Hey all of you!
I’m writing this post so you can read it, get excited and feel comfortable with the buying process down here in Costa Rica. Just like back at home, there are lots of stages to make sure everything is done correctly and your purchase is secure for you to enjoy!
The first stage is to find a great real estate agent (I may be biased, but Caribe Sur Real Estate in Puerto Viejo is probably the best one – If you’re looking to purchase in the Limon or Caribe Sur area of Costa Rica, then we really have you covered, and we have an excellent team of agents who would love to help you realize your dream! – blatant self promotion over now, I promise). Your real estate agent will be your best friend through the whole process, make sure you tell them everything you’re looking for, what your interests are, price ranges, types of property that interest you etc etc (The list goes on…basically, make sure they really know what you want, and they’ll be able to show you properties that really suit who you are.
The next big choice you’ll want to make is whether you’re looking for a land to build or a home. There’s a big difference in the commitment, but we aim to help you throughout the process and we have some great contacts to help build, manage and any other help you might need. There are some incredible land deals around, both close to town or up in the hills up and down the magnificent coast line.
There are also some great houses already built so you can get in straight away to enjoy everything the area has to offer and relax in your new life or vacation home!
Unlike a number of countries in the Latin American region, foreigners have the same rights when purchasing and owning a property as Costa Rican locals do. You may own the property outright in your name or through a corporation. There are a number of reasons you may want to purchase a property through a newly formed or dedicated corporation (S.A.). Depending on where you are from, it can be beneficial for tax as a corporation rather than personal and it is both easier and cheaper to transfer when (if) you decide to ever sell. Ask one of our agents for personal advise when you are purchasing a property.
You may have heard about the Maritime zone which limits construction on the first 200m from the high tide zone in all of Costa Rica (This has not been historically abided by in the town of Puerto Viejo and is a hot topic at the moment looking to declare it and urban coastal zone, and therefore outside of the zone). The first 50m is public land to protect the beaches and nature. Land in the remaining 150m of the Maritime Zone is purchasable as a concession (Think of it as a long lease for a period of time) – Appropriate permissions must be granted and it is complicated for a foreigner.
Next, get a good lawyer. This is more important than anything else. Along with your well chosen real estate agent, they can both make this whole process enjoyable and really smooth. Our favorite and most experienced law firm is Robles Oreamuno Law. They are San Jose based (So you can feel comfortable in their hands) They are taking an office in Puerto Viejo in our office space right away due to demand in the area which is fantastic, as convenience is definitely a factor for our clients.
So, you’ve got a great Real Estate agent, you’ve got a great Lawyer. Let’s assume now, you have found the perfect property – Congratulations!
Let’s make an offer! You will meet with the agent who will write the offer with you (This will have all the standard terms included, that the agent will run you through) and it will be presented to the seller – let’s assume the dream scenario, the seller accepts right away (Actually, that wouldn’t be the dream scenario…if the seller accepted the first offer, it means you should have gone lower. So let’s say for ease’s sake, not dream scenario haha)
Once the offer contract is signed, a deposit is needed (To be held in Escrow) – This is usually 10%. The closing period is normally between 30-60 days, so unless you want to either stay in Costa Rica for that time, or come back out for closing (Not the worst idea in the world if you’re looking for an excuse to come back), then it may be a good idea to have a Power of Attorney done so that a trusted party may sign on your behalf at closing.
I hope this high level over view of purchasing a property proves useful to you, I have of course left a lot out that your agent will be able to fill you in on (Costs, Insurance, Property Tax (which is REALLY low by the way) etc etc etc.)
Thanks for reading and good luck in your next life adventure!