Why Use a Certified Real Estate Broker in Costa Rica

There is no required license to sell real estate in Costa Rica and not even a mandatory class or exam.  This has lead to basically anyone that wants to try and sell property calling themselves a realtor or broker, creating a website, and listing properties without any experience.  When choosing a realtor in Costa Rica make sure they are at least a certified and active member of the Cámara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes Raíces (CCCBR); which is the Costa Rica Chamber of Real Estate Brokers Board.

CCCBR members are held to an international standard of ethics, professionalism, and have completed the course on Costa Rica Real Estate practices and laws.  Active members are also affiliated with the following international associations and federations of brokers:

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), The Federación Centroamericana, Panamá y el Caribe de Asociaciones y Cámaras de Bienes Raíces (FECEPAC).

Members of the CCCBR also have access to list property on the only official Costa Rica MLS database and utilize the network of professional brokers.  Other qualifications your Costa Rica Realtor should have are as follows:

  1. Permanent Residency to legally work in Costa Rica.
  2. Multiple years of experience in the geographical region they are selling Real Estate.
  3. Fluent skills in both Spanish and English.
  4. Network of contacts such as lawyers, architects, builders, and insurance agents.
  5. Recommendations from past clients.

Joshua Kanter of United Country – Properties in Dominical is a certified and active member of the CCCBR, NAR, FIABCI, and FECEPAC.  He is also a Permanent Resident with family residing full time in Dominical, Costa Rica.  Joshua speaks fluent Spanish and can help you with the buying or building process; and can even manage your property or home after the purchase.

Call or Click Today….
Joshua Kanter, Agent
United Country – Properties in Costa Rica
Website: http://www.DominicalProperty.com
Toll Free: 1-888-679-1227

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How to Make “Chorreadas” (Corn Pancakes)

The Costa Rica specialty, “Chorreada” is basically a corn pancake and a very tasty for breakfast, lunch, or mid afternoon snack with coffee on a rainy day.  Corn is a staple in the Costa Rican diet and eaten daily by most locals in one form or another such as; tortillas, tamales, corn on the cob, and many other forms.  If you are like me over 7 years ago, you probably have only seen corn in the supermarket, peeled and ready to cook.  Well, now I have experience in the corn fields and picking fresh corn to eat the same day; not just buying some at a grocery store that who knows how ago it was harvested.  Today we will show you how to make one of my favorite dishes; “Chorreadas” literally from scratch.

Step 1) In the Field – When eating the freshest ingredients it is not easy and involves a bit of work, and the first step is to go to the corn field and pick the corn.  So the day starts before dawn and in order to make plenty of “Chorreadas” you need at least one sack of corn.

You pick the corn that is almost ripe; the younger corn is still soft and makes the best “Chorreada”.  You can tell by the size of the husk and the hairs on the tip of the husk are purplish, where as when completely ripe they are black and dried out.

Once you have picked a sufficient amount you have to peel as much of the husk as you can while leaving enough to transport it without damaging the kernels.  This also allows you to fit more corn in the sack and reduces some of the overall weight.  Remember you have to carry this sack of corn back to the house.  This is the hardest part and if you do not have access to a corn field or do not want to pick corn, just buy a bunch at your local Farmer’s Market.

Step 2) The Preparation – By now you are back at the house with your sack of corn and it is about 7am and you still have a long way to go before you taste your first “Chorreada”.

You will need to peel the entire husk from the cob and get all the hairs off that you can.

Next you have to cut the raw corn from the cob so just the kernels are ready for the grinder.  At this point you may want to cook a few cobs of corn on the side to eat as a snack while you finish the rest of your work.

Now comes the hard part, hand grinding all the kernels into a “masa” or dough like substance. At least you will get your arm strength exercise for the day.

Step 3) Cooking – Now its about 8:30am and you are ready to start cooking the “Chorreada”.  You take the corn “masa” or dough and mix in a little sugar and salt, plus a little flour if it is not thick enough and mix it all together.

Then put tiny bit of oil onto a hot skillet and spread out a pancake sized portion of the mix.

After a few minutes flip it to the other side and cook both sides until golden to dark brown in color.

Step 4) The Taste Test – By now it is around 9am or later and you are finally ready to enjoy your hard earned delicacy. The “Chorreada” is best served with a side of sour cream or “Natilla” and a cup of coffee or cold glass of milk.  This entire process is best done by the whole family; as one person can peel, one can cut off the kernels, one can grind, and one can cook.  Otherwise it will take you half the day to do it all solo.

 If all this seems like too much work, then the next time you see “Chorreada” on the menu at your local “Soda” order it with a side of ”Natilla” and a cup of “café con leche” and enjoy!

Costa Rica Dentists

Going to the dentist is a one of the least favorite places for most people to visit.  Whether they are scared of possible pain, the sound of the drill, or even just the price of the procedure can often be painful on your wallet.  Well, in Costa Rica you still may experience the first two causes of anxiety and fear, but at least any dental procedure here will cost you a fraction of the cost you are used to.  So whether you live here full time or are planning a vacation, you may want to consider getting your dental work done in Costa Rica.

There is even dental tourism to Costa Rica, as there is medical tourism, and it is becoming increasing more popular.  Why not do the ‘2 birds with 1 stone’ strategy of taking a nice tropical vacation and getting your yearly dentist visit out of the way as well.  Dental implants are becoming the standard practice to replace teeth over dentures and this is very expensive elsewhere.  But in Costa Rica you can buy your plane tickets, travel expenses, and have the procedure done all for the same price or less than just the implant back home.  Other common procedures are crowns, bridges, root canals, fillings, porcelain veneers, and whitening treatments.

The main reason to get dental work done in Costa Rica is not to find the cheapest possible dentist, but rather high quality care at a more affordable price.  There are plenty of dentists in Costa Rica and you will see tons of offices throughout San Jose and other mid to large size towns.  However, you should do your research and find one that comes highly recommended by locals or ex-pats and pick an experienced professional with the proper training and practice in your particular procedure.

Become a Luxury Rancher or Organic Farmer

Ever dream of becoming a farmer or rancher, but could not give up the amenities of a luxury home and being close to a city.  Well, now it is possible live this dream in a 6,000 square foot mansion on a 30 acre horse farm within 45 minutes to the city of San Isidro, Costa Rica.  Located in a rural area surrounded by coffee farms and cattle ranches this property offers private tranquility with tons of usable land, horse stables, caretaker house, pastures, creek with two cascades, and borders the river “Rio General”.  Here is a detailed video of the home and property for your viewing pleasure….

This estate home spared no expense in its solid concrete block construction and offers the finest finishes available.  Downstairs the home features a large office/study, great room with 30 foot high windows bringing in the views and natural light, and guestroom with an en suite bathroom.

There is also a huge open professional kitchen, living room and breakfast table, formal dining room, and an outdoor terrace and dining area.

You walk up Cristobal hardwood (a rare native hardwood) stairs to the two master bedrooms and baths.

The main master bedroom is very spacious and has bamboo wood floors, walk-in closet, and access to a wrap around balcony that enjoys the views and sounds of the cascade next to the house.

The en suite bathroom is literally the largest I have ever seen; and has a Jacuzzi tub for two, his and hers showers, his and hers vanities with granite counters, and even his and hers toilets!  The other master bedroom is just as spacious with bamboo floors and balcony access as well.  Across the hallway is another large walk-in closet and oversized master bathroom with its own Jacuzzi tub.

This property has potential for a retired couple or family that wants to live off the land and enjoy a country lifestyle.

The structures are in place to raise horses with a 6 stall stable, a coral, and plenty of pasture land to graze.

There is also Tilapia pond already built for a constant fresh fish supply.  You could raise free range chickens for laying eggs and for a food source.  Due to the extremely fertile soil near the river you could also transform this property in to an organic fruit farm and at the very least produce sufficient fruit and vegetables for your family or small community.   Could even get a couple dairy cows to produce your own milk and cheeses.  In just in case you cannot produce everything you need there are small markets close by and large supermarkets in San Isidro 40-45 minutes away.

There is an extraordinary amount of flat and usable land multiple additional homes could be built for a family compound or mini gated community.  Even numerous rental cabins and a Bed & Breakfast operation could be possible.  For more information click this link about this amazing Luxury Home on 30 Acres or visit www.DominicalProperty.com for more residential homes and farm listings.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica and located less than one hour from San Jose.  This is a great day trip from any hotel in San Jose with a beautiful drive through coffee farms and rolling pastures of grazing dairy cows.  You can also go on nearby coffee tours or visit Poas Volcano, but in order to do everything it would be best to stay at the Peace Lodge Hotel or another Bed & Breakfast in the surrounding countryside.  My mom was recently in town and we went to the park with our family for the day before she left.

Enjoy this video of the La Paz Waterfall gardens.

You first enter the park through the main lodge, restaurant, and gift shop and pay the entrance fee of $20 for local/residents and $35 for visitors.  Then down to the park with animals such as birds, monkeys, cats, and more.

You can enter a dome full of exotic birds and literally be inches from toucans and parrots.

The monkeys and butterflies were our daughter’s favorites.  They do get to see monkeys in the wild at our house all the time, but not the Spider Monkeys and still love seeing all kinds none the less.

The butterfly attraction is a stroll through a flowering garden with butterflies everywhere.  They also have all the different cocoons in their various stages for visitors to see the metamorphosis in person.

A close up encounter with a jaguar (only separated by a thick piece of glass) was a memorable experience and personally my favorite part of the park.  Absolutely amazing to see such a powerful creature so close, that most likely you will never see in the wild.

The reptiles and amphibians are part of the park, but the kids did enjoy the snakes more than I thought they would.  There was the largest Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) I have ever seen, and I am definitely scared of seeing of one of those in the wild.  We also got to see some of the exotic frog species first hand.

Throughout the well landscaped park there are flowers and gardens everywhere.  Even a small section of beautiful orchids and another area planted especially to attract humming birds.

The main feature is of course the waterfalls and you walk down a concrete trail and stairway through the jungle.  Do not worry; you do not have to walk back up because there is a bus that takes you back up to the front of the park.  The waterfalls are magnificent and you can get so close that mist sprays on your face.  Truly an unforgettable experience and some of the most scenic waterfalls in Costa Rica.  So forget buying post cards of waterfalls and animals; just take some pictures here to share with your friends and family.  For more information and directions go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens website: http://www.waterfallgardens.com/

Luxury Dominical Home for Sale

This is an incredible luxury home in Escaleras, perched above Dominical with open air design to optimize the tropical lifestyle of Costa Rica.  Panoramic vistas of the Dominicalito Bay and Punta Dominical with coastline all the way to Manuel Antonio offer an unsurpassed view.  Cool breezes off the ocean during the day and down from the mountains at night allows for indoor/outdoor living in absolute paradise.

Listed for $595,000 USD and was recently reduced from $685,000 USD.  This 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom home is 2,760 square feet with a 660 square foot covered indoor/outdoor living room.  The property size is 1.44 acres of land and has jungle along one side and the access road ends at this home for added privacy.

Poolside Terrace and Entertainment Area

Panoramic Ocean, Coastline, and Bay Views

660 sqft Covered Balcony for Indoor/Outdoor Living

Sunset from the Kitchen

Media Room with AC and Unique Cedar Ceiling

Master Bedroom with Open Air Design

Perfect End to a Day in Paradise

If you are looking for a finished high quality home for a second vacation home or place to retire in paradise, then this maybe the perfect fit for you!!  Costa Rica living at its finest in the coastal mountains of Dominical close to amenities, beaches, activities, and waterfalls!

Purchasing Property in Costa Rica – FAQ’s

There are many questions first time Buyers in Costa Rica may have and these are some of the most common we experience.  This guide of Frequently Asked Questions will help first time Buyers become informed of the Buying Process and different aspects of owning property in Costa Rica.

What is the procedure to buy a Costa Rica property?

First: After you have found the right property with your Real Estate agent, have them submit an Offer to the Seller or the Seller’s listing agent in order to agree upon the sales price and terms of the deal.   Second: Take this Offer to your Costa Rica attorney for them to write up the formal Sale Purchase Agreement or Offer to Purchase Agreement.  This document is legally binding, registered, clearly states all conditions necessary for the conveyance of the deed, sets a time frame for Due Diligence, and a date for closing; thus officially taking the property off the market.  It is also typical for the Buyer to send a deposit at the time of mutual signing of this agreement.  Third: The period of Due Diligence, which is the complete legal research of the property to insure there are no liens, contingencies, legal issues, and that it has absolute fee simple title.  If the property is being sold with an existing company, then the research of the company for any legal contingencies will also be completed during Due Diligence.  Fourth: Closing or conveyance of the deed occurs before a Notary Public, who will register the property under the new company or owner.  Alternatively, if the property is being purchased with an existing company, then the shares of the company are transferred at this time by a Shares Transfer Agreement.  In this case the Notary Public will make the corresponding changes to the company’s ownership in the National Registry.  Fifth: Declaring the property before the corresponding Municipality for property tax purposes by filling out a simple form and presenting it along with the some other documents either yourself or through your attorney.

Can I acquire a property under my personal name, even being a foreigner?

Yes, however, it is more common and recommended to acquire the property through a corporation in order to separate potential personal liabilities, facilitate the closing procedure, and allow for easier transfer to relatives in case of casualty.  The Costa Rica holding company will also make it easier to obtain services such as electricity and cell phones, as well as, opening a bank account.

Exception: A foreigner can only own up to 49% of the concession rights for a Concession Property within the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MTZ).

If I live outside of Costa Rice, do I need to be present to sign for the conveyance of the deed at closing?

This is not specifically necessary and can be executed through a Power of Attorney for a third party that you trust.  This Power of Attorney can be very specific to solely the purchase and signing the closing document of the property in question.  Another option that is costly and timely is DHL or FedEx the documents and signing them in front of a licensed Notary Public at your nearest Costa Rica Consulate.  Considering the cost of the shipping and if the nearest Costa Rica Consulate is in another part of the country; then it can be more affordable to fly down and sign for yourself.

What are the taxes, legal fees, and closing expenses included in the purchase of property in Costa Rica?

Every property acquisition in Costa Rica has to pay the following National Registry Fees: Registry: 5 colones per every 1,000 colones of purchase price; Municipal: 2 colones per every 1,000 colones of purchase price; Fiscal: a maximum of 625 colones; Bar Association: a maximum of 10,000 colones; Archive: 20 colones.  The Transfer Taxof 1.5% must be paid to the National Registry if the property is transferred from one owner to another.  If a property is sold with an existing company and only the shares of the company are transferred, then this Transfer Tax does not apply.  These costs are often split by the Buyer and the Seller.

Legal Fees for the purchase of property in Costa Rica are 1% to 2% depending on the sales price, complexity of the transaction, and the allotted time spent by the attorney on the deal.  Additional legal costs may include the formation of a Costa Rica holding company of around $500 to $600 USD; drafting of any supplementary contracts or Seller Financing Agreements and registering of such contracts; and translation of contracts into your native language.  The Buyer and Seller typically pat for the separate attorneys.  If one attorney is used by both Buyer and Seller, then some for these legal fees can be split.  However, the Buyer is usually solely responsible for starting a new company, any contracts for Seller Financing (if needed) and registration of those contracts, and translations if the Seller is Spanish speaking.

Other Fees may include topographer fees if you choose to re-mark the boundaries of the property; and any extra investigation you may choose to execute such as; soil tests.  These items are typically paid by the Buyer.

A total property transaction costs about 4% of the property value and this can vary more depending on the amount of Due Diligence needed and less if the property is being sold with a current company.

How can I transfer funds for a property acquisition from my home country?

This can be accomplished by international wire transfer and the funds can be received by a recognized escrow company dedicated to protect funds and provide escrow services in Costa Rica. Direct wire transfer from the Buyer to the Seller can be done in certain cases, but should be done almost simultaneously as closing signatures; as many Sellers may not feel comfortable signing the closing documents until receiving a bank confirmation that the wire transfer has been completed.

Where and how are properties registered in Costa Rica?

All titled properties are registered in the “Registro Naccional” or National Registry located in Zapote, San Jose, Costa Rica.  There are satellite offices of the “Registro” around the country in larger cities.  This is a public record that anyone can research the owner of a property and any leans, loans, transformations, or damages against the said property.  In order to transfer a registered property the recorded owner must appear before a Notary Public in order to grant a public conveyance of the property, which then must be presented and recorded in the National Registry.  All registered properties have a folio real number (i.e. 6-123456-000) of which the first number represents the province where it is located, the second refers to the specific folio property number, and the third to the property rights as in number of owners (000 means only one owner).

Exceptions: (1) Concession property located in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MTZ); which is the 200 meters from the median high tide mark on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts.  The first 50 meters is public zone and free for the public to enjoy, where as the remaining 150 meters is the restricted zone where concession property can be granted by the local municipality.   Although there can be titled property with the MTZ, it is very rare and may have been titled since before the MTZ was put in place; but should be carefully investigated by your Costa Rica attorney to insure the validity and legality of the title.  Concession property is registered in different section of the National Registry called the Concession Registry and has an independent registration number.  Concession property is typically used for tourism and if this type of property is a consideration, then it is highly recommended your attorney review the concession and feasibility of your plans for the property before pursuing it further.  (2) There are also Possession Properties, which are untitled and are not registered in the National Registry.  These properties can obtain title through a lengthy process and if they comply with certain requirements; one of which is a minimum possession of 10 years.  These types of properties are the most risky and professional legal counsel is needed in this situation to advise if receiving title is possible before even considering such a property.

How can I check the status of a property in Costa Rica?

Go to the following website of the National Registry: http://www.rnpdigital.com/index.htm where anyone can check the status of a property.  Go to “Sistema de Certificaciones y Consultas Gratuitas” on the top left side of the webpage.  A new tab will open and then first time users will have to go to “Registrarse por Primera Vez” in the top left hand portion of the page.  After filling out the form you will receive an email and click on the link and enter your user email and password on the left hand side under “Ingreso para Usuarios Registrados”.  Then go to “Consultas Gratuitas” on the left hand side and next you will see a list of all the types of “Consultas” you can do for “Bienes Immuebles” (Real Estate).  To obtain a certified property report click on “Consulta por Numera de Finca”.  After this, you will have to enter the number of the property’s province or “Provincia” (first number of the Folio Real number on the Plano), the folio real number of the property (middle numbers of the Folio Real number on the plano), and the number of the property right “dereccho” (which is the last 3 digits of the Folio Real number on the Plano). Once you enter the said information click on the “Consultar” (consult) button.  A certificate with all the information of the property will appear on the screen.

How much are property taxes and other taxes associated with owning property in Costa Rica?

Property Taxes are 0.25% of the registered property value and are paid to the local Municipality for where the property is located.  These taxes are paid every 3 months or can be paid in full for the year in advance.  For example a $100,000 USD property pays $250 USD per year in Property Tax.

Corporation Tax is a fairly new tax passed in 2012 and is a fixed fee of $180 USD for inactive corporations and $360 USD for active corporations.  Most properties are held be an inactive corporation and this tax is paid to the “Ministerio de Hacienda”.

Luxury Tax is tax levied against luxury homes valued over approximately $200,000 USD and is also paid to the “Ministerio de Hacienda”.  This tax is around $2,500 and can be more depending on the registered value of the home.

Please feel free to contact us for any additional questions you may have about purchasing property in Costa Rica.  We have created a valuable network of contacts over our many years of experience in Costa Rica Real Estate such as; lawyers, architects, builders, topographers, accounts, property managers, and more.