As this post appears, Medellin is increasingly moving to the forefront of real estate investment across the whole of Latin America. Between its truly amazing weather, the warm and friendly locals, the strength of the US dollar relative to the Colombian peso, and the low cost of living, Medellin real estate is considered one of the best investments around, and is sure to stay that way for years to come. But if you’re new to Latin America, and interested in purchasing property, you may be a little confused as to how to go about the process. This article will offer you an easy and detailed step-by-step guide to acquiring your first property in beautiful Medellin, Colombia.
First of all, you don’t need to know Spanish, though it may help–quite a bit, at times–with some of the legal and business complexities embedded in the process. One of the first differences you should know is that the realty industry in Colombia isn’t regulated the way it is in most Western countries. Anyone can sell a property if they own it. This means that you have to be extra vigilant when choosing who you deal with. Professional companies with years of experience are always going to be the better choice, compared to a Colombian who just printed up business cards proclaiming himself or herself an “agent.” Professionals are also more likely to speak English, and are more accustomed to foreigners’ wants and needs from a place.
Another thing to note is that Medellin real estate works on “stratos” ranging from one to six. These are different parts of the city, ranked numerically to designate how safe and viable living in the neighborhood is. The parts of Medellin you should be looking to buy property in are the five and six stratos neighborhoods. Although these neighborhoods charge a little more for things like rent and utilities, they tend to be the best and most secure parts of the city in terms of standard of living. If anyone tells you there’s only one part of Medellin to purchase property in, they’re trying to take your money.
There are two ways to actually find the property you’re looking for, which is the fun part. The first is to employ a reputable agent with listings, and the second is to actually go to your desired neighborhoods and look for signs reading “Alquilar.” Just jot down the phone numbers and have someone who speaks Spanish negotiate looking at the place. This process may take some time, of course, but it will be cheaper than going through an agency. There are many things to consider–like proximity to the metro, a good, central location, and the number of bedrooms–but let’s assume, for the continuation of this guide, that you have already found your ideal place and you would like to proceed in purchasing it.
The next step is to set up a Colombian bank account. What used to require just a passport now takes a cedula (a Colombian government ID). To get a cedula, contact a lawyer, or perhaps a private visa company like Gesticol, to get you a cedula and in turn get a Colombian bank account. Having a Colombian bank account immensely simplifies the process of purchasing real estate.
Lastly, the most important tip we can offer in this short guide is to get a great lawyer involved, if you want to ease the majority of pain associated with the process. You want someone who won’t charge a percentage for the place, like an agency would, but who still knows how to traverse the oftentimes tedious changing of hands of the title. Having a lawyer on your side, preferably one who speaks English, ensures that your paperwork is done correctly, smoothly, and in a timely fashion. I don’t suggest attempting this on your own unless you speak fluent Spanish and are prepared to make frequent trips to a “notaria” (the place to legalize documents) and your bank. Don’t get caught up dealing with shady individuals–hire a reputable lawyer instead, and you’ll save yourself a tremendous headache.
One of the best reasons to buy real estate in Medellin is that foreigners are legally protected when buying property, just like locals are. Once the process is finished, the place is yours. Keep your files organized, and do as you wish with the place, whether that be renting it out, renovating it, or living in it is up to you. Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy owning property in one of the best cities in the world.