7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Real Estate in Costa Rica

May 13, 2023 in Buying Process, Real Estate in Costa Rica, Tips for Buyers

These are 7 of the most common mistakes to avoid when buying real estate in Costa Rica, as told by our team of expert realtors Whether you’re a first time home buyer in Costa Rica or a seasoned investor, revisiting the basics and understanding these 7 common mistakes can help you save time and money. Once you’re prepared, contact our team of agents who are ready to help you find your dream piece of real estate in Costa Rica.

Mistake #1: Not doing your research about the future of where you are moving

One of the biggest disappointments for people who have moved to the new area is when things around them change and they didn’t anticipate this happening. When you look at the area you want to purchase property in Costa Rica, consider researching things like upcoming projects in the area, local amenities, rental yields, resale values, and more — basically anything that will affect your quality of life and the value of your property. Bring to mind what you want out of this property and compare this to the trajectory of the area to see if the two align.

Mistake #2: Not searching for the right property for you

Between raw land, homes, condos, and villas, there are a lot of living options to consider. Some of these are more popular than others and there are a number of factors that we can point to that make a property “hot” in our market. Many buyers keep a narrow focus on resale value when they are deciding on a property. However, if you are planning on moving to Costa Rica, we recommend that you find something that you love and will enjoy living in as well as the resale value potential. Buying a home with a pool sounds ideal to a lot of people but you may find that you prefer swimming in a river and don’t need the extra maintenance cost. Think about your needs before the market's desires — owning a property you truly enjoy will make your time in Costa Rica that much more fulfilling!

Mistake #3: Believing the listing photos to be a realistic depiction of the property

Be wary of photos of beaches in a property listing in Costa Ballena or any ocean views drone shots from high in the air. Some listers want their property to appear like it’s closer to attractions than it is in actuality. Good realtors will offer general or personalized video tours to buyers they are working with so that they can see what a property feels like from the perspective of someone walking around. This makes it easier to view properties from overseas before even booking your trip to Costa Rica (*see point 7 for more info on this).

Mistake #4: Forgetting about extreme weather conditions the property may encounter

Some areas of Costa Rica get more rain than others and those with poor drainage solutions are prone to flooding. The realtors who have worked in this region for a number of years know which properties have a history of drainage issues or soil movement due to heavy rains. A good Costa Rica realtor will be able to inform you which properties to avoid due to extreme water conditions. Owning a home in the tropics is more than a life of relaxation. The elements (sun, rain, humidity) take their toll, so it’s best to keep a keen eye on how a home is weathering to know what the future maintenance issues may be.

Mistake #5: Thinking that all tropical nations are the same

There are Costa Rica real estate seekers who come here thinking that things can be done in a certain way because they’ve been to other Central American nations. Sure, the countries that surround Costa Rica all speak Spanish and have beautiful, tropical landscapes. But it’s things like the country’s politics, lifestyle, culture, and quality of environment that differentiate Costa Rica from its tropical counterparts around the world. In Costa Rica, you will not regularly see garbage strewn around the streets and waterways, or angry and resentful locals, or military police patrolling the streets, or clashes between the government and rebel groups like you will in many other tropical nations. Look beyond the postcard experience and imagine your everyday quality of life and comfort levels and you will see that Costa Rica is a cut above the rest.

Mistake #6: Thinking that building a new home in Costa Rica is cheaper than buying an existing one

With this year’s sharp decline in real estate inventory, many more buyers are considering building their dream property in Costa Rica. All the power to them — as long as they recognize that it may actually be more expensive than buying an existing home, and it will most definitely be more stressful and time consuming. It is difficult to build homes today for the same price that you can buy an existing one in Costa Rica. Materials, fixtures, furniture, and appliances have all increased in cost by up to 35% in 2021 and supplies have become more scarce as the volume of new construction has increased. Architects, builders, and contractors are all more busy this year than they have ever been before. And as of this month, there is a new VAT being added this year of 4% onto the following relevant services: engineering, architecture, topography, and civil works construction services. Government bureaucracy and differences in labor practices can also make building your dream home a longer and more drawn-out process than many buyers anticipate. Many are still deciding to buy raw land and are enjoying the building process but we advise our clients to weigh the pros and cons.

Mistake #7: Not realizing how quickly good properties in Costa Rica are snapped up by hungry buyers

If you’ve been watching the Costa Rica property market in the last 2 years or more, you will note that there have been properties that have sat on the market for long periods of time. In the past, this didn’t mean that they were not good properties; rather, they were waiting for the right buyers to fall in love. Many properties in Costa Rica are uniquely designed, specific to the tastes of whoever commissioned the project. However, with the massive increase in interest in Costa Rica real estate, any property that hits the key points that buyers are looking for today: ocean view, acreage, pool, 3-bedrooms, and easy to access location — these types of listings are now gone in a heartbeat! If you are serious about buying property in Costa Rica and you see something you like, now is not the time to hesitate putting in an offer. Is it your dream to own property in Costa Rica? We can help answer these questions and more in further detail. Contact our team of expert realtors via the form below. 

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