Searching for the perfect property in Cartagena is an exciting journey, whether looking for a vacation home, investment property, or permanent residence. When you are new to property-buying in Cartagena, the search tools available to you will differ from what you may be accustomed to which can pose a problem for unsuspecting buyers. Learn how to avoid these common pitfalls when looking for investment property in Cartagena.
To begin, let's understand the issues with property searches in Cartagena before we learn how to get around them.
No Central MLS
In most of the Western world, real estate works within a centralized list of all available properties. An MLS or Multiple Listing Service compiles all information about properties for sale and makes it available to potential buyers. Unfortunately, Cartagena does not use a centralized MLS system. Individual realty offices or inmobiliarias list their own properties, and agencies fail to cooperate when connecting buyers and sellers. This lack of centralization forces a buyer to contact multiple inmobiliarias to find available properties, making it time-consuming and tedious. Moreover, the lack of a standardized and transparent valuation system means it's common practice for realtors to list the same property at different prices and as a result, buyers often find themselves navigating a complex landscape where determining the genuine value of a property can become a difficult task.
Outdated Listing Web Search Engines
If you do a quick Google search for real estate in Cartagena, you might come across a few sites with listings for sale or rent (metrocuadrado.com, fincaraiz.com.co, properati.com.co, etc.). These sites allow users to post properties and include details such as photos, videos, property information, and price. The problem with these sites in Cartagena is that the data is outdated. It is common to see properties listed for years, even after they become unavailable. Finding a seemingly perfect property only to learn it is not for sale and hasn't been for a while is disheartening. It is a good idea to look through these sites to get familiar with Cartagena's architecture, neighborhoods, and views. However, you have slim chances of finding an available, accurately-priced property with up-to-date contact information on these sites. Do not get your hopes up. To be informed, read our article about the best neighborhoods to buy property in Cartagena.
The Problem with Local Real Estate Agencies
It seems like a no-brainer: you need to find a property, you contact a realtor, right? Well, in Cartagena, this is easier said than done. Most realty companies or inmobiliarias tend to be unhelpful and unresponsive. Their web presence and contact information tend to be inaccurate. Phones go unanswered, and Whatsapp messages are unread for days. If you are lucky enough to encounter one of the few good realtors in Cartagena, remember that they can only help you with the listings they are responsible for (see point 1 above) because of the lack of MLS. In addition, inmobiliarias are highly bureaucratic and thus difficult to work with, even for the locals. They require extensive documentation and are inflexible about extenuating circumstances, as is often needed with foreign investment property sales.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
In the past few years since the pandemic, we've seen a shift in the pace of real estate in Cartagena. Listings come and go very quickly. Competition is fierce, and you have to act fast or lose out. Always consider this challenge because, as a foreigner, it may take longer to get your paperwork, finances, and other requirements in order before you can close a deal.
As you can see, there are a myriad of problems that can dampen your property search. So, what are the best ways to find that dream property and close the deal?
Local Networking and Referrals
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool in finding properties for sale in Cartagena. Connect with locals, expatriates, and other property owners in the city. Attend local events, join online expat communities, and engage in conversations to gather insights on available properties. Often, individuals who have lived in the area for a while can provide valuable information about hidden gems and upcoming opportunities. They are also a great resource for recommending real estate agents with experience working with foreigners.
Hire a Buyer's Agent
If you're new to the city or the real estate process in Cartagena, hiring a buyer's agent can be a wise decision. A real estate concierge that works on your behalf will have accurate, up-to-date information. They can liaise with multiple realty offices to find the right property for you. In addition, they will do their due diligence to ensure a transparent negotiation process with the property seller. They have local knowledge of the system in Cartagena and are boots on the ground working for you. They can help you navigate potential challenges during the buying process. Their expertise can save you time, money, and stress. Learn how to save on taxes when buying investment property in Cartagena.
Owning a property in Cartagena, Colombia, is a dream that many people aspire to fulfill.
Sadly, searching for the right property feels less like a dream and more like a nightmare. Be sure to avoid these property search pitfalls and connect with a real estate concierge that represents your best interest and priorities throughout the buying process. Do not hesitate to contact Double Double; the ex-pat community in Cartagena highly recommends our services because we deliver trusted results.