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 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.. 

lunes, 4 de enero de 2016

2016 New Minimum Salary

Guatemala 2016 Minimum Salary

As it is usual now every starting of the year the government fixes the new legal minimum salary for the year.. It is divided between Farm and Non Farm Activities Q 81.87 per day  and Exportation activities and maquila is Q 74.89 per day.

The one that interest the expat community which hires employees is the first one..

Because 2016 is a bisextyle year meaning February will have 29 days.. There for the calculation of the minimum salary is as follow

Q 81.87 x 366 days = Q 29,964.42 divided by 12 month = Q 2,497.04 plus the Q 250
of " the bonificacion incentivo."

The minimum to be paid being Q 2,747.04

Now remember that it is not only what the worker will receive as you will have to pay in July the Bono 14 and in December the Aguinaldo..

So if you prorate these 2 extra months your worker will receive average per month Q 2,913.20.

Now the basic food basket for a family of four is estimated at Q 3,507.60, which is the amount per month that a family of four should receive to live correctly .  It is a fact as well that outside the big cities the cost of living is lower.

Currently there is a new law allowing differentiate salaries in 4 Municipalities of Guatemala : to name them Masagua Escuintla, Guastatoya and San Agustin Acasaguastlan, El Progreso and Estanzuela Zacapa. Where the minimum salary for maquila will be Q 1,677.00 plus bonificacion incentivo of  Q 250.00 making a total of Q 1,927.00 by month.

There is an ample debate in the country about these differentiated salary as some a in favor of them to stimulate local jobless economy and others considering that it creates citizen of 2d class... This country is in great need of political policy on work, employment as most of the time the government solved temporary the need to increase the salary through decrees like the one of bono 14, aguinaldo, bono incentivo.. instead of defining a modern, flexible salary policy.

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

What is the Aguinaldo....Guatemala Labor Code

December is a special month for expats in Guatemala.

When you hire a person as your gardener, maid, choffer,, you name it.. you acquire obligations toward them. The  relations between workers and employers in Guatemala, are regulated both by the Constitution of the Republic, in article 102 which established the minimum employee benefits and  in the Labour Code, which develops more extensively constitutional precept.Always remember that 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, that the employer must meet mandatory.  .Among the benefits that every employer must comply you have: ordinary salary and bonuses and Aguinaldo.
And December is the month of the Aguinaldo. According Decree 76-78.
We are going to review the most important articles..
Article #1  All the employers are obligated to give to their workers annually in concept of Aguinaldo, the equivalent of 100% of their salary they perceive monthly for a year of continuous work o proportionally according what correspond.

Article # 2  . It can be paid half in december before the 15th and half in january in the second part of the month.

Article # 5 it can't be accumulated.

Article # 7 A written receipt has to be made

Article # 8  It has to be paid in currencies and can't be replaced by anything else.

Article # 15. The aguinaldo can be reduce of  the income tax, and it is not affected by the payment of the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security.

So because it is expected by your worker you have to make provision in your accounting for the payment of it.. Most of the worker like to have it paid in once on the 15th of December.
I prefer to pay it one week before..
- because there are less people at the bank
- because your worker is less subject to be robbed as on the 15 th of just after everybody has more money and very often a great time for thieves
- always remember to document the payment
- if you pay the Bono Incentivo the Aguinaldo doesn't include it as you pay only on the ordinary salary.
If your employee is not full time working for you but work 150 days a year he is entitle to it.
The aguinaldo is calculated from the 1st of january of the year to the 31st of December of the same year.

Now I always encourage the worker receiving this extra month to think very much how they will use it. Encouraging them to save part of it. To spend it wisely for their kids, education..

If you have any doubts or questions feel free to contact me..

Remember this information is product of my experience in property management and won't replace the legal advice of a lawyer.

martes, 20 de octubre de 2015

Five most important things to do when buying real estate in Guatemala

5 most important things
to do when buying  property
 in Guatemala

Guatemala is probably not your usual investment destinación. Unless you are a Guatemalan expatriated or have relatives that are Guatemalan you will have Little or no knowledge about how to buy property in Guatemala. Investing in real estate in a foreign country is a serious mater.

But for a foreigner deciding to buy real estate here might be a challenge and a whole new experience.

-       First thing you need to work with a Realtor.
      An authorised realtor that has a proper license to represent you.  Yes it does exist in Guatemala. Realtor profession is regulated and it is your best guarantee against scammer, unethical and unprofessional ones. You will hear of people that have managed to buy without a realtor but it all depends of your level of investment and willingness to take financial risk. The bigger the investment the more you want to be protected from any bad surprised. Don 't hesitate to check with the Chamber of Realtor of Guatemala for professional ones.

Why? Because he will  represent you and working with non legal realtor might turn out to be a nightmare if anything goes wrong.Now a realtor speaking your language is a must as you might not fully dominating the local language.

-       Second get legal assessment with a lawyer – notary that does regularly real estate transactions.  And preferably one that speaks your language.
In Guatemala lawyers are also notaries and some decided to work more the notary part of their professions, others the lawyer part and the gran majority both. Laws do change and a lawyer not versed regularly in real estate transaction might miss some important information. In Guatemala real estate has complex consequences better to be well informed.

-       Third you have to understand that you will be confronted with a diversity of way of owner ship that might disconcert you. In  Guatemala you will encounter several way of owning real estate as for example..:  land lease from  the government through the OCRET office, proper register titled backed up by the government, rights of possession that you can  compare to squatters rights and some times comunal land…
Depending the status of the property you are buying you will have to decide if it is worth your money to rely on less than a proper registered title. Now if you buy in urban áreas most probably you will encounter proper registered title.

-       Fourth consult with your notary which limitations can affect your property.  Guatemala doesn’t have a lot of institutions having a say on the use of a property but they do have some like OCRET, MARN, CONAP, Consejo de Protection de la Antigua (if you buy in Antigua Guatemala)…  So for example if you buy on ocean or lake front you will find out that the lease you will get from the government  only lease you the land up to 20 mts from the waterfront as you have to leave 20 mts of public space. If you buy in certaines áreas or steep hills you might be in an área of mudslides and classified by CONRED (the Government Agency for Civil Protection) as inhabitable  and therefore might not get the building permit you seek. If you buy in a city with strong colonial history like Antigua or in the Center of  Quetzaltenango then you will find out that you can’t do what you want with the property you are trying to acquire. Know what you are buying and what you can do with your real estate project.

-       Fifth under which legal form you want to acquire your property: single owner, under a Guatemalan C Company, a foreign company… Depending your choice, it will influence  your taxes during ownership, at the moment of sell, or for your heirs if you plan to inherit it to them.Not being familiar with the Guatemalan taxes frame  you need to get proper advices in order to optimize the fiscal impact of owning real estate.