Buyers in Costa Rica, good news: Our real estate industry is undergoing rapid and positive transformations! While our industry may not yet be as rigorously regulated as, say, the United States, in recent decades, Costa Rica has made significant strides toward transparency, professionalism, and easy access to information.

For prospective buyers, it’s reassuring to know that ethical and highly professional Costa Rica real estate agents are readily available, offering extensive qualifications to effectively represent your interests. However, before diving in, our agents offer several essential tips to consider regarding purchasing real estate in Costa Rica.

Tip #1: Investors, Think Smart Investments  

 

Typically, I recommend to all my buyers in Costa Rica that they visit first (see below!). The only notable exception is when you’re buying for investment: If you’re planning to invest in Costa Rican real estate, then it’s essential to think like an investor: What properties present the soundest investment criteria – and why?  

Many of these factors are just that: Checkboxes to check. And if you’re purchasing solely as an investment, you don’t need to visit to get a feel for lifestyle or a commute or anything but what can be quantified on paper: A desirable location. Necessary amenities. Views. Etc. etc.

Bear in mind that there are two primary approaches to consider when viewing home ownership in Costa Rica as an investment opportunity. The first involves purchasing a property that serves as both a vacation retreat for yourself and a potential future retirement destination, which can also be rented out to vacationers in the meantime; if you find yourself in this camp, then I’d recommend you visit first, as your personal impressions matter in a home that will receive at least partial personal use. 

However, if you’re investing in a property solely intended for vacation rental purposes, then rentability is more important than visiting. That said, regardless of your approach, many investment factors remain consistent: Selecting a property with strong rental potential is crucial, encompassing factors such as location and desirable amenities like a private pool, high-speed internet, and a well-equipped kitchen. 

Additionally, it’s important to find a local property manager who aligns with your standards and business objectives and is available in your area. These considerations also apply when you’re investing in a hospitality business, such as developing a commercial lot or acquiring an existing hotel, bed & breakfast, or retreat. 

Becky Clower is a dual citizen (USA & Costa Rica), and the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. After enjoying a successful career as a real estate investor in Tampa, Florida, she relocated to Costa Rica and in 2006, founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. She is also an active investor and real estate developer, with several projects currently underway.

Contact Becky

Tip #2: Everyone Else, Visit First!

 

The single most crucial piece of advice is to everyone else is to visit Costa Rica before making any purchasing decisions. Whenever feasible, avoid buying property sight unseen or in an unfamiliar destination. (As mentioned above, the only exception to this rule is if you’re buying solely for investment purposes and have no intention of visiting yourself.)

Even though you may be working with a reputable real estate company (like us!) and the most seasoned agents in Costa Rica (also us!), nothing can replace the firsthand experience of being there in person.

Keep in mind that Costa Rica is a foreign country. While aspects of a vacation may feel familiar, viewing the country through the lens of investment or future relocation reveals a different perspective. Each location, such as Tamarindo versus Playa Potrero, offers a distinct atmosphere and vibe.

Moreover, we’ve all encountered that inexplicable sense of connection to a home – the feeling that it’s meant for us. Conversely, we’ve also experienced the immediate intuition upon stepping into a property that, despite meeting all the criteria on paper, doesn’t resonate with us. In essence, it’s essential to explore potential homes in person before making any decisions.

Becky Clower is a dual citizen (USA & Costa Rica), and the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. After enjoying a successful career as a real estate investor in Tampa, Florida, she relocated to Costa Rica and in 2006, founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. She is also an active investor and real estate developer, with several projects currently underway.

Contact Becky

Tip #3: Get a GREAT Real Estate Agent

 

Admittedly, we’re biased. It’s no surprise we advocate for the necessity of an experienced real estate brokerage and consultant, right?

That said, here’s a fact: In Costa Rica, there’s no formal, required licensing process for real estate agents. Literally, anyone can pose as an agent, regardless of their understanding of real estate law, market dynamics, or property specifics. As they often say, “buyer, beware.” 

At Blue Water, we don’t just pay lip service. Our agents, many of whom come with extensive real estate backgrounds from the U.S. and beyond, are legal residents of Costa Rica. We are members of both the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors (CRGAR) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And we are seasoned experts in our regions of specialty, boasting some of the most impressive track records in the nation.  

Becky Clower is a dual citizen (USA & Costa Rica), and the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. After enjoying a successful career as a real estate investor in Tampa, Florida, she relocated to Costa Rica and in 2006, founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. She is also an active investor and real estate developer, with several projects currently underway.

Contact Becky

Learn More: 10 Tips to Hiring an Ethical & Professional Buyer’s Agent in Costa Rica

Tip #4: Work with a Single Agent

 

I highly recommend choosing a single agent and maintaining exclusivity throughout the buying process. 

Engaging with multiple agents can result in considerable confusion. Your agent will show you all available properties, regardless of where they’re listed, so partnering with just one agent ensures a cohesive approach – no explaining yourself over and over, no reviewing the same properties via different links, no accidentally double-booking appointments. Furthermore, given the intimate size of our real estate community, involving multiple agents may lead to inadvertent conflicts and encroachments on each other’s professional territories.

Furthermore, your chosen realtor will be your staunchest advocate throughout the process. While our relationship is rooted in professionalism, it’s also personal. Before we can effectively represent your interests, we must first understand your preferences and goals. Cultivating this level of rapport and understanding requires time, dedication, and mutual trust, but the payoff is invaluable. 

After Lauren Mantey abdicated her throne in Corporate America, she moved to Costa Rica, where she bought a business and entered the real estate world. Today, she’s not only one of Blue Water Properties’ most successful agents – our top agent for several years running – but she’s a perpetual client favorite, thanks to her personable approach, area knowledge, and deep expertise.

Contact Lauren

Tip #5: And Choose an Agent with LOCAL Expertise

 

Some agents represent wide swaths – sometimes, even the entire country! – for which they cannot possibly have niche or hyper-local expertise.  

Be sure to partner with a reputable local realtor who understands the market – and by that, I mean the specific market, from location to property type, where you plan to purchase – and who can guide you through the buying process while providing valuable insights into specific areas and properties. Any realtors under consideration should be, at a minimum, legal residents, members of SUGEF, our local association, CRGAR and NAR.

A native of Mt. Rainer, WA, Dawn Lane grew up and into both the real estate industry and the beach life. After launching her U.S. real estate career and starting her own brokerage, she moved to Costa Rica, where she specializes in residential & community development, high-end luxury residential, and income-producing investment properties.

Contact Dawn

Tip #6: Also Choose a Knowledgeable Real Estate Lawyer

For most buyers, Costa Rica is still a foreign country, so don’t make any assumptions regarding our laws, regulations, and procedures, which may differ from those of your home country.

In Costa Rica, real estate transactions are conducted via attorneys – and your attorney can make or break a deal, so it’s imperative to have a highly responsive attorney who has a proven track record of providing excellent service. Your real estate agent can help with this, as they’ll have an established relationship with a stellar attorney, and it’s often best to trust in this recommendation – provided you’ve hired a great, trustworthy agent – rather than try to find one on your own.

Importantly, buyers in Costa Rica are the ones who choose the attorney. This is your right! Take best advantage of it. An experienced legal advisor serves as your legal ally, ensuring that your decisions are well-informed and that your purchase remains secure.

After Lauren Mantey abdicated her throne in Corporate America, she moved to Costa Rica, where she bought a business and entered the real estate world. Today, she’s not only one of Blue Water Properties’ most successful agents – our top agent for several years running – but she’s a perpetual client favorite, thanks to her personable approach, area knowledge, and deep expertise.

Contact Lauren

Tip #7: Consider Your Lifestyle

 

A key piece of advice I always stand by: Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to the towns that align best with your needs, make it a point to visit them multiple times. 

Why? It’s essential to experience both the dry and rainy seasons firsthand. Consider renting a car (especially if you plan on purchasing one upon arrival). If your daily routine involves commuting to school or work, take some trial runs during peak traffic hours (typically, 6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.). If you require specialized medical care, make the drive to the facilities. Etcetera, etcetera. 

Take the time to get acquainted with the day-to-day of any area you’re contemplating for relocation. Only then will you be well equipped to make your buying decision.

Becky Clower is a dual citizen (USA & Costa Rica), and the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. After enjoying a successful career as a real estate investor in Tampa, Florida, she relocated to Costa Rica and in 2006, founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. She is also an active investor and real estate developer, with several projects currently underway.

Contact Becky

Tip #8: Consider Financing

 

Contrary to popular belief. there are financing options available for non-residents in Costa Rica. 

If you require financing, I highly recommend exploring the various options available for foreign buyers in Costa Rica, such as local banks, mortgage brokers, and private lenders, and choose the option that best suits your financial situation. Not sure where to start? A knowledgeable agent will be able to point you in the right direction.  

A native of Mt. Rainer, WA, Dawn Lane grew up and into both the real estate industry and the beach life. After launching her U.S. real estate career and starting her own brokerage, she moved to Costa Rica, where she specializes in residential & community development, high-end luxury residential, and income-producing investment properties.

Contact Dawn

Learn More: 4 Costa Rica Real Estate Financing Options

Tip #9: Understand the Closing Process

 

Closing costs in Costa Rica tend to exceed what you may be used to – say, in the United States or Canada. Several factors contribute to this variance, notably Costa Rica’s taxation policies. While annual property taxes are notably low, ranging from 0.25% to approximately 0.55% based on declared property value, the trade-off is higher property transfer taxes.

This is why I recommend buyers in Costa Rica thoroughly familiarize themselves with the closing process + costs, prior to purchase. This eliminates unwelcome surprises!

Becky Clower is a dual citizen (USA & Costa Rica), and the founder, CEO, and lead broker at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. After enjoying a successful career as a real estate investor in Tampa, Florida, she relocated to Costa Rica and in 2006, founded Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica. She is also an active investor and real estate developer, with several projects currently underway.

Contact Becky

Learn More: Costa Rica Closing Costs: What to Expect and How Much You’ll Pay

Tip #10: Get a Home Inspection, a Topography Report & a Building Regulations Compliance Report

 

A home inspection helps uncover any structural problems, electrical issues, plumbing faults, or other defects that may not be visible during a typical walkthrough. This is crucial in avoiding unexpected repair costs after purchase. Your home inspection also ensures that the property meets local safety standards, which is important in areas prone to heavy rainfall. 

A topography report helps you understand a building lot or homesite’s land characteristics: Costa Rica’s varied terrain can impact construction and land usability. A topography report provides detailed information about the land’s slope, elevation, and other geographical features.

A building regulations compliance report is essential to ensuring that any existing or planned structures on the property comply with local zoning laws and building codes, particularly in terms of environmental protection and land use.

These reports are critical for making an informed decision, ensuring legal compliance, and planning for any additional costs or requirements that might arise due to the physical and regulatory characteristics of the property.

A native of Mt. Rainer, WA, Dawn Lane grew up and into both the real estate industry and the beach life. After launching her U.S. real estate career and starting her own brokerage, she moved to Costa Rica, where she specializes in residential & community development, high-end luxury residential, and income-producing investment properties.

Contact Dawn

 

Get in Touch with Our Expert Buyer’s Agents

At Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, helping people like you just happens to be one of our fortes. We’re happy to help you in any way we can. We can talk about locations and costs of living, schools and lifestyle. We can refer you to residency attorneys or other sources of information, and share our own experiences and lessons learned.

As a company and as people, we thrive on relationships and promise the fastest communication and best services in the industry. And that begins with lots of information. We are happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction, even if you’re only in the beginning phases of planning your future move.

We’re proud to offer some of the best Costa Rica real estate, from condos and homes to land and businesses for sale. So, go ahead – try us. Give us a chance to show off our expertise – and wow you with the possibilities! We look forward to it.