Perhaps one of the most exciting times of our lives is when we purchase a home. Anticipation of living in a brand new neighborhood, new shopping centers close by, new friends and neighbors to meet… are all fun things to think about. Now, consider the feelings you may have when you are buying a new home in another country! Multiply your excitement (and anxiety, maybe) tenfold!
There are many things to consider (and get used to) when buying real estate in Costa Rica. First, this IS another country. You will have to understand that things are different. Patience will be a virtue and will become your best friend quickly. Things… ALL things… are done slower here. Get it in your head quickly that this is the norm. Don’t try to change it… don’t yell or scream… just try to become one with the “slow”.
With that said, I suggest you begin by doing research on the real estate laws of Costa Rica. Here is an amazing link that will get you started http://www.costaricalaw.com/Real-Estate-and-Property-Law/.This website is considered “the bible” by many people and use the entire site as a reference for anything pertaining to legal matters in Costa Rica.
A few points to ponder… find a good real estate agent. Go with a recommendation from a friend or associate. ANYONE can call themselves a real estate agent in Costa Rica. At the moment, there are no licenses needed whatsoever. Put an ad in Tico Times and you are crowned a “real estate agent” immediately.
Next, you will need an attorney to create a corporation for you. Creating a corporation to hold your property is recommended procedure. The reasons are that first, any liability is held to whatever is owned by the corporation. The ownership of the corporation in Costa Rica is totally private… nobody knows your business… and transferring ownership of your property can be done quickly if the corporation owns it. Probate takes years here… the sale of a corporation takes days. Back to the attorney… my suggestion would be to seek out one who is recommended by a friend or business associate. There are good attorneys here, but you have to look for them. Just because you see a nice advertisement touting “the best law firm in Costa Rica” does not assure you of quality, professional services. Visit his office, get references and make sure you have a good feeling about this attorney before you hire him. Be prepared to write him a check before he gets started on the creation of the corporation. Starting a corporation in Costa Rica will run usually between $350 and $700.The cost of maintaining a corp may be about $250 per year or so, and worth every penny. It also allows you to purchase a cell phone line here and start a bank account as well.
This article is not meant to go in depth regarding the steps to purchase real estate in Costa Rica, but simply to introduce you to some of things that are different. Like anything else, prepare yourself completely by researching the topic and talking to a lot of people who have gone through buying a piece of property in Costa Rica. You will learn so much from others and will save yourself a lot of grief, time and probably money!