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Expat Exchange - How to Buy a Home in Guatemala
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Guatemala City, Guatemala


How to Buy a Home in Guatemala

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: The one tip that you hear expats living in Guatemala repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Guatemala. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Guatemala is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Guatemala.

Buying a home in Guatemala can be an exciting prospect for expats looking to enjoy the country's rich culture, stunning landscapes, and affordable cost of living. However, navigating the real estate market in a foreign country can be challenging. This guide aims to provide essential information on how to find houses for sale, understand the restrictions on foreign property ownership, comprehend the role of brokers and lawyers, and avoid common pitfalls in the Guatemalan real estate market.

How Do I Find Houses for Sale in Guatemala?

There are several ways to find houses for sale in Guatemala. Online property portals and real estate websites are a good starting point. Local newspapers and real estate magazines also list properties for sale. Hiring a local real estate agent can be beneficial as they have extensive knowledge of the market and can guide you through the process. Networking with locals and expats can also lead to word-of-mouth property leads.

Are There Restrictions on Foreigners Owning Property in Guatemala?

Foreigners have the same rights as Guatemalan citizens when it comes to buying property, with no special restrictions or requirements. However, foreigners cannot own land directly next to bodies of water, borders, or historical sites. To get around this, many foreigners establish a Guatemalan corporation to purchase such properties.

Does Guatemala Have an MLS Type System?

Guatemala does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. This means that real estate agents do not share information about properties for sale. Each agent has their own unique listings, so it may be beneficial to work with multiple agents to find the best property.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They are Licensed?

Real estate brokers in Guatemala are required to have a license. You can verify a broker's license by asking to see it and checking with the Guatemalan Chamber of Real Estate (Camara de Corredores de Bienes Raices) or the Ministry of Economy.

What Documents are Required When Buying a Home?

When buying a home in Guatemala, you will need a passport or valid ID, a tax ID number (NIT), and proof of income. The property itself must have a property title, a property registration certificate from the Property Registry, and a municipal property tax receipt. It's also important to ensure there are no liens or encumbrances on the property.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Buying a Home in Guatemala?

Yes, it's highly recommended to hire a lawyer when buying property in Guatemala. A lawyer will conduct a title search, ensure there are no liens on the property, prepare the purchase agreement, and register the property in your name. Legal fees typically range from 1% to 3% of the property's purchase price.

Do People Typically Buy a Property with All Cash or Take Out a Mortgage?

Both options are common in Guatemala. However, getting a mortgage as a foreigner can be challenging and interest rates can be high. Many expats choose to buy property outright to avoid these issues.

Are There Inspections That Take Place, and If So What is That Process Like?

Home inspections are not as common in Guatemala as in some other countries, but they are highly recommended. A professional inspector will examine the property's structure, plumbing, electrical systems, and more. This can help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

What are Some of the Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in Guatemala?

Common pitfalls include not conducting a thorough title search, not verifying the broker's license, not getting a home inspection, and not fully understanding the terms of the purchase agreement. It's also important to be aware of potential fraud or scams. Always work with reputable professionals and seek legal advice when necessary.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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Guatemala City, Guatemala

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Flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Use Promocode: LIFE10 and get 10% off your international health insurance for life!
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