Real Estate Lawyer and Attorney in Ecuador
You want to purchase real estate in Ecuador, and require a good lawyer to help you navigate the process?
I have the right person for you. Andrea runs a nationwide law firm with offices in Quito and Cuenca.
She and her team can help you with real estate transactions all over Ecuador. We’ll address the following points:
- Why you need a good real estate lawyer in Ecuador
- What are some of the expected government fees that you are expected to pay when purchasing real estate in Ecuador
- Meet Andrea, my real estate lawyer in Ecuador
- Fee breakdown
1. Why you need a good lawyer for your property transaction in Ecuador
- Many title deeds are not clean. You can have classic situations with liens or mortgages on them, but also cases where the previous transaction was not done properly. For example, maybe the land on which the house sits was sold by a family 10 years ago, and one of the signatures is missing (that cousin who was far away). Effectively, you could suddenly have a family claim the house from you saying the previous sale was not done properly, and seek to grab it from you. As a foreigner, you are more vulnerable to such situations.
- There is an annual property tax on real estate, based on the municipality’s valuation of your property. The valuation may be lower or higher than the purchase price.
- Your lawyer should ensure that there are no outstanding debts related to the property such a home owners association fees, electricity, water, garbage, internet, etc.
- Your lawyer can enable you to pay for the real estate using an escrow account in order to guarantee everyone’s safety. Essentially, you transfer the purchase price to an escrow account, and only once all due diligence has been completed and everything is deemed to be fine will the money be transferred to the seller.
- Andrea even offers escrow services in the US. This means you don’t need to make a bank transfer to Ecuador. You can simply wire the money to her escrow account, which is much simpler.
- IMPORTANT: Avoid using a lawyer proposed by your real estate agent. This point is valid for any international market in which you choose to invest. The reality is that there can be a conflict of interest in such cases. Though you are officially the lawyer’s client, who is more important? You and your single transaction, or the agent that brings dozens of clients? Using your own lawyer won’t be more expensive, but will offer you much more security.
2. A few important points you should know before buying real estate in Ecuador
- There are minimal taxes and notary public fees of less than 2% of the value of the real estate you buy in Ecuador.
- In some rare cases it is better to create a Ecuadorian corporation to purchase the real estate; it depends on each individual’s situation and objectives.
- The final contract must then be signed in person at the Notary Public. If you are not present, it can be done with a power of attorney. Buying real estate in Ecuador can be done entirely remotely using the Apostille Treaty system.
3. Meet Andrea, my Real Estate Lawyer in Ecuador
Andrea is managing partner at her own law firm which has branches in Cuenca and Quito, though her team can help with legal matters anywhere in Ecuador. She’s been practising law for 15 years, speaks English fluently, and has many foreign clients.
I interviewed Andrea to ask her questions about the process for real estate transactions in Ecuador.
You can get in touch with her using the contact form at the bottom of this page.
4. Andrea’s fee structure
Lawyer fees for a real estate transaction in Ecuador
- Legal analysis
- Title analysis
- Drafting of sales contract
- Signing of sales contract in person at the notary public
- Organizing public deed with notary, and then help with signature
- If residency is required = $1,000 per person + government and translation fees
5. Get in touch with my lawyer Andrea for your real estate transaction in Ecuador
Full Transcript of “Real Estate Lawyer in Ecuador”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from thewanderinginvestor.com. So today, I’m in Cuenca, in beautiful Ecuador, with my lawyer, Andrea. Andrea, how are you?
ANDREA: Good, a pleasure seeing you here.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So Andrea is helping family members of mine with a real estate transaction here in Cuenca. And a lot of people, when they first come to Ecuador, they want to buy something but they’re a bit nervous about the whole legal aspects how to buy real estate in a foreign country. So Andrea, can you explain a bit more the process with regards to buying real estate here in Ecuador?
Legal process to buy Real Estate in Ecuador
ANDREA: It’s a simple process, I will say, maybe because I’m attorney, but that’s what I will say, it’s a simple process. The first thing you do when you find a property, you can have an agreement on the price. Once you have an agreement, it’s nothing official that if you back up or you’re not quite sure it doesn’t mean that you must continue with the negotiation. We have different stages. The first thing to do will be do a title search to verify ownership, to verify links, to verify loans, and be sure that who is selling the property is actually the owner of the property. So once that stage is done, if it’s not pending stuff, like they have to remove a link of the property, or you need time to arrange your financial situation, or maybe it’s a property under construction, we sign something that we call a promissory note, which is more like for English terms, sales of this contract, in which you establish the condition of what needs to happen, so you can have a closing.
So that will be the first step, maybe the seller will have to clear the deed, maybe they have to finish some construction, or maybe they need a time to move out. So we use that contract. If somebody doesn’t comply with that, we have a default and we have a penalty. Otherwise, the other option is go directly to a purchase and sale, in which, again, we do a title search, we verify that there is no links, no problems with the property, we request a certificate at the municipality, that there is no taxes pending, no legal issues, no problems, then we continue with the sale. At the time of closing, we exchange ownership and we exchange money. When the seller requires their money here, then we transfer or we do the payment at the notary and we do exchange the money and the deed.
In Ecuador, we don’t close just with the attorneys, we use notaries here. So it’s very official, a notary in Ecuador is not just a person that verifies your signature, is a person that verifies the legality of the documents and who is appearing and which capacity they are.
Timeline to close on a Property in Ecuador
LADISLAS MAURICE: And so, let’s say, it’s a typical transaction, nothing complicated, how much time between shaking hands on a deal and actually getting the keys to the apartment?
ANDREA: If there is no complications at all, we can close in two weeks.
How to pay for Real Estate in Ecuador
LADISLAS MAURICE: That’s really quick. Compared to European standards, for example, two weeks is relatively fast. And then also, a lot of transactions happen outside of Ecuador. So typically, when you buy real estate in a country, you pay money into an escrow account in the local country or directly to the seller in the local country. But in Ecuador, actually, a lot of transactions happen in the US.
ANDREA: A lot of clients, or people who has property and they don’t live here prefer to get paid outside of Ecuador, when they live outside of Ecuador. Why? Because we have an exit tax. So if that’s the case, they don’t prefer that the money come to Ecuador, so they want the exchange gets done in their country. So it can be, again, something directly and we can establish the payment or we can use an escrow account.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. So the exit tax is planned to be gradually removed over time, so it’s going to be a diminishing issue.
LADISLAS MAURICE: But also being able to pay to a bank account in the US is easier from a banking point of view. So, let’s say, you’re American, you want to make a transfer to Ecuador, and your bank is going to ask for a whole bunch of documents. They’re going to be digging into you, they’re going to be looking at the transaction. If you just make a simple $150,000 transfer to another account in the US, they probably won’t have any questions. So just makes everything easier. Same thing, if you’re European, transferring money to the US is no big deal. Transferring money to Ecuador will attract more attention from compliance and they’ll ask more documents from you. So that just makes the whole process a lot simpler.
And then you also offer escrow services in the US. So you’re not compromising on safety by doing this.
Typical Real Estate Scams in Ecuador
LADISLAS MAURICE: So this is really good. So what are some of the typical scams that you’ve come across? Because, often, we see on TV, oh, these people, they bought property in Latin America and they lost everything, etc.
ANDREA: When I see people that have been through that, my question always will be like, will you do what you have done in your own country? Will you just exchange money without knowing who the person is? Will you purchase without using an attorney? Probably you won’t do that. Will you buy it without a title search? Probably you won’t do that. Will you buy it not knowing what rights over a property is and instead of buying the entire property? So I think everything that you will question in your country, it’s the same type of questions that you will have it over here. So don’t buy something over the internet because you see it on pictures and it looks nice. You always need to come and see it. Go around, see the neighborhood, see the city, then make the decision.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Look, I’ve been doing a lot of deals in many countries and I’ve never run into any issues. Why? Because I always use good attorneys, good real estate lawyers. I never try to just wing it on my own. As soon as you’re overseas in another country, the laws are very different. And you just don’t know them. So you really need local help from that point of view. So Andrea helped us dodge a bullet last week. So we wanted to buy an apartment, we had agreed on the price with the sellers. We were explicit with our objective in that we wanted to do Airbnb, and everyone was telling us it’s fine. You can do Airbnb, there’s no rule against Airbnb. So we’re like, good. And then Andrea looked into the documents of the home owners’ association. And it’s true, there was no explicit ban on Airbnb. But if 50% of the owners got together and decided that they wanted to ban Airbnb, then they could do so. And it was a building with a lot of old ladies. So inevitably, we would have faced the ban within a year or two.
So, again, it’s always very important to be clear in terms of your objectives, communicate them well to your attorney, and hire a good attorney. So, Andrea, you’ve helped a lot of people from Europe, from the US, from Canada with their transactions. Correct?
ANDREA: Yes, yes. We are practicing real estate law and immigration for at least 10 years.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Fantastic. So there’s going to be another video on how to obtain residency here in Ecuador. So Andrea, thank you very much for your time today. If you’re interested in getting in touch with Andrea, there is a link below with more information on her services, as well as her email. Thank you, Andrea.
ANDREA: Thank you.