Ignorant vs Savvy Buyers in Ecuador. The papers. – Post 4. Property Search Series

guayaquil Guayaquil from above.

OK, so I found a property that peeked my interest.

A 2 bedroom 2 bath one story house that’s supposedly beachfront near Salinas posted for sale online asking $21,000.

Definitely a fixer-upper. Undervalued, I think so.

Today I sat down with the owner in my B&B in Guayaquil.

Like someone who’s done this before I asked her to show me 3 things before I even agree to go see the house… and she did.

1. The Escritura: This is a document registered and legalized by a NOTARY that spells out the recent ownership history of a property, the surroundings and it serves as the legal TITLE or DEED of ownership in Ecuador.

2. The Predios: These are nothing more than the receipts of the annual tax payments to the local Municipal (Municipio) where the property is located proving the property is up to date and properly registered in the Municipal.

3. The Certificate of Registry (Certificado del Registro de Propiedad): This is a ceritificate from the local Property Registrars Office (Registro de la Propiedad) proving the property title has been properly registered.

For all three make sure the Tax ID number of the property matches up (in Ecuador called the NUMERO DE CATASTRO).

Not every purchase is the same in Ecuador, but these are the big three I ask for whenever I find a new property I’m interested in.

They’ll probably supply you with copies.

I’ll then go to the Property Registrar office and order the certificate myself to ensure the property is indeed registered and under the name the seller says it is.

You can then go to the Municipal and get a certificate proving all taxes and debts (Cerificado de no ser deudor) are paid on the property proving their are no leins against it.

Then you could go to the Notary where the current Title (Escritura) has been registered and ask for verification that the “Matrice” as they call it is indeed on file.

Title insurance doesnt really exist in Ecuador, and if it does, it’s expensive, so doing extra diligence like this is always good to prevent headaches.

An ignorant person might assume giving someone money for a property makes them the owner, wrong, in Ecuador these three documents properly registered do.

Should you use a lawyer?

It’s not really necessary, but if you can find one you can trust it couldn’t hurt, but that’s easier said than done!

Now you too are a savvy buyer in Ecuador!

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My Top Ecuador 10 Day Itinerary

banos ecuador           Banos, Ecuador

For a 10 day trip to Ecuador, Id do what I recommended in the 5 day itinerary as seen below first…

First fly into Quito.

Once in Quito see the colonial old town, the best in Ecuador, then go up the teleferico (cable car) which has some spectacular views and a nice hiking trail.

Then be sure to go out partying in EL MARISCAL nightlife district.

After 2 days and 2 nights in Quito head south to Latacunga where you can see Quilotoa and Cotopaxi Volcano. Amazing area. 1 Day Bike tours are available from Quito.

From there continue south to Baños, a neat place to eat well and live cheap for a few days. Adventure sports like rafting, hiking and biking also abound.

After Baños Id head to Puyo 60 km away, which is at the mouth of the Amazon Jungle so at least you can get a small taste of what life is like in that region of Ecuador.

Then back 4 hrs to Quito.


In Quito Id fly to Manta, stay one night in Manta or head straight south 25 minutes along the coast to the kiteboarding haven of Santa Marianita.

After Santa Marianita, Id continue heading south and make quick visits to two of Ecuadors nicest beaches, Puerto Cayo and the National Park Los Frailes.

Near Los Frailes Id stay with the Indigenous community at Aguas Blancas near Puerto Lopez where you can take a small tour and see how coastal Ecuadorians live.

From there Id head to Montanita, the hippest beach in Ecuador, where you can surf all day and party all night. If you like the quiet scene instead opt to stay in nearby Olon, but be sure to eat in Montanita by day (try the Ceviche soup carts).

After Montanita Id go to Ayangue for 1 day and 1 night, the best spot on the coast to scuba.  The beach is in a small cove great for swimming.

And after that Id head to Salinas, a small resort town with a nice beach for swimming and some delicious food.  Then off 2 hrs to Guayaquil where you can fly back to Quito (45 minutes) to catch your flight home.

Be sure to visit me at Murali B/B Airport Guayaquil if you pass by Guayaquil!  Ill show you the ropes!

And for more need-to-know, useful Ecuador info for anyone interested in living or investing in Ecuador try my weekly Insiders newsletter on Ecuador, you can unsubscribe at any time:

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The Hunt Begins. How to Search for Property in Ecuador?: Part 3. Ecuador Property Search Series

search for property in Ecuador

“Get down, get down, he’ll see you!” My Ecuadorian friend gasped…

…as we both sat in a car outside a gas station waiting for the seller of a property in Ecuador I was interested in.

The seller arrived.

And we didn’t want him to see me.

You see, I wanted my local friend to do the initial negotiation for me so the seller didn’t know a foreigner was interested.

Because I’ve seen that the price can and does rise – SOMETIMES – when the locals see a foreigner is interested in their property.

But more precisely, they often get stiffer with the price and won’t be as quick to lower it cause they think the foreigner will buy anyway.

So that’s exactly what my friend did, he went inside the gas station and sat down with the owner to negotiate, while I stayed in the car.

There’s advantages and disadvantages to being a foreigner in Ecuador.

A big advantage I’ve experienced is in the business world, where you get “instant cred” and people listen to you just cause you’re a foreigner… it’s true! It also helps with the opposite sex to look different than the norm.

But a big disadvantage is that the locals think you have money, so at times, not everyone, will try to charge you more for things, and if buying property that could mean thousands.

This happens everywhere in the world to foreigners.

I lasted all of 5 minutes in Spain before I got ripped off paying about double for a taxi ride than I should have.

Luckily its not that bad in Ecuador compared to some countries I’ve been recently, like India, where many (not all) of the locals are ruthless and work together to extort as much as they can from overly-trustful foreign tourists, particularly the Japanese are the easiest to fool (I saw).

But they got me too, bast@rds!

It is what it is. It’s all part of the fun.

You gotta play the game by the rules.

And that’s what I did this week as I started my newest property search on the coast of Ecuador.

I’m looking for a great deal.

Could be a lot, a fixer-upper, we’ll see what I find.

First I hit the local paper El Universo where in the Sunday Classifieds ads for properties on the coast will often get mentioned.

Now I’ve hit the coast.

First I’m identifying where I’d like to buy, then specifically which property.

People amaze me when they say they saw nothing for sale.

Actually everything is available.

You just have to do some investigating to discover the owners.

That’s how it works down here.

And I have noticed “the spread” is getting bigger in that the range of prices people are asking is widening, with some asking ridiculously high prices, while others ask the same prices as years ago making this a good time to buy and sell in Ecuador!

But this won’t last forever, the window is closing. In nearby Colombia, Brazil and Argentina the prices are already high.

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The Hidden Tax that Nabs Expats in Ecuador – Part 2: Ecuador Property Search Series

exit tax ecuador

“There’s like no taxes here.” One friend who’s a foreigner and business owner here in Ecuador told me.

“I know, it’s cool.” I responded.

It’s true, compared to many other countries Ecuador has a very light tax load.

I pay $44 a year property tax on my small 3 bedroom house on the coast.

But there is one tax that exists in Ecuador that doesn’t in the US you should know about in the beginning stages of a property search in Ecuador.

A tax that no one tells you about until its too late.

Ecuador has a “capital exit tax”.

That is, if you try to wire or transfer money out of the country in access of $1000, you will have to pay an unavoidable 5% instant exit tax (as of early 2012) on the money in addition to the normal transfer fees usually occured when transferring money abroad.

Western Union charges it.

So do ALL the banks.


Unless you want to carry the money out in the plane with you in cash, but there are limits of usually around $10k when entering most countries.

It may not seem like a lot, but when tranferring out $100,000 that’ll cost you $5,000!

At least there’s no extra taxes to bring money into Ecuador. (Just in case you were wondering.)

So, in this second post of this series detailing every step along my new property search in Ecuador, one I started this week in September of 2012, I wanted to get this point clear right from he get go.

Don’t transfer money in until you’ve found the property you want to buy and you make it to the final stages of the purchase!

Bringing it in, then quickly taking it out could be very costly.

And I doubt anyone has mentioned this, especially if they’re trying to sell you something.

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Park your Loot at 10% in Ecuador / Negotiating with Cooperativas – Part 1: Ecuador Property Search Series

cooperativa guayaquil

“So what percentage interest did you want?” She asked.

“Well, for me to deposit money with you in a CD, I’d need 10%.” I said to the bank rep in Ecuador.

“But for the smaller amount you’d like to deposit we only offer 8% (annual interest).” She responded.

Then continued.

“Well, OK, OK, we can offer 9%.” She added.

“And I can only deposit it fixed for a month, in other words, I need to go month-to-month. It can rollover into the next month if I don’t need it.” I said.

That’s what the conversation was like this week as I negotiated my interest terms with a “Coopera” where I do business here in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Cooperas are like credit unions back in the States.

Not quite banks, but they offer better interest rates than the normal banks.

And foreigners can open an account there with just a passport whereas the normal banks in Ecuador often ask for proof of residency and other tedious requirements.

For amounts over $20k you can usually get around 10-11% annual return.

For amounts less than that usually about 8-10% APR.

But whatever rate they quote you, its highly negotiable.

Don’t be afraid to walk out.

They’ll probably call you.

But are they safe?

Just choose a reputable one with a proven track record.

I like Coopera Ltda as they offer good rates, have 12 yrs of experience and have offices in Guayaquil and Cuenca.

But remember you money is not insured nor regulated as it is in normal banks or even like credit unions in the US!

A great first step to any property search in Ecuador is to open an account and deposit your money (probably just sitting around doing nothing) on a fixed month to month CD deposit so that if you need the capital you can get it, and if you don’t it’s at least producing something.

It also gives you an account in Ecuador where you can transfer money to in case of a property purchase.

This is exactly the stage in my property search where I’m at right now, today is the first of a series of updates you’l get from me detailing EVERY step of the way as I begin a new property search and investment on the coast of Ecuador.

I’ll buy.

Then make a play with it.

Maybe re-sell, maybe not, we’ll see what the situation dictates.

I’ll fill you in on all my mistakes, highs, lows, and successes too.

You’ll have a great ‘birds eye view’.

My budget for this experiment is $30k or less, and basically I’m looking for a good investment on the coast.

Other than that, I’ve got an open mind (like you should too when property hunting in Ecuador).

So, stay tuned, my money is now in the Coopera making 9%, this is going to be good!

And I won’t be emailing once a week, I’ll email the important updates to you as they happen.

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