Panama has strong protection in law on property rights and a centralized Public Registry which works well. However, our judiciary is not the best and there is some corruption in the system.
Therefore, you as buyer, should protect yourself by making the correct choices when purchasing property (and this applies whether in Panama or elsewhere).
Because our system is different to the one you are used to, it is very important that you hire a competent, independent and trustworthy lawyer to carry out the title search, contract negotiation and verification that title is properly recorded.
Furthermore, you need to understand what your property tax responsibilities are and when you need to pay your taxes.
Apart from this, every few years or so, you can have your attorney check the Public Registry to make sure there are no unusual documents attempted to be recorded without your knowledge.
If you happen to buy land where you are not living or cultivating, make sure you have someone to keep it clean, keep it fenced and post a sign with the registration details of the property and marked “private property” so squatters do not believe it is abandoned land.
Finally, stay away from “rights of possession” (R.O.P.) properties. These are NOT titled, there is no central registry for these, and third parties may appear later with a better claim than you, and these unexpected claims could jeopardize your investment.