Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica
The natural beauty, pleasant climate, and friendly people of Costa Rica, are luring investors from around the globe. The purchasing of Real Estate Costa Rica is one of the first and most important decisions you will make, and professional advice and assistance from a knowledgeable and professional Real Estate Broker, is the best assurance of a smart decision and a safe investment.
Land values in Costa Rica have been affected by the Worldwide Finical Crises and NOW is the time to buy your dream beachfront or ocean view Real Estate Costa Rica property, there is every reason to believe it has only just begun for this tropical destination. Costa Rica's past growth, and obvious future growth ensure that Costa Rica Real Estate investors will continue to enjoy an excellent return on their investments and re-sale market, both in terms of increasing land values, and an ever-increasing amount of qualified buyers.
Ownership of Land
Costa Rica's laws and constitution, based on a well-developed tradition of Democratic government, include secure property rights for the private ownership of land. These laws are extended equally to foreigners as well as residents. Neither citizenship, nor residency, or even a presence in the country is required for land ownership.
Costa Rica boasts a safe form of title registration to protect buyers from hidden claims. In many ways, the Costa Rica Real Estate registration system of maintaining property records is far superior to systems in use by more developed countries such as the United States. All documents are centered in the National Registry, where both titles and surveys are recorded. Records are kept in a central computer system as well as on microfilm, and in original form. Duplicates of all records are updated daily, and sent to two separate fireproof vaults in separate locations from the registry. Any change in the status of a title, or any claim that might affect it, must also be noted on the title registry page, thus making it easy to verify. You can even check the status of your property from anywhere in the world through the National Registry's webpage.
Those who purchase land in Costa Rica should get professional advise, which includes a search of the title in the Registry, so as to confirm there are no liens or encumbrances on it, and to establish its proper ownership. Once the deal is completed, the purchaser should receive documents to prove the sale was registered in the Registry.
Costa Rica's legal system is based on a "civil code" system, as opposed to a "common law" system like that of the United States. Under Costa Rica's civil code, there is less interpretation of the law by judges, because the civil code is more restrictive. For this reason, land contracts in Costa Rica are far lass comprehensive, than the common law contacts most foreigners are used to. Under the civil code system, the contact covers only what is not regulated by law, and thus can be very simple.
In Costa Rica a land purchase contract is achieved through an "option to purchase". An option to purchase gives the buyer the right to purchase a described property in a set amount of time. Typically 10-20% of the purchase price is paid to the seller through a broker or attorney (after verifying the property can be legally transferred), for the purchase of the option. Most closings can take place in a matter of days if the property is already registered in the National Registry; however, most options are written for 30-90 days.
The most desirable and expensive land in Costa Rica is beachfront. The majority of coastal resorts are located on the beach in what is known as the "maritime zone" or "zona maritima". The maritime zone is a 200 meter wide strip of land running parallel to the coast, starting at the high tide line. This 200 meter strip is divided into a 50 meter strip closest to the shore ("inalienable zone") where no development can take place, and the remaining 150 meters, which can be leased from the local municipality, and developed after the filing of a regulatory plan with the government.
Most vacant beachfront land does not have a regulatory plan filed, as this is usually done just prior to development of the property. The regulatory plan is the most time consuming and costly phase of obtaining the land lease, known as a"concession", and is best accomplished through professionals. With proper planning, a concession can be obtained during the time that the proposed development is in its planning stages. For those interested in developing land within the maritime zone, professional assistance is a must.