ISAM Proyectos Inmobiliaros, which converts older commercial properties into multiunit residential buildings. Now they go for about $1,600 a square meter, he estimated, significantly more than what they cost a decade ago. “Foreigners want to be here. It’s where social and cultural life happens.”

While Ecuadoreans power the market in greater Cuenca, the city has long attracted retirees with its low cost of living and high quality of life. Most of them are Americans, with a small portion from Canada and Europe, according to Maite Duran, founder of the Gringo Visas consultancy, which helps foreigners obtain visas. “Americans see the cost of groceries here compared to home, and they’re amazed,” she said. “Services here are pennies to the dollar.” In 2018, the website International Living named Cuenca one of the world’s best retirement destinations, spurring another surge of arrivals.

Digital Nomad visa launched in March 2022, requires proof of employment with a minimum monthly income of $1,275, Ms. Duran said. The most popular visa remains the retirement visa, which requires a $1,275 monthly income from sources like pensions, dividends or Social Security, and specifies an income of $250 a month for dependents or additional applicants. Visas, valid for 24 months, “allow the same benefits and guidelines as any Ecuadorean, including access to government health insurance, opening a bank account, and the ability to work here,” she said.

Grace Nelson law firm in Cuenca. “Some exclusions apply around borders with Peru and Colombia, but foreigners don’t buy there,” she said.

Notaries oversee property transactions, “though we always advise that foreign buyers retain an attorney,” Ms. Velastegui said. “A lot of people here claim to be real estate agents, but they’re not.”

The attorney executes a title search, and both parties sign an “earnest money agreement,” with a small goodwill deposit for taking the property off the market.

Most of Ms. Velastegui’s foreign clients grant her power of attorney for property transactions, “and not just people outside Ecuador,” she said. “If you don’t speak Spanish, it’s mandatory to have a representative translate for you during the closing.”

Most foreign buyers pay cash “because they have to,” said Mr. Amoroso of HouseHuntEC. Mortgages are not available to foreigners until they have lived in Ecuador for three years, he said, though in rare cases buyers short on cash may arrange a mortgage directly with sellers.

Spanish; U.S. dollar

Buyers in Ecuador can expect to pay a total of about 3 percent of the sale price on taxes and closing fees, Ms. Velastegui said. That includes notary fees, a 1 percent transfer tax, and a municipal registration fee that varies by region and sale price.

Lawyer’s fees generally total about 1 percent of the price; a power-of-attorney agreement costs an additional $80.

Fees for visas begin at $450, Ms. Duran said. Her company charges $1,550, including visa fees, to complete applications.

Broker commissions in Ecuador vary from 4 to 6 percent, Ms. Rogers said. Annual property taxes on this home total about $40.

Ashley Rogers, Ecuador At Your Service, 011-593-99-547-5116,

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