5 Things You Must Know Before Buying Costa Rica Real Estate

Despite a relatively simple process when it comes to investing in Costa Rica real estate, there are a few things that one must consider before pulling the trigger.

Over the past few years, the real estate market in Costa Rica has been hedging forward since going “soft” during the world economical upheaval. Whereas in it’s prime during the mid-90s, property here was flying out the doors of agencies across the country.

“If you couldn’t sell real estate in Costa Rica during the mid-90s then you should’ve seriously considered another profession because it was that easy. It was definitively a buyers market and with NBC claiming the Costa Rica real estate market as one of the hottest on the planet…this only drove sales higher.” stated Brett Elliott of CRREC, the country’s most renowned real estate agency.

While things are a lot different today, the precautionary steps preceding a purchase have remained the same.

  1. Due diligence: although many people coming to Costa Rica have only the best intentions in mind, more often than not they seem to have a tendency to check their “common sense” in at the airport upon arrival. Simply retain all the common sense you’d normally utilize when doing any transaction back home and you should be ok.
  2. Costa Rica lawyers: the fact is there are a few professions that dominate throughout all of Costa Rica and one of them is the lawyers. They are a dime a dozen and landing the right one might prove difficult. Simply because the lawyer speaks English is no excuse to hire him/her. Ask for references. Ask for credentials. Be sure they are in no way, shape or form associated with the seller. Always hire your own Costa Rica lawyer and if all of the above is met you should be ok. Please note: getting references does not mean 1 or 2 – any good attorney will gladly provide a list of your approval for references of past “gringo” clients for you to interview.
  3. Squatters: maybe you’ve not thought of this however in Costa Rica there is a real concern when it comes to buying property here (especially larger ones) whereas anyone can “squat” for a period of time (3 months) and if you do not have them evicted from the property within this timeframe then you can stand a very good chance of losing your property to the squatters who by then have rights.
  4. Registry: in Costa Rica there is a central registry that records any/all leans or transactions against property. It is highly recommended to check the registry for any irregularities in the registry as to avoid future problems. Do not trust the vendor and be sure to have your trusted Costa Rica attorney review the documents in the registry.
  5. Closing costs: here the closing costs are ALWAYS negotiable unless of course it is a bank foreclosure and you are dealing with the bank. Often these costs are split between the seller and the buyer. It is important to understand that here the vendor pays the realtor his/her commission so if you have a situation where the realtor is request you – the buyer – pays commission then it is advisable to consult your attorney to explain why/how this is.

So should you be considering Costa Rica real estate for sale, we highly recommend following the above advise to be secure in knowing you’ve done your part to ensure the transaction is done smoothly and without error.