How to Buy Property in Costa Rica

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  1. First and foremost, locate a good lawyer that you can trust as well as a good notary that you can trust.  Their competence will ensure that your transaction goes smoothly.

  2. Before you buy property, check and see if the property has liens or encumbrances (called “gravámenes”).  Have a lawyer look into it before you make your decision to buy.

  3. Check the national property registry (called “Registro Nacional de la Propiedad”) to see if the property is listed there.  It is important that the property that you want to buy is in the national registry.  Get a copy of the property’s registry.

  4. Guaranty Deposit: You will need to pay a guaranty deposit so that all of the lawyers, notaries and other involved parties know that they will be paid. 

  5. Get a permitted use plan (called a “plano de uso”).  This map should be given by the municipality where the property lies.  It should show a map of the property and explain possible uses and explain limits such as the height of the construction as well as the amount of land that you have to leave open for transit.

  6. Consider a title guaranty.  It is possible that there could be legal problems.  You might want a title guaranty that will protect you against possible liens on the property as well as problems with documents that are filed.  It is a kind of insurance that you should definitely consider.

  7. Investigate the area.  See if there is any planned construction that could affect your property.

  8. Verify how the planning laws (called “leyes de planificación”) will affect your property.  At this point, it is good to speak with a lawyer.

This article is by no means complete, so be sure to discuss with your Costa Rican lawyer how to proceed.  If need be, get a translator so you can be sure to understand all of the details involved.  Good luck and enjoy your new property in Costa Rica.


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