Home Ownership, Costa Rica: Top Tips for Buying Property in Latin America

Costa Rica seemingly has it all. From warm and friendly locals to safe neighborhoods and a breathtaking landscape whether you’re in the jungle or hanging out by the beach, it’s understandable why anyone would want to move here. Plus, unlike a number of other countries, you don’t need to be a citizen to buy and own property.

Foreigners in Costa Rica have the same right to own property as the locals themselves. These ownership rights are guaranteed in the constitution, and apply the same when owned by a person or are in the name of a corporation.

 Housing Restrictions

While foreigners are able to buy property in Costa Rica without many regulations, there are a few exceptions to the rules. A foreigner may not be a full owner in any maritime property.

A foreigner cannot own anything considered an INDER property, a program which dedicates land to poor farmers. An in-depth look at the ins and outs of restrictions and more.

Finding an Agent

If you decide to buy property in Costa Rica, you should find a reputable agent to help guide the process. Not only will the right agent help you find a great property that meets your budgetary needs, as well as the standard of living you’ve come to expect, a good agent will also prevent local sellers from taking advantage of you simply because they hear a foreign accent.

Establishing Residency

In Costa Rica, foreign buyers do not need to have an existing Costa Rican address on the books in order to buy property. Foreigners are able to buy property only by holding a tourist visa, but actually living in the country and becoming a resident is a separate concern. Those property owners with only a tourist visa are required to leave the country for a minimum of 72 hours every 90 days, and this may be a headache for some, though many people can use this as an opportunity to travel throughout other parts of Central America like Nicaragua, Panama or other places every few months.

Titles

Almost all homes in Costa Rica have a title attached to it. All titled property is kept on record in the National Registry in the capital city of San Jose, though they have a digital registry at this point in time. You’ll want to access this information to avoid purchasing a home with a fake or non-existent title, which can be a problem with some foreign sales.

Get a Real Estate Lawyer

 As a foreign buyer, a bilingual real estate attorney will be an indispensable asset, as will a notary public. This will prevent you from getting caught up in any legal problems or fraudulent practices due to the fact that you’re a foreign buyer. Here are some tips for finding a good real estate lawyer.

Closing the Deal

Once you’ve found a home that works for you, your realtor will help you arrange the required payments. Once the sale is pending, you’ll meet with your attorney to sign the papers to the house. Your attorney will hold on to these until all funds have been received, at which point, the bank will issue a confirmation, and conclude the deal.

Finally, once all the paperwork has been received your lawyer will submit the title change to the national registry, and the house will be under your name. Success!


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