Your Real Estate Team
Hiring your real estate team is the most important aspect to the home buying process. A professional, responsible team will work with you every step of the way, ensuring the process moves forward efficiently.
Your real estate team is comprised of a real estate agent, attorney, home inspector and, if you're getting financing, your mortgage broker or bank. These individuals will assist you through every step of the process, and it's important to hire a team that is trustworthy, responsive, and understands your needs.
Your first move is to request recommendations from friends, family and fellow foreigners. Look for a team with experience working with expats, as unforeseen cultural differences can create frustration during the home buying process. Keep in mind that Costa Rica has no real estate agent licensing board or association of home inspectors, so recommendations are your best guide to finding responsible professionals.
Even if you're fluent in Spanish, real estate and legal jargon can be confusing. Hire professionals who are bilingual in Spanish and your native language in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Before you hire, make contact with each professional several times, and take note how long it takes to receive a response. Phone messages should be returned within one business day, and emails within two business days. You'll want your team to meet deadlines and be prompt for meetings.
Your real estate agent must be an expert in the local market, while your attorney should have enough experience to understand a neighborhood's unique conditions. For example, your lawyer should know whether recent laws have made construction permits more difficult to obtain.
You want to hire the most competent team possible. An experienced professional maintains his or her business over time by providing quality services. In the absence of real estate licenses and professional associations, experience will be an important factor to consider.
A proposed law, the "Regulation of Real Estate Contracts and Real Estate Agents,” is currently being evaluated by the Costa Rican legislature. Among the proposed changes is a provision to require all real estate agents to register with a recognized real estate association, the Department of Revenue, and to be bonded. The law would also enact real estate escrow laws, setting regulations regarding escrow funds, which are not common practice in Costa Rica.