I heard from a very unfortunate person who lost $10,000 trying to buy real estate in Costa Rica.

He told me he bought my ‘How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate’ book years ago but never got around to reading it. Strangely enough, he found the book again in a desk drawer after he had paid – and lost – an option agreement cash deposit of US$10,000 which he had given to his American “Realtor” who then promptly disappeared.

Would you buy real estate from an illegal immigrant?
Working illegally in your home town? Free video.

It’s believed he fled to Panama…

I detest the way our society is becoming monitored, filmed, photographed, eye scanned and fingerprinted but I do believe there are occasions when you really should verify the identity of the people you are doing business with and, buying Costa Rica real estate is certainly one of them.

Forgetting the basic, dare I say, common sense mistakes that this gentleman made, he really knew nothing about the person that was selling him the real estate. He had met him via some sort of blog and foolishly assumed that everything was OK.

He was wrong!

So getting back to our question…

Would you buy real estate from an illegal immigrant?
Working illegally in your home town?

I’m guessing that the vast majority of you would say that you would not so, please think about that carefully when you travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama or anywhere else to buy real estate.

Would it not be sensible to verify the identity of the people you are doing business with? To confirm if they are allowed to do what they do?

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If you are involved in a real estate transaction which means at some stage you will be paying a significant sum of money, then you should trust the person you are doing business with but, you should also verify who they are and whether they are legally allowed to work as a Realtor and represent you as a Realtor in a real estate transaction!

Trust but verify, right?

There are plenty of Americans working as Realtors for big name real estate franchises in Costa Rica who are NOT allowed to work in Costa Rica.

In living in Costa Rica we – expats and citizens – are asked for our cedula which is the government issued identification card, every single day doing business, presenting yourself at the bank and depending on the establishment, paying for something with a credit card in Costa Rica, it is standard operating procedure and part of our lives!

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In the image below you will see my Costa Rica ID (with my ID number and signature blurred for privacy reasons) which clearly shows that I am a ‘Residente Permanente‘ which is obvious and ‘Libre Condición‘ which means ‘free of conditions’ so I am legally allowed to work here…

Most non-Costa Rican Realtors who are working here should – I repeat – should be able to show you the exact same kind of identification as mine above.

If however you ask a Realtor for their identification and their ID says says they are Residente Temporal which is ‘temporary resident’ then your next question should be to ask them for their work permit…

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If someone is working here as a Residente Temporal they must also carry – at all times – a resolution issued by the Costa Rica immigration authorities that confirms in writing the type of work they are legally allowed to perform.

In doing this – which would take you all of 20 seconds – you would be able to confirm at the beginning of your very first meeting whether the person you are doing business with is legally allowed to work in Costa Rica.

After all, if someone is comfortable working in Costa Rica when it is illegal for them to do so, what other plans might they have – perhaps with your money – that you don’t know about?

Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore and 3. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Raíces en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?

Scott Oliver's Four Books

Scott Oliver’s Four Books.

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