Unoccupied properties reflect the real estate crisis in Cuenca's historic city center
Many residential spaces in Cuenca's historic city center were mostly occupied by university students, but due to the suspension of face-to-face classes, many homes have been left uninhabited.
Germán Orellana, the owner of a property located on Calle Tarqui, maintains that for a year, he has not been able to rent an apartment, even though the rental price has dropped by at least 40%.
"It is so difficult to rent the apartments. Now everyone uses the COVID thing, and they do not want to legalize the lease. They do not want to give a guarantee, and at the time they want, they leave. Before, this house gave me good profitability, but now I'm thinking more about selling it. I have to wait a year or two to make that decision.
Due to lower sales, some shop owners struggle to pay their rents. As a solution, they move to cheaper places. However, there are also shop owners that move to better places without paying higher rental prices.
A particular category are businesses that used to have many university students as clients. As a result, their sales are substantially lower.
Lupercio, the owner of a party supply shop who moved his shop to another place (both at Calle Mariscal Sucre):
"I had to lay off employees; I couldn't pay the rent. In the new place, I am paying not so cheap, but it is something better. Previously he paid around 1,600 dollars (…) sales are scarce. Two family members had to close their businesses."
Some people claim that the lack of parking spaces is also a cause of the decline in sales in the historic city center. However, an underlying trend may be that the city center is transforming from a commercial area to a recreational area.
Source: El Mercurio.