By Ivo Henfling
I have seen it happen over and over: buyers fall in love with a property in Costa Rica they have seen on their own, because of a sign on a property or through a FSBO website; they make a verbal offer to the seller and both parties think they have a deal as soon as they agree on the sales price. Falling in love and showing it to the seller is problem #1 and having to deal with an offer and all related to the real estate purchase is problem #2. Problem #3 is that a lot of those deals go down the drain because both buyer and seller make mistakes for lack of knowledge. And these 3 problems are only a few reasons why you should use a real estate agent when you purchase a home in Costa Rica.
You start searching for the properties online or driving around neighborhoods you might like. I get calls like that all the time. They see my sign on a property for sale, call to get the information and then go knock on the door and try to sneak in without me, telling the owner that they can save themselves the 5% real estate commission and split the difference.
That’s why I don’t have an 800 phone number on my signs, so at least I don’t have to pay for their phone call. I’ve had people see my properties for sale on our website and if they can pinpoint down the area, they’ll drive until they recognize the front of the property in my pictures. I’ve had sellers call me when that happens, that’s why I know.
I have had buyers ask for GPS or Google coordinates, even by email. Some buyers do this because they don’t know that we don’t have a functioning MLS in Costa Rica and they are used to real estate agents having an exclusive listing agreement on the property, so they see no harm in asking for it. But others do know how it functions in Costa Rica and just try to find out the location so they can try to deal with the seller without any real estate agent.
Costa Rica doesn’t have a regulated real estate industry, so licensing doesn’t really mean anything. I know real estate agents with a real estate license and they don’t have a clue. On the other hand, I’ve had people attack me saying that because I’m not a NAR agent (a licensed realtor® in the US), I don’t know what I am doing. I never understood that one. The local real estate board in San Jose, the CCBR, makes you a licensed real estate agent if you sit in on 32 hours of a course they give at the cost of $250. No exams are taken.
With the internet making the information all available for everyone, it is easy to find out which real estate agent is competent. Check us out, GoDutch Realty, read up on our blogs and newsletters and you will see that we DO know what we are doing. That’s why GoDutch Realty was chosen by International Living® to be their preferred real estate company for the Central Valley.