When buying or building a house in Paraguay there is relatively little red tape. This does make the whole process much simpler and less bureaucratic.
However, it is important to remember that red tape is lacking for sellers as much as buyers so caution and due diligence must be applied before making any purchases. That said, if approached carefully there are plenty of fine properties to be found across the country at very reasonable prices.
Your two main options are either to buy a house or buy some land on which to have one built.
Buying a house in Paraguay
There are plenty of houses for sale all across Paraguay which could become home.
You can choose either a modern property built to European and North American standards or a Paraguayan style one to renovate and redesign to your personal tastes.
Although prices have increased noticeably over recent years you will still find that in real terms the prices in Paraguay are considerably lower than elsewhere for similar properties.
A top-end house will often come with sizable grounds and if in the countryside – with its own stretch of clear, unpolluted stream.
Alternatively, if you wish the house to be a project that once completed will be everything you want in a house, consider buying a smaller, more basic house on a good piece of land. You can renovate and extend it to create a unique home that is truly your own.
Can a foreigner buy a property in Paraguay?
Yes. There are no laws in Paraguay stipulating who can and who cannot buy property here.
In fact, residency is not even required for the purchase of land and property. A valid passport is considered sufficient identification.
The benefit of this is that you can begin searching for a home as soon as you arrive in Paraguay rather than having to wait until the residency process has been completed and an ID card issued.
You can buy a property before starting the residency process. In such a case rather than being required to hold $5,000 on deposit whilst residency is completed the Immigration Ministry will allow you to use the property deeds as a deposit.
In Paraguay, everyone with properties to sell knows very well that foreigners can buy them. You may receive multiple offers. Take your time to visit the ones you are interested in and don’t rush into any decisions.
There are sharp practices, cons and scams for which someone new to the country is the obvious target. You can avoid them by taking advice from either the expat community or established real estate businesses.
How much are houses in Paraguay?
In Paraguay, it is possible to buy a house for very little money. This however would be just a one-room shack with a tin roof. Unless you are seeking a real back to basics lifestyle you should plan to spend a little more.
House prices in Paraguay are in very general terms governed by two things: location and size.
In terms of property values, in Paraguay size really does matter. This system dates back to when the majority of properties being sold were agricultural ones whose value was tied to the amount of land they contained.
The starting price for modern properties is $150,000. For that, you will be able to find a comfortable medium-sized home.
The asking prices will rise with the size of the property and also with its location. A townhouse will cost noticeably more than a country house with Asunción being the most expensive place to buy a house in the country where a starting price of $250,000 is quite normal.
As houses increase in size and levels of luxury so do their prices. A top quality county house with grounds, views and a river can go for over £1,000,000. Even at that price though you will find homes to be of extremely good value. You can get far more for your money in Paraguay than elsewhere.
It is vital to look at a number of properties before making any decisions. There is no standardised system for valuing houses and instead the price asked is often the one the current owner thinks is appropriate. Some are more realistic than others.
Buying a house in Paraguay – step by step procces
1. Do your research
Many of the real estate agents in the country have details of their properties online. In Paraguay, they are known as Immobiliaria and range from nationwide chains to one man independents.
The online information may be fairly basic but enough to form a general picture of what is available and the prices.
2. Find a real estate agent
Once you are in Paraguay, find an Immobiliarias agent. Some estate agents specialize in dealing solely with expats. Often they are expats themselves.
Unless you are fluent in Spanish one of the expat Immobiliarias would probably be best. Just ask within the local expat community for recommendations.
3. Invest time in house viewings
Having an agent will make this a great deal easier. It is important to see a range of properties before making any decisions; your agent will organise and plan the whole thing for you.
4. Find a solicitor
Once the right property at the right price has been found, the next stage is to have everything recorded and set out legally: the price so it can't change, the completion date and what fees are due to everybody.
For this, a solicitor is required. Your solicitor will draw up a contract of sale. At this point, it is normal to pay a deposit with the remainder to be settled on the due date as stated in the contract.
Tip: There are legal fees attached to a property sale. Who pays what proportion is open to negotiation.
An equal split between a buyer and seller is fairly common practice but if they do not appear too great you may wish to take them all on yourself as a gesture of goodwill towards the seller.
This will help avoid any problems with completion should the seller fail to pay his portion of the fees later on.
It’s a good idea to visit the property one more time before completing to ensure that all that had been agreed to be sold as part of the property remains there.
5. Complete the purchase
Finally, all that is left is a second visit to the solicitor to complete the sale and to arrange the final payment.
Buying land and building a house
Many expats choose to buy land in the countryside and build a house.
There are small plots of land for sale in the towns but these are small unloved corners of a larger property being sold to raise some quick capital.
Such plots are easier to connect to utilities and will give you a proper town living. If you are, however, after a bigger plot and a larger house in an unspoiled natural environment, head to the countryside.
Cost of land in Paraguay
The price of land in Paraguay is quoted by the hectare and varies in different locations. You will pay the highest in or near Asunción, then a little lower if you decide to live in Caacupe, San Bernardino, or Encarnacion and finally lowest for plots deep in the interior.
Despite these differences, it is possible to use the figure of $15,000 per hectare as a guide. A little more would be asked for land near Asunción, but not substantially more. Land with views and streams will be valued a little higher than that which is just grass and trees.
Also, the land within a property will be priced per hectare regardless of how usable differing areas of it are. If for example, a portion of the land is marsh unsuitable for anything that will not be reflected in the price.
For that reason, it is of vital importance that you survey the whole plot before making any decisions.
How much does it cost to build a house
Paraguay is the least expensive country in Latin America and building costs are far lower than in Europe or North America.
However, as there is no standardised system for pricing properties, fixing an exact price for building a property including both materials and labour is difficult.
The greatest differences are seen in the costs of materials.
House builds are priced per square metre. The use of cheaper poorer quality materials would reduce the costs in the same way as the best quality top of the range materials would increase it.
Looking at things this way a figure of $350 per square metre would not be far from the actual final cost. You will find the majority of this being used for materials rather than labour.
For a more detailed breakdown of materials and cost check out Paraguayan architectural publications costos.com.py and mandua.com.py.
The paperwork for buying land is not overly complicated.
One document that must be provided prior to the purchase is an accurate survey of the boundaries of the land in question.
This is standard procedure for land purchases in Paraguay and so your local Paraguayan solicitor will know who is available in the area to provide this service.
Using GPS measurements and digital photographs the survey will produce a plan which should confirm the dimensions quoted in the property deeds.
Once that is in order a contract of sale can be drawn up. At this point, it is standard practice to pay a deposit.
Then at a later date as stated in the sale contract the balance will be due for payment and fresh property deeds will be drawn up in your name.
Tips for trouble-free property purchase in Paraguay
Here are a few tips to help ensure that your search for a Paraguayan property is as smooth and trouble-free as possible.
Firstly throughout the process from the first research through to the final signing off of paperwork seek advice.
This will be offered from numerous sources. An internet search, the local expat community and of course also those living already in the area you are considering moving to.
Seeking advice is by far the simplest way of avoiding any tricks, scams and fraudulent offers. It is also the best way of discovering those hidden gems that might otherwise remain unnoticed.
Secondly, look carefully and thoroughly at everything. No one will take offence if you wish to visit a property several times before making any decisions. Far better to discover early any small easily rectified problems along with any major ones that would question the viability of the purchase.
If you are buying land, study the survey to ascertain exactly where the boundaries are and what is and is not within them. Also how clearly that boundary is marked by fences or other means, such as a riverbank.
Then be sure to listen. Those who are either nationals or long time expats have much to say. Some of it may be a little contradictory but for guidance and advice nothing beats local knowledge.
And finally, if you intend to purchase land upon which to build, consider how much you are buying. The low cost of land can and does tempt people into buying more than they can cope with.
Unless it is to be used for agriculture, the land can soon become overgrown with long grass and weeds. Nature does not hesitate to reclaim ground in Paraguay.
Buying a property in Paraguay – summary
Property and land prices are low in Paraguay in comparison with many other countries and so in relative terms, you will get much more for your money.
Anyone can buy property in Paraguay. There are established expat communities and real estate agents who are used to dealing with overseas clients.
Caution and common sense are required when considering real estate purchases but as this will probably be the largest purchase you make in the country so should they be.
All that remains is to begin the research that may lead to your Paraguayan dream home.