Finding a Property in Costa Rica

How to go about searching for a property in Costa Rica...

There is a wide range of websites offering property for sale in Costa Rica. Many sites are sponsored by estate agencies that are large, international, and reputable. However, some are not. Buyers and sellers must be careful; in Costa Rica there is very little regulation of property "brokers". In Costa Rica, training or qualifications are not required in order to be called a broker and sell property.

The Ministry of Economics grants licenses to brokers backed by the Chamber of Real Estate Brokerage (in Spanish). This Chamber is dedicated to maintaining the rules of competition and professional ethics in estate agencies. Although there is currently much political discussion concerning a requirement that all brokers should be licensed, at the moment a license is not required.

The Chamber also sponsors an English-language Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for property and a broker database. However, there is no single official MLS in Costa Rica, making it difficult to establish what a property is worth.

Many expatriates, especially those who plan to live in their Costa Rican home on a part-time basis, are concerned about security. As a consequence they search for homes in gated communities or condominiums that provide secured access. These are among the most popular types of residences in Costa Rica and they come with an additional monthly charge that could be $200-500 or more, depending upon the value of the shared amenities within the community.

Squatters

Expatriates who purchase vacant property should be aware of another problem in Costa Rica – squatters. A non-owner, who has continuously and openly lived on a property in a peaceful manner for at least ten years, may have obtained possession rights to the property. Occasionally this can occur on land that has been fallow for a long period of time. When searching for a property, a potential buyer should make certain there is no possibility of a squatter's legal claim if a vacant property is found.

Further Information

 

Disclaimer

Any statements concerning buying a property are based upon our understanding of current laws and practices in Costa Rica which are subject to change. While every effort has been made to offer information that is current, correct and clearly expressed the publisher is not responsible for the results of actions taken on the basis of information contained in this summary, nor for any errors or omissions. Readers are encouraged to seek professional advice concerning specific matters before making any decision.