Build your Team and Go for the Win in Costa Rica

By: Nick Viale

Falling in love with Costa Rica is easy. Still relatively undiscovered with a warm climate, white sand beaches, lush wildlife and stable democratic government, this welcoming central American country attracts more foreign investment every year. With the new airport well-established in the province of Guanacaste, prices are steadily rising and development in this area is moving steadily forward. So if you've lost your heart to this tiny country, the time to invest is now - but don't go it alone.

Costa Rica is a new frontier that's also been attracting its fair share of shysters. Don't go it alone - protect yourself by building a solid real estate team before you buy.

THE KEY PLAYERS IN YOUR LINE-UP:

THE REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY

Hire an experienced lawyer to help you manage the financial details and ensure you get what you expect from any deal. An attorney can also help you set up a corporation if you are interested in purchasing your property this way. It's essential that your lawyer be familiar with Costa Rican real estate laws, as they can be vastly different from the laws in the US.

THE NOTARIO PUBLICO

You will also need to contract the services of a notario publico. Your notario, who is also an attorney, will verify who has title to the land (and who has the right to sell it) according the the public land registry. This simple search is invaluable - make sure you're not putting your money down on the equivalent of "a nice bridge in Brooklyn." As an added precaution, have your notario research the ownership history of surrounding properties as well, it's good to know your neighbors.

THE MENTOR(S)

Make friends with your future neighbors and compatriots as soon as you can! Talk to everyone you can who has had experience buying real estate in this beautiful country. The Costa Rican culture is unique. Let people who understand the country guide you through important details like local politics, regulations, culture and general trends. Of course it goes without saying that your chosen advisors must not stand to benefit from any purchase you will make.

THE (licensed!) REAL ESTATE AGENT

Your real estate broker should be someone you have good communication with, who understands your needs and has a history of experience with real estate in the region you're interested in. Insist on an agent who is licensed, in Costa Rica, anyone at all can legally sell real estate, make certain they are accountable!

THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANT

This is especially important in an area like Guanacaste where hundreds of miles of protected rainforest, natural biodiversity and abundance have elevated the area to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Considered to be a universally important part of our world's shared culture and history, parts of Guanacaste are governed by strict environmental laws and buyers may be liable for violations that occurred prior to purchase. Before you buy, have a thorough Environmental Due Diligence assessment done and reviewed by your team.

THE SURVEYOR

Contract a land surveyor to check out the property and the properties surrounding it in order to get a big picture of what you're buying into.

THE APPRAISER

It never hurts to have a second opinion. Hire an appraiser to assess the value of the property.

CHECK THE RECORDS

Finally, prior to closing any deal, find out if there's tax owing on the property and what the tax history is. Check lien notices, mortgages, construction plans, and condominium documents.

Whether you've been captivated by the beauty of this coastal paradise or simply want to make a strong investment, there's no need to resist Costa Rica's allure. With the right team and a bit of homework, your investment in this growing real estate market will be protected.

America Properties
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