oh! The two MUST-ASK questions when buying any condo:
1. Is there a back up generator?
2. What about water reserves?
Of course, you’ll want to elaborate on those by finding out how long the generator can power the development (and whether or not that’s at FULL power), and how many days (or hours…yikes) will the water reserve last.
Congrats! By now, buying a developer condo should be a lot more comfortable for you — at least you’ll know what to expect! Now to get internet and cable hooked up….