Most foreigners — unlike locals, will rely on real estate agencies to find a place to live. The preferred method to find housing is through word of mouth, negotiating directly with the property’s owner.
Landlords, on average, prefer to rent to foreigners. Rental companies act as intermediaries, earning a commission from every property they sell or rent.
Gated community with view of Acatenango Volcano
It’s not uncommon for real estate agents to attempt to persuade clients to go above their budgets to earn a higher commission (typically the first month’s rent) or to try to unload hard-to-rent properties on unsuspecting foreigners. The advantage of using a realtor is that they regularly post their inventory online and most speak English well enough to act as a go-between the landlord and you.
How To Rent a Property in Antigua Guatemala
There are rental properties in Antigua Guatemala for every budget. The length of the typical rental agreements is one year. It’s possible to rent properties for six months or less, but they usually go for a premium.
The rental contract needs to be in Spanish to be enforceable. It’s in your best interest to sign one, as tenants with contracts have substantial rights in Guatemala – don’t do handshake deals on rentals. Prospective tenants are typically required to pay for a lawyer to draw up a contract, usually of the landlord’s choosing. A lawyer can draw up an agreement for about Q400 – be suspicious of inflated contract fees.
Before signing a rental agreement, tenants are required to either provide copies of bank statements to prove that they can pay rent or information about a third-party fiador (guarantor) with a demonstrable income — the guarantor usually a Guatemalan national with a job or properties to their name. Alternatively, tenants can pay the entirety of the agreement up front.
Upon signing the lease, you’ll be required to pay the first month’s rent, plus, a deposit amount equal to the first month’s rent — anything higher is unusual and a red flag.
Inspect the property very well before agreeing to rent it, as if things are unsatisfactory to you and you decide that you want to terminate the lease or not move in at all, the landlord will often refuse to refund any money already deposited.
A landlord is supposed to refund the deposit amount when a tenant moves out, but you can expect to fight it out with some landlords if the rental unit is less than spotless when you move out. You may also be required to pay a refundable fee for any special keys, garage, and electronic gate remotes provided to you.
Most properties listed online are furnished and include some, if not all utilities. If you’re going to be in Guatemala for some time, it might be best to invest in furniture and some appliances, as having your own will allow you to save quite a bit of money — unfurnished rentals tend to be markedly cheaper.
Real Estate Agencies in Antigua Guatemala
Some of the websites online where you can search for properties are (no order of preference):
Shop around, as properties are often listed in multiple sites, and prices may vary, sometimes in the range of hundreds of dollars. For example, real estate agencies that cater to foreigners, such as Century 21, will usually place a premium on their listings, so their listings will be at a higher price than that of other websites.
Online Classifieds in Guatemala
(antiguaguatemata.olx.com.gt) – Not a typo. A good site, but OLX needs to get their act together.
(guatemala.craigslist.org) – Not as popular in Guatemala, but worth checking out if you want to thorough.
Short Term Rentals in Antigua
If I were thinking of moving long-term here, this is where I’d check first. I’d rent a short-term property, explore for two to four weeks, check out properties and scope out neighborhoods, then make a commitment.
Renting short term reduces the chances of committing from abroad to a beautiful house that happens to be located next-door to an Evangelical church that performs weekly exorcism rituals (not exaggerating). If renting if one of the quaint little towns surrounding Antigua, beware of properties to close to the town’s main plaza unless you don’t mind loud music late at night on weekends.
Found this information useful?
Then check out my Living in Antigua Guatemala Guide on Amazon.
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