Driving through mine fields in Ecuador: Photo fines

“What? I don’t have any fines or tickets.”  I replied to the guy who I sold my car to here in Ecuador this week.

“Yes, you do, you have two open photo fines.(foto multas)” He responded.

He was right, I didn’t even realize it, and usually you don’t in Ecuador until it’s time to pay your annual registration (matricula).

This past year I passed through Ambato twice, and BOTH times they nabbed me taking a picture of my plates.  Once going 52km in a 50km zone, and again going 56km in a 50km zone.

Each ticket $112.

Yet, driving all year around the coast and Quito areas I didn’t get ONE.

I’ve found the Ambato, Ibarra and Loja areas particularly bad, so be extra careful driving around there.

If renting a car usually the rental company will check to see if you got any photo tickets before returning your deposit.

If issued tickets if you were going just a bit over like in my case you can challenge the ticket with a lawyer in the municipality where you got ticketed.  I’m paying $60 per ticket to the lawyer for help, he says takes a few weeks to process.  This process is called IMPUGNAR.  It’s common to pay lawyer once job is DONE.

You can see if the plate you were driving got any tickets nationally at this link… But some municipalities don’t show up on the national system for months after ticket issued so you can also check directly on their websites (here is the Ambato one).  You can see what my tickets look like if you plug in my old plate number (placa) LBB4559.

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How to beat the big boys in Ecuador accepting barter

Like with any small business you put in Ecuador, you’re going to have competitors with DEEP multi-million dollar pockets.In my case for my 19 room hotel near the Quito airport, I compete with the Wyndham an international chain.

So how can a little guy like me or you when against these corporate dicks.

Of course, there’s always charge less than them.

But there’s other creative ways to beat these guys too.

Like what I started to do this week: Offering alternative payment methods.

For instance a month ago on a trip to the States I noticed many younger people in the States like my brother pay for everything with Cash App, a free phone application that connects to your bank account and allows you to make payments to other users quickly and super easy.  I now accept Cash App.

You could also try accepting Bitcoin.  It’s as easy as creating a digital wallet through bitshares exchange or an app like Blockchain.  Search for it on Google Play Store.  Download and you get a digital address people can send Bitcoin too. It has a learning curve but you get the hang of it quickly.  I now accept Bitcoin.

You could also accept barter.  Why should we be forced to always accept fiat money, aka cash?  Why not except goods in exchange for a service.  For instance, I have someone coming from the States bring me something they buy (so they can verify the contents), and on arrival I reimburse what they spent as per their receipt for the item and for the act of bringing it I offer the room free. If they item can net a $100 gain here, I now sold my normally $40 room for $100.  I now accept barter, too.  Email me if you need a room.

The big guys move a lot slower and it may be years before they adopt these alternative payment options that gives you the advantage in the eyes of some customers.

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3 real estate business models that do NOT work in Ecuador

This week I´m checking in from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio on a quick trip back from Ecuador.

And everyone I run into seems to be in real estate.

But it´s a completely different animal than what I´m used to in Ecuador…

…here are three common business models I´m seeing here that would NOT work in Ecuador.

1. Purchase low-income rental properties.  In Cleveland, that means the properties in the inner-city where my family lives selling for around $20-40,000.  In Ecuador, I would not touch this business model with a 10-foot pole.  Low-income rents in Ecuador are really low (like $100-300 a month) and the rental laws just don´t protect homeowners with long, complicated eviction processes for this to be worth the hassle to me.

2. Live-in flip.  Where you buy a fixer-upper property and live in it until you are able to resell it.  Well, when you buy a beat-up property in Ecuador chances are it won´t be livable (if you have an average North American living standard).  I know, I´ve done this one and it was ROUGH.

3. Sell on contract.  This is when you tie up a property in a contract for a period of time usually 15-30 days and then resell the contract (or right to buy the property) for a profit of usually a few thousand dollars to another investor.  This COULD work in Ecuador and something I may try in the near future, but this is usually done in RED-HOT markets like we are seeing in the western USA now.  In Ecuador, properties usually take much longer than a month to sell due to the primarily cash-only market.

So what would I do to make money in Ecuador property? Stay tuned to this newsletter and you´ll find out!

Hasta pronto, if you liked this you’d love my Insider’s newsletter on living and investing in Ecuador,

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Reference: https://craigproctor.com/events/half-day.