Buying in Costa Rica: advise for foreigners
Costa Rica is a very beautiful country, with diversity of microclimates, rural areas, denser housing areas, beautiful beaches and imposing mountains, but as in any story there are some things not so good, such as road infrastructure, roads are mostly very passable, almost 80% can be reached in a compact sedan anywhere, but the rest of the places it is better to use an SUV or off road, This in tourist destinations is usually informed in advance to visitors, but things change a little when it comes to people who want to sell their property and know that the potential buyer is a foreigner, being able to obviate with or without intention very important information about both the property and its surroundings or neighborhood, you want to analyze as a possible investment.
For these reasons and many more it is advisable to seek the assistance of a real estate professional, to advise you on the purchase, this does not have an additional cost in the purchase, as the commission is always covered by the person selling the property and not the buyer, as additional information on sale the normal commission is 5% of the gross sale or if it is a rental, the commission is a full month, but there are always exceptions, depending on the price and location of the property, but this will always be a matter of the real estate broker.
Here is a list of suggestions that will serve as a guide in the search for your desired property and although they do not cover everything that should be considered, they are some of the most important to make the best decision possible and according to your needs and budget:
1. Find out about the broker who is going to serve you, if possible ask for references from other clients and businesses, to make sure of their experience, because although there is a Chamber of Realtors and they have a card that accredits them as members, in Costa Rica there is no license as such, as in the USA, so the credentials of testimonials are very important.
2. When you are sure you want to invest in Costa Rica, do not get carried away by the beautiful beach, the green mountains or any landscape you see of this beautiful land, think first about yourself, if you suffer from any disease, disability, allergies, etc.. Define first if the place is according to your requirements, see how close there is a private or government health post (For foreigners insuring through the CCSS is very cheap and covers almost everything in a health emergency, but there are always very efficient private health options, but check how accessible they are from the point where you want to invest.
3. Material aspects: Due to the variety of climates in CR, it is important to take into account if you are going to require A/C or heating in your house, because the electric consumption is important to take into account, also the maintenance of the property you want, if it is near mountains, you should be careful with the animals that can arrive, especially if there are children. The issue of services such as internet, water or electricity (In CR there is no gas network, tanks of different capacities are used, depending on consumption), of the services the most important is the Internet, ask the neighbors how is the service, the speed of the network, which is the company that provides the service and if it is available in the area of interest.
In CR you can buy large farms at very different prices, it depends on the area, the view, the possible dangers, such as nearby rivers that can flood the property, or maybe there are no rivers nearby, but in the rainy season the property fills with water because of the type of soil, the shape of the land, because a neighbor throws its waters towards that property, etc, so you should investigate the area well and talk to local people to be sure that there is nothing hidden, that at that time you can not see. Also if they have been used for cattle, agriculture or some other activity, or on the contrary they are for reforestation, since in CR there are incentives in that sense.
4. You must be sure of what you want and what works for you, if you want a house, a tower apartment, to live in a condominium of houses or towers, to live in a country estate or a house in the city, all the options have their pros and cons, the broker can tell you which ones, if he has the necessary experience.
5. What is the purpose of the property or investment that I am making, is it just to live, is it to live and then sell at a better price, do you want to develop some project in the short or long term? in CR there are land use regulations, for example you can have 3 options of property, each one of 1.000m2, but in one you can only build a house of 100m2, in the second option you can build a house of 700m2 and in the third option you can not build anything, because it is in a retreat or protection zone, so do not get carried away by the beauty or the price, you should always investigate the land use of the property, the local municipality can give it almost always to anyone and for free.
6. If the place is not only for living or is for a commercial or development purpose, you must take into account the previous point (Point 5), in addition to other issues that are more of the commercial part, permits, construction heights, number of houses per hectare, etc. for a development of any type, it requires a more specialized professional to guide you in that investment.
7. Whenever you have the opportunity to rent first in the area, do it, it is the best option to know if you are going to like the place you are looking for, it is not always honey on flakes or maybe you arrived one day with little luck and you can miss a good investment, try, ask, think and make a decision.
8. Never buy a property without doing a registry study, always ask for the municipal taxes up to date and how it is in services if it has them. It is preferable that you do not buy properties in law or that are at that moment in a legal litigation, either by debts, by mortual (Death of the original owner and the beneficiaries have not taken possession of the property), etc. always verify if possible with a topographer of your confidence, that the area and location of the property you want, is the same of the plan, I know it sounds silly, but cases have been given.
9. Do not pay whims, investigate prices, look for ads on the internet in the area, sometimes people want to take advantage of foreigners.
10. If you are going to buy in condominium, check the cost of the maintenance fee, if there are hidden costs, ask for the last minutes of the board of directors, to see the state of the administration and if everything is in order, check what is allowed and what is not, for example pets, use for RBNB, use of visitor parking, rules of coexistence, etc.. Some of these may not be to your liking and may be a nuisance in the long run.
11. I don’t even go for half of the things that should be taken into account when making a decision to buy or rent a property, seek professional help and you can save yourself a lot of money, headaches and problems that you could have avoided.
Good luck with your search! The property you are dreaming of exists and is waiting for you!
Real Estate Advisor with 20 years of experience