Costa Rica Real Estate Info

Do not overlook the final walk-through on closing day

Do not overlook the final walk-through on closing dayClosing on a property is usually a pretty nervous occasion. Sellers become desperate to receive their settlement check and buyers want to move in. In the middle is a diligent real estate agent who will lead the way if you are lucky. That’s why we insist on a final walk-through on closing day.

Most parties involved only look at the finish line and forget about all those details that should be taken care of.  It is for example customary to deliver the house on closing in broom clean condition, although that is rarely mentioned in an option to purchase – sale agreement. I have seen houses being a total mess where lamps were removed, boxes all over and garbage everywhere.

I never forget one of the first homes I sold in my real estate career.  A Cuban – American builder and his wife had built a home in Cariari. Open floor plans were very unusual at the time that they would fully furnish with North American imported furniture.  Oswaldo and Maria would live in the house until it sold, rent another one in the neighborhood and build the next one. Is sold the house to a retiree from Huntington Beach – California who was flying in for the closing. Oswaldo and Maria had already moved to their rental home a week before. 

Which powers of attorney does your property manager in Costa Rica need?

Which powers of attorney does your property manager in Costa Rica need?Everybody involved in the real estate closing is exhilarated, the buyer most of all. Of course she is, Susan just closed on the purchase of a beautiful vacation home in Costa Rica. 

For years, Susan has been day dreaming, looking online at vacation homes near all the beaches in Costa Rica. She has been looking at pictures of homes and condos all over the North, South and Central Pacific and at the Caribbean side of Costa Rica too, reading descriptions and asking the listing agents questions by email and phone.

Susan did her due diligence and decided it was a better idea to make an investment in a vacation rental in Atenas; she wanted to make sure she would buy her vacation home in the right location at the right price. 

Susan found out it made much more sense to rent her home to snow birds and retirees who take much better care of your property than surfers who live on peanut butter sandwiches do.

7 Luxury homes in the Central Valley worth checking out

Luxury homes in the Central Valley worth checking out

Have you ever wondered how the luxury home market in the Costa Rican Central Valley functions without having an MLS where every agent in Costa Rica advertises their listings?

Before you start making appointments with realtors to see luxury homes in the Central Valley, maybe it is time for you to find out a bit more, so you can save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Online you might find the most mouthwatering pictures of beautiful luxury homes in the Central Valley, panoramic views or images of the golf course. You’ll find photos of imposing hallways, palatial kitchens and plush living rooms.  

All the photos you will find are going to be trying to show all the plusses of the home but how do you know the value is really there?

Unless you are a specialist in property values in Costa Rica, you won’t know how much you should pay for that home, no matter how much you love it.

13 Other costs first-time vacation condo buyers in Costa Rica should consider

13 Other costs first-time vacation condo buyers in Costa Rica should considerIsn’t it awesome! You have now decided to buy that vacation condo in Costa Rica that you fell in love with, but before you sign the Reciprocal Option to Buy / Sell, you want to know what other costs are involved.

Can you afford that vacation condo? Can you afford the extra things that are involved?

Have you taken into account every single important cost or will there be more later?

You probably already know that GoDutch Realty has only agents in certain areas of the Central Valley, so the beach is not so much our thing. You might not realize though, that I am president of the American European Real Estate MLS with 29 affiliates all over Costa Rica, with around 100 agents. 

Many of those affiliates cover the best beach areas of Costa Rica: Cahuita and the Southern Caribbean beaches, Dominical and the Southern Pacific beaches, Los Sueños and the Central Pacific beaches, Tambor and the Nicoya Peninsula, Tamarindo and the North Pacific coast and even Lake Arenal. Check out the photos below to get a better taste of what I'm talking about.

The most difficult part of the process is to cover the cost of the purchase, because there is no bank financing available in Costa Rica until you have legal residency. If you are a cash buyer, you’re not only be surprised at how easy it is to buy a vacation condo in Costa Rica, but also how the best deals are found for cash buyers. 

Why is selling a rented house in Costa Rica a mission impossible?

Why is selling a rented house in Costa Rica a mission impossible?

Just getting real estate listing agreement on a house in Costa Rica is easy, but getting a good listing is a much harder. Now guess what a good listing that is rented is? You got it, it’s a mission impossible. 

When the tenant doesn’t want to be bothered with all the showings and on top of that a property manager who wants to control the situation for obvious reasons, it is outright mission impossible, you’ll find out why.

I love listing a house in Costa Rica that I sold the actual owner, especially if the owner bought the house almost 10 years ago through a GoDutch Realty agent. That means we had a happy buyer, who is now a seller who believes we can do a good job.

In the middle of the 2006 real estate boom, I sold Matthew and Karen Holt a house in Residencias los Jardines as an investment that they bought with their 401(k) retirement funds. All units in Residencias los Jardines do very well for rental income and make a nice ROI. The units rent fast because of the amenities the community has to offer, so buying in one of the condos there with your retirement funds is a great investment.

Think hard before your rent on VRBO in Costa Rica

Think hard before your rent on VRBO in Costa RicaMy office phone is ringing while I’m on my cell phone with an attorney discussing some details on a real estate closing. I’m alone in the office and the office phone is ringing off the hook, a local call. You never know how you can miss out on a buyer, so I told the attorney I’d call him back as soon as I could and picked up the office phone.  

“Buenos días, GoDutch Realty, en qué le puedo servir?” is my usual introduction and the lady at the other end says in English “do you speak English?”. This is very customary in our office because if I’d answer the phone in English, the Ticos who don't speak any English generally hang up on me, not knowing what to say.

The lady on the other end started telling me that she knows it’s a very unusual request but she rented a house in Sarchi and it has a solar heating system on the roof. The solar system is leaking and if I know a plumber to get it fixed.

I answered the lady “I assume you’re calling because you rented the house from Brooke Bishop, our agent who covers the Sarchi area, I can give you Brooke’s phone number and I’m sure Brooke can help you”.

The lady answered “no, Brooke had it also listed but we rented through VRBO in Costa Rica, directly from the owner.”

Looking for privacy on your property in Santa Ana, is it possible?

Looking for privacy on your property in Santa Ana, is it possible?My neighbors are looking at me all the time, I want privacy! I also want security because I travel a lot.

Last week I showed prospective buyers a half acre property in Santa Ana with a small house on it. The buyers are looking for privacy. A ½ acre property is quite a bit of property in Santa Ana, especially when it is totally flat.

They loved the property; nonetheless the neighbors are too close to their feelings, so they need to find a more rural property. 

Their budget doesn’t allow them to purchase a larger property, mainly for the reason that they want the house to have a nice floor plan, quality finishes and a gourmet kitchen. They want to live in Santa Ana because of the schools so a more hillside topography like Atenas offers won’t work for them.

A large property in Santa Ana, depending a bit on the zoning and topography, might be interesting for a real estate developer, so prices tend to be pretty high. Between real estate agents, in this case, we would say that her eyes are much bigger than his wallet.

Some buyers love their privacy and others love it when people look at them all the time.  So let’s see what we can do about that without getting involved in psychiatry.

I want to be a good neighbor in Atenas – Costa Rica

I want to be a good neighbor in Atenas - Costa RicaThe months of December, January and February are famous for the strong winds in Costa Rica. They mean the change of the rainy season to the dry season. These 62 mph (100kph) winds can become pretty dangerous and start wildfires or brushfires in under populated areas such as certain communities and property in Atenas.

In the 2006 – 2008 Costa Rica real estate boom, hundreds of agricultural communities were created for several reasons. The red tape to get permits to develop a property takes years, so some developers figured out that sub dividing home lots in areas zoned for agriculture was a great idea, especially because those areas offered some incredible views.

Agricultural lots

The law allows for a farm to be subdivided into 1 3/4 acre agricultural lots or “parcelas agrícolas”. Most developers called them a gated community but most don’t have more than a gate in the front, which controls access due to the topography of the community and they are all over the country, especially in Atenas and coastal areas, taking advantage of the mountain ranges for the views. 

Be aware of Costa Rican real estate developer marketing tricks

Dream with your eyes open when you buy Costa Rican pre-constructionSome Costa Rican real estate developers sell pre-construction dreams! We’d like you to dream with your eyes open.

In the past, I have written quite a few articles about buying real estate in a residential development, like 9 steps to stop a developer from deceiving you and a real estate development quiz. Some Costa Rican real estate developers that sell pre-construction homes are full of marketing tricks.

Today, I’d like to touch base with you on what seems to be going on with residential developer “Casas Vita” and marketing tricks that are quickly becoming a model of selling real estate in Costa Rica to unsuspecting buyers by a few unscrupulous Costa Rican real estate developers.

A new money-making machine, very little investment needed! We all know the famous boiler room sales made during the boom by Paragon Properties and Hermosa Highlands all directed at the gringo market and now they’re doing it to the Ticos.

Is selling Costa Rica real estate a joke?

Is selling Costa Rica real estate a joke?I have met a lot of real nice people in my real estate career, probably 90% of the buyers and sellers we deal with are nice, easy going people who appreciate the hard work we do and recommend us whenever they can. Thank you for that! Selling Costa Rica real estate is no joke, but if your real estate agent doesn't enjoy selling real estate, it becomes a joke. At least it does for me.

Once in a while we get people who complain, just because that’s what they do. An obnoxious or interfering seller, we will just delete the listing because I’ve arrived at a point in my life that I don’t want to deal with it anymore and I think my agents shouldn’t either. 

I know, they'll stop reading my blogs, but so be it.

When we get an obnoxious buyer, not to give it a different word, I get rid of that buyer; I’ve told you that before. I ask that type of buyer to go shop at RE/MAX or Coldwell Banker.