FAQs

FAQs

Will Costa Rica charge me Capital Gains Tax?

The Costa Rican government does not collect capital gains tax.

Which is better, buying or building a home?

That depends on what you want.

If you find your dream property already built, chances are you can negotiate a great deal. However, purchasing your ideal land and building can also prove an amazing value, so it all depends on your preferences and needs. 

What regulations govern beachfront property in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s Maritime Zone Law protects the first 200 meters of land stretching inland from the ocean.

If a potential property is located within 200 meters (about two blocks) of the beach, check public records for a municipal lease. Without a lease from the local municipality, any existing or future structures may be illegally located.

What is the Luxury Home Tax and whom does it apply?

The luxury home tax is collected by the Finance Ministry and is not related to existing property tax.

The tax applies to anyone with homes valued at more than 106 million CRC (about $212,000 at the current exchange rate). The tax is based on a sliding scale and depends on the property value.

A home valued at $212,000 is taxed at .25% percent of the property value, and a $1.5 million dollar home is taxed at .40%.

How much does it cost to build a home in Costa Rica?

In most cases, new construction runs $40-$100 per square foot ($430-$1,076 per square meter). Very simple construction starts around $30 per square foot ($315 per square meter), while luxury homes can climb to more than $200 per square foot ($2,152 per square meter).

Should I use a Real Estate Agent in Costa Rica?

A real estate agent can help you navigate the Costa Rican real estate market and the language barrier.

However, bear in mind that agents are not required to be licensed or pass a test, so anyone can legally advertise himself as a real estate agent. 

Should I put the property in my name or under a corporation?

The benefits to purchasing a property in a company name include greater options regarding taxes and liability. 

What are the steps to buying a home in Costa Rica?

Begin the process by making an offer of purchase.

Have your lawyer draft up the purchase agreement, and make sure you’re clear on all the details. When the seller accepts your offer, you will make a deposit on the property. Now it’s time to order a survey of the property, run a title check and, if desired, hire a home inspector. When you’re ready to proceed, your lawyer will help complete the sale and make sure all legal requirements are fulfilled.

How much is the agent commission and who pays it?

Per Costa Rican law, real estate commissions may range from 3-10% of a property sale price. Unless the buyer agrees to split the costs, the seller is legally responsible for paying the entire real estate commission.

How is the property title transferred?

Your lawyer will help prepare the title transfer, also known as a conveyance deed (“escritura de traspaso”), which will effectively transfer the property to your name.

How can I find the ideal property for my needs?

We have both commercial and private properties for sale and lease; just let us know your preferences, price range and location and we will do our best to locate the right property for your lifestyle and budget.

How can I find a good builder in Costa Rica?

Recommendations and references are extremely important in Costa Rica. Ask around, check with friends, and inquire on online forums and message boards for good recommendations. Your embassy may also be able to help. 

Does Costa Rica have Zoning Laws?

Yes, there are zoning laws in Costa Rica, although the Central Valley (where the capital San José and its suburbs are) is the only area with prominent zoning. 

Does Costa Rica have a Central Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

There is no central MLS in Costa Rica.

Several websites advertise an MLS search, which is usually a collaboration between several real estate agents to list their properties in one location. 

Does Costa Rica collect property taxes?

Costa Rica collects property taxes, though they are very low compared to taxes in the United States. Typically, properties are taxed at 0.1% of the property value. 

Can I hire a property manager while I am away?

Yes, caretakers are affordable – generally less than $500 per month plus lodging – and offer excellent protection for your property.

Can I have a home built in Costa Rica to North American Standards?

There are numerous Canadian and American builders and architects that work in Costa Rica and build homes using U.S. standards. Many have adapted their building methods to take advantage of local building materials and labor.

Can I get Financing in Costa Rica?

Bank financing is very complicated due to local laws and bureaucracy, and interest rates are high – usually around 10-12%. However, many sellers offer partial financing, usually with a down payment of 40-50%.

Are home inspections common?

They are not common, but they are extremely useful. We highly recommend contracting an experienced home inspector, or at the very least a trusted contractor, to examine your potential purchase from top to bottom and provide a quote for necessary repairs. 

Are Electricity and Water available in Rural Areas of Costa Rica?

This largely depends on the location, but most properties have electricity and water brought to the property boundary. It is the responsibility of the owner to connect those utilities on the property itself. 

How can I obtain Residency?

There are several ways to may apply for and obtain a temporary residency.

The most common are by claiming “pensioner” or “rentista” status. Individuals who apply for these types of residency permits must prove that they receive at least US$1,000 per month from a lifetime pension, in the first case, and US$2,500 per month (or a deposit of US$60,000 into a Costa Rican bank), in the latter.

A third way to establish legal residency is to invest in the country. You can be eligible for investor (“inversionista”) status by investing over US$200,000 in Costa Rican real estate.

Can I close on a purchase when not in Costa Rica?

If you are unable to be present for the Closing of your property purchase, your attorney can draft a Power of Attorney, assigning the rights for a 3rd party to sign the closing documents on your behalf.  This is a ‘limited’ power of attorney, which specifically outlines the ‘powers’ this 3rd party has been temporarily given.

An additional fee is associated with your attorney drafting the Power of Attorney, which you will need to sign and return in advance of the closing.  Please discuss the costs directly with your attorney.

In some cases, the Power of Attorney must be taken to the closest Costa Rican consulate in your country and signed in front of the Consular, this is called having the document authenticated.  Ask your attorney if this is necessary, in your case.

What are the costs associated with a property purchase?

The closing costs in Costa Rica are government governed but a quick rule of thumb is 3.5% of the purchase price OR the registered value of the property in the National Registry-whichever one is higher.

Example:          $100,000 purchase price
Closing costs:    $3,500

Very often, the closing costs are split 50/50 between seller and buyer.  The Buyer’s attorney generally is responsible for drafting the Transfer document and will send to the Seller’s attorney for review.  The costs for the Seller’s attorney to review the Escritura, is at the seller’s sole expense and not included in the 3.5%.

Are there Escrow Accounts in Costa Rica?

Escrow is a process that allows a potential buyer to place an amount of money (either a down payment or the entire purchase price) in the secure hands of a disinterested third party for a set amount of time. In so doing, the buyer demonstrates to the seller the intent—and capacity—to make payment for acquisition of the property. The Escrow Agreement provides the conditions (free and clear title, for example) for transfers of the money, and it is only when those conditions have been met that the Escrow Agent is obligated to hand over the money to the seller; thus buyer and seller are both protected.

How Does the Costa Rica Property Registry work?

All titled properties in Costa Rica are titled under a single, legal, government-managed system, known as the Costa Rican Public Registry. Property titles are registered in the Registry, whose records serve as ultimate proof of ownership. In addition to recording title, the Registry also indicates whether a given property has any liens, encumbrances or easements associated with it. Registry records are public and are accessible via the Internet.

Can Foreigners Legally Own Property in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, foreigners may purchase fee simple title to property. The only exception to the rule is regarding the so-called Maritime Zone Regime, in which a Costa Rican citizen must always have a percentage ownership.