As an American citizen purchasing property for the first time in Costa Rica, I found that there were a number of significant differences between my Costa Rican experience, and equivalent experiences purchasing homes in the USA:
There are many folks you will encounter who represent themselves as Real Estate agents in Costa Rica. Be warned that in order to present oneself as a realtor, no licensing is required. As a result, you will encounter tremendous diversity in the knowledge and motivations of individuals you will meet who wish to sell you property.
The purchasing process is significantly different in Costa Rica than in the USA. Because of the differences, a high quality realtor must be more than the individual who will ferry you around to see properties, with the primary function of matching sellers and buyers.
In fact, you should use a realtor with significant contacts and networks in the community in which you are considering purchasing a property. Not all realtors in Costa Rica are equally well connected. A high quality realtor will have a working relationship with an attorney (critical), banker, home inspector, property manager, landscaper, housekeeping service, auto dealership, and a host of other folks who can make your transition to the Costa Rican culture and lifestyle much easier.
Realtors in Costa Rica tend to represent sellers in relatively limited geographical areas (at least as compared to our experiences in the USA). Despite operating in limited geographical areas, many realtors can be (a) less than completely knowledgeable about the properties they are showing you; or (b) disingenuous; and/or (c) less than forthcoming about issues associated with properties they are showing you (especially if the properties are represented by another agent).
The danger here is that you could end up purchasing a property that you only later discover has significant issues, which will not show up on an inspection report prior to closing.
In searching for a realtor in Costa Rica in general, and in the Guanacaste area particularly, I was extremely fortunate to find Michael Simons.
If the only place you have ever purchased a condo or home is in the USA, forget everything you think you know about a ‘realtor’. Michael could be described as a ‘realtor’ in the same sense as Michael Jordan could be described as a ‘basketball player’; that is, he is a superstar.
Once contacted, before my trip to Costa Rica to find a home, Michael spent countless hours trying to understand what I was searching for in finding a home in Costa Rica. Going far beyond a simple question or two about my budget and square footage requirements, he probed me for extensive information on what I was looking for.
In fact, some of the questions he asked required me to consider issues that had never occurred to me. Michael subsequently sent compilations of available properties, and in addition to asking which ones I would like to see upon my arrival, he requested that for each property I reviewed, in addition to indicating a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, he wanted to know WHY. By the time I arrived, he knew what I wanted as well or better than I did.
Upon my arrival in Costa Rica (I had already looked at opportunities in Atenas, Grecia, and the Tamarindo area), we met for breakfast. We then went to his office in Hermosa, where he basically gave me a comprehensive presentation on the history of the development of Costa Rica, the Guanacaste region, and the various areas that fit the requirements and desires I had shared with him.
By the time he was done, I felt as if I had a firm understanding of where and why I might want to select a property. It was clear to me that his knowledge of the area and properties available was superlative.
In the two days I spent with him, Michael was able to show me multiple properties, all of which fit my criteria (if not my personal taste) perfectly. Ultimately, I found a home that was ideal for me.
At that point, Michael became even more stellar. He connected me with an attorney from the second oldest law firm in Costa Rica (a real superstar as well) for the purchase of my home; a bank representative who helped me open a bank account; a second attorney to assist me with applying for residency; property managers who could assist me in getting all of my utilities set up and easily paid, as well as keep an eye on my property when I was back in the states; an insurance agent for my home; an insurance agent for my car when I purchased it; a car service for when I needed to be shuttled to and from the airport; a landscaper; and a number of other folks who were essential to my transition into Costa Rica.
When I indicate that Michael ‘connected me’ with these folks, it was not just a matter of giving me their contact information. Michael actually coordinated all of my meetings and interfaces with all of these individuals. When it came time for me to go to various agencies to accomplish the tasks necessary to get settled in my new home (e.g. obtain Costa Rican phones), Michael had his unbelievably knowledgeable and helpful administrative assistant from his office accompany me for the day to take me where I needed to go and help with translation when necessary (I speak limited Spanish). Who does that?
Michael also spent hours taking me around the area, showing me where the best restaurants and hard-to-find services could be obtained. This is actually a big deal, by the way. Things are not as straightforward in Costa Rica as they are in the states. You can take months to figure it all out on your own, or ‘just call Michael’. He always ‘knows a guy/someone’, and always makes it clear that it is never a bother to help you out.
When I returned to Costa Rica for the second time for the closing of my new home, Michael shined again. I had originally planned on arriving two days before the closing, and I emailed him asking if he could recommend a condo I could rent in town while I waited for the closing. He contacted the sellers and arranged for me to stay in my home before the closing; at no cost to me. This is completely out of my experience here in the States.
Additionally, I asked him if he could recommend a car service from the airport to pick me up when I returned to Costa Rica. He insisted on picking me up himself; even when I was delayed and did not arrive in Liberia until just before midnight. Even more remarkably, he insisted on taking me back to the airport, and picked me up at my home at 4:10 AM to do so!
Michael clearly operates on an operational philosophy that when you engage him as a realtor, you are obtaining a lifelong friend, guide, and never-ending source of information and assistance. He is highly responsive, trustworthy, and reliable. When he connects you with others in Costa Rica to provide you with the services you need, they are of equally high character and quality.
I would recommend, without exception, with enthusiasm, and with 100% confidence, that you engage Michael as your realtor and guide into the remarkable culture that is Costa Rica. If you decide to buy property in Costa Rica outside of Michael’s service area, be sure to ask him who you should work with.
Jeffrey Luftig – Boulder, Colorado
The Happiest Costa Rica Real Estate Buyer Ever… Read this to see which Realtor he raves about and which Realtor you should call today?
Article/Property ID Number 6931
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