Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica
Buying real estate in an exotic foreign country can be a dream come true if you have done your homework well. Don't allow your dream to become a nightmare by relying on emotion or moving too quickly without checking locations, laws, government and the community you will be living in. These tips are realistic points you should consider before buying in any foreign country. They have been compiled by individuals that have already ventured into this arena and simply want others to learn from their mistakes. While these tips have been specifically compiled for buying real estate in Costa Rica, many of them should be considered regardless of the country you may choose.
1. Travel around Costa Rica extensively prior to choosing the location for your home site or home purchase. Getting the feel of the community is very important, and traveling around and meeting people is the only way you are able to experience the wide variety of communities you will find here. Check the local publications for articles on community services, crime alerts, schools and environmental issues. Hospitals and medical centers in Costa Rica are not found every 20 miles as they are in other countries and it becomes an important issue if you or someone in your family needs medical attention on a regular basis. There are a variety of weather variances in Costa Rica which becomes an important factor if your expecting 90% sunshine and you want to purchase property in a rain forest! Crime in Costa Rica for years was limited to petty theft from an unlocked car or snatching something off beach blankets while you were swimming. In high tourist areas it has escalated to robbery and breaking and entering. We are still fortunate that more serious crimes are not in the headlines but consider security alarms if you have chosen a high tourist area. In short, consider renting for a period of time until you have seen enough of the country to make a reasonable decision. See Regional Overview for information.
2. Always use a professional real estate firm when buying any property. There are a variety of government protected areas and local laws that could interfere with building or even owning a property legally under some circumstances. Without a proper real estate agent, it's possible you could buy something that you can't build on right away or worst yet, it is not a titled property to be conveyed. There are scammers out there and the only way to avoid them is to use professionals. Use an agent and make sure everything you are expecting is written on the contract.
3. Visit the property when it is raining before buying a home or land. You can see the natural drainage and the obstacles you will be faced with. Because Costa Rica is mountainous and has a rainy season in most parts, drainage is a very important issue that you should see for yourselff before purchasing. If you see that the property has poor drainage and would need additional money to get it corrected, renegotiate the price with this in mind.
4. Insist on a home inspection as part of the deal to purchase. There are some homes we have seen on the market that many corners were cut and while they "look" OK, it can be deceiving. The largest issue we are aware of is sub-quality lumber being used in forested areas where termites will eventually infest the home. An inspector or engineer can point out any irregularity. Most of the real estate firms steer clear of these properties so another good reason to use a qualified agency.
These four tips will save you a lot of headaches if you follow them. Navigate to our Real Estate Page from here to start your search.