Steps to Owning Property in Costa Rica
People who come to Costa Rica often fall in love with the warm climate, the tranquil, laid-back way of life and the beautiful tropical surroundings. Costa Rica really is pretty close to paradise, and many visitors want to know how they can own a piece of that paradise for themselves.
Owning real estate in Costa Rica is easier than you might think. Unlike in other countries, foreigners have the same rights to own land as Costa Ricans, and you don’t have to have a local partner to purchase property. Beachfront property is the only exception, as it is has a concession status and can technically only be leased for exclusive use, and not purchased.
Here are some simple steps to buying property in Costa Rica.
Step 1: Find the right professionals
It is unwise to try to go it alone in any foreign real estate market. Do your due diligence and find the right professionals to help guide you through the process. You’ll need a realtor to help you find the right property, and a real estate attorney to ensure all legal matters are taken care of properly.
Step 2: See what’s out there
You likely have a budget in mind, and some idea of what type of property you’d like to purchase. But without a working knowledge of the area’s options, you won’t have any idea about what you can expect to get for your money. Figure out your top priorities, then some things you’d like to have, but can do without. Then, with an open mind, check out a number of different types of properties.
Step 3: Sign an Option to Purchase
Once you’ve decided on the perfect place, provide the owner with an offer, then have your attorney sign an option to purchase. You should put your down payment in escrow at this point.
Step 4: Run a Title Search
Keep your attorney working! Title searches are easily done in Costa Rica, as there’s a central land registry that records ownership of property.
Step 5: Find out your Rights
There are two types of land rights in Costa Rica: property rights, or derecho de propiedad, and occupation rights, or derechos de ocupación. With property rights, you own the home (and/or land) free and clear. However, occupation rights are given when land has not been registered. Registering property so that you can own it outright can be messy, tricky and time-consuming, you’re much better off with property rights.
Step 6: Sign on the Dotted Line
Have your attorney prepare the transfer deed and help you set up payments. Sign in all the right spots, then enjoy your new little corner of paradise!