Yes, i am buying a 1.5 meter wide house in Iquitos, Peru attached to a 6 meter wide one that as one form a duplex with the owner´s home. Here´s what happened. The owner and I shook hands today on the 6 meter wide house of bricks when Jorge the great paper man piped, ´according to the title your deceased wife is the only one who can sell half the house.´ We swatted flies on that for a while until I suggested a wall be built down the middle of his side of the existing duplex. i.e. years ago a single grand house had been divided but not down the middle. Due to this technicality the widowed owner at present cannot sell the casa I want, nor his own, nor even the entire property. His dead wife owns half of it. My suggestion to build a new wall down the middle of his home where he´ll continue to live in rich economy was whooped as the problem solver. He pockets another $500 for the addition but must build the wall that provides me with another 1.3 meters wide and 6 meters long house. The title is clean, my purchase is $2000 and jorge says it´s worth $15,000. Everyone is smiling and I have a guest house for a thin person.

Alex Castaldo jokes:

Sounds like a garbled situation right out of a Hernando de Soto book.  You have clean title, but the other guy doesn't. What would happen if you made a lowball offer for the other half of the house to the wife's estate and it was accepted? Ask your lawyer.

Bo Keely elaborates:

Home sweet home is located in the iquitos suburbs, or what passes as such for a jungle town. iquitos is a steamy jungle port set on two rivers. One paved road courses a few km out of town into the green, and my place sits at km9 on a dirt road. My neighbors are the ghost of the dead widow in the 1.5 meter casa, and the next door owner. There´s electricity at $4 per month and a new well 30' from the front door. It´s a brick house, costly and fashionable in this neck that´s on a relative par value with your Orange County bungalow. The floor is rare concrete and it has a tin roof that´s a step up from the traditional thatch. The former owner and my new neighbor works as a property guard all night and returns home to work construction, sleeps two hours, and goes to the night job. He´s 72 yrs. old, and likewise the other few neighbors are simple. The backyard has a latrine and wading pool for mosquitoes, plus i´ve arranged during a recent boat tour gathering solderers´ lead droppings for my ankle weights to buy scrap metal to solder into a 3-meter cube for backyard safekeeping as i travel. A 33cent bus runs every couple hours to central iquitos and the internet.

Gringos say it was dumb luck to buy a $15,000 home for $2,000 in one day, however here´s the house hunting technique I used. The previous day I hired a motorcycle-taxi who knew the areas i wanted to reconnoiter. The taxi stopped 100 meters from ´for sale´ signs where i stayed low as the driver knocked on doors to ask two key questions: title and price. Once a gringo is spotted the price triples. We viewed about 200 and walked through 20 houses for sale by individual owners, and typically the neighbors beleaguered me offering their own homes for sale matching the ´for sale´price. It was as delightful search for a jungle nook, home sweet home, that anyone may relive.





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4 Comments so far

  1. Rocky Humbert on July 24, 2009 8:27 am

    As a believer in both relatively efficient markets, it looks like you got a fair deal, but not a bargain.

    You bought an 83 sq. foot house for $2000, or about $24/sq foot. The median income in Peru is $4400. The median income in the USA is about $50,000. Using a rule-of-thumb based on per capita income, that $24/sq foot house would equate to a $273/sq foot house in a “typical” US neighborhood, which seems entirely reasonable. However, at $15,000 (which you say it’s worth), that would be equivalent to about $2,000/sq foot — which only prime Manhattan real estate or incredible beachfront property can command.

    Now you can tell me that I know zero about Peruvian real estate, and you’ll be entirely correct.

  2. SG on July 24, 2009 9:05 am

    Bo: this is excellent. While I have used my imagination to picture your new home, and while I have loved reading about the home and the story that went behind the purchase, I can’t help but wish that I could see a picture of it, inside and out. On the other hand, seeing the picture may ruin the whole story and may strangle my imagination. Just like how many movies don’t do justice to the novels from which they are inspired.

  3. david higgs on July 26, 2009 8:00 am

    when everyone is smiling be sure you’re the butt of the joke, esp. below the Rio Grande…….

  4. david higgs on July 26, 2009 8:12 am

    sounds to me you could of saved a fortune by just getting come card board and old rusty tin and constructed your own mansion and the good thing being if ya didn’t like your neighbors all you’d have to do is fold up your abode and move to the next shanty town with fresh whores, Rocky that’s why the sellers were all smiling……


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