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Emerald Forest Properties

Offering Real Estate in Costa Rica with
experience, integrity, and dependability you can count on

What you should know before purchasing a home in Costa Rica

By Brad Butler


First and foremost a person should visit the country before they consider purchasing, to see firsthand what living entails in our little banana republic. Costa Rica is truly a gift to the world and offers you some of the best tropical climates available throughout the hemisphere. Costa Rica with its mired topography ranging from low lying beaches to high mountain ranges offers you many great choices, more than in any of the other Central American countries. With Costa Rica’s micro climates you can drive from an extremely hot humid climate to a cool Alpine mountain climate in a matter of minutes, these are referred to as micro-climates.

Choosing a SEASONED realtor should be your number one priority. Here is a list of suggestions that will protect you in your Costa Rican property purchase. Let your transition into paradise be thought based using wise choices, otherwise you can remove the Paradise part!

1.)    Line up a seasoned realtor, one that you have shared positive correspondence with before you arrive, one that you have connected with and one that understands exactly what your needs and requirements are, tell them EVERYTHING! A seasoned realtor will be knowledgeable of Costa Rica’s zones and the properties they have within them that will best suit your needs. Your realtor should know his/her inventory like the back of their hands. Time is valuable for both parties so to have your groundwork in place before you arrive to Costa Rica, so they can have their work done and waiting for you.

2.)    Zones, ask your realtor which zones he/she knows of that have produced good positive results for their clients as well as negative ones. Dead zones are zones with unfavorable climates, safety issues or isolated areas hard to reach. I base this on personal experiences and the feedback we gather from our clients. Make sure that the properties you have chosen fall well within favored zones, zones with happy clients already residing there, and willing to share their Costa Rican experiences with you. Make the most wonderful and memorable adventure/journey possible, property searching should be enjoyable.

3.)    Attorneys, you will see books that drone on about how to buy real-estate without losing shirt, pants and so on, save your money! You have at your fingertips one of the most recognized real-estate attorneys in Costa Rica, Roger A. Petersen, rpetersen@alliancelaw.co.cr Mr. Petersen wrote, The Legal Guide to Costa Rica, and keeps it updated yearly. Who better to know the laws inside and out? Mr. Petersen is also licensed in Florida; he understands the laws on both ends and will help you make your transition comfortable from a legal standpoint. Also, Mr. Rick Philps services the Canadians and European clients. Your attorney is your best friend when making a purchase in Costa Rica, because if you do not speak Spanish you will have to trust him explicitly to see your investment is executed properly. Peace of mind is key here, do your homework and choose wisely. Your attorney will be the one executing your title search and registering your property. Whether you wish to operate a business, purchase a home or land your attorney will be the one to advise you of what corporations you qualify for or will need in order to make your purchase. Another fine Costa Rican attorney is Mr. Jr Lic. Gonzalo Viquez C, Viquez Oreamuno & Asociados (506) 22964423 Fax 506 22316505 Skype JRLAWCR and email: costaricanlegaladvice@gmail.com This is an old Costa Rican firm serving countless N. Americans and Europeans with an impecable reputation. Call them all and see which one your heart tells you to use, you will not go wrong with any of them.

4.)    Avoid For Sale by Owner Sites at all costs, what money you save in bypassing a realtor may well costs you 10 times fold in attorney fees should the property you purchase may not have been represented to you properly, which by the way is now commonplace worldwide in this dark economy. Remember, you may have absolutely no recourse by trying to save a few dollars. Historically, when the economy weakens crime rises and trickery becomes more prevalent worldwide. In the U.S. there is a much stricter code of ethics established by governing boards to oversee conduct, so naturally we come to Costa Rica thinking we are protected by the same laws, not so! To an extent you are, but buyer beware is the safest way to enter the buyers rodeo arena. However, it is up to you, the wise, to lay the groundwork before you arrive and make sure your investment is being handled by trusted real-estate professionals. The saddest words ever spoken are, “I wish I had.” If you spot something on a FSBO site hands down let your realtor/representative/attorney do the work for you and allow them to handle the legalities. We run each and every title before it goes up on our site to make absolutely sure it is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances for our client’s protection. Something to ponder on, the seller pays our fee not the buyer so call on our expertise it comes free to you. Only your realtor knows where all the good deals are hiding, knowledge is power take advantage of our years here and in the business. Remember, we are on your side! 

5.)    Do not rely on references from the internet, go directly to the real-estate brokerage firm or attorney and ask for references that you can verify if you have any doubts. Anybody can write anything about you and you have absolutely no recourse in getting it removed, true or false. An honest realtor should enjoy sharing their past clients contact information for references, to assure you, you are in good hands.

6.)    Go with an agency that assists you beyond the sale, this is an important issue because your wants and needs do not stop with your purchase. Networking is essential until you have established a good mechanic, immigration attorney, restaurants, doctors, furniture stores, decorators and more. Your realtor’s commitment to you should not stop at the closing; they should be reachable 24/7 to guide you through the necessary maze in reaching your ultimate goal of happy living in Costa Rica.

Once you have your realtor and a good attorney in place the rest of your journey should be a breeze.

Written by: Brad Butler

Emerald Forest Properties

December 5th, 2011