New York Times Article About Real Estate in Dominical, Costa Rica


Moshen and Julie Sadeghi own an 8,000-square-foot Spanish colonial and Mediterranean-style estate with a guest house and private theater on a plateau overlooking the bay in Dominical, Costa Rica. Credit Julie Sadeghi

DOMINICAL, Costa Rica — On the two-lane road running along the jungle-covered coastline, it is easy to miss the steep turnoff for this tiny town, a rocky unpaved road leading to a row of open-air restaurants, hostels and surf shops.

For years, property industry observers predicted that Dominical would be the next boomtown in Costa Rica, after the coastal highway was paved four years ago, connecting the area to the north. But it hasn’t happened.

A few small condominium developments peek out of the lush jungle canopy on the steep hillside, but there has been little of the mass development found on other parts of the coast. The electricity still goes out regularly and most of the restaurants do not require shoes.

Big waves remain Dominical’s primary attraction, drawing surfers from around the world.

“It really hasn’t changed that much,” said Moshen Sadeghi, a resident of Minneapolis, who first started coming here 16 years ago with his wife, Julie. “It’s a surfing town. Kids come here when they have money to spend. They just want to surf.”

The Sadeghis’ driveway is a bumpy, winding three-quarter-mile trail up a steep hillside, best accessible by a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Their home, finished in 2010, is a sprawling 8,000-square-foot Spanish colonial and Mediterranean-style estate with a guest house and private theater on a plateau overlooking the Dominical bay. The surrounding jungle is home to howler monkeys, three-toed sloth and loud toucans.

Before the coast highway was paved, visitors to the Dominical area needed to take a long and often treacherous mountain route from San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Or they would need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to follow the rocky road from Quepos, 45 miles to the north, a journey that could include fording several rivers, depending on the time of year.

“It would take one and a half hours to get here from Quepos, it was so bad,” Mr. Sadeghi said.

Home prices in Dominical soared from 2003 to 2007 in anticipation of the road’s completion and as the building of an international airport nearby was discussed. Several developers announced projects, touting the region’s rugged coastline and secluded beaches.

With interest growing, a two-bedroom villa with a pool close to the ocean sold for approximately $450,000 in 2007, compared with $275,000 in 2005, agents say. (Costa Rica properties are typically listed in dollars.)

But the market stalled in 2008, in the wake of the economic turmoil in the United States. The majority of international buyers in Dominical are Americans, who mostly disappeared after the crisis.

When the paved road opened from Quepos in 2010, after years of delays, it had little effect on the market. “Bad timing,” said Joshua Kanter, an agent with Properties in Costa Rica, a real estate agency. In 2010, “you could make an offer for 30 percent off and get it.”

Today the half-finished shells of projects started in the boom years can be spotted on the hillsides. But sales are picking up, agents say.

“The fire sales are not as numerous now,” said Dave West, co-owner of the Re/Max real estate franchise in Dominical. They sold more property in 2014 than in any of his previous 10 years, closing five deals, compared with two in 2013.

Prices are still depressed but are returning to precrisis levels, Mr. West said. Buildable lots for single homes are also popular, with land prices still about 40 percent below peak levels, he said.

“The people buying lots are 30 to 40 years old,” he said. “They’re reserving their spot for 15 years from now.”

Several small developments are under construction, including the first units in Playa Hermosa Villas, a development planned to include 26 villas and 12 condos, a few miles south of Dominical.

“I’m all in right now,” said Robert Ruggieri, the developer of Playa Hermosa Villas. He said Dominical was “going to go from a little surfer town to a mini-Guanacaste,” referring to the fast-growing region on Costa Rica’s northwest, where Four Seasons and Marriott hotels anchor luxury developments.

Mr. Ruggieri bought nine acres for the project on the coastal highway in 2009 for $700,000, which he estimates was about 50 percent below the price three years earlier, at the height of the market. Prices in his project start at $339,000 for a 1,389-square-foot villa and range to $419,000 for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom unit with a two-car garage.

Dominical is starting to attract more upscale travelers, beyond the surfers and ecotourists, Mr. Ruggieri said. He has forsaken the Mediterranean style popular in the area for stark modernistic units, with large windows, chrome accents and square edges.

“I took a gamble,” he said. “I think the new contingent is going modern.”

Some local residents are skeptical that Dominical will ever see a wave of mass development. The mountainous coastline makes it difficult to build. And there is little land available along the narrow beachfront, where development is restricted by the government.

“There is only so much that can be built,” said Julie Stewart, a real estate agent based in Austin, Texas.

Last April, Ms. Stewart and her husband, Jeff Windham, bought a house outside Dominical on a four-acre lot, a short drive from the coast. They paid $350,000 for the 2,000-square-foot house with three bedrooms and an infinity pool, after embracing the “relaxed feel” of the area.

“We loved the fact that it didn’t have all the resorts,” Ms. Stewart said.

She would like to see a few more restaurants and small hotels in the area. And it would be nice to see continued improvements in the power grid. But she’s not eager to see the large development found in many Central America beach spots.

“If this stays nice and small and doesn’t have any huge resorts coming in, it would be great,” Ms. Stewart said.

International Real Estate Listings – My Podcast Interview

Joshua Kanter Discusses Real Estate in Dominical Costa Rica

by Taylor White

The IREL Podcast by Taylor White > Dominical Costa Rica real estate > Joshua Kanter Discusses Real Estate in Dominical Costa Rica

Joshua Kanter Discusses Real Estate in Dominical Costa Rica

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I had the pleasure to sit down and speak with Joshua Kanter from Properties in Costa Rica in Dominical Costa Rica – and we will get down and dirty with the Dominical real estate scene – and have you coming away wanting to investigate it’s local property market further – or, cross it off your short list entirely and continue listening.

Right now from Josh you will learn:

  • Why he passed on the more well known expat communities of Jaco and Tamarindo – and why he believes you could do the same.
  • What constitutes properties located inside the Maritime zone – and then how those are different than fee simple titled properties.
  • Where the heck Dominical is even located on a map of Costa Rica – and what lies all around it.
  • The exact types of properties Josh is recommending today – and explains what “suitcase ready” means and how you can profit.
  • Breaks down strategies to get money together to buy Dominical real estate – and shares data on what percentage of buyers pay with cold hard cash.

Josh’s contact details:Joshua Kanter Discusses Real Estate in Dominical Costa Rica

Listening options:

Costa Rica Offers Baby Boomers a Second Chance at Retirement

This is Dominical Property’s first Press Release and it got a very positive response and even made Yahoo! News and many other online news outlets:

Costa Rica is a natural choice for Baby Boomers due to its year round temperate climate, lower cost of living, advanced medical sector, and a short flight from most of the continental U.S. Joshua Kanter of United Country – Properties in Dominical discusses current retirement trends in Baby Boomer retirees.

Playa Dominical, Costa Rica (PRWEB) November 06, 2012

Costa Rica has historically been a retirement haven for ex-pats and will be one of the top destinations for Baby Boomers to retire. The Southern Zone and Playa Dominical area are fast becoming more popular with retirees due to unparalleled natural beauty, laid back healthy lifestyle, easier access, plus convenient hospitals and clinics. Dominical Property, S.R.L. is a local real estate and property management expert that specializes in making the transition to Costa Rica as smooth as possible.

Baby Boomers Facts
-76.4 million Baby Boomers born from 1946 to 1964 (U.S. Census)
-A Baby Boomer turns 60 every 8.5 seconds (U.S. Census)
-More than 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire every day for the next 19 years (Pew Research Center)

According to Mary Furlong’s book, Turning Silver into Gold the top 3 financial concerns of Baby Boomers are as follows:
1.) Having enough money to retire
2.) Overall financial well being
3.) Having enough money for health care

So what will Baby Boomers look for in a retirement destination? Basically somewhere they can make their savings last and enjoy an active lifestyle, while staying fit and healthy.

The quality of life in Costa Rica is some of the best in the World and it has been ranked #1 on the Happy Planet Index (New Economic Foundation) for two consecutive years. The medical care in Costa Rica is also some of the best in Central America; as many travel here specifically for medical tourism. Most all fruits and produce are grown locally; meat and poultry are fresh; and seafood is plentiful.

Costa Rica has many micro-climates, but more and more Baby Boomers are exploring the Southern Pacific Zone. This area is best known for Playa Dominical, which was 18th on CNN Go’s list of the “World’s 50 Best Beaches”. The Playa Domincal area offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country, an abundance of wildlife, miles of secluded beaches, numerous waterfalls, and tons of outdoor activities from adventurous surfing, hiking, rafting, and zip-lining to more relaxing hobbies such as; bird watching, beach combing, fishing, and whale watching.

The Dominical-Uvita area, also known as Costa Ballena, has experienced recent growth and popularity due to the new Caldera Highway and paving of the Coastal Highway from Quepos; now only a 3 hour drive from San Jose. Also the Quepos Regional Airport is 30 minutes from Dominical and services daily commuter flights from San Jose.

Costa Ballena has all the amenities a retiree wants in casual and fine dining restaurants, banks, shopping, supermarkets, mechanics, pharmacies, and clinics. There are also 3 hospitals with in 30 to 45 minute drive in Quepos, San Isidro, and a new hospital in Cortes. The city of San Isidro is 40 minutes from Dominical and is one of the fastest growing cities in Central America. Modern conveniences mixed with a laid back lifestyle and lush rain forest surroundings make this one of the most desirable areas of Costa Rica.

Joshua Kanter of Dominical Property, S.R.L. ( says, “Our most common clients are those nearing retirement looking for a second home to eventually live here full or part time. Or those seeking ocean view property to build their dream home. Plus the Southern Zone still has very affordable real estate prices compared to other regions of Costa Rica real estate and this allows an investor’s dollar to go a long way.” He continues, “We have also seen an increased trend in retirees renting long term prior to a purchase in order to make sure the Costa Rica lifestyle is truly for them.”

Dominical Property, S.R.L assists Baby Boomers in retirement relocation with a wide array of Dominical real estate listings for sale and rent. The company can also manage a second home, recommend real estate and residency attorneys, and help facilitate the building process. The Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica is becoming a World class retirement destination and allows Baby Boomers a second chance at retirement.

Joshua Kanter, Agent
United Country – Properties in Costa Rica
Toll Free: 1-888-679-1227

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
Toll Free: 1-888-679-1227

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: 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.

Why it’s Safe to Buy in Costa Rica

Buying real estate in Costa Rica carries similar risk as anywhere else in the World, but there are processes and legal procedures in place to ensure a buyer’s safety.  The following are steps you should take in order to eliminate any ambiguity in a real estate transaction.

  • Use a professional and experienced realtor/broker that has lived and worked in the area for a few years in which they are selling real estate.  Make sure your realtor/broker has residency or citizenship, has the right to work in Costa Rica, and are in the country to stay.  Not just on extended vacation visa hoping to sell real estate in order to keep their vacation going.

  • Anyone can sell real estate in Costa Rica without a license, so ask if they have at least completed the equivalent of the Real Estate Board’s course (Camara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes Raices) and are affiliated with this national association.  If there is ever a law requiring a license to sell real estate in Costa Rica, membership with the CCCBR would be the logical first step.
  • Also use someone that speaks fluent Spanish; as you would not buy property in the U.S. with a realtor/broker that does not speak English.

One of Paragon’s many Unfinished Projects

  • -Avoid pre-development mega projects that have yet to show real construction progress and rely on pre-selling to generate the capital to develop.  There have been past real estate scams such as Paragon Properties Ponzi-scheme and more recently Hacienda Matapalo.  Hundreds of millions worth of deposits were taken and residential lots and homes were never delivered as promised.  Unless a developer can show they are financially capable of finishing a project or there are already finished homes and condominiums constructed, then be very cautious with pre-sale all inclusive type mega developments.
  • Always use an established licensed and reputable attorney when purchasing real estate in Costa Rica.  An attorney can do the proper due diligence to study the history of the property and its title to make sure there is nothing out of the ordinary, all property taxes are up to date, and no leans or loans are pending against the property.
  • Use a registered escrow account your attorney recommends or Stewart Title and never send a deposit directly to a seller.  Typically a deposit of around 10% is placed in escrow during due diligence, which is refundable if the property does not check out.  Then the full amount of the sales price is sent to the escrow account prior to closing.


  • Stewart Title and Chicago Title both operate in Costa Rica and you can use them for title insurance and provide even more peace of mind over your investment.
  • Avoid “Concession” properties unless your attorney can ensure you of its safety.  Concession properties are those directly on the beach in the Maritime Zone of Costa Rica and it is basically leasing the property from the government; as opposed to owning fee simple title outside of the Maritime Zone. There are many perfectly legal concessions, however, there are much more that are awaiting concession or are possession only properties and those are the ones to avoid completely.  If someone says they almost have their concession then use extreme caution and better yet look for a different property.

The purchase process should be a fun and rewarding experience; after all you get to go on a tropical vacation to look for the right property.  Just follow these steps, use caution, and enjoy!  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the buying process in Costa Rica.

Long Term Rental vs Buying a Home

When making the move to Costa Rica, should you rent long term or buy a home?  This is a common decision for retirees or families to make.  Before even deciding to move to Costa Rica full time it is recommendable to rent for an extended period of time and during both the dry and rainy season to make sure it is the right fit for you.  Also it is a good idea to try out some different parts of the country to settle on your ideal location.  Once Costa Rica is established as your desired destination to live permanently; then comes the decision of renting long term vs buying or building a home.

Renting a home for the long term can be a viable option for many people who do not want the responsibilities of home ownership.  Especially retirees living on a sufficient pension that can afford the rent plus all their food and entertainment expenses per month.  There is no upkeep of home and property usually when renting, and the landlord is typically responsible for such items.  This can be desirable for those living month to month and make living in paradise even less stressful.  Another reason residents of Costa Rica may want to rent, is if they are unsure if they will stay and may want to move back after a year or two.  Sometimes the cultural and pace of life changes are not for everyone and they end up returning to their home country; which is much easier without having to sell a house first.

Purchasing a home or buying a residential lot and building a custom home can be the best solution for some.  The benefit of having equity in the home can be a profitable investment if you decide to sell one day.  A buyer can make any changes or remodels to a house they desire or design a home that suites their specific needs.  You may also have enough land that you can build an additional home or villa to generate rental income from someone that prefers to rent long term.  If you finance a house then the monthly payments would be comparable to rental payments, but you will be working towards ownership of the house instead of just giving it to a landlord.

Buying versus renting is a decision each individual will have to make for themselves.  In my opinion it is always best to makes numerous trips and for extended periods of time (if possible) to make sure Costa Rica is right for you before making a long term commitment.  Whether renting or purchasing a home, it is a major life changing decision to move here full time and one that should be considered carefully.  We can help you with the entire moving process and finding the perfect home for sale or a house for rent.  Give me a call or email today to discuss your plans for Costa Rica and the Costa Ballena!!