Are you looking to purchase a condo in Ecuador? Whether one is looking to buy a condo in the Sierra or the Coast, what does one want to look for if buying a condo in Ecuador? What are some of the caveats in buying a condo in an older building?
Besides a beautiful ocean view, what are some things to be aware of before buying a condo in Ecuador? Remember that there are usually around 15-25 other owners of the building.
A couple of very important items are: I) the building administration or “administrator” and upkeep of the condo, II) the elevators (if the building is several stories tall), and III, what about the other condo owners?
Does the administration wish to paint the building, put in new furniture in the lobby, and put in security cameras instead of fixing what is really needed in the condo? Like I heard one condo owner give an analogy, ”the building is a Queen that has pneumonia and the administration is wanting to put on lipstick!”
I. The Administration of the building –
As in the United States, the “condo association” is responsible to the condo owners in the building for the upkeep of the common areas such as elevators, lobby, pool (if any), outside appearance of the building, parking areas, gates, elevator doors on all floors, security lights on all floors, security 24/7 such as “guardians” or security guards. The building owners have to be careful that the “Administrator” is not treated as an employee or they could become responsible for paying retirement benefits and paying a salary for the “13th month” as is common and required by the Ecuadorean Social Administration Law. Administrators have the tendency to become dictators and make side deals with contractors and pass along the costs to the condo owners.
II. Elevators of a Building –
The elevators of one particular building are manufactured by Schindler and have been there for over 35 years. I am told that Schindler and most other elevator companies in Ecuador no longer have ANY representatives in the the country and none in Colombia, Peru, or Chile. Mitsubishi is presently very well represented in Ecuador but they do not work on other manufacturers products. Seems that the elevator companies want exclusive representation and some were promised that in the past, but as per normal in human nature, the owner(s) of the elevator distribution companies in Ecuador decided to go outside their agreements and Schindler among other elevator companies left the country some years back…”see you later!” New elevators from Mitsubishi cost around $60,000 per each unless one is negotiating a contract for 15-20 of them, then the elevators can be had for around $35,000 each. Do the math. $60,000 per elevator, times 2 elevators in each building (the norm). Total cost is $120,000 divided by 25 owners in the building. $4,800 per owner for new elevators! So it is best to try and find a “technician” with experience with your name brand of elevator. In this particular case, the alarms did not function. Two guests got stuck in the elevator in one building on two separate occasions for over 45 minutes each and there was no way to let others know. Cell phones tend not to work when enclosed in concrete 2 feet thick! A new alarm system has now been installed.
III. Other Condo owners in the building -
Do the other condo owners in the building you are interested in pay their monthly association fees or “alicuota” promptly? Are any of the condos in side the building currently foreclosed (embargado) on? I know of one building on the Boardwalk (Malecon) in Salinas where one condo owner owes over $25,000 and have not paid in years, does not intend to pay and does not even live in Ecuador anymore! The other condo owners have to pay this condo owners upkeep. The case is currently in the court system and should be resolved in the next 4-5 years. The case is now over 5 years old I believe!
Conclusion – ask other owners in the building about the building administration and about the elevators. Even if the building has a few problems and even if the administrator of the building is a Nazi, if the building strong one, well built originally and in good shape, then even with problems it could still be a good deal for you! Just be aware of any additional costs that you may have to incur down the road if the water lines, elevator, electrical or cable of the elevator have to be replaced.
We love Ecuador even with all its idiosyncrasies. It would be not fun it everything was “just like home!”
Next story will be about DirecTv in Ecuador. It’s fun as well. To get it to work one just has to hold his mouth just right, jump two steps to the left while howling at the moon!