Costa Rica real estate has been steadily increasing in price largely as a result of the popularity the country has garnered from a sub-tropical climate, coupled with a stabilizing economy and a pro-American political government. This Latin American nation is the first choice among retirees looking for a change of climate and culture.There are relatively few restrictions to property ownership, but the two most important ones are these:
- The Costa Rican government provides broad rights of possession to squatters who occupy the property of absentee owners.
- The government restricts the usage of all beach front property which is within 50 meters of the coastline.
The process of buying a property in Costa Rica is not without risk, but the risks can be minimized by ensuring that the property to be purchased has an unencumbered title. The buyer should do a comprehensive title search among the land records; which can be done online. The report, obtained from the Registro Nacionale or public registrar’s office, will provide information including title holder name, boundary lines, tax assessments, liens, and other recorded instruments affecting the title.
Real property is transferred through the proper execution before a Notary Public of the escritura or transfer deed. The Notary Public has broad powers, and is an attorney-approved by the Costa Rican Supreme Court. It is the responsibility of the Notary Public to draft, interpret, authenticate and certify the validity of the documents, after which the properly executed document will be registered and recorded in the Registro Nacional. >
It is vitally important to verify the actual property with the two documents that legally define it, namely the escritura (Deed) and the catastro (plat map).
Generally, the buyer and seller equally split the closings costs, which include government transfer taxes, registration fees, Notary Public and legal fees, and any additional mortgage-related costs. After payment of the fees, the Notary Public will register the deed transfer. The original document, bearing all documentary stamps, will be returned to the owner within 60 days. The buyer is strongly advised to follow up with his Notary Public to ensure that the deed was registered.
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