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How to buy a property in Costa Rica for Foreigners

There are many reasons that inspired people to find Costa Rica as their new haven.  And many of them are foreigners from different countries including the US. It could be the beautiful weather. Or could it be the laid-back lifestyle or the exciting new life that this country has to offer? 

It is undeniably very easy to fall in love with Costa Rica for whatever reasons one may have. We can’t count the reasons why we love this country. But if you are someone who is dreaming of owning real estate in this tropical paradise, hear this. You shouldn’t forget the technicalities. Make smart decisions and knowledgeable steps towards your dream.

The truth is, one must have access to expert knowledge about Costa Rica’s real estate. You need it to find the best properties here. Otherwise, you probably are missing so many options. This country is very diverse and many options can also overwhelm you. The best guidance you can get is what you can learn on your own before you take the next step.

Nobody is perfect. We make mistakes, but this isn’t the one you would want to make. When it comes to finding the perfect property to invest in, you should set your standards high. We believe in finding the perfect real estate investment for everyone. 

Century21 has the most complete property listing. We are confident that you can find the perfect property out there for you. We do our best to help people find the best locations and the best prices for their real estate investment.

Here are the fundamentals for you to become a knowledgeable property buyer in Costa Rica. A good real estate agent should be able to explain all these things to you, along with a few more extras. But it wouldn’t hurt to know all these before approaching one. If you are really serious about owning a property in Costa Rica, you should give it due diligence. Know first things first.

Buying property in Costa Rica can be easy

Buying a property in Costa Rica is not too difficult. But there are things that may require some technical knowledge to navigate. This is especially true when navigating Costa Rica’s property market. It is advisable to get a trusted real estate agent that you can expect to know it all for you. But even if you do have one, you must research it on your own. Try to familiarize yourself with the Costa Rican real estate market.

Real estate agents can support you every step of the way. Depending on their resources, they can provide you with a lot of information and many options. Choose an agent that you can trust to provide this for you. Otherwise, you could be missing out on a lot of good places and good deals.

Contact one of our best agents here at Century21. We do not only have the biggest listings, but we also know the best places in Costa Rica for expat living. 

This is something you should know about Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a small country that offers diverse lifestyles. And we understand that here, lifestyle is an investment. You could be looking for a simple inexpensive daily living or you want a posh beach life for yourself. Or it could be for visitors because you can invest in a vacation home that you can rent out to tourists as well. People here pay for the lifestyle they want.

Real estate agents are extremely helpful in the entire process. You can also get the help of an attorney for complex legal matters. Not only attorneys are Notary Public, but they also act on behalf of the State of Costa Rica.

Having the right people to assist you through the process, makes owning a property in Costa Rica a breeze. The right people will educate you into making the right decisions. They will guide you through the crucial steps to successful property ownership.

Costa Rica real estate: A primer for foreign real estate buyers

Allow us to assist you and show you where to begin. This way you’ll easily grasp the whole process. You’ll understand each stage of the buying process in a foreign country like Costa Rica.

Buying property in Costa Rica – Who can buy property in this country? 

There are different land ownership laws in every country. Luckily in Costa Rica, foreign individuals have the same rights as the locals. You can buy a property here without needing to be a citizen or a resident of this country. 

You can register your property under your name or a corporation. We can discuss further why registering under a corporation is a better option for some. Generally, we recommend hiring an attorney if you still don’t have one. Hiring your own attorney will make legal matters less complicated.

Hiring an attorney and real estate company

Your attorney can help you form a corporation. He/she also helps you open a bank account. Hire an attorney who can assist you in securing all the pertinent legalities needed for buying properties in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has a national registry. Your attorney can do a property search here to check if the property has a clear title. He/she also check any restrictions that should be known. This should be done before pushing through with the transaction.

Work with a trusted Costa Rican real estate company. This can provide you extra security. Real estate companies in this country are governed by standard rules and regulations. It is safer to navigate the real estate market with them. Additionally, a good real estate company is very familiar with the local market. They can provide you better insights and can easily spot anything out of the ordinary.

The Maritime Law

It is common to want a beachfront property in Costa Rica. After all, Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches. Who doesn’t want an ocean view everyday? That is why it is also very important to be familiar with Maritime Law. Find out more about the best places to live in Costa Rica. It can help you decide which location is best for you. 

200 meters from the high tide line is governed by this law. Within 50 meters of this area is considered part of the public beach wherein no one can build anything here. The remaining 150 meters is called a concession property. We will talk more about buying a beachfront house in Costa Rica in a different article.

Most of the beach fronts in Costa Rica are concessions. But there are also titled beach fronts.  Most of them can be found in the established areas in Costa Rica like Jaco. There are also many beach properties that have access to the beach. Technically, they aren’t beach fonts. So you don’t have to worry about the Maritime Law when buying these properties. These properties offer you the same opportunity to enjoy the ocean view.

Process of buying property in Costa Rica

You can work with an expert in the process of buying property in Costa Rica. He/she can help you from gathering your options to documentation. He/she can help in the entire real estate transaction. But even if you have a good real estate agent by your side, you should still choose to be a knowledgeable buyer. Have a basic to a comprehensive understanding of the process. 

Here are the key stages of the process that you should know. It is also good to familiarize yourself with the basic terms used in the purchase process. 

Property Search

Get good resource persons and communicate with the right people. They should make it easier for you to find all the great options out there. And so when you are eyeing a property that you want to buy, you should be able to carry out a proper property research.

It is important to know that all properties in Costa Rica have a social security number. They call it the Folio Real. 

This property number consists of 3 groups of numbers. With the first group of numbers indicating the province. The second group is the actual property numbers. The third group of numbers should tell you how many owners that property has. 

Costa Rica has a centralized public registry. You can use the property number to do an initial property search via the National Registry. If you have an attorney, he/she can do a deeper search for you later. He/she can check the property for any restrictions and issues. Those matters should be known if any. A good property search and check must be done first prior to making an offer. A more comprehensive review can be done after.

Showing interest 

A lot of people are investing in real estate in Costa Rica. If you find a gem, there is a good chance that you’re not the only one eyeing it. The next important stage is being able to formally express your interest in the property.

Avoid making the offer verbally, Everything should be well documented and on paper. Your attorney can help you draft the offer. He/she should also be able to write the formal purchase sale agreement for you. The agreement could either be between you and the owner or the developer.

But before making it official, please make sure you are making a good offer. A good offer means that it is enough to be considered by the seller. However, it should not be too much that you are paying more than its value. So, get acquainted with the average purchase price of the type of property and figure it out from there.

Closing the sale

This stage may involve financial matters that your lawyer can help you with. He/she should be able to assist you with your bank accounts. This includes all other financial-related documents. 

Once the purchase agreement has been signed, it is expected that you will have to provide a deposit. This is usually 10% of the amount agreed by both parties. Normally, the time duration for you to secure the first payment is 2 weeks.

For this transaction, you should know the importance of why you need an escrow account. An escrow account is a third-party service. It is used to hold the initial deposit until the complete closing of the sale. Escrow accounts are government registered and it holds the funds in a SUGEF.

SUGEF stands for Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras. It is the General Superintendency of Financial Entities. This is a public entity in Costa Rica that oversees the national financial system of the country. Read more about escrow accounts and how they work in Costa Rica.

After making the property purchase in full, you can proceed to register the property to your name. You can also share this title among your family members and divide it into equal parts. You can require your consent for selling these portions by giving them a “right”.

Some property buyers in Costa Rica register their purchased properties under a corporation. It can be a Sociedad Anónima (S.A.) or a Sociedad Responsabilidad Limitada (SRL). These are an equivalent of an LLC. Your attorney should be able to assist you in this matter. 

An important document to complete this process is the escritura de traspaso. This is the Transfer or Conveyance Deed. This document contains all stipulations regarding the transfer. This usually includes all basic information. It states all information relevant to the sale. It includes information about the buyer, the seller, and the property. Also included here are any special agreements made between the buyer and the seller. 

The Transfer or Conveyance Deed is to be prepared by your attorney, who is also a Notary Public. He/she should prepare and record this document in his/her Notary Book. The same should also be recorded in the Public Registry.  Once the deed has been prepared and signed at the closing, the next step should be done immediately. It is the attorney’s responsibility to record the deed right away at the Public Registry. Costa Rica credits the first claim meaning “first in time, first in right”. So, it is important to secure the right of the buyer to claim before any other parties do.

Buying a property in Costa Rica requires due diligence

Do you want to buy a beautiful home here in Costa Rica? It can be daunting to some. But it shouldn’t be for you. Investing in a property is a serious matter and shouldn’t be dealt with haphazardly. 

Work with people who will be pleased to educate you about Costa Rican real estate. You may learn a few more extras about property investment in general. 

The reason why Costa Rican real estate is a very popular investment is that Costa Rica is a very good place to be. Whether you are retiring or needing a change in your lifestyle,  Costa Rica has a lot to offer you. 

Costa Rica, aside from being a tropical paradise, has one of the best medical care. It is also known for medical tourism. Costa Rica is also one of the healthiest places to be in the world. It has one of the original five Blue Zones on earth. Know more reasons why you should be in Costa Rica here. We’ll tell you more to discover about Costa Rica. You’ll realize that you have more options than you think you have.

Purchasing real estate may be a lot different from your home country. With this kind of foreign investment opportunity, you must be equipped with guidance. Get a good knowledge of the laws and processes of acquiring a property in a foreign country. Get them from the experts. Always take necessary precautions and do your own research.

There are good agencies here that could make everything an easy process. But a word of advice, it could get confusing if you skip learning the basics. Yet once you know all these things, property purchase and real estate transactions aren’t difficult.

Costa Rica is not only the home of beautiful beaches. It can be your next home, too. We can help you make your tropical paradise dream come true. 

Join the many investors here in Central America. They are reaping the great benefits of owning real estate in Costa Rica. The price range of properties here differs, with a good range for every budget. Prices depend on cities, luxury home options, and different communities of your choosing.  They all offer us a different taste of lifestyles and a good life in a Costa Rican tropical paradise.

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