Buying Investment

Unlocking Your Dream Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Property in Costa Rica as an American

Coldwell Banker Costa Rica | 5th December 2022 | Share
Unlocking Your Dream Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Property in Costa Rica as an American

If you have developed a deep affection for Costa Rica and are considering moving or retiring there, you might be curious about the process of buying a home in Costa Rica as an American.

This comprehensive guide provides you with all the essential information about real estate in Costa Rica, such as the types of housing in Costa Rica for sale, the most desirable locations to explore, and the potential risks to consider.

How is the property market in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has consistently been a sought-after destination for Americans to visit, live, vacation, and retire. The country's allure, which includes well-developed infrastructure, friendly locals, favorable weather, and stunning natural landscapes, has contributed to a robust real estate market. Many buyers from the United States and Canada have participated in this thriving by nurturing the growing interest in owning property in Costa Rica.

Like real estate markets worldwide, Costa Rica's property market has experienced its fair share of fluctuation. However, the global pandemic has led to a significant price increase, particularly for larger properties in Costa Rica and those near the beach.

Can Americans purchase property in Costa Rica?

The answer to the crucial question is yes, Americans can buy property in Costa Rica with relative ease. Most properties are available for purchase without any restrictions for US citizens. However, certain exceptions exist in designated areas called Maritime Zones, which encompass beachfront locations and are considered public land.

In these areas, foreign individuals can only own up to 49% of the property through a corporation, like an LLC. It may be necessary to obtain prior permission or clearance before you buy a home in Costa Rica in these zones.

What are the legal necessities for buying property in Costa Rica?

Once you have identified an ideal property in Costa Rica and verified its eligibility for purchase by a foreigner, acquiring it is relatively straightforward. Residency in Costa Rica is not a requirement for buying land in Costa Rica as an American, making it an attractive location for investing in rental properties or establishing a permanent residence.

When investing in Costa Rica real estate, it is crucial to understand that the real estate market in Costa Rica is less heavily regulated than in the United States. Therefore, conducting thorough due diligence checks and collaborating with reputable agents when buying a home in Costa Rica is essential to protect yourself from scams or fraudulent schemes. We will delve into this topic further shortly.

Step-by-step guide: How to buy property in Costa Rica as an American

Buying real estate in Costa Rica as an American can be exhilarating. However, conducting thorough due diligence and collaborating with trustworthy local partners is crucial to avoid potential issues.

Here is an outline of the process:

Step 1: Locate a Reliable Realtor

A trustworthy realtor is essential when buying a house in Costa Rica. Seek recommendations from others and tap into your network to find a realtor who resonates with you.  Numerous realtors in Costa Rica have extensive experience assisting expat buyers, particularly Americans, to navigate the intricacies of purchasing Costa Rica property.

Take the time to shop around and evaluate different realtors to ensure you find a reputable professional who understands your needs and can guide you through buying land in Costa Rica. Building a rapport with your realtor is key to a successful property purchase.

Step 2: Visit Properties and Choose Your Ideal Location

After identifying the best place to buy property in Costa Rica, it's time to embark on property viewings. In the following sections, we will explore some top destinations for buying property in Costa Rica. The great news is that you'll have many options, ensuring a wealth of possibilities.

Take the opportunity to visit various properties for sale in Costa Rica that align with your preferences and criteria. Consider factors such as proximity to amenities, natural surroundings, accessibility, and overall suitability for your intended use (such as investment, vacation home, or full-time residence). With the wide range of properties available, you will find the perfect place that meets your needs and desires.

Step 3: Conduct Personal Property Checks

As you narrow down your Costa Rica land options, conducting your checks is important to ensure you make an informed decision. Consider the following steps:

  1. Visit the Property at Different Times: Whenever possible, visit the property at various times to gauge factors like noise levels, traffic patterns, and the overall ambiance of the area.
  2. Assess the Property in Different Weather Conditions: If feasible, observe the property during rainy weather to identify any potential structural challenges or drainage issues that may arise.
  3. Inquire About Energy Consumption and Maintenance Costs: Request additional information regarding the property's energy consumption, such as utility bills, and inquire about regular maintenance costs. This will help you estimate ongoing expenses and budget accordingly.

By conducting these personal checks, you can gain valuable insights into the property's suitability and potential challenges, allowing you to make a well-informed decision about Costa Rica real estate during the purchasing process in Costa Rica.

Step 4: Engage a Real Estate Attorney

Once you have decided on the Costa Rica house you wish to buy, it is essential to seek the services of a competent real estate attorney. When selecting an attorney, it is advisable to choose someone who is also a Notary Public, as this can facilitate the registration of the sale in the future.

A real estate attorney with expertise in Costa Rica real estate laws will guide you through the legal aspects of the transaction, ensuring that all necessary documentation is properly prepared and reviewed. They will also protect your interests by conducting thorough due diligence on the Costa Rican property, verifying its legal status, and ensuring a smooth transfer of ownership.

By having a qualified real estate attorney, you can confidently navigate the complexities of buying in Costa Rica and ensure a legally sound and secure transaction in Costa Rica.

Step 5: Negotiate the Purchase Price and Prepare an Offer

Like any transaction of buying estate property, it is time to negotiate the purchase price and have your attorney draft a formal offer. In today's thriving market, it is common to experience some back-and-forth negotiations regarding the price.

Work closely with your attorney and real estate agent to determine a fair and competitive offer that aligns with the property's market value. Your attorney will then formalize the Costa Rica property ownership request in writing, including all necessary terms and conditions.

During the negotiation process, be prepared for some negotiations and counteroffers as you strive to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the seller. With the guidance of your attorney and the help of your real estate agent, you can navigate this stage successfully and secure a favorable purchase price for the property for sale Costa Rica.

Step 6: Conduct a Title Search, Arrange for Inspections, and Submit a Deposit

Your attorney will guide you through the necessary due diligence checks. Conducting a thorough title search is important to ensure that the house in Costa Rica can be legally sold and that no encumbrances or disputes are associated with it. Additionally, consider arranging structural inspections to assess the property's overall condition and ensure it meets your standards.

Once you are satisfied with the results of the property Costa Rica due diligence checks and inspections, you can proceed with confidence. It is time to submit your deposit, typically amounting to approximately 10% of the agreed sale price. This deposit serves as a sow of commitment to the purchase and is generally held in escrow until the completion of the transaction.

Step 7: Finalize the Sale

This is the final stage to buy land in Costa Rica. In this stage, which typically takes one to two months, you will proceed to close the sale. Your attorney, a Notary Public, or a third-party professional will register your purchase. You must pay the remaining property price, closing, and legal fees. Once all the necessary steps and payments are completed, the sale will be finalized, and the property will be officially transferred to your name.


Owning property in Costa Rica as an American is attainable with the right knowledge and guidance. This comprehensive guide has provided you with essential information about the property market in Costa Rica, legal requirements for purchasing real estate, and a step-by-step process to navigate the buying process successfully. Ready to unlock your dream home in paradise and make your Costa Rican dreams a reality? Contact us at Coldwell Banker Costa Rica or visit Embrace the opportunity and embark on an exciting journey to find your perfect piece of paradise in Costa Rica!




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