Costa Rica is becoming a popular place for foreign investors to move. Unlike some other countries, there are not many laws that hinder foreigners from buying property there which has lead to popularity in purchasing Costa Rica real estate especially for expatriates who are looking to retire.
Attorneys and Real Estate Agents
You should probably get a real estate agent to help you with your search. One way is to call an agency such as the Association of Residents of Costa Rica, an expat network. Another agency is the Costa Rica Real Estate Brokers Board; they can refer you to someone.
When you are deciding on a property, you must have a Notary Public. This person is necessary to purchase property. Most attorneys are also Notary Publics in Costa Rica.
Rules, Regulations and Restrictions
There are not many special rules for foreigners investing in Costa Rican properties. Other than beachfront, they are the same as the rules for Costa Rican citizens.
Before you make any type of offer, you should be aware of the “Folio Real” system. It is a computer system that is centralized in the Public Registry offices in San Jose. You should search any prospective property within this system, to check on all types of data, including ownership, boundaries, locations, mortgages and anything else.
There are concessions in the Maritime Zones in Costa Rica, which means restrictions upon the first 200 meters from any coastal area. The first 50 meters from the tide line is not available for any type of ownership. Then there are the remaining 150 meters, in which you cannot fully “own” the property, but you can be put on a lease, which is generally for 20 years. Foreigners are not allowed to own the majority of land on a concession property, unless that they have lived in Costa Rica for over five years.
Ask your Notary Public and real estate agent to research zoning laws in any prospective property. Also make sure that the area you want to move to is safe.
First, you should sign an Option to Purchase/Sell with the seller of the property. You should then deposit funds into escrow, if available. Then you should have your Notary Public or Lawyer do some research on the title of the property. They should check that the property is free of any defects and that there are no complications with the title.
If all of this passes, then the Closing process can begin. This will include the Execution of the Transfer Deed, followed by the Endorsement of Shares and/or Mortgage Deed and disburse funds. Finally, you should register yourself as a new owner of the property with the Public Registry.