Exploring the Enchanting Real Estate Opportunities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a tropical paradise nestled in Central America, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich biodiversity, and warm, welcoming culture. Beyond its natural beauty, Costa Rica offers a diverse range of real estate opportunities that captivate both locals and international buyers alike. In this blog, we will delve into the fascinating world of real estate in Costa Rica, highlighting its unique charms, investment potential, and practical considerations.

The Allure of Costa Rican Real Estate:

From pristine coastal areas with breathtaking beaches to verdant mountains and lush rainforests, Costa Rica’s real estate offerings are as diverse as its natural landscapes. Whether you dream of a tranquil beachfront retreat, an eco-friendly jungle hideaway, or a vibrant urban condo, Costa Rica has options to suit various tastes and preferences.

Booming Investment Potential:

Costa Rica’s stable political environment, progressive economic policies, and commitment to conservation make it an attractive destination for real estate investment. The country has seen steady growth in its real estate market, with demand for vacation rentals, retirement homes, and investment properties on the rise. As a result, investing in Costa Rican real estate offers the potential for long-term appreciation and attractive rental income.

Popular Locations for Real Estate Investment:

a) Guanacaste: Known as the “Gold Coast” of Costa Rica, Guanacaste boasts stunning beaches, world-class resorts, and a vibrant expat community. Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, and Papagayo Peninsula are sought-after areas for those seeking beachfront properties or vacation rentals.

b) Central Valley: With its mild climate, scenic beauty, and proximity to the capital city, the Central Valley region, including cities like San José, Escazú, and Santa Ana, offers a blend of urban convenience and natural splendor. It appeals to both locals and expatriates looking for comfortable homes with access to amenities, healthcare, and educational institutions.

c) Southern Zone: The Southern Zone, encompassing areas like Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal, is a haven for nature enthusiasts. This region showcases breathtaking landscapes, lush rainforests, and a slower pace of life. It is ideal for those seeking eco-friendly properties or a serene getaway in close proximity to pristine beaches and national parks.

Practical Considerations:

a) Legal Framework: Understand the legalities and regulations involved in purchasing real estate in Costa Rica. Working with reputable real estate agents and legal professionals is crucial to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.
b) Infrastructure and Amenities: Consider the availability of infrastructure, such as roads, utilities, and services, in the area you’re interested in. Accessibility to healthcare facilities, schools, shopping centers, and recreational amenities can significantly impact your daily life.

c) Residency and Ownership: Familiarize yourself with Costa Rica’s residency options, property ownership rights, and taxation regulations. It’s advisable to consult legal experts to navigate these aspects.


Costa Rica’s real estate market beckons adventurers, investors, and dreamers with its abundant natural beauty and thriving property opportunities. Whether you seek a tropical getaway, a retirement haven, or a profitable investment, Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes and stable market make it an enticing choice. By conducting thorough research, seeking professional guidance, and exploring the country firsthand, you can unlock the doors to your Costa Rican real estate dreams and embark on an extraordinary journey in this captivating nation.

 

Exploring Natural Wonders: Dominical and Uvita – Hidden Gems of Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a country known for its breathtaking natural beauty, has become a favorite destination for adventurous travelers seeking a unique experience. While popular spots like Manuel Antonio and Arenal Volcano often steal the limelight, there are hidden treasures that offer an off-the-beaten-path experience. Dominical and Uvita, located along the southern Pacific coast, boast stunning landscapes, vibrant biodiversity, and a relaxed atmosphere. Let’s embark on a virtual journey to explore the captivating tourist attractions of Dominical and Uvita in Costa Rica.

Marino Ballena National Park:

Marino Ballena National Park, nestled in Uvita, is a pristine marine park renowned for its magnificent natural formations. The park derives its name from the Humpback whales that migrate to the area between December and April, offering a unique opportunity for whale watching. Visitors can also explore the park’s iconic Whale Tail, a sandbar formation shaped like a whale’s tail during low tide. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming in the clear turquoise waters surrounded by vibrant coral reefs are a must for ocean enthusiasts.

Nauyaca Waterfalls:

Prepare to be mesmerized by the Nauyaca Waterfalls, a tropical paradise just outside of Dominical. Surrounded by lush rainforests, these cascading falls offer a refreshing retreat from the tropical heat. The falls consist of two tiers, with the upper falls plunging over 45 meters into a natural pool. Hiking trails through the jungle lead visitors to these impressive waterfalls, making it an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s rich flora and fauna.

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary:

For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is an absolute must. Located near Dominical, this sanctuary is dedicated to rehabilitating and protecting injured or orphaned animals. Take a guided tour to learn about the conservation efforts and get up close to fascinating species like sloths, monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws. It’s a chance to witness the country’s incredible biodiversity while supporting a worthy cause.

Corcovado National Park:

While technically not within Dominical and Uvita, Corcovado National Park is well worth a visit for nature lovers. Located on the Osa Peninsula, this remote park is often called “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic. Its diverse habitats are home to an astonishing array of wildlife, including jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, and countless bird species. Hiking through the park’s trails will immerse you in the wonders of Costa Rica’s untamed wilderness.

Ventanas Beach:

Ventanas Beach, just south of Uvita, captivates visitors with its unique sea caves carved into the cliffs. During low tide, explore the tunnels and passages that lead to hidden beaches, rock formations, and natural wonders. The interplay of sunlight and shadows inside the caves creates a magical atmosphere. Make sure to check the tide charts and plan your visit accordingly to fully experience the beauty of Ventanas Beach.

Conclusion:

Dominical and Uvita may be hidden gems in Costa Rica, but their allure is undeniable. These two coastal towns offer a perfect blend of natural wonders, adventure, and tranquility. From the awe-inspiring marine life at Marino Ballena National Park to the captivating Nauyaca Waterfalls and the wildlife haven of Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, these areas will leave you with lasting memories. And if you’re up for a thrilling journey, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Corcovado National Park and venture into the heart of Costa Rica’s untamed wilderness. Dominical and Uvita beckon

Costa Rica is known for its diverse and delicious fruits. Here are some of the most popular fruits in Costa Rica:

  • Pineapple: Costa Rica is one of the largest producers and exporters of pineapples in the world. Costa Rican pineapples are known for their sweet flavor and juicy texture.
  • Mango: Mangoes are also popular in Costa Rica, and the country is home to several different varieties. Costa Rican mangoes are known for their sweet and aromatic flavor.
  • Papaya: Papayas are a tropical fruit that is abundant in Costa Rica. The fruit is sweet and juicy and is often eaten as a breakfast fruit or used in smoothies.
  • Watermelon: Watermelon is a refreshing fruit that is popular in Costa Rica, especially during the hot summer months. The fruit is sweet and juicy and is often eaten as a dessert or snack.
  • Guava: Guavas are a common fruit in Costa Rica, and are often used to make jams and jellies. The fruit has a sweet and slightly tangy flavor and is high in vitamin C.
  • Passionfruit: Passionfruit is a tropical fruit that is grown in Costa Rica. The fruit has a tart and tangy flavor and is often used in desserts and drinks.
  • Starfruit: Starfruit is a unique fruit that is shaped like a star. The fruit has a sweet and sour flavor and is often used in salads and drinks.

These are just a few of the many delicious fruits that you can find in Costa Rica. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the country, be sure to try as many fruits as you can, or if you are already in the country, we invite you to go to the nearest feria!

Nauyaca Waterfalls: One of the Coolest Things to do in Dominical, Costa Rica

When our clients come to Dominical to look at properties for sale in Southern Costa Rica, they are also usually looking for things to do in the area. Nauyaca Waterfall is one of the best, and well worth the trip. Not only are there two falls stacked one on the other, but beneath the lower falls there is a huge natural swimming pool filled with water that is cool enough to be refreshing, without being cold.

The entrance to the road leading to the falls is just 10 minutes from Dominical by car, right on the highway leading from Dominical to San Isidro. You can easily drive in your rented car, take a taxi, catch the bus at just the right time, or join a tour group.

If you drive yourself, just head up highway 243 to San Isidro and in about 10 minutes watch for the office on the right. If you’re paying attention, you cannot miss it – there is a big, bright sign over the office.

If you want to join a tour, there are any number of offices in Dominical that will be happy to help you. One is the Dominical Info Center. To get to it, once you enter Dominical, turn left at the T and look for it on the right.

Catching a bus is tricky because they don’t adhere to a strict schedule and a return bus might not be timed right for you. Check bus schedules at the info center or ask someone when the bus goes from Dominical to San Isidro.

However you get to the office you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of about $10.00 and get a wristband. Then there are several ways to get to the falls, which are a little under 3 miles away: Hike, ride in the back of a stake bed truck or ride a horse.

The truck and the horse rides require a reservation and have fixed departure times. Hiking offers the most flexibility if you are in shape for it. If you’re in your own car, your best bet is to park it in the secure parking area down the hill from the office. That also gives a bit of a head start on the trail if you’re going to be hiking.

If you are with a tour group and they are hiking, the tour company may be able to get you even closer before you start hiking.

The hike is beautiful, with the river below you on one side and forested hills all around. Just keep in mind that there are some steep climbs as you go upriver to the falls. Young children will almost certainly be clamoring to be carried, and you’ll be sweating. Take plenty of water, allow plenty of time, and enjoy it as part of the experience. An adult starting at the parking lot, walking a steady pace and not needing to stop for rest breaks can do it in something like 45 – 60 minutes.

When you arrive at the falls, you can choose the upper ones or the lower ones, and if you have enough time you can do both. The big difference is that the lower set offers a gigantic natural pool where you can swim right up to the cascading water, as well as climb up on the rocks and jump off into the pool. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

They recommend you not climb on the rocks without there being an employee there to help you.
Company guides will set up a rope you can use for stability while climbing, and a guide can help you with foot placement in places where you can’t see because the water is cascading all around you. If you take the plunge, make sure you have a photographer because it makes for gorgeous pictures.

Depending on when you go, there could be a lot of other people there. Don’t worry: it would be hard to diminish the setting and beauty of Nauyaca. Plan to enjoy it however you get there, with whomever you meet there.

For more information about costs and reservations, here is the place to start:
http://nauyacawaterfallscostarica.com/ If you want a tour company to arrange it for you, they will do so for the same published prices, and they get paid from a commission for setting it all up.

How to Buy Real Estate in Costa Rica

Buying real estate in Costa Rica is pretty parallel to how you would do it in your home country, with a
few differences.

 

1.) Find a property you love. To do so, look on local websites rather than just doing a scattershot online search. There is no MLS in Costa Rica, so listings get shared around and some agencies are better at keeping their websites up to date. Instead of “Real Estate in Costa Rica” try something like “Real Estate Agency in (name of town or region). Hint: You will always do better by selecting one agent in the area of interest and sending any interesting listings you find to that agent. Otherwise, you’ll waste time on expired listings, overlapping listings, and listings that haven’t been updated.

2.) Make an offer that works for you. It is very hard to find “comparables” in our markets, so pricing is plus or minus. Assume there will be some negotiating with the Seller in order to arrive at a price acceptable to both of you.

3.) If you reach an agreement, your offer will be formally turned into a Sales and Purchase Agreement. If you are from North America, you might think of this as the “Earnest Money Contract” that your agent would do for you as part of their service, but here an attorney does it and you pay for it.

4.) While these things are happening, you will need to open an Escrow account. This is probably the hardest part of the process for new Buyers to understand. In order to comply with money laundering laws, the escrow company is obligated to gather a “ridiculous” amount of information about your finances. The whole point is to be very sure that you are legit and the source of your funds is legit. It’s just something that you have to do, so meditate for 30 minutes, take a deep breath, and walk through it step by step.

5.) You may also want to have your attorney create a Costa Rican corporation to “own” the property for you. This has advantages in terms of liability, so it’s something you should at least discuss. It only takes a week to ten days to do this, so it is easily finished by the time you go to closing if you start early.

6.) Once your SPA has been signed by both parties, you will typically send a 10% deposit to your Escrow Company. That triggers the Due Diligence period.

7.) Due Diligence will be coordinated by your attorney and done by several people that may include surveyor, home inspector, agent, municipality and others. It needs to be done well, and if you decide not to do parts of it, you should do so with your eyes wide open. At the end of the Due Diligence, you will be given a report that allows you the opportunity to accept the results or reject any part of them. If there is a “fatal flaw,” you can simply withdraw from the deal and get your deposit back.

8.) If you accept the Due Diligence, your deposit will go hard (nonrefundable) and you will send the balance of your payment to your escrow company. Then you will close within a few days and your property will be recorded in your name in the National Registry.

9.) Once you own the property, it would be wise to make sure you understand what your obligations are and how to fulfill them. Write down how to pay your utilities and taxes, and make sure you understand how much, when, and how to pay your corporation taxes. You may need to set up a bank account to make this simpler, especially if you will not be living at your property full time.

 

That’s it! Follow the steps and you will end up with peace of mind about a beautiful property.

Buying Beach Property in Costa Rica

With one exception, foreigners can buy property in Costa Rica with the same rights and obligations as Costa Rican citizens. The exception is in the Maritime Zone.

Along the coasts and any portion of a river that is affected by tides, the first 200 meters of land is owned by the government and cannot be owned by anyone else. (There are a few small exceptions that were grandfathered in as titled land.)

The first 50 meters may not be developed. They are for public use. The next 150 meters are usually available for development if you get a long term use permit, or “concession.”

You get a new concession by hunting for a property that doesn’t already have one. Of course, such properties are hard to find now, but if you get lucky, you can apply for a concession at the appropriate municipality. This is best done by an attorney who specializes in such things because it can be tedious and complicated. In the process, you have to specify what you are going to do with it. Private residence? Hotel? Restaurant? Resort?

One very important difference between the Maritime Zone and titled land is that no foreigner can hold the controlling interest in any property in the Maritime Zone until that foreigner has had legal residency in Costa Rica for at least 5 years. Until then, at least 51% must be held by a Costa Rican citizen.

Obstacles to getting a concession would mainly be environmental. Any areas that are wetlands or have mangroves growing on them are automatically off-limits. Other areas might have forests or wildlife that can’t be cleared or disturbed. Some users might be rejected if they don’t fit with the municipalities’ zoning plans.

In response to your application, the municipality will either deny the concession or approve it. If they approve it, it will be valid for 20 years and they will attach a value to the proposed development of the property so they can levy an annual use tax, known as the “canon.” That would be in lieu of a property tax but can be quite a lot higher because it is a specialized property.

Once you have a concession, you have 2 years to do the development or lose the concession. If you do the development, pay your canon as required, and do not violate any of the laws or restrictions on the property, renewal should be straightforward as long as you do it on time.

Those are the basics for getting a new concession. Realistically, however, you would most likely be buying a concession that is already established, rather than starting from scratch. So how does that work?

Until you have been a legal resident for 5 years, assume you will be buying shares in a corporation in which you are not a majority shareholder. When you buy the concession, the appropriate number of shares will be transferred to you. That is something you need to check thoroughly so you are comfortable with the arrangement. A good lawyer can help you sort it out.

If you are buying undeveloped land, you need to know what use and value the concession permitted because a) you will need to build that and b) your canon will reflect that. If you don’t build on time, you can lose your concession.

If you are buying an existing business or home, you need to make sure all of the laws and restrictions have been followed. There have been cases of homes being bulldozed or businesses being shuttered because laws were broken or the concession’s requirements weren’t followed. For example, if a wall or pool infringes on the 50-meter restricted zone, you could be required at some point to remove it!

In summary, there are extra concerns to research when you buy concession property here. Do your homework. There are some great concession properties available for purchase, and there are some that will pretty much be a series of migraine headaches. Don’t ever let an agent fast-talk you into thinking “It will all work out.”

Do the Due Diligence and hire someone who specializes in concessions to protect you. If you do that, you could end up with one of the most desirable properties in the country. If you don’t do that, you could end up with nothing but regrets.

Wildlife in Costa Rica

When you are looking for real estate in Southern Costa Rica, you will, of course, be scanning through a ton of listings for properties in Quepos, Dominical, Uvita, Ojochal, and beyond.

As you read through the listings for condos, homes, hotels, undeveloped land or whatever else, you are going to read some version of the following sentence over and over: “There is abundant wildlife including monkeys, toucans, parrots….”

While that statement is true, it isn’t all that useful in choosing a property. Why? Because pretty much every property in Southern Costa Rica has abundant wildlife. You’d have to stay cloistered away like a monk to not see wildlife all around you.

To own a property in Southern Costa Rica is to become a wildlife photographer. Almost everyone down here who has a Facebook or Instagram account is sooner or later posting pictures of sloths, interesting bugs, gorgeous plants, iridescent birds, and more.

This isn’t by accident, nor is it the “norm.” There was a time when deforestation was happening just like it has in so many other countries in Central and South America. Loss of habitat threatened whole species and the amazingly biodiverse world of the tropical forests was thinning out. In addition, hunters both local and foreign reduced some animal populations dangerously either to put food on the table or a stuffed trophy on the wall.

With the encouragement of some environmentally conscious visitors, Costa Ricans realized years ago that one of their most valuable resources is dynamic forests filled with wildlife. They passed laws to protect those forests and that wildlife. They made it illegal to hunt anything ever. The made it illegal to cut down big trees without a permit and made it difficult to get that permit. They encouraged people to set aside conservation areas and paid them to do it. They allow foreigners to get residency by putting a certain amount of money into reforestation projects. They recently passed a law allowing insurance payments to farmers who have lost livestock to large cats, so the farmers won’t hunt and kill the cats.

Old timers remark over and over about the difference that has made. My wife and I have only been here 6.5 years and we ourselves see changes. On our property we’ve seen wild pigs, sloths, agoutis, coatimundis, deer, hawks, parrots, toucans, dart frogs, toads, a few snakes (they tend to “run” and hide) and much, much more. We even caught a puma on camera stealthily creeping past our home at 3:00 in the morning. At the micro level, I take macro pictures of crazy cool insects.

So the natural balance of life is slowly returning. It’s a long process that requires both time and protection. There are ways that you can give it a boost:

First, look more closely. There are the obvious birds and animals, but our morning walks have now become chances to see things we never did before. We look for tent bats. We can identify some dart frogs by sound. We’re watch out for the golden orb spiders so we don’t wreck their huge golden webs.

Second, learn some names and stories. Nothing makes the natural world come alive like knowing what you’re looking at and some of its natural history. Scientists are trying to invent a way to duplicate the strength of those golden orb spider webs. Leafcutter ants are ancient farmers and have an unbelievably complicated social structure. Little mimosa ferns can “learn” and “remember.” Every sloth is a microbiome. And so on.

Third, learn the connections. In a healthy forest environment, your first impression is how cool everything works together in lasting harmony. However, as you get to know it better, you begin to see that everything in the forest is battling everything else for light, food, and reproductive rights. Alliances are created for mutual protection or sustenance. Trees work together. Army ants have dozens of insects and birds following them around. The more you learn, the more amazing it all is.

Finally, do your part. Plant native trees that attract birds and monkeys. Leave sections of your property for “natural landscaping.” Avoid toxic chemicals. Get serious about reducing your use of throwaway plastic bags. Volunteer for organizations like Community Carbon Trees (http://www.communitycarbontrees.org/) or donate to their projects.

The bottom line is, one of the most appealing things about Costa Rica is its wildlife. That’s intentional, so if you are too, this will continue to be a country that leads the world in environmental awareness and reforestation.

Where to Eat in Dominical, Costa Rica

Whether you are looking for things to do in Costa Ballena or looking to purchase real estate in Southern Costa Rica, within a few hours you’re going to be looking for a place to eat.
In the Southern zone, once you leave the Quepos area heading south, the first sizable community you come to is Dominical, about 45 minutes south on the coastal highway. That’s not to minimize the smaller communities along the way, but to say that when you hit Dominical your options for activities to try, places to stay, and things to eat increase dramatically.
Even before you get to town, look left in Matapalo for Langosta Feliz right beside the highway. It has some of the best seafood in the area. In Dominical itself, there are about 16 restaurants varying from a back-of-the-grocery-story delicatessen to a Mexican fusion kind of place on the
beach.
Dominical is pretty easy to navigate, with only one main street, so you’ll see options just by cruising through town. In case you wants some ideas of what to look for, watch for these:
For specialty foods, consider Sol Frozen Yoghurt (desserts), Phat Noodle (Asian noodle fusion), Mono Congo (Drinks, Bakery, Cool Stuff), Sushi, Pescado Loco (fish tacos) and Del Mar Taco (Tacos, burritos), La Casita Pizza, Mama Toucans (deli sandwichs and salads), Fuego’s (Microbrewery and restaurant) and Tortilla Flats (Mexican fusion plus).
For places that offer a bit of everything, from steaks to seafood to typical Costa Rican dishes, check out Villas Rio Mar, Su Raza, Diuwak, Coco’s and Maracatú. To get a more authentic Costa Rican experience, don’t overlook the little “Sodas” along the
way. Sodas are hole-in-the-wall places to eat. Tucked into nooks and crannies, they offer Costa Rican food that often rivals anything you’d get at the fancier places.
Don’t know what to order?
Try a “casado”. You’ll have a choice of meats and the dish will come with rice, black beans, salad, and maybe fried plantains. It often includes a fruit drink too, making it one of the most filling, economical dishes around.
South of Dominical there are a couple other worthy mentions. Por Que No has a different kind of menu that’s popular as well as a killer view of ocean waves breaking on rock formations (make a reservation in high season). La Parcela sits on a finger of land so you can see ocean breakers on both sides. Villas Alturas has such a fantastic view that you won’t care what you’re eating. And Cuna del Angel’s menu is classy and gluten free.
Much more could be written, and has been, about dining out in Costa Rica. So just a few
reminders:
You can drink the water. Costa Rica has done a very good job of ensuring water quality around the country. We rarely hear complaints about stomach problems, and when we do, we doubt that it was the water. Portions are often generous. We keep our own “take home” containers in our car to save on single use plastic or Styrofoam when we want to keep some for another meal. You might consider that too. We even have our own stainless steel straws. Every little bit helps.
Fruit smoothies are the elixir of the gods here. If you don’t like them too sweet, don’t forget to mention “no sugar.” Usually the fresh fruits used in the smoothies are sweet enough by themselves.
Tipping is confusing. Check your bill at fancier restaurants and you’ll see that a 10% (minimum) service charge has already been added. So do you add more of a tip yourself? It’s up to you. Most Costa Ricans do not tip any more than what’s on the bill. Many foreigners do so out of
habit. You do what you are comfortable with.
Finally, enjoy the culinary adventure and interact with the people who cook for you and serve you. Food is embedded in culture, so your appreciation for “their” food automatically translates into your appreciation for “them”.

Can I Get a Mortgage on a Home in Costa Rica?

By: Ron Snell.

Clients often ask us about options for financing their purchase when they are thinking about buying a home in Costa Rica. For a long time, those options have been pretty limited, but there are new possibilities opening up.

The standard answer is that if you can’t purchase with cash, you could request short term Seller financing. If a Seller does not need all of the money immediately, they might consider something along the lines of 50% down, 3-5 year term, and 6% interest. That would allow enough time for you to reach retirement age, cash in some investments, sell a property in your home country, get moved down here, and then pay off the loan.

Beyond Seller financing, the best option has been to borrow the money in the home country by means of a loan from relatives, a home equity loan, or some other lender. Home country mortgage lenders and banks typically don’t lend overseas, so you have to have some other source. In addition, if you are not a legal resident of Costa Rica when you buy, it is very difficult for you to get a loan from the normal banks and lenders.

Recently we have heard from some companies here in Costa Rica that have begun to make loans to foreigners for homes. While they aren’t for everybody, they might make it possible for you to get your dream home without Seller financing and pay it off when you are ready.

Keep in mind that many homes here are second purchases so they are treated like vacation homes. As is typical in other countries, loans for vacation properties may face extra scrutiny and higher fees and rates.

We just received information from a lender who is advertising mortgages for homes here. Note that this blog is being written in May, 2019. Things can change, but here is the information we received as of this writing, with a few annotations:

 

The interest rate and down payment will depend on your home country credit score, as follows:

 

All Owner-Occupied & Second Homes in Costa Rica

Minimum Loan Amount: $100,000   Maximum Loan Amount: $1,000,000

FICO (US only)CANADARATEUP TO LTVMAX DTI
>=800>=8508.50%75%28% / 45%
770-799820-8499.00%70%28% / 45%
740-769790-8199.50%65%28% / 45%
710-739760-78910.00%60%28% / 45%
680-709730-75910.50%60%28% / 45%
650-679700-72911.00%60%28% / 45%

 

Using a best-case scenario, this means if you have the top tier credit score, you will pay at least 25% down and have an interest rate of 8.5%.

Additionally, there will be extra fees associated with getting the loan, and some of those fees will be much higher than you are used to in your home country.

 

Loan origination 4% of the loan amount. (That’s a lot! In the U.S. this is more like .05%.)

Processing Fee $400.00
Underwriting fee $1,295.00
Funding Fee $175.00
Document Prep Fee $400.00
Credit Report $100.00, or $125.00 for 2 people.
Inspection Fee depends on property. Estimate $500.00
Appraisal Fee depends on property. Estimate $1,000.

 

 

If you were to buy a $400,000.00 home and you were in the top tier of credit ratings, here is how that might look with a minimum down payment of $100,000 and a loan of $300,000:

Down Payment:              $100,000.00
Loan Origination Fee:    $ 12,000.00
Underwriting fee:            $ 1,295.00
Funding Fee:                    $ 175.00
Document Prep Fee        $ 400.00
Credit Report                   $ 125.00
Inspection                        $ 500.00 (Estimated
Appraisal Fee                  $ 1,000.00 (Estimated)
Normal Closing Costs     $ 8,000.00 (Assuming 50/50 split with Seller)
                   Total to Close $ 123,895.00

 

These numbers come from just one company. There may be others as lenders open up offices here, but these will be representative as you consider your options.

One final thought: If you are purchasing a nice property to be used as a rental for a while, you might very well recoup your upfront costs (minus down payment) within a year. Then renters would make most of the monthly payments for you until you move in and pay off the loan. Run the numbers, talk to a rental management company, and consult an attorney. It’s certainly something to consider!

The “Perfect” Pineapple Smoothie

By Ron Snell

 

So people will argue with me about this because “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m going to tell you anyway how to make the perfect pineapple smoothie.

It’s not original with me, so I can’t take the credit for it. I learned it from a friend who had a

smoothie stand in Dominical on the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, where I would take breaks from helping people buy or sell properties to get a quick refresher. Although I don’t deserve the credit, you can still thank me, because without me you might never have known.

First, let me just say that until you’ve had fresh pineapple from very close to where it’s grown, you haven’t really had fresh pineapple. Personally, I never ate fresh pineapples in the U.S. because they always had too much acid in them and my mouth is especially sensitive to that, leaving me instantly with sores.

Of course, we could say that about lots of things down here were buying real estate in Costa Rica comes with all kinds of fresh fruits whose flavors and consistencies you simply can’t compare to what you buy in North America or Northern Europe. Eat a few bananas down here and you will never again be content with what you get “up there.” Mangos, starfruit, mangosteen, lychees, papayas—there’s a reason places like Costa Rica attract people who want to eat healthily and live active lives.

So… the perfect pineapple smoothie:

Step 1. Get a good pineapple. It won’t take long to find a favorite source that you can go back to over and over, but until then don’t worry: you’ll see options in roadside stands and grocery stores all over the place. The thing is this: buy one that is already mostly yellow. It can have tinges of green on it, but if it’s too green it might not develop the juicy sweetness you’re looking for and may remain acidy.

NOTE! Feel it all over gently, probing for soft spots and particularly rot or too much softness around the stem. If it’s already juicy/squishy there, give it a pass because that rot can already be extending up into the pineapple from the inside.

Step 2: Cut the top off, peel it, cut the hardcore out, and slice it into small pieces about the size of two or three dominos stacked one on top of the other. Keep in mind that the top, that part with the prickly leaves, is all you need to get another pineapple started, so leave it with enough meat to hold it together. Toss it onto the right patch of ground and it will send out roots, right itself, and grow into another pineapple plant.

Step 3: If your pineapple is one of the small ones that are very common around here certain times of the year, put all of one pineapple into a medium ziplock baggie and then into the freezer. If your pineapple is one of the larger ones, you can get two ziplock baggie’s worth.

Step 4: While your pineapple pieces are freezing, collect a bottle of coconut syrup (“Sirope de Coco”), a container of plain unsweetened yogurt, and milk. Stash those in the fridge.

Step 5: When you’re ready to go to heaven without having to die first, put enough water in the ziplock baggie to cover the pineapple and loosen it a bit. Put ½ Cup each of milk, coconut syrup, yogurt and the contents of your baggie into a high-speed blender and whip it smooth.

Step 6: Pour into two tall glasses, grab two fat straws and a comfortable chair in a beautiful place, and enjoy! Trust me: The only thing better than this will be the next one!

“If I Move to Costa Rica, Do I Need to Learn Spanish?”

By: Ron Snell.

If you want the shortest possible answer to this common question, it would be “No.”
There are thousands of people who come to Costa Rica with only a few Spanish words in their pockets, and they have a great time here. Fortunately, many Costa Ricans in areas where foreigners hang out have learned enough good English to make sure everyone has a good time.

That’s the advantage of speaking the world’s number one language for business and tourism.

Many people even move here and love it for many years and never achieve fluency in Spanish. Maybe they know some basic vocabulary and can understand people who speak it slowly and clearly, but they wouldn’t be able to create three grammatically correct sentences in a row. Others learn to speak it very fast and fluently, but that might mean they have just gotten really proficient at stringing together a whole bunch of bad grammar quickly.
So the short answer is “No”, but there is a longer answer. Or maybe there are just some other considerations. Here are a few of my tips:

1. Everyone learns some Spanish if they are here long enough. What I would say about that is, “However much you learn, whether one word or 1,000, learn to pronounce it correctly.” Believe it or not, good pronunciation shows respect for the language and makes people think you know more than you do. Over and over, Costa Ricans say “You speak excellent Spanish” when someone has just uttered the only six words they know, but with perfect pronunciation.

2. Whether you know a lot or a little, respect the language. Once in a while we hear a foreigner fake speaking Spanish by exaggerating certain sounds or mocking the intonation.
There are contexts in which this is funny, but too often in public it comes across as implying that they think the language is nothing more than babbling monkey chatter. As a language teacher, I’m one who believes it’s valuable to mimic sounds and intonation, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t offend. Save it for your home or language class.

3. When you decide to learn a little Spanish, be reasonable. Set realistic expectations and don’t buy into marketing hype that wants you to think if you just buy this or that course, you’ll be fluent in a couple months. Languages don’t work that way. It took you several years to learn your first language, and the truth is that after 67 years of using mine, I’m still learning. So it will take you several years to learn this one. So what?

4. Learn a little well, and use it a lot. Being able to say some basic things correctly has as much value as learning to say a lot of things incorrectly. In addition, once you have some basic stuff you can say correctly, you can build on that. A solid foundation allows for some magnificent buildings, whereas a bad foundation can’t support anything worthwhile. You will find that the more you know well, the faster you will know more. That’s just how it works.

5. Finally, keep it fun. Laugh at yourself. Treat it like a puzzle or a fantastic neurobic exercise, which it is. Imagine your new language as WD40 for your brain, spraying off layers of rust and allowing it to move quickly and smoothly. Languages do that. They also offer insights into culture and open doors to friendships. Make steady progress, but don’t let it ruin your day.

You may never become as fluent as you wish, but any step in that direction is a step you will be glad you took.

How Do You Get Up Those Roads in the Rainy Season?

By: Ron Snell.

Directions for finding a property in Southern Costa Rica almost always start off something like this: “Drive down the coastal highway until you see this landmark, then turn left and go up the mountain.”

In a place where almost no roads are paved once you leave the coastal highway, that bit about going up the mountain can be rather intimidating to the uninitiated. Many a newcomer has asked us, “Is this road even passable in the rainy season?

The short answer is yes, but of course it’s a longer answer than that.
Most roads were cut into clay hillsides and as almost everyone knows, clay is the perfect soil for slip and slides. Left on its own in the rain, it would provide about as much traction as icy
pavement in Northern climates. Get a steep enough hill and you could create a superb tropical amusement park selling tickets to let people slide down it on their bare backs in the rain. I should know—I used to do that as a kid in Peru.

The good news is that layers and layers of rock or gravel have been added and packed into the roads over the years, creating a base that holds up well in the rains. Soft spots may emerge here and there, or extra heavy traffic may temporarily damage roads if they are too wet, but by and large there are few reports in the area about people not being able to go where they want even in the heart of rainy season.

Counterintuitively, our roads can actually get more dangerous in the dry season than in the
rainy season. This is because when the roads are wet, the clay acts as a sort of mortar holding all of the rocky gravel in place. Then when the roads dry out, the soil turns into dust, the rocks start rolling around, and now you are driving on ball bearings.
Most neighborhoods therefore do some serious road maintenance twice a year: once toward
the end of the rainy season in December, and once just after the end of the dry season in May.

Routine maintenance involves bringing in the appropriate truckloads of fresh surface material, a road grader and a packer. When it’s done, the roads are safe and scenic.
So… generally speaking the roads are not of great concern when you are looking at properties.

You will get used to them very quickly and not give them a second thought.However, there are a couple of things to always keep in mind when driving up and down our roads:

1. Take your time. Unless you have a genuine emergency, there is no reason to drive fast. Speed is the greatest contributor to torn up roads, especially in the dry season. In addition, your ability to stop quickly is radically affected by the condition of the road. Right around the corner there may be a pedestrian, a cute animal, or a fallen tree. You don’t want to hit any of those.

2. Use 4-wheel drive. Depending on the road and the season, many roads don’t require 4 WD, but you will save both the road and your tires by using it anyway. The more tires you have pulling, the less likely it is that you will spin and tear up the road surface.

3. When you purchase property in rural Costa Rica, always ask about road fees. Most of our
neighborhoods ask residents to contribute annually to road maintenance. It’s not legally
required, but doing so speaks volumes about your attitude toward community and your desire to maintain your property’s value, your safety and your enjoyment as you come and go. It’s a small price to pay for living in this beautiful place.

Earthquakes in Costa Rica.

By Ron Snell.

When we’re showing properties to people who want to buy real estate in Costa Rica, sooner or later an inevitable question comes up: “Are there earthquakes here?”

The short answer is, “Yes.” But there’s a much longer answer because the real question is, “Do I need to worry about earthquakes in Costa Rica?” And the short answer to that is “No.”
Costa Rica, and therefore every property in Costa Rica, is on the “Ring of Fire.” Take a second to Google “Ring of Fire map” and you will see images of a map with a bright red line that runs right down the western side of the western hemisphere, including Costa Rica.

There are a few good things to point out here:

First, that’s part of what makes Costa Rica topography so amazing. It’s why I’m writing this in a home near Dominical that’s 1,100 feet above sea level but I can see and hear the surf. A long time ago some massive plates under the sea starting pushing toward each other just like if you and a friend put your hands on a rug from opposite ends and pushed toward each other. Do it slowly and you can watch a mountain range push up between you. Put some luxury homes on one side of that mountain range and you have… voilá… the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica!

Every once in a while those plates still get a little uncomfortable and need to move a bit.

When they do, we feel a gentle shake that simply reminds us we are on active earth that supports our beautiful forests and animals and homes. We feel those shakes every few weeks, usually so slight that we aren’t sure if it’s something we did or something the earth did. Once in a while they are a little more powerful and we can hear a little clinking of wine glasses or see a bit of jiggle, but that’s not common.

Second, our soils don’t liquefy in an earthquake. When you buy land, you will be required to get a soil test done before you can get a building permit. In our area, I’ve never heard of a building project being rejected because of a bad soil sample unless it’s due to uncompacted fill or accumulated rubbish in the soil).

In other parts of the world, soils are the opposite of that magic mud you made as a kid.
Remember how you suspended cornstarch in water? When it was just resting or moving slowly, it was like a liquid. When you slapped it, it was hard. Those nasty soils in other parts of the world, on the other hand, are solid when they are stationary, but turn liquid when they are shaken, causing a lot of damage. Ours aren’t like that, so earthquakes don’t affect their
supportive strength.

Third, Costa Rica is picky about construction, and especially foundations. When I was a real
estate broker in Texas, it was unusual to show a house that didn’t have at least a little cracking because of movement in the foundation.

Here in Costa Rica, I can show you 50 homes in a row with no structural cracking (we might notice some hairline surface cracking of the exterior plaster, but it’s cosmetic rather than structural).

Before you can build here, you have to submit your plans to the College of Architects and
Engineers. They go over the plans with sharp eyes to make sure there is enough concrete and reinforcing bars. When they put their stamp on the plans, you can be sure that your home will be well built because your architect or engineer is responsible to visit the project regularly and ensure that it is built according to the plans.

So that’s my longer answer to two questions: Do we have earthquakes here? Yes. Do we worry about them? No.

How Much Should I Offer on That Property?

How Much Should I Offer on That Property?

By Ron Snell

Just yesterday a fellow agent in my office and I were discussing this question with some of his
clients. They were insistent that they had done their research and they”knew” that they could
come in with an offer of about 60% of list. Were they right?

Well… they’re mostly wrong but occasionally right. Unfortunately, the times when they might
be right are the exceptions. A person can win the lottery and make a lot of noise about it, but
that doesn’t mean it’s likely you will win the lottery.

Getting a “good” listing for 60% of list price is rare. 80% isn’t common. 90% is approaching
reality.

If someone gets a property for 60% off of the list price, it isn’t usually because the Seller just
got diagnosed with a brain tumor or the wife just kicked the husband out of the house. Far
more often it happens because no one else wants the property and the owners are desperate
to get out from under it. Maybe it was a design that the owners thought was brilliantly creative
and everyone else thinks is a “What-were-they-smoking-when-they-designed-that-place?”
Maybe it just doesn’t have anything that says “WOW!”

Another reason for succeeding with a lower offer might be that the owners insisted on an
artificially high price and the listing agent(s) couldn’t talk them out of it. Then after a few years
of no showings, the owners are grudgingly accepting that they were wrong and they are just
going to have to swallow hard. There are still listings from the good old days when anyone
would pay anything to live in this part of Costa Rica, and if you paid too much back then,
well, reality check: today’s market is different. There is a new norm. Lots of people still want to
live here but are being more realistic about how much they will pay.

“The market” is an adjustment that takes a few years to self-correct. I’ve had an experienced
agent tell me, “Those houses are all priced under market”.And I have replied, ” If all the houses
are priced under market, wouldn’t that mean that the market has changed?”

So how should you proceed when making an offer?

1. Get to know the options in your price range, plus maybe a few houses above and below your
price range. It helps to have a feel for what you can get for how much. At each property, you
view, have the discussion: “Is this a pretty good value for today’s market?”

2. When you focus on a property you like, use your experience in #1 and discussions with your
agent to assess value in relation to its price. Then…

a. If it is a reasonably good value at the price it’s listed, come in with an offer that’s a little less
than that and include some ways to sweeten the deal for the owner (fast closing, all cash, etc)
to see if you can start a productive negotiation. You can always start a little lower than where
you are willing to end up so there’s room for some give and take.

b. If the property is clearly overpriced considering its value in today’s market, make an offer
that matches what you think the value is, even if that’s considerably lower than the list price.
Trust your gut and your agent and don’t overpay; that’s how people get trapped down the road
when it’s their turn to sell the property. A house with no ocean view an hour from the beaches
won’t magically get a view or move closer just before you want to sell it at a profit in 10 years!

As always, your starting point is your own research and an agent whom you trust because that
agent is honest, transparent, and knowledgeable. A trustworthy agent will never encourage you
to overpay, will submit whatever offer is comfortable for you, and will have your back in
negotiations once the conversation has begun.

If There’s So Much Water, Why is There No Water?

I’m writing this in February, a very dry month in Costa Rica. It’s “summer” here, which is what
they call December through April because there is so little rain and the temperatures are a bit
higher.

For the rest of the year, there is rain. During a typical cycle, rains start in April and are pretty
tame until August. They usually get themselves organized later in the day, rinse off all the dust,
bring the wildlife to life.

From September through November, rains are the main events. The whole world gushes under
a daily deluge. Thunder and lighting provide celestial spectacles. Creeks and rivers rise, springs
spring, trickles turn into waterfalls, and frogs all think they’ve died and jumped to paradise!
According to Karl Kahler, writing in the Tico Times on October 3, 2015, if you total it all up,
“Costa Rica receives enough rain to supply an average of 22,000 gallons to each of its 5.1
million inhabitants every day. That’s a lot of water — enough to supply every person on the
planet with 15 gallons of water a day, year-round.”
So why is water such a big deal? Because the collection and distribution of the water has to be
managed, or it all ends up in the ocean where it doesn’t do you much good when you want to
brush your teeth at night.

For many years the laws have stated that for residential purposes, it’s not enough to just have
water. It has to be “authorized” water. There are only three sources of authorized water: 1. The
federal government’s AyA* water system, available mostly in cities and towns; 2. A registered
neighborhood or community ASADA** water system, available in many rural communities; 3. A
legally obtained concession allowing you to use a spring, creek, well, or river for your water
source.
The law has been that without one of those three sources of water, you cannot get a building
permit. Unfortunately, this law hasn’t been enforced with any regularity and many building
permits were granted without authorized water. Many people bought land with the
expectation that water wouldn’t be an issue when the time came to build.

Oooops. In the past few years, the first one municipality, then another, then another began to crack
down and enforce the law. They began to demand documentation before issuing a permit.
Imagine the irony: This has left many land owners huddled under big umbrellas by roaring
creeks in gushing rains unable to sell their land or build because they have no authorized water.
There is a lot more that could be said about this. It remains to be seen how it will all get
resolved, because many people are affected: owners, attorneys who specialize in real estate,

municipalities that lose revenue from building permits, architects, contractors, and of course
real estate agents.
In the meantime, be aware of the issue. If you are looking at buying undeveloped land, always
ask, “What about the water situation?” If the answer is that the property has water, ask for
documentation before you make an offer, because having water isn’t the same thing as having
water rights, right?
If the answer is that the water authorization is in the process, be skeptical about promises
regarding the timing. It can take two years to get a concession, and sometimes more to hook up
to an existing system if the property you are looking at wasn’t included as part of the system.
The one answer you should never accept is, “Don’t worry about it; it will all work out.” That was
true for many years, but it is no longer a good answer. No trustworthy agent these days will
encourage you to move forward on the basis of “thoughts and prayers” when it comes to water
rights.

In the meantime, consider coming to see Costa Rica during the heavy rainy season,
euphemistically referred to here as “green season” as opposed to “the season when sometimes
you can’t tell if that’s rain or if someone is emptying their pool on your head.”
We who live here love the rains. So do the flora and fauna, and so will you.
*AyA is short for Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, roughly meaning “Costa Rican Institute for water
delivery and sewers.”
**ASADA is short for Asociaciones Administradoras de Los Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, roughly translated as
“administrative associations for water delivery and sewers.”

-By Ron Snell.

Where on Earth Does the Sun Set?

-By Ron Snell

I just finished showing some clients a few beautiful luxury homes with stellar views of the
Pacific Ocean. Those were Wow! moments, soul filling in the literal sense where you suddenly
realize you haven’t been breathing normally.

Always when looking at that view, the question comes up: “So where does the sun actually
set?” Because the only thing more beautiful than the ocean in all of its moods is a blazing
sunset where you can watch a glowing red ball sizzle right into the water way out there on the
horizon, and you can picture a long, narrow burning path reflected across the water coming
right to your feet, and the clouds flash brilliant colors, and you wear out your Instagram or
Facebook followers with picture after picture of it all.

Back to reality. Astronomical reality. Where, really, on that beautiful horizon, does the sun set?
How much of the year can you actually watch the sun sink into the ocean as it wraps up the
day? Can you believe the property description, your agent, or the homeowner?

Three things complicate the answer:

First, our coastline doesn’t generally run north and south. If you are standing square to the
coastline and looking at the Pacific Ocean, you are tempted to think you are looking west, and
since the sun “sets in the west, well….” Usually, you aren’t. You’re looking southwest, and the
sun will mostly set to your right.

Second, the sunsets travel a lot between December 21, when they are the farthest left (south)
they will go, and June 21, when they are the farthest right (north) they will go. I won’t explain
the astronomy behind this, but you can Google it and spend a fascinating hour refreshing your
memory about things you were supposed to learn in earth science about 50 years ago.

Third, it’s highly unlikely that your agent has ever actually stood on the property both June 21 st
and December 21 st and marked where exactly the sun sets. Instead, it is highly likely that the
agent has heard the owner say, “You can watch the sunsets over the ocean” and has
immediately driven back to the office to include that in the property description.

So what are you to do? How do you know how often you’re going to see sunsets over the ocean
instead of behind the trees or an inconvenient mountain? It’s pretty easy, really.

Point a phone app or a compass due west. Because we are about 9 degrees north of the
equator, on December 21 st the sun will set about 23 degrees to the left (south) of west. On June
21 st it will set about 23 degrees to the right (north) of west.

No amount of fast talking by your agent will change that, so trust the science and set your
expectations. Keep in mind that from September to early December it isn’t going to matter a
whole lot anyway, because it is highly likely that there will be heavy overcast or rain that time
of day. So focus on late December through June. That’s when you are most likely to see the
sunsets.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys this stuff, you would like the app I found for my phone:
Sun Surveyor Lite. It’s free and shows you where the sun will set on any day of the year, among
many other things like times for sunrise and sunset.

By the way, if you’re a photographer, whether amateur or less amateur, this little app has some
very practical value because you can set up shots based on where the sun will actually be,
instead of where you wish it were going to be, any time of day.
Check it out.

5 Key Attributes That Lead To Success As A Real Estate Investor

5 Key Attributes That Lead To Success As A Real Estate
Investor:

There are more than 5 key attributes that lead to success as a real estate investor;
however, we feel that these aspects are important and vital to any investor. What do
you think is important when buying real estate? Good credit? Having the money to
pay it off? Of course, those are factors that determine whether you are an investor or
a buyer who cannot really afford to do what he or she is doing. Let’s take a look at
the 5 key attributes that lead to success as a real estate investor:

1.   A Worthy Rental Strategy

Every good decision starts with a plan or strategy, especially when it
comes to buying a property and renting it out. You need to determine
whether or not you are going to rent out your property the traditional
way, or Airbnb style. Which is more convenient for you and is Airbnb
too precarious? The location of your property will play a part in your
rental strategy as well. Which option will be more profitable and easy
to manage?

2.   Location, Location, Location

The location of your property will play a huge part in the success of
your rental income. Being located in a high touristic area will likely
result in more rental income. You can always renovate your property,
but you cannot change the location of it. Supply and demand will play
a large role in finding the right location. You want to be in a place with
lower supply and higher demand. The location usually determines
how much rent you can charge.

3.   Cash Flow

Being an investor usually means you have the capital to invest. You
want to make sure you have enough cash flow coming in to make a
responsible decision and be able to maintain your properties. Cash
flow is profit coming from your rental property. This will determine
your ROI (return on investment). The more cash flow, the more
equity you are obtaining.

4.   Monetary Consideration

You need to understand the monetary considerations that come with
owning a rental property. A successful investor will analyze the charts
and determine the best way to go about financing. The reason a real
estate investor is successful is because they take time to go over every
possible option and outcome to figure out if they are making an
accurate decision.

5.   A Sense of Property Management

It’s easy to buy a property but knowing how to manage one is
completely different. You need to have the time, money, and skills to
manage your income property. If something breaks down, you as the
owner are responsible to fix the problem in a timely manner.

Therefore, you need the money to do so and the skills to make it
happen or hire it done. Since you are a real estate investor, you need
to have the skills necessary to advertise your property and find
appropriate renters. Look for someone who has paid his or her rent
on time and will not damage the property.

Owner Financing In Costa Rica

Owner Financing In Costa Rica:

Owner financing is when the seller of the property finances the property with the
buyer, or entity acquiring it. When going the route of owner financing, you eliminate
bank fees and associated fees that come with buying a property in Costa Rica,
especially if you are a foreigner. If you have a good handle on real estate in Costa
Rica (like we do here at Dominical Real Estate) you will know the ins and outs and
the advantages of owner financing. During slow economic periods, owner financing
is strongly encouraged. Before experiencing the market slump, many Americans
paid cash for their properties. Since the bank charges much higher fees when
financing, many buyers opt for owner financing in Costa Rica because the fees are
substantially less.

Owner financing is a great option for buyers because they have the utmost
advantage in regards to the transaction. When looking at the terms and conditions
of the contract and finance agreement, the terms are more flexible. As the buyer, you
will pay the seller directly. This is a great option for buyers who have more liquidity.
Most owner financing deals are assisted by a promissory note that includes the
terms and interest rates, as well as the penalties of nonpayment.

Owner Financing in Costa Rica enables investors to buy, which might be the only
hope for some people to own real estate in Costa Rica. You are recommended to pay
off your seller within a 5-year timeframe to be fair. Many financers offer a longer
pay period in order to meet the needs of the buyer and he or she may be willing to
extend the period if the buyer has been consistent with their payments

Here at Dominical Real Estate, we offer owner financing on some of our properties
because we want to make your experience as easy and effortless as possible. We
believe in trust and our goal is to help people make the best investment and find the
best possible property here in Costa Rica for you to enjoy! Whether you choose
owner financing or you want to do everything through the bank that is up to you.
The option is out there and the advantages are in your favor.

One thing to note about owner financing is that the room for negotiating on the
property price is very small to obsolete. This is because the seller is agreeing to hold
your mortgage. The down payment all depends on the owner who is providing the
finances to you. Most owners will require a down payment of 50% of the property’s
value. Then the seller is agreeing to finance the remaining 50%. The average interest
rate is around 7% give or take.

If owner financing is not something you would consider, there are a few other
options we can speak with you about. We are here to find you a property in Costa
Rica that meets all your wants and needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us, as we are
always willing to share our knowledge about real estate in Costa Rica!

The Process Of Purchasing Real Estate In Costa Rica

The Process Of Purchasing Real Estate In Costa Rica

Can a foreigner obtain real estate in Costa Rica? Of course they can, and every foreigner has the same rights as a citizen in Costa Rica, excluding voting rights.

Since foreigners have the same rights as citizens when it comes to buying property; the government has made the process very simple. There are a few key factors you need to know in terms of where a foreigner can purchase real estate, and you will learn all about that in this article.

It is important to know that a foreigner cannot own 100% of the property if it is located in a Maritime Zone. Titled property is any piece of land that is beyond 200 meters from high tide. The first 50 meters from the high tide line, is public property that is protected. Within 150 meters adjacent to the high tide line- this is known as the Maritime Zone and the property can be leased from the government.  

Real Estate Attorney:

It’s essential to hire a real estate attorney and someone who is bilingual if you don’t speak Spanish. Hiring an attorney with experience will ensure no problems will arise with the property you want to purchase. They will look over everything and make sure the property is in good standing.   

A Good Real Estate Agent:

It doesn’t matter if you are buying property in Costa Rica or anywhere in the world; it’s always essential to use a good/reliable real estate agent. Choose a real estate agent who has been in the business for a few years and who is familiar with the area you want to invest in. Make sure they match all your requirements and they postulate outstanding service. It’s always good to stick with one agent and get to know them on a personal level. This will make the buying process that much easier.  If you are speaking to several different agents, you will get confused and you won’t have that hands-on experience that one agent is willing to provide you. With Dominical Real Estate, we ensure you have a positive experience from the first time we speak to you- to after you are settled into your property. Our agents go above and beyond to assist you with every possible need. We are only a call, text, or email away from finding you the property of your dreams.

Making An Offer:

You will want your real estate agent to write up an offer and deliver it to the seller instead of making a verbal offer. It is always better to have this information written down on paper. After the offer is accepted, your agent will have your real estate lawyer draft up a formal purchase of sale agreement. When both parties sign the agreement, you will be required to send 10% of the property price into an escrow account that you will need to set up. Once the 10% deposit is deposited into the escrow account- the agreement becomes lawful.

Closing:

Depending on whether you will be in Costa Rica during this process if for some reason you will not be- you should leave the power with your attorney, or real estate agent. They will be able to obtain the real estate property in the name that you approve of. You will need to have your property registered in your name or a corporation. Remember to always look at all the fees associated with your property. From utilities to condo fees, corporation tax, property tax, etc.

If you have any other questions regarding the process of purchasing real estate in Costa Rica, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I would be happy to answer any questions. I want to make this process as easy as possible for you and ensure you have a positive buying or selling experience with Dominical Real Estate! ☺

Why Buying Property In Costa Rica In 2019 Is A Good Investment? 

Why Buying Property In Costa Rica In 2019 Is A Good Investment? 

 

Let’s face it- Costa Ricans are some of the happiest people in the world, with Costa Rica being ranked as one of the happiest countries in the biosphere. Why wouldn’t someone want to buy property in Costa Rica with a classification like that?

Buying property anywhere in the world is typically a safe investment; nonetheless you want to look at places that will exploit your income in the long run. Deciding when to buy real estate and where, are usually the two big questions. When it comes to buying property in a foreign country for the first time, you want to take many factors into consideration and make sure you are aware of the process. Costa Rica is currently a buyers market and has been for a few years. There are many different places on the market, which allows you to be picky and find the perfect place. With the abundance of real estate on the market, come more affordable prices that make investing in real estate more cost efficient for foreigners. It’s always important to take your time and not make any decisions based on impulsiveness. A lot of people come to Costa Rica for the first time and distinguish they will be back for good. Take some time and experience the country a bit, once you see how scenic and tranquil it is, than make your purchase.

Let’s take a look at the different reasons as to why Costa Rica is a good investment for the upcoming year:

  • Minimal taxes
  • Growing tourism
  • Buyers market
  • A safe country
  • The market is down
  • Permanent Residency
  • The weather
  • The diversity in the country

Costa Rica is known for their minimal land tax. You have to pay 0.25% of the registered property value in your municipality. You have the option to pay this on a quarterly basis or one payment for the year. You will get a small tax break if you pay it all at once. In terms of the growing tourism here in Costa Rica, many people are coming to Costa Rica because of safety reasons and all the places to explore around the country. Costa Rica is an extremely safe country to travel around and to live and many female expats travel the whole country by themselves.  In the past 10 years, the tourism industry in Costa Rica has grown at a steady rate of approximately 8% each year. Tourism in the country generates about 13% of employment.

With the crash that happened in the real estate market in 2008, the market is still recovering. With that being said, prices of real estate are down, which makes this the perfect buying opportunity for anyone who wants to own a property or income property in Costa Rica. With the tourism rate growing at a fast 8% each year, the market will eventually stabilize and real estate will rise. The government is working to cultivate new areas of the country and continue with new highway development. A new international airport is suppose to develop in Orotina in 2025, which will compete with the hub of Central America in Panama.

Between the beautiful weather year around and the diversified landscapes spread out across the country, what better reason to invest in Costa Rica? There are beach properties close to the turtles and fishing ports, and there are properties in the rainforest, which are surrounded by monkeys and sloths. You have the choice to pick where you want to invest in Costa Rica. Also, after an investor invests over $200,000 they are granted temporary residency. Then they would wait three years and could opt for permanent residency or citizenship.

For any real estate questions pertaining to properties in Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, as I would be happy to assist you through out this journey! ☺

Guide to Importing a Car and Other Household Items into Costa Rica

Guide to Importing a Car and Other Household Items into Costa Rica – Written by Jason Mueller

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It’s understandable why anyone would want to move to Costa Rica. The country has a majestic landscape, exciting outdoor activities, low cost of living, favorable foreigner/expatriate policies and ample working opportunities. Costa Rica is however known for high import duties. Living in Costa Rica as a foreigner is easy. Moving is the main hurdle especially if you want to move with your car and personal belongings such as household items. To move seamlessly, there are several things you must know/understand.

Laws and regulations
Costa Rica’s Customs Law has several articles relating to the importation of used goods/items. Duty varies depending on several factors i.e. when and how you import the goods. Here’s an important criteria to consider.
Your household items are exempt from duty if; you are an adult who is importing the goods for personal use (not for sale). The items must also be used (at least 6 months old) and the importer must enter Costa Rica within three months (90 days) prior to custom clearance. If your shipment meets the above criteria, your household items will be exempt of duty. If you have new items, duty is based on CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) as well as the value of those items. It is worth noting it is cheaper to ship more items.

Shipping a vehicle
Shipping a vehicle to Costa Rica is costly (costs more than shipping household items). Total costs vary depending on factors such as the; tax, size of the car, age of the car, how the car is shipped (i.e., in a container). It’s worth noting that taxation is charged against the original price, not the age or condition. The average retail value of the car is considered. The import value of a car can be established in the Ministry of Treasury Valuation Database:    http://www.hacienda.go.cr/autohacienda/AutoValor.aspx .
Total cost of importing a car to Costa Rica is highest for older car models. Cars manufactured in 1999 or earlier pay approximately 80%. Cars manufactured in 2000 to 2004 pay approximately 65% while those manufactured earlier i.e. 2004 and earlier pay approximately 55%.
International moving companies such as A-1 Auto Transport Inc. can assist with moving household goods and vehicles to Costa Rica. For more information visit  https://www.a1autotransport.com/moving-to-costa-rica/ .

Important considerations

Essentials

After considering the cost of shipping your car and household items to Costa Rica, you may become reluctant. However, most foreign residents, as well as Costa Ricans, prefer imported goods from countries like the U.S. because they are of better quality. If you value quality, you may want to go ahead and import. If you don’t mind living without luxuries, you can consider living in furnished apartments or consider what you need locally. Remember, what you need to import solely depends on your own preferences and budget. However, don’t ship what you can get cheaply or easily in Costa Rica. You should also make an effort to declutter before shipping. Also, avoid bulky items to avoid excessive shipping and taxation costs. It may also be smart to talk to foreign residents in advance just to get firsthand insights.

Port proximity

You should also consider shipping from the nearest port. If you live in the U.S. for instance, you should ship your car and household items from Miami, the U.S. port that is nearest to Costa Rica to enjoy lower shipping costs.

Tax waivers on household items

Foreign residents in Costa Rica are allowed to import merchandise worth $500 tax-free after every 6-months. This waiver is in addition to regular traveler’s luggage. You can take advantage of this waiver to import the items you need overtime. However, you must not exceed the $500 limit to avoid additional charges and customs restrictions.

Container shipping

It is very expensive to import large items by air. For items such as refrigerators, washing machines, etc. that exceed 500 pounds, consider shipping such items in a large container. You can choose a large or small container (40-foot or 20-foot). It costs approximately $1,500 including tax to ship items to Costa Rica using a 20-foot container. Large 40-foot containers cost approximately $2,000.

You need a customs agent to get all your household items and belongings (such as your car) out of customs seamlessly. You can find a reputable customs agent by conducting a simple search online or asking for referrals.

Required documents

Documents required to clear a shipment through customs include; a copy of your passport (the main page) plus the page containing last entry. This is required for your shipment to be treated as personal effects given customs must clear personal items within 90 days of a person’s arrival. You also need a packing inventory showing the value of the declared items. If the items are imported via air, you need an original airway bill. Freight forwarders send airway bills with shipments. Airline agents usually give you this document after you pay Terminal handling fees.

The above information summarizes the process of importing a car and other household items into Costa Rica. Since it is a lengthy and tedious process, most people prefer paying custom brokers/agents to handle everything on their behalf. It may cost more; however, you will save valuable time and effort.
Best of luck and pura vida!

JASON MUELLER
A Canadian expat, Jason Muller is currently living in Costa Rica and operating a small business. Jason enjoys travelling to many exotic locations and enjoyed meeting new people and telling related stories. Life is short, live your dream
http://www.jacoropes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/jacoropes/
http://twitter.com/@JacoRopes

 

Eco Friendly Costa Rica

Written by Jason Mueller

ecofriendly

Costa Rica is the ideal country for anyone to relocate to that is conscious about their footprint on mother earth. Costa Rica is the perfect place for anyone looking to retire and they can even do it on a budget when saving money living a greener lifestyle. This pristine piece of paradise is very popular for tourism coming to see the abundance of wildlife and beauty within. The countries residents and government are very conscious about keeping Costa Rica as beautiful as it was before tourism became the number one income earner for the country. You must learn how to become more sustainable before you step foot in this country in order to pay your full respect.

This is a peaceful country where you will rarely find a negative confrontation. In fact, Costa Rica renounced their army in in 1949 making it one of 15 countries with no army. The prior military budget was put towards culture, health and education. The most popular words that come from every one’s mouth is “pura vida” This translates to pure life and seems to be a way of life for laid back locales.

Costa Rica is rich in bio-diversity from coast to coast. The country is incredibly small with only 19,730 square miles. That equals .03% of the surface of the globe. However, the country is proud to say that it is home to 5% of the total biodiversity in the world.

Over 25% of the countries land is protected by national parks and conservation areas. The government even pays landowners to conserve their own private land, this is referred to as “selling the air, yes you can even make extra money while doing your part to save the planet in Costa Rica.

Roughly 50% of Costa Rica is forested and 7.5% of that is classified as primary forest. Primary forest is the most bio-diverse forest known or unknown to man whichever way you look at it. Primary forest means that there are no clear indications of human activities and the ecological processes are left undisturbed.

Renewable Energy

When you turn on the lights or use any sort of electricity in Costa Rica you can feel a little better about your decision knowing that the country runs nearly 100% on renewable energy. In 2016 the country ran for more than two months straight on 100% renewable energy. They accomplished this task twice. That means the country ran for 150 days on 100% renewable energy. One of the biggest goals for the country is to be completely running on renewable energy in the near future.

Costa Rica is giving huge incentives for those looking to go green and import an EV. Import custom duty taxes of 52.29% on new vehicles and 79% for vehicles 6 years or older make vehicles super expensive in Costa Rica and fully electric vehicles under $30,000 are 100% exempt from customs taxes. Also, there is a 10-year exemption for EV parts.

ECO Tours

The country does capitalize on the natural ecology for tourism that is for sure. There is an abundance of eco-tours to choose from. The most popular eco-tours are the nature tours such as monkey tours, tree top tours, crocodile tours, and turtle tours. Many of the beaches are protected areas for turtles to nestle, only certain guided tours are allowed to explore these beaches. It is highly recommended that a guide accompanies you into the wild because there is so much that you would miss if you were all alone.

There are 9 volcanoes in Costa Rica and all of them are a sight to see. The most popular and spectacular ones are Poas, Irazu, and Arenal. Turrialba has recently been active in 2016 and the beginning of 2017 canceling some flights in and out of the San Jose International Airport.

Manuel Antonio National Park is the most visited park in the country and is only 45 KM from Dominical. There are 184 species of birds in the park and 109 species of mammals. Monkeys are the main attraction and you are certain to spot one when visiting the park. The trails within the park are in great condition offering an easy path for elders to enjoy the scenery. The white sand beaches within the park are the perfect place to relax for the day.

One of the best ways to really appreciate the land is to join a tour that teaches you all about the agriculture in Costa Rica. There is an organic pineapple tour and organic coffee tours. Saint Michaels Organic Farm offers free education for sustainable farming, they also welcome volunteers looking for a free place to stay, look for them on WWOOF.

Adventure meets eco-tour with the affluence of zip line canopy tours in the country. Many people don’t know it but zip lining was first invented in Costa Rica. Biologists first used this method in Costa Rica to access previous unreachable and unexplored rainforests.

JASON MUELLER
A Canadian expat, Jason Muller is currently living in Costa Rica and operating a small business. Jason enjoys travelling to many exotic locations and enjoyed meeting new people and telling related stories. Life is short, live your dream
http://www.jacoropes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/jacoropes/
http://twitter.com/@JacoRopes

Brand New Home in Pavones Near the Beach

New to the market in Pavones is this new 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home on a titled lot walking distance to the beach. Listen to the sound of the waves from your bedroom! This beautiful brand new home near the beach features high ceilings, lots of windows, a large covered outdoor living area, and a modern style. Its solid construction techniques, secure bodega, and integrated security system make it a secure choice as well. And priced at only $189,500, this is a deal that can’t be beat!PAV008-0

Pavones is located in the southwestern portion of Costa Rica, about three hours south of Dominical. It’s a magical place, with pristine, deserted black sand beaches, an abundance of scarlet macaws, and waves out of every surfer’s dreams. Pavones is on the Golfo Dulce, the “sweet gulf”, where marine life abounds and it is not uncommon to see devil rays, dolphins and even whales. In the small town of Pavones, you will find a few restaurants, a couple grocery stores, a soccer field, and a world-class left point break. This brand new home is about eightminutes by car from the town of Pavones, halfway between Pavones and the fishing village Pilon. The house is on titled land only 400 meters from a beautiful, empty beach.

This brand new home near the beach has a clean, efficient design. It is full of windows for lots of breeze and light. The high ceilings and wood-style tile floors give the home a modern feel. The heart of the house is a combined kitchen and living room, which connects through a sliding glassdoor to the covered outdoor living space. The first bedroom and bathroom are located off of the kitchen. There is also a loft in this area, accessed from the living room, that would make a great third bedroom or home office. The last bedroom and bathroom are accessed by another sliding glass door from the outdoor living area, providing them with a bit of extra privacy. There is also a secure bodega with a steel door, an excellent feature for added security when you are out of town.

PAV008-4Situated on a lot of 1/8 acre, there is enough room for a garden of vegetables or flowers, or both, depending on your choice. Maybe you’d like to have a bigger garden? Or move to Costa Rica full time and enjoy fresh mangos and avocados from your backyard? If you're interested in more land, or if you’d like to get residency in Costa Rica, the sellers of this home are offering a package that might interest you. The base price of $189,500 will get you this brand new home by the beach and 1/8 acre. For an additional $30,000, you can own the titled lot adjacent to the home, and you will also receive the seller’s assistance in obtaining residency in Costa Rica as an investor (which requires at least $200,000 investment in the country). What’s better than finding your dream home and becoming a resident of Costa Rica at the same time? For only $219,500, you can own a brand new home on 1/4 acre and have your Costa Rican residency.

This brand new home near the beach is perfect for anyone who is looking for a more affordable family home, a vacation house that could also be an income-producing rental, a surfer’s retreat, or a nature-lover’s getaway. For $189,500 (or $219,500 for more land and residency), you simply won’t find another deal like this. Don’t miss this chance to own this new 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, modern-style home in stunning Pavones, nestled into the jungle yet only 400 meters from a pristine beach, minutes away from one of the world’s best waves. Contact us now for more information and check out the listing here:

0.125 ACRES – 3 Bedroom Brand New Home Conveniently Located Close To Several World Class Point Breaks!!!

 

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Costa Rica Development Property for Sale

LoHAT070-1oking for an opportunity to to invest in land development in Costa Rica? This 24.6-acre property on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica is perfect. With 6 available building lots, 12.75-acres of flat land with commercial potential, and a pre-existing 2-story home with a stunning ocean view, this is a development property with tons of potential. The building sites could be developed with cabinas, a boutique hotel, a retreat center, or a family compound; the flat land could host multiple businesses; and the existing home would make a wonderful B&B. It would also be an option to sell the individual building lots, or to subdivide and sell lots from the flat portion of the property. With all of these possibilities, it is easy to see why this property is a great investment.

A gated internal road about one kilometer long leads from the Hatillo road through the flat portion of the property and continues up the hillside to access all of the lots. This internal road is in excellent condition and is paved in places. The building lots are ready to develop, with driveways, flat building sites, and power and water located on site. Most of the building lots have an ocean view; the higher lots have breathtaking sunset ocean views. All of the lots enjoy a lovely breeze as a benefit of their elevation.HAT070-29

The pre-existing home is located on a 1.25-acre lot that also hosts a second ocean-view building site. The second building site is perfect for a guest house, a rental cabina, or an owner’s home if the buyer prefers to build a custom home. In this case, the pre-existing home would make an excellent vacation rental, especially with the addition of the pool. The property also hosts numerous fruit trees including mangos and oranges.

The location of this development in Hatillo is excellent. It is easily accessible from the coastal highway in only minutes. The nearest beach is Playa Guapil, which is amazingly beautiful and almost always deserted; Playa Linda, Playa Matapalo and Playa Dominical are all also within ten minutes of the property. Hatillo has a few delicious local restaurants and small grocery stores. Larger grocery stores, including a health food store, and many restaurants can be found in nearby Dominical. Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park are only thirty minutes north of the property. Here you will find an airport, a hospital, gourmet restaurants, and many other amenities.

This development property in Costa Rica is an excellent opportunity for investment in Costa Rica. Options for HAT070-36profiting from the property abound, from simply selling lots to developing a retreat center, rental cabinas, or a residential community. There is also excellent commercial potential on the flat portion of the property with 100 meters of road frontage. This entire property, including stunning ocean-view building lots, a pre-existing home, and over 12 acres of flat land with commercial potential, can be yours for only $1.1 million. For more information, contact Dominical Real Estate

here: http://costaricarealestate.net/properties/24-6-acres-turn-key-development-with-7-ocean-view-lots-4-bedroom-ocean-view-home/

Portions of the property are also available for purchase separately:

12.75 acres of flat land with road frontage and commercial potential,

$350,000: http://costaricarealestate.net/properties/12-75- acres-flat- usable-pasture- land-with-paved- road-frontage- in-town- of-hatillo/

4-bedroom ocean view home with separate building site, $325,000:http://costaricarealestate.net/properties/1-25- acres-4- bedroom-2- story-ocean- view-house-plus-a- large-second- building-site/#

 

Sunset ocean view building lots, $125,000:http://costaricarealestate.net/properties/1-25- acres-expansive- ocean-view- property-with-large-building- site-in- gated-community/

 

 

Ocean view building lots, $89,500: http://costaricarealestate.net/properties/1-47-acres-ocean- view-property- with-great- access-in- gated-community- at-a- great-price/

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