During the last five to ten years Costa Rica has become a country that many foreigners have selected as the location for their new home, vacation property, retirement property or investment property.
During this time the real estate industry has experienced phenomenal growth. This growth will continue at a steady rate over the next fifteen years as over 60 million North Americans will retire during this time period, and many will look to Costa Rica for that little piece of paradise to call home.
The first thing that anyone looking to purchase real estate in Costa Rica should do, as they would in their home country, is to seek the advice of an experienced professional Realtor.
The reasons for this may be more profound in Costa Rica. You may be asking why? As a newcomer to a foreign country, you will not be familiar with the local laws that govern real estate transactions, the laws pertaining to the ownership of property, the various legal designations of property and the general ‘do’s and don’ts’ related to purchasing a property.
This knowledge is critical to ensure you do not meet with any surprises along the way. An experienced professional realtor will ensure this is will be a transaction where you are informed and comfortable at all times.
One of the most important pieces of information you should know as a prospective buyer of property in Costa Rica is that realtors are not licensed here. There is no entity in Costa Rica that acts as a watchdog over the real estate industry and the real estate agents.
Anyone can sell real estate in Costa Rica and because of this, the expression “buyers beware” should be taken very seriously indeed. It is common knowledge that realtors make their livelihood from commissions received when they sell property.
As there is no license to lose, and the need to put food on the table, some realtors may slightly embellish the actual attributes of a property or a home. This one aspect alone should make you understand that the process of selecting your realtor is something that you need to do with a critical eye.
There are however two associations that realtors can become members of; the oldest and most well established of these associations is the ‘Camara de Corredores de Bienes Raices.’
Established in 1974 the CC has a membership of 220 realtors. The second is a newly formed association founded in Guanacaste and is called the ‘Guanacaste Association of Realtors’ (GAR).
Members of the associations pay annual dues, share listings, and work to create a more formalized procedure for purchasing real estate, thereby helping to make the purchase of a property, a safe and secure process for the buyer.
Additionally, the Associations work to educate their realtors and have ethics policies that its members are suppose to abide by. Both are lobbying for the establishment of mandatory licensing for all realtors.
Now having said all of that, the reality is that, whether or not a realtor is a member of either or both Associations some will be good and some will (I hate to say it), be bad. There are some basic characteristics that you can look for in a realtor that will help you end up with a good one.
Professionalism is one of the key elements that all good realtors have. It is the general packaging of the realtor. Professionalism incorporates a broad spectrum of characteristics.
Experience & Knowledge – The two go hand in hand and like any other profession, an experienced realtor will definitely make the process of purchasing a property a more comfortable experience than a non-experienced realtor. Their experience and knowledge is directly related to the time they have lived and worked as a realtor in Costa Rica.
Organization – Take note of how well organized your realtor is. Do they have all the information they said they were going to have and is it current and accurate? Is their office well organized and orderly?
Appearance – Though seemingly not important, appearance is important. Your realtor should have enough concern for themselves and their level of professionalism to be attired appropriately, and well groomed.
Punctuality – A good realtor will return your phone calls, as well as answer your e-mail inquiry in a timely manner. They will be on time for appointments. ‘Tico time’ does not apply in the business world, even in Costa Rica.
Customer Service – Real estate is a service industry. The good realtors go beyond what is expected of them regarding customer service before and after the sale. Is your realtor giving you the service you expect? Are they willing to work hard to find you the property that is the right property for you, or are they trying to sell you that property that is the right property for them?
Pressure – The old hard sell is alive and well in Costa Rica. If you feel any pressure at all from your realtor an alarm bell should be ringing. Do not allow yourself to be pressured by your realtor. Do not buy that one and only deal of the century because someone else may buy it tomorrow. A good realtor will not pressure you at all, and should work to ensure that your purchase is a comfortable one for you. Good properties sell themselves. Your realtor is responsible to find out what fits your needs and show it to you.
Take note of the above and use common sense when dealing with realtors in Costa Rica. Do not hesitate in slowing things down and seeking second or third opinions.
There are many truly professional and experienced realtors working in Costa Rica that perform their duties with one goal in mind. That goal is, complete customer satisfaction. Look hard, be critical, don’t settle for the first realtor you run into and shop around. Find the one that you feel most comfortable with. Use your common sense. It constantly amazes me how many people for some inexplicable reason leave their common sense at home.
Yes, Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country. Yes, the people are incredibly friendly. Yes, this is a great place to live. Yes, it is a very advantageous time to consider purchasing real estate here.
Work with an experienced professional realtor to help you acquire all the information and knowledge you need to make a comfortable and informed purchasing decision and you will end up with that perfect piece of Paradise that you wanted, and it will be done in the manner you hoped for and expected.
Written by VIP Member Scott MacDougall.
Costa Rica Realtors. What you need to know
Article/Property ID Number 402
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