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General information about real estate

Real estate transactions in Costa Rica might be entirely different from similar ones in other countries. Indeed, the laws in Costa Rica and the property registration process can be baffling to newcomers. An option is to obtain the help of an agent affiliated to the Costa Rica Real Estate Board. The agent will not only show a group of properties, he or she will explain registration process issues. Upon finding the ideal property in Costa Rica, the real estate agent will advise if financing is available.

At this stage, the services of a reputable attorney should also be employed. A study will be made at the Real Estate Registry to verify data such as the registered owner and the area of the property. This is important if property is bought based on the number of square meters. The study will determine if the property is free of legal burdens and annotations.

A real estate transaction is legally formalized with a contract issued by a public notary. The contract is stamped in the notary's "protocolo" and it's signed by both buyer and seller. An attorney then sends the contract to the Real Estate Registry. Taxes and stamps are paid plus notary's fees. Once the contract is given to the Registry, the correspondent process lasts 30 to 45 days.

Real estate in Costa Rica is registered under a personal name, under a company name in which the owner is the legal representative, or under a company name in which the owner's name is not specified.

The closing costs include a transfer tax, a stamp tax, and legal fees. The costs are usually 5-6 percent of the sales price and might be split between the buyer and seller. The yearly real estate taxes vary from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the declared value of the property. It is common in Costa Rica practice to set the declared value lower than the sales price.

In Costa Rica, the General Urban and Suburban Lease Law manages the relations between lords and tenants.

Owners are able to lease their properties or parts of them for housing or commercial purposes. The lease law in Costa Rica doesn't cover activities such as hotels, boarding houses and hostels. Other properties not included in the law are houses and tourist sites. Tenants are obliged by law to pay the rent on a monthly basis and contracts are signed by both parties. Landlords set the guidelines for how the property should be used.

The Central Valley in Costa Rica offers a wide variety of home and condo rental listings. Escazu, Santa Ana, Cariari, Sabana and Rohrmoser are some of the popular locations.

The best alternative for long term tourists is to rent a condo in a gated community in a San Jose suburb. These communities have their own security for those who plan to travel most of the time. Growing popular in the neighborhoods around San Jose, gated communities offer comfortable housing. Foreigners like them because its a way to obtain an instant built community in Costa Rica.

And whether some people love condos or dislike them, new projects are constantly arising in Escazu, Santa Ana and surrounding neighborhoods.

It may not be common practice for foreigners to borrow money from a bank in Costa Rica, but various mortgage options are available for foreign residents to buy real estate.

Prices for sale and rent vary greatly depending on size, location, view, and amenities. Proximity to San Jose and malls make Escazu the most convenient and expensive area to live in Costa Rica.

Residents of both West and East of San Jose are a pleasant mix of Ticos and foreigners. Other popular areas are situated to the northwest of San Jose including the hills of Heredia. As people move from the metropolitan area in San Jose, their houses are being used for commercial means. This is a growing phenomenon in Los Yoses, Barrio Escalante, Dent, and Barrio Turnon.

Expansion is taking place in both west and east of San Jose. The west nestles Plaza Roble, Real InterContinental Hotel and Multiplaza Shopping Mall. Parque Empresarial Forum is located nearby. The east nestles another Multiplaza and Terramall with many commercial sites dispersed along Zapote and San Pedro. Commercial offerings are available for all needs in Costa Rica.

Expansion in resort areas has grew considerably in recent years. Commercial developers have chosen Tamarindo in the North Pacific and Jaco in the Central Pacific as prime locations to build projects.

Conversion chart

1 meter = 3.28 feet

1 square meter = 10.76 sq. feet

1 kilometer = 0.6214 miles

1 hectare = 2.47 acres

1 foot = 0.304 meters

1 square foot = 0.093 sq. meters

1 mile = 1.61 kilometers

1 acre = 0.405 hectares

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