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Ecuador Real Estate Bad News
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Ecuador Living offers many advantages…but like every place there are some good and bad points. This is true of Ecuador real estate as well.

Please see my reply to an Ecuador Living reader’s question about Ecuador real estate and the Ecuador coast may be helpful to you and your interest in Ecuador.

The Ecuador Living reader wrote:

“Gary where on Ecuador’s coast is this picture.. It was in the Ecuador report…….I’d kind of like something set on a cliff like that … even barren land for now…..


“I appreciate the time you are taking to write these emails… I’ll buy through you when we find something… I also thought about a place in old Quito… the bad part of the city.. if real cheap to fix up and rent out over time….basically I’d like to find a cool spot”

My Reply:

The picture you sent was taken south of Manta, Ecuador.

The good news is that some parts of Ecuador’s beach are wonderful.

The bad news is that some parts are not as good. Also Ecuador has many micro climates so weather patterns change in short distances.

You may be happier a bit north. Just south of Manta may be too cool. Two ocean currents meet there. This conflux creates cloudier weather.

If you like to be on a cliff, here is one place in the good weather pattern where property is for sale now. On our last tour four lots were offered at $12,500. Resales were in the $17,000 range.


From that cliff you can see the point in the far distance where Merri and I bought.
Here is a closer view of the beach where we live.


There is over 30 miles of empty beach to walk here. See more on this at Ecuador Beach Opportunity

Here is some land that was for sale on our last property tour near the picture you asked about.


You do not have to worry about buying through us.

The good news is that we are not real estate brokers.

Our staff are forbidden from accepting commissions on the sale of real estate. They are offered to us often but we feel that accepting them creates a conflict of interest.

The bad news is that this is a real buyer beware market!

There are some great values here…but you have to know what you are doing…the law….the areas….the neighbors.

Brokers represent the seller. Sellers represent themselves and there are no laws protecting you like in the US. The legal system is so slow that even if there were a law, you probably would not want to use it.

This is why we serve our readers with information and and contacts and are supported entirely on our subscription, course, tour and service fees. We have no agenda to get you to buy real estate! But we have big incentives to find real estate to show you!

Our goal is to help you gain a comprehensive view of the Ecuador real estate market in the most efficient way.

We help in several ways.

First, we have been buying real estate in Ecuador for over a decade and have developed contacts you can trust. Attorneys, accountants, doctors, dentists, etc. The same ones we use. We pass these on to our subscribers.

Next, we regularly scan the newspapers looking for real estate for sale. This is often where the best buys come in, buried deep in tiny ads. When we see something that we believe would be of interest to our readers, we take a look and write about it. The other powerful way we find offerings is because word has gotten out over the years that we don’t accept commissions…so people are looking for us to write and/or show their property.

This flow of information can be invaluable.

More bad news is that the Ecuador real estate market is pretty disorganized. This creates bargains but also requires time to learn what’s going on and to search and buy the bargains. A great deal of property is sold by word of mouth.

Real estate in Ecuador represents wealth. This is a country that has a history of regular currency devaluations. For example, when Merri and I arrived in Ecuador the currency was then, the sucre, and 3,000 sucre bought one US dollar. Within a few years it took 25,000 sucres to buy a dollar!

This was the last in a long string of failing Ecuadorian currencies…so no one trusts money in the bank. Ecuadorians buy real estate instead. Ecuador took the US dollar as its currency in 2000 but centuries of attitude do not change in just a few years. Real estate remains the standard of wealth in Ecuador.

This means that if an Ecuadorian is offering to sell property it is usually for one of three reasons:

#1: The seller has to have the cash.

#2: The seller has put a high markup on the property.

#3: The seller is selling an inheritance that cannot be held.

Once a man told me he had purchased an entire mountain for $10,000. “How?”, I asked. ” Well,” he said, “I met a man who owned a mountain and had to have $10,000 in a hurry.”

On the other hand, I know a hotel owner that has a small 14 room hotel in a beautiful setting. His business barely grosses $1,000 a month. Yet for years he has offered it for sale at $1 million. The price is so out of range it is laughable and yet I know he turned one exceedingly good offer for $400,000, which was probably still too high a price to pay.

This is why, at times, you will see two identical properties for sale right next to one another at vastly different prices.

We continually are looking for properties which the owners have to sell so we can write about them and show them during our real estate tours. We put interested subscribers directly in touch with the seller.

We are not brokers. We are not selling real estate. Our job is to find property for sale and let our readers know about it.

Because we do not accept commissions and because our readers have purchased millions of dollars of real estate that we have written about over the past 13 years we have developed a bit of a reputation.

Sellers seek us out and often offer a lower price to our readers because they know they will not have to offer a commission to us.

A perfect example, is the 150 acre property with house and workers house for $50,000 shown at

Cotacachi Acreage For Sale

This house falls into the “needs to sell” category as it is owned by a Scot who is moving from Ecuador to Argentina. No broker has this property.

Sometimes we find great bargains for our readers.

However this is not always the case. At times sellers raise the price on property they show us because they think gringos are foolish and rich.

Sometimes the seller forgets important information. For example, Merri and I just bought a very nice four story office building. The owner forgot to mention that there was a mortgage. Our attorney (the same one we would introduce you to) spotted this at closing. Otherwise I would have handed over my money and not been able to take title!

This leads to our group real estate tours, both in the mountains and the sea.

This is a wonderful and most efficient way to learn about Ecuador’s real estate market. These tours are a lot of fun and help readers see the maximum number of properties in the shortest period of time. Our expert coastal and Quito tour leader, John Papski, is an Englishman. He has lived on the coast and knows a lot of people there even though he has also lived in Quito for a dozen years. He has maps that show coastal earthquake faults as well as area maps that show cliffs that are shale…which means too risky to build on!

Cheap is not always better but many times properties that are obscure and inexpensive and never advertised don’t have faults.


As mentioned, we continually look for property for sale. Before each tour, we inspect new properties we have found and organize a schedule that takes the following factors into account.

Travel Time
Property sector

Out goals is to help delegates see as much of, as many types of properties, in three days.

These tours offer the following benefits:

You save time. We have reviewed the properties in advance. We have scheduled the most efficient way to travel…from each property to the next that is closest. We have double (and triple) checked that the seller will be at the property! We check again by cell phone even while we are on the tour.

This saves a lot of time because additional bad news is that frequently, Ecuadorian sellers get busy and forget to show up or arrive hours late. One thing that most people love about Ecuador is the easy, laid back, no stress, lifestyle…unless they are on a short visit, tight schedule and the seller does not show.
The seller may have all the time in the world. You, the prospective buyer often has a plane to catch!

Plus with our multi lingual tour guides…you do not get lost!

We seek variety in price and sector so you get a feel of the entire market.

We try to view two or three condos, two or three houses, land, a hacienda or two, a country property…perhaps a farm and maybe a hotel and office building…all for sale. We try to view properties in the $25,000, $75,000, $125,000 and $500,000 range.

You see the right type of property. Each of our property inspectors are either European or Ecuadorian who have lived in the West for years. Yet each inspector has also lived in Ecuador for many years. Ecuadorian attitudes differ from those of the West and the multi cultural insights of our inspectors weed out property that may sound good…but is not suitable for non Ecuadorians.

The third service offer we offer is individual tours. The disadvantage of individual tours is an added cost…the tour fee remains the same but there are added transportation costs. Our scheduled real estate tours include all transport costs.

Plus if our tour guide is away from home overnight on a tour, his room cost ($35 a night) is also an added cost.

Individual real estate tours make sense for two reasons…if your schedule cannot fit our group tour schedule or if you have some very specific property you want to view. For example, a reader only wanted to view farms with acreage. A group tour did not make sense for this reader.

Details are at Ecuador Real Estate Guide

Finally, we offer a research and follow up service. Our multi lingual staff can help you with translations, follow through on property purchases. They can do specific property searches and help with shipping in and out of Ecuador. See more at Ecuador Research, Advance & Follow Up Service

Here are a host of comments about our courses and services from last month.

“We had first class leaders in Steve and John Papski.


Steve and his son, Luke.

“We loved the property tours and found that the Spanish course was just right for us. Indeed, we have both been motivated to learn more. We have bought little mp3 players and we each have all 6 of your Super Thinking Spanish CDs already downloaded and in use. So thanks again for providing such an inspirational starter course. (Of course, major thanks to Merri and Gary for having the knowledge to make it possible – but your delivery of it all was just right.)

“There are special thanks and accolades for your staff in Cotocachi…..You have put together a more than efficient, responsible, and gracious family……Steve filled more roles than we could count, John was our knowledge and levity, Nancy (my new best friend) was lovely and always knew my schedule, Mauricio went far and above to please…and Eduardo smiled and got things right when I would have been hiding in the kitchen! We could not have asked for a better and more attentive team! Hope to see you in the fall in Ecuador!!!”

“We received some extremely good news from an attorney in Quito and I thought you might want to check it out and pass it on – regarding import taxes on farm + other equipment. On June 26th a new law for imports of farm equipment was issued. According to this law there is no tax for imports of any equipment and agricultural products. Thank you so much for letting John know how to get in touch with these people. Happiness and Joy to you, Merri and Gary”

“Merri, I asked John Papski if he would be pleased to do a month of searching real estate for us. He agreed and was delighted. Thank you Merri. You are wonderful. We love John Papski.”

“I arrived back in No Carolina last night from Quito….a tad exhausted, but totally exhilarated from our almost three weeks in Ecuador. Although dragged kicking and protesting to Ecuador ( we already had a trip to Italy in May, our volunteer trip to Peru planned for the end of June into July….plus lots of grandchildren time in the NC mountains)….that I was the one who was reluctant and teary to leave Cotocachi!

“I was amazed to see that our normal stress level was left far behind….I love the indigenous people throughout the Andes anyway, and Cotocachi was a bit like a Spanish version of ‘Mayberry’…just a different language, the same cast of lovely characters and a few more perros.

“We had great fun practicing our ‘Super Thinking’ Spanish……marveled at our new knowledge of the magical ways of the Andes…and hopefully will close on lot #6 In San Miguel within the month!!! For two extraordinarily slow conservative intellectuals…..this was a trip ‘waiting to happen’! Thank you both for blazing the trail…..”

“We loved the entire experience, – the hotel, the lovely staff, the varied courses, tours and excursions. We loved Cotacachi, the Andean scenery and Ecuador. We greatly appreciated the skills and immense patience of yourself – Steve did a great job, as did John on the Coastal Tour. Please be kind enough to pass on our greetings and warm thanks to all the staff, but especially Eduardo, Mauricio, Veronica and Consuela, and of course, John & Alberto.”

“Thought to send along a little feedback on the trip so far. I started with the Coastal RE tour. I must say that John Papski is a real asset – he’s got the right outgoing attitude to dig up the good info locally and then deal with a diverse group of folk on the tour – very good. In fact I think the RE tours are very good for really seeing the country, local areas, and just getting a good feeling for the general area – so my own preference would be to extend them to 5 days, maybe peppered with particular local sites of interest. This might allow you to extend the range as well. In any event, John is ideal for the task and the research leading up to the tour.

Between Steve, John and Alberto, you have an excellent team.”

“Now at day two of the Spanish course. Meson is very nice and staff and service is excellent. Consuela has put aside raw milk for me (no boiling) that is quite good – the benefits of raw milk dairy are highly under-rated. I’m looking forward to the highland RE tour and then the Shaman Mingo tour.”

There you have it. A host of raves from just last month! We have over 13,000 readers and have brought nearly 3,000 of them to Ecuador now SO WE UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS AND THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF ECUADOR. We look forward to continuing to serve you.


Please note that our offer of 50 fresh Ecuador roses free expires July 31, 2008. Please see here.

Ecuador Coastal-Quito Real Estate Tour

Ecuador Super Thinking + Spanish Course

Ecuador Imbabura Real Estate Tour

International Investing and Business Made EZ North Carolina

Ecuador Import Export Course

International Investing and Business Made EZ Ecuador

See discounts for attending more than one course.

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