A Comprehensive Guide to Buying a House in Costa Rica


Are you looking to relocate or buy a vacation home in Costa Rica? Well, you are in the right place. In this guide, we have compiled everything you need to know about buying a house in Costa Rica. Before delving into the ultimate guide for buying a house in Costa Rica, we will start by looking at some reasons why Costa Rica should be on your radar if you are looking to invest in a property. Let us get started!

Living room with wide windows with sea view
Used with permission of Blackband Design

Why Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one popular attraction in Central America. Here are some of the reasons for its growing popularity:

  • Costa Rica is famous for its easy living. Most people love to vacation there to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and warmth of Tico hospitality. The vibrant area makes for a beautiful vacation spot. Buying property there takes those vacations up a notch because it provides the perfect opportunity to experience the country at a leisurely pace.
  • You get the chance to enjoy a high standard of living in the country. That is owed to the low cost of living. It helps that the services and amenities like education, healthcare and other infrastructure are satisfactory and have no significant difference to those in countries like the US.
  • The low crime rate makes it safer to acquire property in Costa Rica.
  • Language barrier is not an issue since most people speak English.
  • The property market offers good returns on beach rentals and coastal properties. The demand is usually high because of the high number of tourists that visit the area.

Now that you know why Costa Rica can be good value for your money here is a guide for buying a house:

1. Have an idea of what you want

There are tons of housing options to choose from in the housing market. There is a whole range from condominiums, townhouses and villas. Knowing what you are looking for helps to narrow down your options. It also makes it easier to find the perfect spot for you.

You also have the alternative between an old house or a new house. Both have their pros and cons. For instance, with an old one, the price is more affordable. You can get a significant plot of land and a house with unique characteristics.

However, the house may need serious upgrades and fixes. A new one, on the other hand, is less costly to maintain. It has a modern feel and could be in an ideal neighbourhood. However, it could be too pricey or sit in a smaller plot area.

2. Explore the location before committing

Sea shore in Costa Rica
Photo by Nat Fernández on Unsplash

Before you decide to sign in the dotted line, it is necessary to explore the property location. Try to tour and walk around the neighbourhood. Talking to people who live there will give you a clearer picture of what it is like to live in the area. Ask about the value of the properties in the location from the neighbours.

Visit the prospective property both in the day and at night. That way, you can gauge how safe the neighbourhood is. It also helps you see if the location has favourable weather at different times of the year. To be extra safe, opt to rent a property in the area for about half a year to get time to ponder if the neighbourhood is the best for you.

3. Get a Real Estate Agent

Working with a reputable real estate agent makes a world of difference. As savvy as you may be as a home buyer, purchasing property in a foreign country requires a lot of on-the-ground experience. You will make wiser and better-informed decisions when you get a professional realtor who knows the ins and outs of the market. Here is why:

  • With a real estate agent, you can access scores of listings and get someone to assist you with selecting the best property based on your interests and needs. It is especially crucial because Costa Rica does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
  • A real estate agent with knowledge of the place will know the history of different properties and neighborhoods better than you would. They can also recommend reliable professionals to help in property inspections.
  • A realtor would save you money by negotiating not only the purchase price. They can also help with other things like financing, date of possession, repairs and furnishings etc.
  • A professional realtor will guide you through the closing process, making things significantly smoother.

Working with a legitimate real estate agent when looking for Costa Rica Real estate homes for sale will make the entire process stress-free. Again, it will be far easier to get the right property at the right price.

4. Make an offer

Kitchen with kitchen island in grey tones
Used with permission of Blackband Design

After settling on a house, the next step is making an offer. The advantage of having a realtor is that they can make an offer on your behalf. All properties have a list price, and your offer should not be too far from the list price.

When you make an offer, remember that the seller may have others that they may decide to consider. If the seller accepts the offer, get your real estate attorney to draft an agreement of purchase and sale.

After all the parties sign the agreement, you will go ahead and make the deposit. In most cases, you have about two weeks to deposit the amount in a government-registered escrow account.

5. Close the sale

In Costa Rica, it takes about two months after a sale is agreed to close. Ensure that you have all the money ready ahead of time. After you transfer the amount, the real estate attorney will help you complete the closing. Ensure that the attorney you use is a notary public that can ensure the purchase is registered in San Jose.

The closing costs will generally depend on the sale price and the period it takes to transfer the property.

Remember that any costs to be incurred in the closing process fall on the buyer. You will also have to shoulder notary services costs.

6. Register the property

Yard with armchairs, table and palm trees
Used with permission of Blackband Design

Registering is the last step of closing a sale. You can choose to do it under a corporate name or individual name. In most cases, houses are usually purchased and put under a corporation name to make things easier.

If you decide to use this process, ensure that the attorney you have is well-versed with the process. That is because they will be the ones responsible for registering the property in the National Registry.

Wrapping up

We hope this guide has helped you learn a thing you need to know if you are looking to buy a house in Costa Rica. Remember to do your due diligence as you shop for the right house.

Thanks to all companies linked above.


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