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Housing in Guatemala
 
 
 

General

Emerging from a 36 year civil war in 1996 in which horrendous human rights abuses were committed, Guatemala’s economy is yet to fully recover. Buyers may find Guatemalan properties cheap, given all the culture and history attached to the country.

Under Guatemalan law, foreigners can acquire, maintain and dispose of real property with very few restrictions. Foreigners cannot own land directly next to rivers, oceans or international borders.

Foreign investors must realise that corruption is a fact of life in Guatemala and be prepared to encounter it at all levels.

Most real estate transactions are quoted and concluded in US dollars.

Prices for apartments in Guatemala City are around US$900 to US$1,200 per sq m; while monthly rents are around $8 to $10.50 per sq m.

Buying a Property

Under Guatemalan law, foreigners can acquire, maintain and dispose of real property with very few restrictions. What foreigners cannot do is own land directly next to rivers, oceans or international borders. Foreign firms developing projects in designated tourism zones are eligible for income tax exemption on revenue from their investment in the country. However, administrative procedures remain a burden to the investor. All firms must register with the Ministry of Economy, formally incorporate there, publish their intent and agree to Guatemalan jurisdiction.

Foreign firms must complete further registration tasks than domestic firms, and thus are subject to too much greater delays in completing the registration process. Foreign investors must realise that corruption is a fact of life in Guatemala and be prepared to encounter it at all levels. Political violence has abated, but crime is high.

The seller obtains a Certificate at the Property Registry in which the buyer can verify that the property doesn’t have any mortgages and to verify that the property is owned by the seller. The buyer needs to know the registry numbers where the property is registered. The seller must obtain from the Municipality of the city where the property is established, the cadastral value of the property. Sometimes, the city where the property is established, does not have a Municipality registry of the property value, so this information has to be solicited in DICABI (Dirección de Catastro y Avalúo de Bienes Inmuebles). The Laywer/Notary prepares the sale agreement and notarizes it by preparing the Public Deed. Lawyer/Notary charges 1% of transaction value. Value Added Tax with the rate of 12% is paid. As soon as the Public Deed is ready, it is delivered to the Real Estate Office for its recording. Lastly, it is important to notify the Municipality and or DICABI of the transaction. This step is important to update the cadastral value of the property for the purpose of tax collection.

The whole process of registering a property can take up to 69 days to complete.

Mortgages from financial institutions are typically impossible to get. If you are able to get one the interest rates will be very high. You may be able to arrange one through the seller. In general plan on paying for all property in cash.


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