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Buying Property In Costa Rica

Buying Property in Costa Rica

With its natural beauty — including beaches, mountain ranges, lakes and rain forests — and a high quality of life, you might be looking to call Costa Rica your home. The good news is that it’s not a pipe dream. Costa Rica is a great place to live and offers a reasonable cost of living and low property taxes. And with so many foreigners already living in Costa Rica, you are sure to find a home away from home.

If you are thinking of making a move to Costa Rica, you might be exploring purchasing property there. If we just described you, this article can help you understand the purchase process for buying property as a foreign person in Costa Rica. We will discuss the overall logistics of the process and take you through each step, from getting a lawyer to inspecting the property.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in Costa Rica?</h2>

The short answer is yes. In Costa Rica, the law allows foreigners the same rights as locals when purchasing property. It also puts the same restrictions on foreigners and locals. For example, if you are looking to buy property by the beach, you need to understand:

  • The Maritime Zone: This is beachfront land, up to 200 meters from the high tide line running inland from the shore. Unfortunately, this is the one area where you will find it difficult to purchase land as a foreigner. To purchase majority ownership of beachfront property in the Maritime Zone, you must have lived in Costa Rica for five years.
  • The Public Zone: Making up 50 meters from the shoreline, the Public Zone is protected, and no development may occur.
  • The Restricted Zone: Individuals may purchase a property in the restricted zone after applying to the local municipality. However, an official cannot issue a foreigner with a lease until they have five years of residency.

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The Costa Rican Property Buying Process for Foreigners

The process for buying real estate varies in every country. The following sections will guide you through each major step to find and purchase your Costa Rican dream home.

With any move, finding a realtor who knows about the area you want to move to, and the property type you are looking for can help make finding the right home a lot easier. It also helps make navigating the home buying process — from offer to closing — go smoothly. If you are a foreigner looking for property in Costa Rica, having someone help you navigate all of the above is even more important.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though, when selecting a realtor. First, make sure that in addition to speaking Spanish, your realtor can speak fluently with you. You do not want a language barrier to cause a mistake.

Second, in Costa Rica, the real estate market is largely unregulated. Real estate agents are not required to be licensed. That means anyone could call themselves a realtor. Do some homework to make sure the person you select knows what they are doing.

Other Important Considerations for Purchasing Property in Costa Rica

There is no doubt a diversity of options when it comes to the real-estate market in Costa Rica. From the streets of San Josè to the emerald blue waters along the Corcovado, purchasing a home in Costa Rica can be as enticing as the lifestyle. That said, there are some important considerations and precautions that should be addressed before you transfer any funds.

Using a Costa Rican Real Estate Lawyer

You will want to find a real estate lawyer and possibly a notary public for your property purchase. Your lawyer will be essential during several steps of the process.

During the due diligence period, they will conduct a title search to make sure the current owner has a clear title and research any liens on the property. If you are purchasing a condominium or a home in a gated community, your lawyer should ensure they receive a letter stating all HOA fees are paid and up to date. During the closing, they will be part of the document preparation, distribution of funds, and transfer of title.

Fees for your real estate lawyer will depend on the sale price of the property.

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Making an Offer on Costa Rican Property

Once you have found the perfect property, you will want to make an offer. Before you do, make sure you understand what taxes you will need to pay over the long term and to whom — for example, your home might be subject to a luxury home tax.

When you are ready to make an offer, your lawyer will put together the purchase price and agreement. Ensure you review the offer thoroughly and ask questions before it goes to the seller. When drawing up an offer, it is also good to verify your understanding of any fees like transfer taxes, notary fees, legal fees, closing costs, and more.

If the seller accepts, the next step is to deposit the down-payment to an approved escrow account. Then, you enter into the due diligence period — when your lawyer researches the titled property, home inspection, and survey, often along with a notary public. You can also use that time to purchase title insurance.

At the end of the due diligence period, your lawyer will help you complete the sale. In Costa Rica, it is typical for the buyer and seller to share closing costs for the real estate transaction. Finally, the transfer deed will need to be accepted by the Public Registry and then returned with the proper stamps.

Immigration Considerations for Property Owners in Costa Rica

For most people, purchasing and moving to a property in Costa Rica is not enough to grant long-term living. While a program called the Inversionista Program grants residency to someone investing a minimum of $200,000 in commercial or residential property, it is only applicable to the individual investor and not any family members.

Typically, those choosing to live long-term in Costa Rica choose between the Pensionado Program and the Rentista Program. The Pensionado Program requires proof of a minimum $1,000 per month income from a lifetime pension program. In addition, the source of the funds must come from a source approved by the government. The Rentista Program requires proof of $2,500 a month in income for two years (making a $60,000 deposit in a Costa Rican bank is also acceptable).

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Relocate Is Here to Help With Questions About Costa Rica

Overall, Costa Rica continues to be one of Central America’s biggest hot spots for relocation. Whether enticed by Tico, Dominical, Jaco, or somewhere else — with gorgeous and exciting places to explore, quality health care, and a reasonable cost of living — the country has something for everyone to enjoy.

If you are ready to start planning your move to Central America, you can start by learning more about Costa Rica and digging through relevant material about relocation. Submit general inquiries or request direct consultations with qualified Costa Rican Advisors.

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