Helping expats find properties to rent or buy has been a core service offering from GringoTree (now YapaTree) for over a decade. When we took over in 2021, we recognized two things. Firstly, we received a lot of inquiries from owners looking to sell or lease their properties. Secondly, nobody was really serving the Cuenca expat real estate market well. Including us. Yes, we’ve been using our real estate forum to allow owners to post ads and searchers to respond. But, we hadn’t given it any real attention.
We’re excited to let you know that this has now changed.
This article gives you insight into why we’ve decided to overhaul our real estate offering to provide a much-needed service to the expat & English-speaking Ecuadorian communities.
The current state of Cuenca’s expat real estate providers
In a nutshell, it’s not great. As a renter and potential buyer, we’ve canvassed many different real estate agents. Not just some of the names you might have seen advertised to expats, but local agents too.
And, we’ve invariably had issues with 90% of our searches & property transactions. Yes, real estate is not an industry that the public places high trust in (according to the most recent Gallup Poll – only 25% trust agents highly or very highly). But, the lack of regulation in Ecuador tends to exacerbate these trust issues and it can definitely feel like you’re fighting your way through the wild west.
These trust issues are again heightened by Ecuador’s defamation laws that make it very difficult to provide an honest, negative review of an agent.
The bottom line is that expat buyers and renters can be easy prey for unscrupulous agents.
We aren’t suggesting that it’s impossible to find an honest real estate agent in Cuenca. We’re saying that in that our direct experience, and many conversations with other expats and locals, it can be very difficult.
Expat real estate agents
The number one qualification for many expats that decide to become real estate agents in Ecuador seems to be that they are also an expat. I understand the temptation. It’s easier to trust someone that speaks and looks like you.
But, does this qualify a person as a good agent? Put another way, can they:
- Effectively negotiate in Spanish with local owners?
- Do they have extensive networks in place to find the best deals?
- Do they have real experience with local laws and know how to navigate property transactions?
In most instances, a local agent is going to outperform an expat agent in all of the above criteria. They have the experience to do so.
Where local agents often fall down compared to expat agents:
- Communication – the agent can’t effectively communicate to English speaking expats and the expat doesn’t yet speak enough Spanish to overcome this obstable.
- Short term thinking – a common theme we’ve experienced is agents are mostly concernced at the most immediate deal in front of them, often at the expense of long-term value.
- Trust – it’s human nature to trust what is more familiar. For expats, that’s most likely going to be other expats.
The best of both worlds – Introducing YapaTree Properties
We’re launching our revamped property service to address the above shortfalls. Whilst I’m a property investor and have a lot of experience working with various real estate agents & projects, I am not an agent and I’d be doing you a disservice if I was to pretend that I was. No, that is not our approach.
Instead, we’ve searched long and hard for an appropriate partner that:
Truly understands the local market
The agent we’ve partnered with has 12 years of experience working as a full-time real estate broker in Cuenca.
Understands the needs of expats
The agent spent 29 years in the US before returning to their beloved Cuenca. They are US-educated (University level) with 11 years of experience as a real estate agent in the US.
Perhaps our biggest issue with finding an appropriate partner was trust. We first met this agent whilst going through this ‘lease agreement from hell‘ that was put in front of us by the landlord. This agent put OUR interests ahead of his own by pushing back on the landlord to the point where the agent cut ties with the landlord – and any commissions that would be received from this deal.
Understands long-term relationships
We’ve experienced numerous scenarios where an agent has tried to pressure us into just accepting the landlord’s contract because then the agent is going to be paid a commission. In my opinion, this is very shortsighted and removes any possibility of repeat business.
This is in stark contrast to our partner agent. They valued our long-term business and because of this we’ve kept in touch and sent more business their way. This agent has obtained the most success from repeat customers and we’re grateful to call them our partner.
The YapaTree Property platform
The previous approach of using our daily posts in a basic classified type format wasn’t going to cut it. It’s not user-friendly and we want you to have a positive experience when using any of our services.
So, we’re building a property platform that can display these properties and allow you to send inquiries directly to the agent from the property you’re interested in.
We’ve already built the 1st stage; houses to buy & we’ll be adding more houses over the coming week. Check out the current Cuenca properties for sale here.
There are many more features currently in the pipeline, including:
- Apartments for sale
- Land for sale
- Houses for sale
- Apartments for rent
- Self-uploading properties for Landlords & Owners
- ‘Find me a property’ where tenants and potential buyers can provide their details and we use our network to find them a suitable property.
We also have more features that we aren’t ready to disclose just yet. Of course, we’ll be happy to keep you in the loop by signing up to this mailing list specific for property in Ecuador:
Note – even if you receive our regular newsletters, you’ll need to sign up for this list as we won’t be sending property updates to our entire database.
Of course, we’d love any initial feedback on our new property platform. Feel free to share in the comments or contact us.