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You can use this 21-step Costa Rica property buying guide to make a relaxed purchase without making any mistakes.
You have visited all the countries that were on your due diligence list before moving to or retiring in Costa Rica.
Now you are visiting to look to purchase a property in Costa Rica and you don’t know where to start. You do realize that you are in a different country, with a different culture and a different language. So you know you need help.
For that reason, we have created this 21-step property buying guide, so you can enjoy life much better after your purchase.
You don’t want to purchase a property in the wrong place. Start out on the right foot and buy in the right location, which is why this Property Buying Guide should be helpful to you. Buying is easy, selling is often not so easy. So do your due diligence and make sure the area you are buying in offers all the amenities and services you are looking for. Don’t start shopping around for property until you are certain that the location is the right one.
2. Find an agent
You can of course start looking on your own, with the help of a taxi driver. That is, if you feel capable of finding the right location, know how to negotiate, know a home inspector and speak the Spanish language well. If you don’t, search online for an expert real estate agent like with GoDutch or ask around. Make sure the agent is registered with Sugef, the Financial Institution Superintendency.
3. Find a lawyer
Don’t just find ANY lawyer. Find one who specializes in real estate and is also a notary public. Not every lawyer in Costa Rica is a notary public. Choose one who speaks fluent English, so he/she can explain the legal process step by step.
4. Start shopping
Make a list of your requirements and start shopping. Use one agent, a buyer’s agent, so you don’t have to deal with too many agents. Be careful of making any shopping errors, allow your agent to assist in this.
5. Title and Survey
Once you find the right property, your agent should check the title as well as the survey. GoDutch agents check the title and survey map when they list a property, but most agents don’t do this. You don’t want to fall in love with a property that has legal problems, do you?
Pay special attention if the property is located in the maritime zone.
6. Make an Offer
GoDutch agents always write up the offer, with all the necessary details. That way, you won’t have any disagreements later about who pays for what and what is included or not.
7. Home Inspection
Request the home inspection within two weeks of the signature of the formal offer. Even though Costa Rica real estate is always purchased “as is”, it will give you a chance to walk away in case there is serious damage to the property. An offer is not legally binding in Costa Rica as long as there is no earnest money involved yet.
It is always recommendable to have a surveyor check the boundaries of the property you’re buying, even if there is a house on it. Especially if there is any doubt at all about the property boundaries. You should pay for a surveyor to check those boundaries with the existing survey that is registered at the Cadaster.
9. Option to Purchase
Once the home inspection is done and the title is checked for legal trouble, your attorney should write up the formal offer as an option to purchase – sale agreement. This is where you will have to make an earnest money deposit to make the offer a formal agreement.
As a non-resident, you will need an escrow account to be able to comply with the money laundering laws. Therefore, the escrow company will ask you to fill out a KYC form and to prove the origin of the money you’ll use for the purchase.
11. Earnest Money
At the signature of this agreement, you should deposit 10% (or whatever you agreed on) into escrow. Although for Costa Rican sellers it is customary to give the earnest money to the seller, don’t do this. Once the escrow company has opened your account, it is much easier to formalize your purchase.
12. Closing Cost
Check with your lawyer how much the closing cost and additional fees are. This can be the constitution of a corporation or even a testament.
13. Close on a Distance
Do you know that are not able to make it back to Costa Rica in time to be at the closing in person? Then give your attorney or real estate agent a power of attorney to close in your name.
14. Wire on Time
You cannot ask your bank to wire the purchase money when you’re not there physically. So if you plan to be in Costa Rica for the closing, make sure you give your bank instructions, so the wire will arrive on time.
15. Up to Date Taxes and Utilities
It is important that all taxes are paid up to date before closing, as well as the utilities. Your GoDutch agent will take care of this.
16. Home Buyer Checklist
Ask your agent to get a home buyer emergency checklist for you. The seller usually disappears after the closing and this list is really important.
On the day of the closing, before you go to the closing, do a final walkthrough of the property you are buying. There are reasons for this.
18. Keys etc.
Of course, at closing, you should receive all the keys to the property, as well as at least 2 remote control to the gate and garage.
You should realize that you will have to make a Costa Rican will or testament that includes your newly purchased property. Ask your attorney about it, so he/she can do this immediately after closing.
20. The Deed
The attorney should deliver, proof of registration of your purchase, as soon as it appears in your name in the National Register.
21. All Good?
If any of the above is not happening correctly, you do NOT close. Oh, and make sure the seller moves out before you close !!
In the above property buying guide, the 21 steps sound easier than they really are. I’m sure you want your Costa Rica real estate purchase to be perfect, so make it easier on yourself.
In Costa Rica, the seller pays the real estate commission. So take advantage of using the guidance of an expert real estate agent who knows how to deal with all of this.
Our agents have a proven track record and can show countless testimonials from buyers AND sellers who saved themselves a lot of headaches by hiring our services.
Main Image: Flower photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, remember GoDutch Realty when talking about your home in Costa Rica to friends and family. We appreciate it.