Colombian Property Rights for Foreigners
Unlike some other Latin American countries, you can own property in Colombia. As a property owner, you are afforded the same rights as a Colombian citizen. All you need is a passport to purchase real estate here. Colombia leads Latin America in its protection of the property owners' rights for foreign investors and the purchase of a property is a safe investment.
If you are buying in a condominium building or in a gated community, you should understand the Homeowner's Association Bylaws. In a building these rules are called ''Horizontal Property'' regulations. Every Homeowner's Association is required to have an annual general meeting within the first 3 months of the year. There may be a series of ''Acts'' that have been created during these annual meetings that are not part of the Homeowner's Bylaws. As part of your purchase process you should ask your attorney to review the Bylaws. These will not include the ''Acts'' from the General Meetings. If you want them studied then this may generate an additional cost depending on how much information your lawyer will have to sift through. Steckenreiter Serna and Associates may reivew up to 3 years of these Acts. Please review this article - http://www.steckenreiterserna.com/#!PROCESS-OF-PURCHASING-REAL-ESTATE-IN-COLOMBIA/colb/552d18be0cf2d211fed122c4
As Homeowner Association meetings can at times be a bore, sometimes we might be tempted to stick our heads in a hole and ignore them. It is important to attend these gatherings or send someone with a proxy to vote for you. Within these events the owners may pass rules that affect your property. For example, if a building has had a great deal of rentals to foreigners where there has been excessive partying, the owners may decide to create a rule regarding the minimum amount of time that an apartment may be rented in that building. A law currently exists in Colombia prohibiting rentals under 30 days unless 70% of the owners have agreed to allow these short term rentals. Some buildings will turn a blind eye to short term rentals if it is done discretely, however this is contrary to the law. If this is your intent then you should discuss this with your realtor and your attorney before you make any purchase.
Any additional repairs that the building may need may also be discussed and voted on at these meetings. If there is a quorem of onwers present, then if these repairs are approved, you will be assessed a ''Quota Extra''. This might be a one time charge or an additionally monthly fee attached to your HOA fees.
Property taxes are assessed differently depending on the municipality. These could range up to 1.6% of the value of your property per year. In Medellin the tax bills are issued every three months. The first two weeks of every trimester the tax office is closed while these invoices are being generated. In Envigado, the bills are issued only twice per year.
In Medellin, when you sell a property the taxes must be paid until the end of the year. The time remaining in the year will be prorated and you should be compensated for the difference by the buyer.
Make certain that you understand your rights.