Costa Rica is swiftly gaining popularity as an alternative place to reside for single adults and families who are looking for more out of life. The obvious natural beauty of the land, the consolidated system of protecting the land, social and political stability and growing efficiency of infrastructure and services make Costa Rica a great place to live. The 51,000 square kilometers that make up this small country have approximately 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
Costa Rica which is surrounded by both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has something for everyone. From beautiful white sandy beaches to rolling hills that look like the European countryside, crystal lakes with towering volcanoes looming overhead, the natural beauty is unequivocal. For those of you tired of “keeping up with the Jones’s” and looking for a little adventure Costa Rica is the place for you!
Costa Rica is strategically positioned in the heart of the Western Hemisphere and easily accessed by many international airports making travel easy. The government looks favorably to foreign investments and foreigners are treated with mutual respect.
There are excellent schools popping up all over the countryside and no longer must you live in San Jose or the Central Valley to give your child a private college prep education.
Everything is adding up to life becoming a lot simpler in Costa Rica. Get back to real values and enjoy living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Once you make the decision to live here your world will begin to open and change. We are here to help you make the smoothest transition possible.
Costa Rica Real Estate – ¨The Market Situation¨
It is an exciting time for Costa Rica Real Estate. As the new millennium swings into full force, recent global market changes have created incredible opportunities in this emerging Latin market.
The desire for quality, upscale real estate, modern conveniences and a better quality of life is available now; Mediterranean style villas perched on the hillsides overlooking spectacular city, beach and golf course views; master planned golf courses, stunning properties with views of the Pacific or the Atlantic Caribbean, luxury communities with more amenities than those in the top three markets; real upscale village style shopping experiences with major designer boutiques to trendy café’s and first class health clubs are getting the attention of many ‘baby boomers’.
The global markets have tightened and investors are looking for new real estate markets to invest in with a list of ‘must haves’ such as accessibility via direct flights, stable economy, desirable climate, experienced and educated labor market and excellent quality of life.
Costa Rica has it all, direct flights from most major markets including Toronto and Detroit by several of the top airlines, a proven stable economy with all of the financial conveniences of the western marketplace.
The Technological Accelerator: Major technology, consumer goods and pharmaceutical companies such as Intel, Procter, and Gamble, Abbot Laboratories have located here because of the technical infrastructure and the emerging educated workforce.
Solutions Realty would like to be your partner in all of your residential and commercial real estate needs. Full service, highly trained, experienced professionals at your service.
Real Estate Laws & Costs in Costa Rica
OWNERSHIP OF LAND
Costa Rican laws and constitution protect private ownership of land and foreigners enjoy the same rights as citizens. There are almost no restrictions to ownership of private land, except that property that has been given or sold to Costa Rican citizens as part of government programs. These properties can be freely traded or acquired by foreigners but only after the original owner has held it for a certain period of time. Neither citizenship, residence, nor even presence in the country is required for land ownership.
Costa Rica boasts a safe form of title registration to protect buyers from hidden claims. It is centered in the ¨registro de la propiedad¨ (property registry), where both title documents and surveys for every property are recorded. 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 a property easy to verify.
Those who want to buy land in Costa Rica should get professional advice, which includes a search of the title in the registry, so as to confirm that there are no liens registered against it, and also to establish the property’s proper ownership. Once the deal is completed, you should also secure documents from a lawyer to prove that the sale was registered, for your own safety and to present to somebody else should you wish to later finance or sell your property.
Stewart Title opened its doors in Costa Rica 2 years ago, offering title insurance. It is the biggest title company in North America. Stewart title is commonly used by many buyers to secure and ensure clean title on all types of purchases in Costa Rica.
With most properties, owner financing is available at between 10–12% per annum. Financing can also be arranged with local banks at between 8.5 – 12%.
Knowledgeable lawyers agree that zoning regulations in Costa Rica are reasonable and logical, although far less stringent than in other countries such as the United States or Canada. A registered local engineer must sign all building and subdivision plans and they also require approval by the local municipality, the ministry of health, and the government housing department.
The taxes paid on properties in Costa Rica are very low. Yearly property taxes vary from 0.5% to 1.5% of the declared value of the property. This declared value is a common law practice. Thus a property’s value is generally very low and almost always lower than the market value.
Closing costs for a sale include a transfer land tax, a stamp tax, and legal fees. Closing costs typically run 5 – 6% of the sales price and are usually split 50/50 between buyer and seller. The transfer and land taxes are assessed based on the declared value, while legal fees are charged based on the sales price of the property.
REGULATIONS FOR BEACHFRONT PROPERTY
When buying beachfront properties, one must be aware of the Costa Rican regulation that ensures that the coastline is held for the benefit of the public. By law, the first 50 meters above the mean high tide line are inalienable public property. This is known as the 50-meter line. No one can restrict access or have a totally private beach. There are, however, some exceptions but they include port areas, old land grants, and some title prior to 1973.
On 80 – 85% of the coast, the next 150 meters are leased government land and this parcel is known as the maritime-terrestrial zone (or just maritime zone). Restrictions on maritime zone land for foreigners are that one must establish five years of residency to own more than 49% of the rights to such a lease. There are two loopholes that exist: 1) holding such a lease in the name of a corporation that is wholly owned by a foreigner and b) by having a Costa Rican resident hold 51% of the lease but in name only. Development of the maritime zone does not discriminate against foreigners. A regulation plan must exist for areas where the land is or just for the parcel itself.
The other 15 – 20% of the coastal land has title to the 50-meter line. That is to say that no maritime zone exists and the landowner may develop without the inconvenience of filing a regulation plan.
Building cost generally ranges from $40 to $120 dollars an sq. foot. Average time for building permits generally ranges from 2 to 3 months time but can take longer. Building materials and techniques are similar to those in the U.S.