Panama City is one of the key real estate markets to watch in the world, according to Knight Frank, one of the top global property agencies.
In its widely-read annual Global Wealth Report, Knight Frank singled out Panama City as one of its “cities of the future.” The report cited several factors, but primarily focused on the growing number of the wealthy individuals in the Panama capital.
While many real estate markets around the world are still struggling, Panama was one of 15 countries in the world to experience a growth in 2014 of at least 5 percent in the population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI), Knight Frank reports. UHNWI are defined as individuals worth more than $30 million, according to Knight Frank’s research. Panama is now home to 85 UHNWI, the report found.
“Investors are attracted by the strongest economic growth offered in the region and also a very competitive tax environment,” says Knight Frank in its annual Wealth Report, which tracks trends among the wealthiest property buyers around the world.
Knight Frank used a several economic and social factors to determine its “Cities of the Future,” in addition to the growing population of wealthy individuals. These cities are “locations whose influence we believe is growing strongly” and “should certainly be on the radar in terms of their wealth creation opportunities,” the report states.
Panama City fits the bill in many way. The city offers a “high degree of economic and regulatory stability,” Knight Frank reports. In addition, “high quality transport and health care and a growing presence of global hotels brands have drawn investment from entrepreneurs looking to expand on a strong food and lifestyle scene.”
The Economist magazine recently labelled Panama City the “Singapore of Central America,” which seems “increasingly prescient,” Knight Frank notes.
The number of high net worth individuals – wealthy people who haven’t achieved “ultra” status — has more than doubled since 2007, growing to 4,700 in 2014. That number is expected to grow to 7,000 by 2024, the agency predicts
Other cities singled out for their growth opportunities included Belgrade, Serbia; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Yangon, Myanmar;Overall, Knight Frank found the population of wealthy people around the world continues to grow, despite the economic turmoil.
After a 3.1 percent jump in 2014, the population of UHNWI has grown by 61 percent in the last decade, Knight Frank says. That trend is expected to continue, with the number of UHNWI expected to increase by 34 percent to 231,000 in the next decade.
The United States, which supplies the most buyers to Panama City, will continue to lead the world in UHNWI, with more than 51,000 forecast in 2024, a 25 percent increase from current levels. In contrast, Japan will have the second largest group, with only 19,916; China is forecast to boast 15,681 in the next decade.
Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.