Costa Rica Real Estate – You are a foreign investor in Costa Rica and have decided on which property to purchase and invest your hard earned money on, but you have no idea how to go about purchasing the piece of land you want to build your dream on there is no need to freak out and follow the simple steps we have prepared for you.
The first thing you have to do after finding the property you wish to buy is to find a reputable realtor who would assist you. Just like in any other investment you make that involves your hard-earned money, the first thing you always do is ask for assistance and get advice from an experienced and exceptionally knowledgeable professional with a proven track record. You should always look for an adept and proficient expert who can be trusted to give accurate information, be it good or bad, to help you make an informed decision regarding the property you want to acquire. Just be careful and be aware that there is no licensing of realtors in Costa Rica so anyone and everyone is some kind of realtor. If you are not diligent in finding a reputable realtor you may find yourself in a bind since you may be given incorrect information and bad advice and in the end the money you saved will just go down the drain. On the other hand, if you find a good and dependable realtor your time, money and peace of mind will be kept intact.
The next thing to do is get legal advice for your investment to be a guaranteed success and the only way this could happen is by hiring a lawyer who specializes in real estate who would look after your best interest. It is highly advisable that you hire the services of a real estate lawyer from a firm who has already made a name in this field so you can be sure that the lawyer will do a proper and thorough due diligence which includes: a complete study of the land you want to purchase on the National Registry information; verify the seller who has the authority to sell the land you want to buy; find out if any limitations or restrictions are in place with regards to the intended use of the property; find all information regarding tax appraisal, mortgages, recorded easements, liens and encumbrances that would affect the title and procurement; and lastly, check if the survey pan pertains to the exact property you wish to buy.
National Registry Search
Most properties in Costa Rica are registered in the National Registry and are given their unique registration number of Folio Real in a centralized database at the offices of the Public National registry located in San Jose. Doing a title search in the National Registry using the folio real is a must as it would show information like the property area, ownership, location, boundaries, any annotation, mortgages, encumbrances and liens of the property. Properties that are not registered or recorded in the National Registry must be avoided at all cost as proving ownership if the property is difficult.
Transfer of Deed
Transfer of Deed or Escritura de Traspaso entails all information about the buyer and seller, the property and terms if sale such as contingencies, easements and financing. Costa Rican real estate is transferred from seller to buyer by effectuating a property transfer deed before a Notary Public who is authorized to act on behalf of the government. The Public Notary (attorney) will draft the transfer deed and record it
at the Public Registry of Property and in his or her Notary Book. Once the deed has been signed at the closing, the Public Notary would immediately register the sale in the centralized property registration office or Public Registry under the name of the new owner to protect the property from any third party.
As stated above, part of your real estate lawyer’s task is to check if the survey plan pertains to the exact property you wish to buy. This is because it is mandated by the Costa Rican government that all property must show a survey record at the Public Registry for it to be successfully transferred to a new owner. However, property surveys are held by the Cadastral Office which operates separately from the Public Registry and usually has outdated survey files so it is highly recommended that you obtain a new independent survey plan and register it with the Cadastral Office before purchasing the property to avoid any potential problems and contestation regarding the property.
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