Buying a property in Venezuela 2021
Have you been thinking about the real estate prices in Venezuela or actively considering a second or even a first time property purchase. A search online, unfortunately, bring up very little useful information on prices, fees, process and the general pros & cons. Our team at Holiday Travel Network recently undertook such a journey and will provide all the details required on your property purchase, as a non-resident.
GETTING TO VENEZUELA & VISAS
Most embassies have either been closed or no longer issue visas for travel, such is the case in the USA and we have also heard in some European countries. In such cases, the next closest country may have to be your initial stop to process any necessary visa. Mexico or Panama is a good option for US residents. United States residents would need a tourist visa to visit Venezuela and are valid for 90 days. We have been told that it’s possible to extend these visas (while in-country) for another 90 days. However, this has not been verified. With regard to purchasing a property, some agencies advise that you only need your passport, while others suggest a Transient / Business Visa. In our case, we were advised to obtain a Business Visa for the property purchase. This is a relatively simple visa to obtain once you have any registered business in your own home country. Requirements are as follows” Copy of your business registration A letter outlining your business, intention to purchase and details of the property Bank statements or bank letter Letter of invitation from a Venezuelan company (this can be a letter from the real estate agency addressed to your embassy stating they will be selling you xx property and details) Visa fee of approximately $60 USD Paperwork submission to receipt of the visas takes approximately 4-5 days. The Business / Transient Visas are valid for 1 year and you may stay in the country for a maximum of 180 continuous days. You must leave the country before the 180 days have passed, even if it’s just a short flight over to Panama and back the next day. COVID TESTING As of October 2021, a negative PCR test is required to board any flight into Venezuela (direct flights available from Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Turkey and a few other countries). If arriving in Caracas (CCS), you will also need to pre-register a passenger locator form. This does not apply to a few other airports eg. Maracaibo. In Panama (or your departure airport) you will also need to pay $60 at the check-in counter for a second PCR test on arrival (this fee is included in some tickets). This is a fairly rapid test when you arrive and you receive the results as you exit the customs area. That’s it and you’re clear to enter Venezuela. PROPERTY PRICES Like anywhere else in the world prices vary widely according to location…city…beach…rural etc. However, we will give you a few options in Maracaibo and the reasons for this city.
Currently Venezuela has some of the most affordable priced real estate followed closely by a few other European cities. If you’re looking for a new semi-furnished townhouse in a gated community, expect to pay an average of $14,000 USD for a 3 bedroom 3 bathroom property. This may be a little further outside of the city and it would be best to get a car or commute quite a bit by tax (we’ll also address the taxi issue later). A 3 bedroom property closer to the city would be around the same price but expect to add a few hundred or more into minor renovations. For a modern city home or apartment, this can vary from $19,000 to $30,000 on average. However, it’s not uncommon for properties to be into the $40’s or $60’s. Properties over $100,000 are rare in Maracaibo and those higher prices would normally be found in Caracas, Valencia or beach homes. On the opposite end of that scale, it is not impossible to find a small 2 bedroom home for $4,000 USD. Everything depends on your individual needs, taste, and budget. Closing costs can vary from around $800+ USD and everything could be completed in approximately 1 week or less.
Why Maracaibo? Safety was one of the main reasons we chose Maracaibo. The main city of Caracas has been notorious for major and petty crimes and a few other cities as well. However, in Maracaibo, there’s been no issue with walking the streets even after sunset (we don’t suggest doing this well into the night). That being said, the atmosphere and comfort level is the same as any other major city. Though not as big as Caracas, it is actually the second-largest city in Venezuela with almost all amenities you will find in the other cites and sometimes a bit more. Shopping…. The major electronic store in Venezuela is Daka and they have a large new store in Maracaibo with everything you need for your home in terms of electronics. The equivalent to Lowes would be EPA and they are also located in Maracaibo (about a 1 min drive from Daka). Supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries along with Aeropost for USA shipments are all located in Maracaibo. Travel ,,,. Having to drive 1hr or more to get to the airport + a 3 hr check-in time + international flight would have been an extra added time to any journey. Fortunately, the airport is approximately 12 min drive from our location. As stated earlier, everything depends on your individual preferences, budget, and needs. Our choice was based on property and in a central location. As such we’re close to the airport, less than 8 min drive to a mall, Daka, and EPA. 20 min drive from the Maracaibo Country Club golf course (currently listed as the best in Venezuela) Within 15-20 min walk to supermarkets, bakeries, hardware stores, and more.
IS IT FAKE NEWS? Countless news and media stories show Venezuela with long lines for gas, empty supermarket shelves, lacking basic food supplies, empty supermarkets as no one can afford to buy food etc. Is it true? Not quite. First we’ll deal with the most popular images on media….long lines at gas stations. This actually does happen but there’s a caveat. Some gas stations are subsidized by the government and offer gas at the rate of just $0.50/litre and this is where the long lines come from as many Venezuelans opt to buy the cheaper gas. Should you not wish to wait hours or days for gas, fortunately, you can pull right up to other gas stations and pay $1.00/litre. Having visited a vast number of supermarkets here I can safely say there’s no shortage of food items and shelves are fully stocked as in any other international supermarket. There was however one supermarket (NASA Hipermarket) which was the only one that looked like it was two steps away from closing. However, all others there’s no shortage of food supplies. Based on salaries in the country, you may expect to find lower-priced items, but grocery prices are surprisingly high when compared to USA, Europe or even the Caribbean. Some meats, and basic food items (rice, oils, pasta etc) are cheap but other things are a bit high by comparison.
US DOLLARS IS WIDELY ACCEPTED AND IN LIMITED SUPPLY Despite 99.9% of all stores displaying prices in USD, very few places (especially supermarkets) would give you back change (not just USD
but any change). It’s best to shop and pay with as close as possible to the total price of your items. International credit cards aren’t widely accepted and having been in the country for a while, we still haven’t seen one bank or ATM. Quite possible ATM machines may only give Bolivares. From time to time you would need to get around by taxi and it’s highly advisable to use YummyRides. This app is the equivalent to Uber and is now very popular in some major Venezuelan cities, Ride costs are on average 40% to 70% cheaper than a regular taxi and you have a much better service, air-conditioned vehicles and added security knowing the drivers are all registered with the company. An additional plus is that this app also works with most international credit cards so no need to worry about precious USD. UTILITIES Basic utilities … important! They are some areas in Venezuela that still suffer from regular power cuts and water outages. So depending on your area of choice, be sure that the property has some form of a water tank. A generator would be an added bonus. Do not rely on the real estate agents to provide info on if they are regular power or water cuts as it varies from place to place, so (a) they would hardly know unless they live next door and (b) they are interested in a sale, so that information could be highly unreliable. Our location, fortunately, has had maybe only 5 power cuts in over a month and the longest being about 3 hours. The water has ben more intermittent but there’s an underground tank for the house so even with the water gone from the street, it hasn’t been proving a major negative effect. Side note…. The water supply is not safe to drink and a 5-gallon bottle and water dispenser would be necessary. The large water bottles are on average $0.40 each.
With the inconsistencies in electricity and water (we don’t use gas), you are spared the monthly costs of any utility bills. Yes, that’s correct, your only monthly bill would be internet! Maracaibo is also leading in fibre optic connectivity in the country and 80 MBs would be around $35 per month. Onto the good news with regard to utilities. Venezuela is one of the only countries in the world in which utilities are free. That being said, don’t expect the best service from water, electricity or gas, but you don’t have to add those into your monthly expenses. Overall the opportunity to invest in real estate at a fraction of the cost is a tempting option for many persons, and if you can comfortably afford the purchase then by all means go for it. It may be your second home or first purchase but chances are you’ll pay for it in cash or have a very short bank loan vs a regular mortgage. So you’ll be able to relax, retire and the benefit of owning your own property. Should you be interested in any properties in the Maracaibo area, we are more than willing to recommend a few options based on your budget and needs! Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org Happy and safe travels!