Buying amid Antigua’s now-dormant volcanoes is popular with local Guatemalans and foreigners alike.
Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
Antigua was founded in the mid-sixteenth century in the central highlands of Guatemala. The town with its current population of approximately 55,000 people is considered a jewel. Despite volcanic eruptions and multiple earthquakes, Antigua endures as a treasure of preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture and its ruins of colonial churches.
Due to its status as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua has always attracted local and international tourists alike. The town’s tourism infrastructure caters to language institutes as Antigua is one of the most popular and best recognized centers for studying Spanish by students from Europe, Asia and North America.
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Historically, the area was in its history and is currently considered to be one Guatemala’s finest agricultural centers. Antigua is also a coffee-producing region of Anacafe.
Current Housing Demand Driven by Remote Workers
Because Guatemala has no centralized multiple listing service, both locals and foreigners who are interested in buying in Guatemala have to rely on local real estate agents for information.
Glenn Wilson, an agent with Century 21 Antigua Fine Homes, told The New York Times that demand for homes in Antigua picked up in 2021 after being flattened by pandemic lockdowns. That demand has been fueled largely by buyers with the ability to work remotely.
Wilson said the first question potential buyers ask is, “How’s the internet? Is it strong enough for me to work?” And Wilson answers, “And it is.”
Wilson estimates that home prices have increased some +10 – +15% compared to pre-pandemic prices. Wilson indicated that prices are higher in Antigua’s city center and lower of the city’s periphery. A centrally located three-bedroom house might cost anywhere from $300,000 to $600,00, depending upon quality and location.
Another agent, Rolando Leon, the general manager of Nova Antigua Real Estate, said that, due to market uncertainty, Antigua is a buyer’s market with abundant supply with sellers becoming more flexible on prices.
Both Wilson and Leon agreed that most buyers want to spend $500,000 or less.
Who’s Buying in Antigua?
The majority of buyers, some 60%, are local second-home buyers and retirees from other parts of Guatemala. International buyers typically come from the US, followed by Europe (mostly Spain) and then Canada.
Foreigners, mostly cash buyers, are not restricted from buying Guatemalan real estate except for properties next to bodies of water, such as lakes or seas.
Buyers often hire attorneys for fees ranging between $1,000-$2,000 and buyers pay the purchase tax on the property. Purchase tax ranges between 3 – 12% depending on whether or not the property is new or existing and the property’s registration value.
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Because the Guatemalan real estate market is unregulated and agents are not licensed, it’s important that buyers find out how long the agent has been in the business, how many homes they’ve sold at what price points and what their experience is/has been.
Thanks to The New York Times.