jueves, 19 de enero de 2017

How to protect your real estate investment against fire..

When you leave in a foreign country and particularly a third world country you might find out that you can't expect the government response that you might have in your own country particularly when wildfire happen.

So how to be prepared in case of fire around your property.

I live on the shore of Lake Atitlan, for 26 years now, in a remote area only accessible by boat surrounded by hotel and forest.
For many years we have been protected against wildfire because we are few owners in the area.
Most of the fire happen when you have an access (road, path) and kids very often start the fire for fun. fewer farmers are starting fires because they have been sensibilities to the importance of farming responsibly to help protect the forest so important for the Eco-system, to prevent erosion that ultimately brings to many nutrients to the lake contributing to the growing of Ciano bacteria.

This year a wildfire started kilometer from my house suddenly expand into the most dangerous event I had to deal with during the 26 years I have been living here.
Suddenly I was faced with an imminent event that could jeopardize my lifestyle. My real estate investment in Lake Atitlan could have been torched by a situation started kilometers away...

Get an insurance.

I do have insurance on my house for fire, earthquake, mudslide, volcanic eruptions but I guess you contract an insurance with the hope to never have to use it.
Wildfire on Lake Atitlan

As you can't predict from where, or fast and strong a fire would come you can prepare your property for that.

Build strongly

First advice builds in materials that are resistant to fire. I have a palm roof which I have been wanting to change for years now that it is coming to the end of its life spend... As the fire issue has been something hovering above my head.  So minimized the use of natural materials (wood, palm,...).

Work with your neighbors

In agreement with your neighbors makes sure you clean all the bushes and field are regularly maintained. As the dry materials all around your property is an ideal flammable material that allows the fire to progress quickly and put your house in danger. Clearing the neighborhood to make a breach that will help the fire to stop.

Storage water

Get a big water source (water deposit, river, lake,...) where you can tap water quickly.

Be equipped 

The easiest is to get a proper water pump  I found out that a surface gasoline powered water pump allow you to put out a high volume of water. The only drawback is that you can't get the water to high.
The second pump is an electrical submersible pump that you plunge into your water-deposit and from there you can with tubes go around your property.

Preparation is key in front of such event. You never underestimate a fire as far as it seems to be with the help of high wind you can be suddenly in danger.
It came very close
I'm also planning to install proper firemen hoses and more holding tank. I will make sure my surface pump is properly storage as this time it wouldn't start because of a year of not being used.
In any case, you have to remember that things can be replaced but not your life.

miércoles, 19 de octubre de 2016

5 Reasons prices of Real Estate is dropping in Lake Atitlan

Lately prices on certain properties have been reduced...? Why?
Check out last post on reduced price properties

Lake Atitlan Guatemala real estate market is very particular and different from what you are used to.

After the 2008 -2010 crisis when business went dead until 2012 everybody expect the market to bounce back... and if it is true that since 2013-14 and 15 it has been more active than ever it is not yet a hot market where properties sell quickly.

Suddenly we are seeing serious price reduction on several of our properties listed...
so here is why some prices are coming down...

The main reason is  an original  pricing way to optimist. Owners are always thinking that their property is worth much more then what the market can bare. The fact that Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful lake in the world if it is not known not many people are rushing to buy here.

Second reasonAging and health issues, the envy to relocate back to his own country and close to his family are the main motivation. Therefore a price reduction helps the transition back.

Third a divorce it for sure affect the condition of ownership making a sale the only way to settle.  It is maybe the least occurring situation.

Fourth  death  in a couple makes the stay no desirable for the one left or simply death of the owner and the heirs have no interest in keeping the property in the family.

Fifth Exchange rate.. for some countries like Canada or Europe suddenly as the US dolars increase in value, a price reduction is appropriate. The final price in the foreign currency is easier to rich now with a lower US $ price tag then ever.. Helping the seller to lower the price tag to the benefit of the buyers.

Still Lake Atitlan Real Estate Market is a buyer market..

martes, 18 de octubre de 2016

5 Properties reduced price Lake Atitlan

Guatemala real estate market for investor.. the new destination.

Lake Atitlan is considered one of the most beautiful lake in the world.. and still little known..
I just have a friend who was speaking with a lawyer in Miami. and he did knew Lake Como (Italy) and Lake Taos (USA) but never heard of Lake Atitlan (Guatemala).
I was with some guests of the hotel next door to my house and they were from Florida.. We chat on the real estate market opportunities around here and I asked them how they discover Lake Atitlan. They found it through House Hunter International (HHI) episode on the lake and they just decided to come to check for themselves.. and they were mesmerized by what they saw...

So now that Guatemala has been portrayed several times on HHI we can expect a surge of visitors and as well potential buyers.. Well if the numbers of tourist is increasing slowly it is not yet the rush..
Meanwhile the real estate market has seen some interesting movements.. For many years the prices has been either rising or simply to high for what the market could bare..
And recently several properties I have listed   have seen their price lowered...

Let see which ones as there is might be one that might interest you...

This great lot near San Marcos La Laguna,  SANMARL 05 , which has been on the market for a couple of years have seen is price come down from $ 28,000 to $ 15,000. A serious discount for sure but the owner is in urgent need to sale so it explains it. A piece of land not waterfront but with views to the East and West over the beautiful point just before the bay of San Marcos La Laguna. Giving you views to both bays, 5 volcanoes, sunrise and sunset. Still walking distance to San Marcos La Laguna.. Above the road, needs some infrastructure work but the pay off for the price is guarantee..

View to Sunset

Spectacular waterfront house, Jaibalito, JAIBH 09, Santa Cruz La Laguna. New Price $ 487,000 which  makes it attractive for its strong potential for development. The house sits on an rock, water front , very private beach, no road access. Build on several  level, 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms,  furnished, boat. Ready to make it a B/B or  a boutique hotel..
Set up for some boutique hotel

Large terrace with volcanoes views

Cute little house, Lake and Volcano views, Santa Cruz La Laguna,, STCZH 28, from $ 68,500 reduced to $ 55,000, 80 mts from the lake shore , in residential neighborhood. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, water deposit, mature garden, walking distance to local restaurants and village.

Large open kitchen, dining, living room with fire place

View from the garden

Last waterfront track of land with full grown native trees, Santa Cruz La Laguna, JAIBL 06 facing south and the volcanoes, boat access only, water deposit, from $ 250,000 to $ 175,000. Ideal for unique private house nicely tucked into the pristine landscape. 60 mts waterfront.

Central and commercial cute little house 1 bedroom with mezzanine, in the center of San Marcos La Laguna on the main street coming up from the pier. Reduced to $ 70,000 from $ 80,000. All fenced can be turned into a business, little cafe, healing center you name it...SANMARH 21

Take the time to check these newly reduced properties if you don' t find what you need you contact me.

To be updated on the new listing LIKE our facebook page... and our Facebook page for real Estate

viernes, 26 de agosto de 2016

San Marcos La Laguna Real Estate Map update

San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlan Real Estate Market.

Currently San Marcos La Laguna is experimenting a tremendous surge in properties for sale..
For different reasons they came on the market..
Why suddenly so many.. ?
Well the most recurrent reason is the relocation to another country or expat go back to their own country. Their times is up and either for health reason, family call or professional new endeavour.

Second reason people need cash and for that need to liquidate an asset.
Enjoy this map that reflect the large portfolio of houses for sale in San Marcos La Laguna.

Enjoy the new map and email me at atitlanrealestate@gmail.com if you need more info on any of the properties..

And if you wonder how the lake look like in San Marcos La Laguna well check this waterfront view from one of my favorite restaurant on the lake Tul y Sol.

martes, 28 de junio de 2016

What is Bono 14 ?

If you own a property in Guatemala and you have employees, you have to remember to pay the BONO 14.

It is an annual economic benefit that all employers have to pay to their employees in Guatemala and it has to be paid in july, like an extra month bonus.

It has been installed by the 42-92  Decree of the National Congress of Guatemala. 
The law stipulate that it is mandatory for the public and private sector.
And it is independent of any other bonus.

This bonus has to be equivalent to the ordinary monthly wage for one year of continuous service.

So it is calculated from the 1st of July to the 30 st of june. If you employee started in the middle of the year or are not full filled a year of work yet.. Still you have to pay it proportionally to the time work until the 30 st of june.

Ordinary monthly wage it means not including the Bono incentivo of Q 250 paid on top of the ordinary wage.
The Bono 14 has to be paid during the 1st and 15th of july.

Also remember to have it documented properly. With a proper receipt and I always recommend to pay by check as a double proof of payment. A check specifically of the amount.

It is a big moment for the Guatemalan Economy as it is with the payment of the Aguinaldo in December. As a lot of cash is injected in the economy at that time. And you often see dedicated add inviting people to spend their bonus on tires, Tv....

According the National Institute of Statistics of the Fifteen Milliones inhabitants of Guatemala only   Six are part of the working population (in age to work). Of these six only 25% of them receive this bonus.. The rest being in part of the informal sector have no access to these workers rights.


lunes, 22 de febrero de 2016

Owning a boat on Guatemala Lake and rivers

Very often people are surprised how very few boat are on Lake Atitlan. And very often if you know somebody with a boat he will tell you that it is great to have one either for cruising or fishing..
But most of the foreigners have no idea about the rules going along owning a boat in Guatemala.

There are three steps
  1. Get a plate (a matricula) for the boat
  2. Get a driving boat license
  3. Get a navigation license for the boat.
3 Steps registration

The first thing you have to know is that you need a plate for your boat, like for a car.. For that you need to register it with the Naval base of Panajachel. It has to be registered with the SAT the tax department. The tax will be according a ladder of cost that is defined by the SAT people. See in our annex the different cost associated with different kind of boat.
Placa - Maticula for the boat
Then you have to give a name to your boat. After that when all your paper are in order present the boat for inspection. The inspection is aimed to check that all the lights on your boat are working, that you have a first aid kit, an anchor with ropes, life jacket and a small tool box. Then when you have your boat Plate-Matricula you have to paint it on your boat as well as the name of the boat or with a sticker. And you have to carry with you your license plate with you or at least a copy of it to be presented to the Marina  patrol upon request.

Guatemalan Marin Patrol

The second thing is to get then the Navigation license.. which is basically the permit to navigate with your registered boat.. It is more or less the same process and you have to take the boat again for inspection.
Process to get the Navigation License

Finally the boat license.. which is the hardest to get for a foreigner.. why?
Because you have to take a test and it is maybe 2 times a year in Panajachel at the Marine Base and it is in spanish.. No possibilities so far to get a transfer of a foreign boat license..

Boat license Process
Now all these requirements are very inexpensive in terms of cost as the boat license is less than $10
the Navigation license is $ 20 and the boat matricula fee is less then $ 30. The most expensive part is the taxes. Now if you can't do this personally you have to give a power of attorney to somebody that can do it for you (except getting the boat license) .. We at Atitlan Solutions have ample experience in this matter as we have registered several boat for foreigners or locals.. as well as experience in importing boats.

sábado, 23 de enero de 2016

What is the minimum Salary


The mínimum salary has been something not everybody understand as it is for some of the expat a foreign concept..

In Guatemala the employer-employee relationship is protective, this means that the law protects workers against employer and sets minimum employment benefits for the worker, the employer must meet mandatory obligations.

According to the legal framework in Guatemala , as son as an employer hire an employee verbaly or with a contract starts the relation , despite contracts being mandatory.

Among the benefits that every employer must comply are : ordinary salary and bonuses, Aguinaldo , working hours, holidays , dismissal and severance , Individual employment contract and rights of the pregnant woman .

So you might wonder why nobody in your surrounding  pays the mínimum salary to their employe(es)…

Well there are several facts that I have detected since I’m doing property management and work with expats…and often I hear the following...

It is a third country so labor has to be cheap…

The first thing people think is that because Guatemala is a third world country the salary are notably cheap… and indeed if you ask around specially outside the cities you find out that the salaries are low… but still all the families have the same needs like foods, education, health.. and you have to ask yourself if what you pay is enough to cover their basic needs.

Not knowing the labor law…

Most of the expats don’t speak spanish neither have ever open a guatemalan law book… therefore the ignorance or the lack of learning give space to a grey área that allows to not respect the guatemalan legal frame. It is like people are living in a now rules country where they can't do pretty much what they want because they don't realise or want to realise what is the legal frame of their hosting country.

Because my employee is happy with what I’m paying him….

Indeed he knows that is better  off  with some money than no money and in a country where
almost half the population is under 19, you will always  find another person willing to work for less. But the problem is not about wanting to be paid the mínimum salary, it is that to fight to get the employee to pay it will take financial ressources they don’t have and also very often they don't know the laws made to protect them. So it is more by resignation than free acceptance. And not paying the legal mínimum salary deprives him of much needed resource to send kids to school, eat better or be able to face medical emergency.

Life is cheaper outside the cities  people are paid less…

It might be the case in some áreas and a fact that for example often they don’t pay rent or don’t have  a budget for transport as people living in big cities  but still their needs are the same  and the cost of the basic food basket  according the Institute of statistic of Guatemala (INE) is of  Q 3,358 per month. This basket is composed of 26 products that reflect the need of a family of 5.3 members.

We can’t give a raise every year as they would get use to it.…

Like we don’t live in a dynamic world where all year long we see prices going up
and cost of living increasing. It is like you don’t know that if, at least, you don’t keep up with inflation you are losing buying power every year.

Most of the expat choose to live in a foreign country because of a better quality of life. At one moment or the other they provide jobs to the local community which run from building, gardening, house keeping for example.
Sometimes some also give to locals charity or give off their time to the local community.
Still it is important to know the legal frame of the country you choose to
settle  as being a guest you would think that you want to behave as you would like foreigners to behave in your own countries.

The object of  Minimum Salary

The minimum amount that must be paid to a person for work done within a given period, calculated whatever form , and it can not be decreased in the employment relationship , which is guaranteed by law to cover the minimum needs of the worker and his family.

Who decides the minimum wage ?

The Executive Agency , after consultation with the organizations of employers and workers and other organizations representing the National Wage Commission and the Joint Commission Minimum Wage and the Monetary Board and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute .

When the minimum wages are fixed ?

The minimum wages are set from the month of January each year .

Definition of the fault?

Art 269.  the infractions or violations by action or omission committed against the provisions of this code or of other labor laws or Social Security, are punishable by fine.

A very important things to know when you termine your relation ship with your employee and viceversa…

Art 261  Actions to terminate the contract worker

The rights of the workers to declare  finished and with good cause their working contract terminated prescribe in the term of twenty working days from the time the employer gave him cause for separation or indirect fired. It means that past these 20 working days the worker can’t claim compensation.

Art 262 .Acciones del empleador contra retiros injustificado

The rights of employers to claim against workers who retire from his post without notifying his employer prescribed in the term of thirty working days from the separation moment. Meaning that after 30 days you can’t demand your employee for abandoning his job.

And one more thing when you have employe working for you permanently and they have worked one year then they are entitled to vacations.. and you can't pay them the vacation .. they have to take them..