Ecuador Real Estate Buying Tips

by | Nov 17, 2021 | Archives

This week Dr. Andres Cordova shares Ecuador buying tips.

andres cordova

Dr. Andres Cordova


I have helped foreigners and locals with real estate negotiations and closings for over 25 years. Here are some comments regarding our real estate market and some tips for buying and closing in Ecuador that you may wish o consider.

Some tips regard rather obvious elements, granted, yet it’s amazing how often some can be overlooked.

1. Ecuador is mostly a cash only market. Ecuadorian sellers expect to be paid in full at closing. Partial payments can be negotiated in some cases as some sellers may be willing to carry a mortgage, especially for hard to sell properties, and when there is a substantial down payment.

Having funds available to close as soon as a due diligence is made and the respective documents prepared can help with negotiations, as most sellers will find a special appeal to this.

2. Prices are negotiable. In most cases prices will be negotiable. Most sellers will entertain reasonable offers. Less so if there is a major reduction already reflected in the asking price.

Realtors can be a good source of information as to how low the seller may go. With this information you can then make an offer that is a bit lower and at the same time does not offend the seller.


Ecuador has a remarkable real estate market where buyers can obtain extraordinary value. The property below is a fixer upper that can be had at an excellent price, with $30,000 down. There are several options here and I will do an article about them. Those that want the information sooner please let us know. This can be your balcony view!

3. Be clear who pays what taxes. It is customary in Ecuador for the buyer to bear with all closing expenses and transfer taxes except with capital gains tax, which is usually borne by the seller. The payment of capital gains tax is indispensable for the closing and for the deed to get registered.

Capital gains taxes can get high especially if the property is resold in a short time for important profits. I’ve seen cases where sellers’ try and hold buyers “hostage” for this payment at the last minute claiming it is to be paid by the buyer, as they hadn’t factored in how much they’d be paying for it.

So do be clear that this tax will be borne by the seller, and have this mentioned in the deed. Most lawyers will include this as a given.

Now, sellers and buyers can of course agree before closing who will bear with what tax or expense, including capital gains tax, but it should be clear before the closing and specified in the deed.

4. Be aware of tenants.  Some buyers may welcome a tenant I they are looking for rental income. However, a tenant can be a headache, especially for those looking to move in or be in full possession of the property right after closing.

Accepting a closing with an unwanted tenant will put a major burden on your shoulders if he/she refuses to move out in a timely way. In such case an eviction would need to ensue and it can take over 90 days.

5. Transfer tax reductions may apply. Senior citizens enjoy tax reductions at notaries and for real estate transfer taxes. In some cases the buyer will need need to apply for the reduction for it to be made effective.

Keep this in mind for as the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned.

6. Be aware of closing costs. While closing costs (notary’s fees, lawyer fees, transfer taxes, etc.) are not especially high in Ecuador, usually at about 2% of the transaction, it is important to get an estimate so you may plan accordingly.

7. If you wish to retain a housekeeper prepare a contract. Some larger properties may have a housekeeper whose services you may wish to retain. This can be quite handy if they know the property and its needs and can look after it when you are away.

However, for any such case you should have a new contract prepared, especially so if the caretaker lives in the premises. This way you minimize any exposure to unpaid worker’s benefits from before your purchase and to any claim on the property.

8. When closing, do specify in the deed when furniture is to be included. Some real estate transactions include furnishing and in such case it is important to specify so in the deed and or accompanying documents.

I’ve seen cases (although not many) where the furniture was supposed to be included, whether because it was stated in the ad, or it was negotiated or offered by the seller to prompt the deal and when the property was delivered it was missing all the furniture or part of it.

Once a seller has gone this way it can be quite difficult to force compliance unless the commitment is in writing and duly specified.

9. If you plan on making improvements, keep the invoice.  If you plan on making extensive renovations and improvements to a property, it is advisable to keep all expense invoices as they may come in handy for possible tax reductions if the property is resold in a relatively short period of time.

10. Purchase agreements must be public notarized documents.  In some real estate transactions where the closing has to be delayed, a purchase agreement may come in handy as it will give both seller and buyer important guarantees.

For purchase agreements to be effectively enforceable in Ecuador they need to be made in the form of a public notarized document. Private purchase agreements will have little enforceability.

11. Pay via a wire transfer. Perhaps the best way to pay for a real estate transaction in Ecuador when funds come from abroad is via a wire transfer. Sellers frown on being paid via check, especially as international checks can take over two weeks to clear and this can delay or complicated closings.

In most cases the wire transfer can be made immediately upon execution of the documents. This needs to be closely coordinated between buyer and seller so both parties have all due peace of mind at such time.

12. Do a good inspection before closing.  While sellers have the obligation to disclose defects and problems to prospective buyers (especially those that may not be readily apparent), some may not do so and if after moving in you encounter problems that should have been disclosed, you may then have a hard time getting a compensation from the seller or undoing the deal.
While the law protects buyers in these cases it is advisable the property be inspected thoroughly (or to have someone else do this) and ask the seller if there are any problems or defects.

BTW, any negotiated repairs should be specified in writing, with details and time frame.

13. Make sure all utility and service payments are up to date.  While often times this is overlooked, it is important to make sure that water, electricity, telephone and other services have been paid up to date. Otherwise you may have to pay up or risk the service being suspended, while you try to collect from the seller.

In the case of HOA fees, which can really add up, notaries and registrars will request a certification that the property is up to date. Make sure this is the case.

14. You may want to check applicable zoning.  If you plan on buying a property to develop or enhance or to convert into a commercial enterprise it is advisable to check the zoning for that particular area as there may be limitations.

15. Close at a notary’s office.  While some lawyers try and facilitate things with closings outside the notary (to then deliver the paperwork to the notary), it is advisable that all closings take place in a notary.

I trust you have found these tips handy. Let us know if you have any questions. We are here to help.

Kind regards,

Andrés Córdova


Property – Propiedad
Negotiation – Negociación
Payment – Pago
House – Hogar
Deed – Escritura

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