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Real Estate Market in Ecuador: Is it Time to Invest?

Posted in: Ecuador Real Estate, Living in Ecuador

Editor’s note: Hey guys, this is Bryan. Thinking about investing in the real estate market in Ecuador? In the following guest post, by Jesse Bayer of Abundant Living Ecuador, you’ll learn about the current state of Ecuador’s real estate market. I’ll turn it over to Jesse:

real estate market in Ecuador

The Real Estate Market in Ecuador

Following the collapse of the Sucre in 2000, subsequent dollarization, and the election of current President Rafael Correa in 2007 – Ecuador has experienced nearly 10 years of both monetary and political stability.

These factors coupled with large-scale infrastructure improvements and a credit and construction cycle led to massive economic growth.

For a little perspective – in 2000, Ecuador’s GDP was $18.3B, by 2007 it had grown to $51B and $100.9B by 2015. From 2010 to 2014 Ecuador averaged 5% growth annually.

real estate market in rural Ecuador

Improvements to infrastructure such as ports, airports, roads, healthcare, drinking water, sewers, electricity, education, police and fire played an integral role in Ecuador’s emergence.

From 2007-2014 Ecuador spent $8B on highways and roads alone.

In part, the government was able to finance this expenditure from oil revenue – aided by surging prices.

OPEC member Ecuador, like much of Latin America and emerging markets around the world is heavily reliant on oil revenue. In 2014, oil revenue made up 28% of Ecuador’s public revenue.

With oil prices soaring in the mid to late 2000’s, the timing was perfect for oil dependent populist leaders such as Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez to implement their big government, big spending policies. Although it could be argued that the exceptional growth was due in large part to government spending – during the best years of growth Ecuador’s public spending constituted as much 44% of GDP – it worked.

Factors Affecting Ecuador’s Economy

However starting in 2014, a confluence of events created what are now significant headwinds for Ecuador’s economy, which has in turn affected asset prices – specifically real estate.

In July of 2014 oil prices began to plummet. At the same time banks in Ecuador tightened credit.

Ecuador experienced a massive increase in its money supply between 2007 and 2014. From January 2007 to December 2014, M2 Money Supply increased from $11.8B to $40B.

At the same time Ecuador’s banks (both private and public) were expanding credit. Loans, with interest often in the upper teens or low twenties and heavily collateralized became commonplace.

In late 2014, banks began to tighten credit. Lines of credit were pulled for builders, mortgages became difficult to obtain and personal and business loan standards much more stringent.

In part due to the credit contraction, the construction boom Ecuador had experienced for the better part of a decade slowed.

At the same time, the government announced budget cuts – 2016’s proposed budget was more than $5B less than 2015’s. Reduced public spending placed an additional drag on the economy.

Many would also argue the increasingly restrictive tax and regulatory measures implemented by Correa’s Alianza PAIS who have maintained firm control over the country’s politics since Correa’s election have played a significant role in Ecuador’s troubles as well.

A decidedly anti business stance, including a 5% capital flight tax, a 14% value added tax, draconian policies governing the mining and lumber industries and extreme proposals on capital gains and inheritance taxes have lead to capital flight. Some wealthier Ecuadorians, business owners and entrepreneurs have left in search of greener pastures.

These events were reflected in GDP as well as money supply growth – both essentially flat in 2015.

Then, in April of this year, with the IMF already predicting a negative 4.5% GDP for 2016, a major earthquake struck the northern coast causing significant damage. This has put increased pressure on the budget and economy.

What Does All This Mean for Real Estate in Ecuador?

It means falling prices. With all these factors at play, capital in short supply and many leveraged property owners under pressure to repay high interest loans, prices are falling.

In Loja, where I run a real estate and relocation services company, we have seen prices come down significantly off of the 2012 highs.

This is true for all types of real estate.

Large Fincas, lots in places like Malacatos or Vilcabamba, land in Zamora and houses and apartments in the city.

Watch on YouTube

For example, in 2012 flat lots with all the amenities in Vilcabamba and Malacatos were selling for around $20-30/m2. Now the sales price is likely to be closer to $10-15/m2.

As people like to say ‘no hay plata’.

Brand new, high-end apartments in Loja, which were being sold for around $900-1,000/m2 just a couple of years ago are now commonly going for around $800/m2 or less.

With oil prices beginning to recover, banks starting to lend a bit more and continued international interest in Ecuador, it is impossible to predict if this price decline will continue.

luxury real estate in Ecuador

As an expat or investor, it is certainly an interesting time to snap up properties at a discount.

The story remains intact – an abundance of pure water, fertile soil, clean air, friendly people, political stability, great infrastructure and exceptional quality of life and cost of living benefits are some of what has attracted many to Ecuador.

Read more about Ecuador real estate.

Watch on YouTube

With things like BREXIT dominating the news and the world awash in central bank created debt, we shall see what the future holds for Ecuador and the world, but certainly there is some opportunity here now to own valuable assets such as farmland or simply invest in the lifestyle you desire at prices we may not see again anytime soon.

About Jesse Bayer: jesse bayer ecuadorJesse was a New York based real estate investor who relocated to Ecuador in 2013 and is now the Co-Founder and Managing partner at Abundant Living Ecuador, a Real Estate and Relocation Services Company based out of Loja. Jesse has prepared a free Ecuador Relocation Guide.

Read more about why Jesse decided to move to Loja, Ecuador.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

16 comments… add one
  • jorge valencia Nov 16, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Dear Jesse:

    We have an office, to sell in Quito.
    Please see attached web
    Are you interested to promote it between your investors ?

  • Aimee Dillon Aug 22, 2018, 9:04 pm

    Hello everyone, I have lands in Ecuador that I could sell if anyone is interested, from lands to houses. Contact me if interested

  • Norie Huddle Mar 14, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Hi Jesse,
    About a week ago, someone suggested Abundant Living Ecuador to my husband and me as a good real estate company to work with. We have an amazing 350-acre property close to Vilcabamba, with over a mile of riverfront. We subdivided a small number of lots and have sold almost half of them ourselves.

    I attempted to load your website but it does not seem to be working. We’d like to meet with you and discuss possibilities for working with you. You can get a feel for what we have for sale here:

    Thank you!
    Norie Huddle & Richard Wheeler

  • Warner Quinlan Jun 7, 2017, 10:56 am

    Good read.Looking for real investment opportunities in South America particularly in Ecuador.Real business opportunities are great.Thanks for sharing.

    • Jesse Bayer Jun 22, 2017, 8:52 am

      Thanks Warner. I’d be happy to chat with you about investment opportunities here sometime. 1-888-999-0948.

  • Jeanne Johnson Jun 4, 2017, 2:45 pm

    I’ve read about Cuenca and find the prospect of living there or some other place in Ecuador very appealing, although I would definitely want to learn to speak better Spanish. On the other hand, I love the beach and it’s not right on the beach. What’s the best way for people in Cuenca to get to the beach, especially if they don’t want to buy a car, and are there beaches near Cuenca you would recommend?


    • Jesse Bayer Jun 22, 2017, 8:51 am

      Hi Jeanne. Cuenca is a minimum of 4 hour drive from the beach. You can also fly to Guayaquil from Cuenca and then you are about an hour or so to a decent beach.

  • Angie Feb 23, 2017, 9:00 am

    Hello Jesse,

    What do you think about the risk of the coutnry going back to the sucre, that is experiencing the same issues that affected Argentina on the one-to-one convertability crisis? My fear is that I buy something in USD Dollars with USD dollars financing and then the country goes back to the Sucre and asset value drops while I still hold debt in USD Dollars. Thank you!

    • Jesse Bayer Mar 5, 2017, 10:20 am

      Hi Angie,
      A return the the Sucre is currently not being discussed and I don’t believe there is any risk of that ever happening. The only scenario I can think of that Ecuador could go off the USD is in some sort of USD hyperinflation scenario, in which case Ecuador could look to use a more stable currency.

      Warm regards,

      • Mike Nov 9, 2017, 5:57 am

        What is the current trend of prices since 2016, when this article was written, and does that tend extend into 2018 and 2019, especially with the new policies of the new government, and the government’s strong efforts to complete switching to electronic currency?

        Could investments then be mainly tied up indefinitely and whatever electronic currency format exists versus selling and retaining in US dollars. At the same time it seems like many there took out credit on buying properties, like the USA did before the housing market crash, but the check is not become due yet for Ecuador. They do not have the ability to pump (print and dump) US dollars into the economy as the United States did to get out of its housing crisis, and resultant market collapse. Would then Ecuador have it’s only option to switch to denomination (likely electronic currency) so as to manifest its own destiny at that point?

        Finally, regardless of a possible housing market crash, could the current government’s determination to finish switching to its electronic currency in 2018, then force real estate sales to be in this electronic currency only; as it becomes the way the government pays people and force it’s use through policies restricting the use of hard cash? Also how will If we were to handle the transition from US dollar to electronic currency? How much of this will be forced to be exchange for the new electronic currency? E.g. switching to to the new electronic currency preventing investors from easily or cheaply/ever moving investment money out of Ecuador? You already mentioned the 5% tariff on outgoing money, but didn’t mention the new real estate laws on renting properties and the new deep taxes for such, for the past history of the Ecuadorian government just reaching into banks and simply taking money from its people.


  • BETTYBUU Dec 29, 2016, 2:11 am

    Jesse Bayer
    You write an Australian LADY – interested in moving to
    LOJA . Or Vilcabamba
    The interesting thing is to think open Italian and Spanish- Food.
    I SPEAK ENGLISH – SPANISH – ITALIAN and I understand Portuguese.
    My arrival would be in MARCH. GOD WANTS
    I’m going to need a large House with 4 Rooms minimum
    With an excellent location.
    Please send me an email
    Movile 0405-922-333
    International phone 0011 61-02 42443753
    THANK YOU. Bettybuu from Australia.

    • Jesse Bayer Feb 12, 2017, 1:19 am

      Hi Betty,

      I just saw this and sent you an email.

      Warm regards,


  • Miguel Flores Oct 7, 2016, 7:06 pm

    very informative aritle

    • Jesse Bayer Feb 12, 2017, 1:19 am

      Thanks Miguel.

      • Felipe Oct 24, 2017, 5:44 pm

        Hello Jesse, I’m Felipe from Brazil, I work with financial management. I have a client from Venezuela that has 2 apartments in Ecuador as a investment. Do you know when it would be a good time to sell? She doesnt need the money right now.
        As I don’t understand Ecuador’s Economy i would apreciate to talk with you.

        Thank you.

        • Jesse Bayer Oct 25, 2017, 10:52 am

          Good Morning,

          Happy to touch base.

          My Skype handle is jtbayer, my whatsapp is +593 (0) 98 074 8925.

          Warm regards.

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