An introductory Guide to buying property
in Costa Rica
First of all, as a foreigner
you have almost
the same rights as nationals
realty in Costa Rica. The only
is buying property in the Terrestrial
Zone. The Maritime Zone legislation
that all beaches are public property,
the first 50 meters (164 ft.)
above the mean
high tide line is public. With
there are no private beaches
in Costa Rica.
The exceptions refer to landholdings
areas and old land grants and
dating from before 1973. The
legislation further states that
150 meters (492 ft.) after the
first 50 meters
(164 ft.) is called the Maritime
a foreigner you are required
to have a minimum
of five years of residency in
in order to buy property of which
49% is located in the Maritime
Costa Rica has regulations regarding
use of land. This is a very important
to take into consideration before
any property. Besides the land
might also demand investments
of property. In order to find
out what regulations
apply to the property you are
in you might want to consult
a real estate
broker or other professionals.
you can also investigate matters
The following authorities can
regarding regulations that apply
on the land
» Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle
» National Institute of Housing and
» Ministry of Health
» Ministry of Energy and Environment
» Ministry of Housing and Human Resources
» Water and Sewage Authority (AyA)
» Ministry of Public Works and Transportation
» Institute of Farming Development
» The municipality the
In Costa Rica it is common practice
The best way of getting an idea of what a
property is worth is to compare it with similar
properties in the area. Do not be afraid
to offer a lower price than the initial price
asked. Agreeing directly on an asking price
could even give the seller the impression
that he/she is selling too low. Make sure
to get an attorney involved before making
any down payments.
The following documentation is
for the buying process:
A passport or proof of residency
has to be
presented at a notary public.
If you want
to buy property as a corporation,
representative of the company
has to be present.
- Municipal Clearance Form.
This document is issued by the
the property is located at. It
the owner has paid all municipal
taxes and if the buyer has any
debts in the municipality.
- Plan of Survey.
This is an updated survey of
- Public Registry.
Roughly 99 percent of all property
Rica is registered at the Public
Properties are registered at
the Public Registry
by notary publics. Properties
have an identity
number called the Folio Real.
The data base
is accessible by internet at
Registry reports include the
name of the
owner of property, the boundaries
property, the declared value*
of the property,
as well as all other issues of
to the property.
In Costa Rica the declared value
is often lower than its actual
reason why people register the
value of their
property at a lower value is
to evade taxation.
Property taxes are calculated
as a percentage
of the declared value.
If one of the parties cannot
be present at
the transaction, it is possible
another person with a power of
If the seller accepts the offer
property is withdrawn from the
next step is to sign the escritura
deed. The escritura is signed
in the presence
of a notary public. The notary
the escritura and registers the
the new owner’s name at the Registro
In order to register at the Registro
the following documents need
to be presented:
» Proof of payment of taxes and registration
Proof of payment of all property taxes, this
certificate is issued by the Finance »
» Proof of payment of all municipal
taxes. This certificate is issued by the
» Proof that there are
judicial or mortgage problems
Most common form of payment for
Costa Rica is cash. However,
if the payment
is financed the following option
- 50 – 50. In this situation half of the
payment takes place in cash and half is made
by financing. This is called a co-notario
and means that the attorneys of the buyer
and the seller draft the mortgage and the
escritura in a single document.
- Separate drafts. It is also possible that
the attorneys of the buyer and the seller
draft separate documents concerning the mortgage
and the escritura. Different documents mean
higher legal costs though.
- Mortgage. If the majority of the payment
is financed, a mortgage needs to be drafted.
It is customary in Costa Rica that the financing
party pays for the mortgage draft.
Closing costs of the transaction
split between the buyer and seller.
this is negotiable so make sure
it is clear
who is paying what. Closing costs
Government transfer taxes and registration
The Impuesto de traspaso, or
charged by the government is
1.5% of the
registered value of the property.
have paid this tax in order to
property at the Public Registry.
stamps have to be added to the
as well. These stamps are Agricultural
(timbre agrario), Fiscal Stamp
National Archives Stamp (timbre
nacional), and the Legal Bar
Stamp (timbre del colegio de
Public Registry adds an additional
registration tax of 0.05%.
Notaries are entitled by law
to a minimum
fee but in agreement with their
charge more. The current fee
2% of the value of the transaction
first 10 million Colone
1.5% of the next 5 million Colones
10 till 15 million)
1.25% of the next 15 million
15 till 30 million)
1% on anything above 30 million
Mortgage Costs. It is custom
use that the
person that receives financing
pays for the
drafting costs of the mortgage
and the registration.
After all payments are made, the escritura
should be registered the property section
at the Registro Nacional within 45 to 60
days. Make sure that the property is properly
registered to prevent future problems.