Costa Rica Real Estate – Everybody has their own list of components that make up their dream and ideal property. However, buying a property can be intimidating as it can be a long and complex process; moreover, constructing the property you wish for involves a significant long-term financial commitment so it is essential that you learn the usual way of how things are done and who is lawfully and scrupulously responsible for what needs to be done.
Doing so would help you protect and secure your hard-earned money and investment. Luckily Costa Rica has a pre-defined process that would help buyers, builders and investors with all the how-to, plus there is a licensing body for Architects and Engineers who is also responsible for establishing the standard fees for building and construction.
Before we delve deeper into the subject, let us first discuss the buying process. The first thing you have to do is find yourself the property you wish to purchase either by personally searching for it or with the help of a realtor. Once you have determined which piece of land or which property you wish to buy the next step is to determine if you have clear title to the property. This is done by doing a search on the property registration number (folio real) in the Public Registry database to get detailed information of the property such as the name of the property owner, boundary lines, tax appraisal, liens, mortgages, encumbrance and other pertinent information that may affect the purchase and transfer of the property ownership.
After you have validated the information about the property you can then negotiate the price and terms of purchase with the seller. The seller would then have the chance to review and accept your request and the legal procedures for the transfer of title ownership will begin; property is transferred from seller to buyer by accomplishing a property transfer deed before a Notary Public who will register the sale in the Public Registry.
How about the closing costs: government transfer taxes and registration fee, Notary and Legal fee, and mortgage if there is any? In Costa Rica the norm is the buyer and seller both shoulders the expenses equally but this can be revised depending on the agreement between the buyer and the seller. Once all the closing costs and property payment have been made, the Notary Public is responsible for presenting and registering the transfer deed in the property section of the Public Registry. Please note that although the Notary Public is obliged to handle the registration of the transfer deed, if taxes and registration fees are not paid or if mortgages, liens and judgments on the property were not lifted, then the Notary Public will not be able to register the transfer deed so it is imperative that you follow up with the notary to make sure that the registration was handled properly and it had gone thru.
If there is no problem found and the transfer deed is accepted for registration, the Public Registry will send back the original documents with all the necessary documentary stamps affixed to it. 30 to 60 days after the presentation, changes on the property ownership information in the Public Registry database should reflect the new information stated on the transfer deed.
Now that you own a property in Costa Rica, your next step is surely to build on it. Just like in your home country, before you can construct a house or building in a property there are certain regulations you have to adhere to. In Costa Rica the government requires that all applications for construction permit is presented by an architect or engineer licensed by Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Ingenieros y Arquitectos-CFIA, the governing body responsible for regulating and establishing the fees charged by its members. According to CFIA, a construction project is divided into two phases; Construction Plans and Permits, and Control and Execution. Fees depend on the responsibility and type of services handled by the Architect or Engineer.
The other government requirement before you can build on a property is the procurement of construction permits. This is done by filing a request with the CFIA who will be responsible for putting the construction value on the plans for the easy collection of necessary fees. The next step you have to do is to submit the documents at the Municipal government with jurisdiction over the property you purchased. Depending on the type of construction, there may be some pre-requisites required by the municipality, but generally all constructions are required to provide a letter from the water company declaring water is available on the property. Lastly, the Costa Rican law requires that all constructions follow building regulations so expect that from time to time a municipal building inspector will visit the construction site and certify that the construction is proceeding according to government regulations.
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