The following was a quote from an article on an AOL page that is no longer active.
“Living in Costa Rica” Web page:
“Do I need a realtor? Some of the nightmares that have happened, (and the government is taking steps to correct), are disputes over property titles and squatters. A previous owner has up to 10 years to make a claim on their property, if it had not been sold and recorded properly. (This is where a real estate company with a good team of research lawyers who know all of the peculiarities of local title searches, can save this headache from happening).”
Squatters are basically homeless people, who have to right to move onto someone’s land, build shacks, and can legally remain there IF they can prove that they have been in that place for over 3 months. This is why landowners in remote locations will hire caretakers to live on the property, or lawyers to periodically check, to keep squatters away while the owners are absent.
Other reasons for using a real estate professional include the advantage of having a third party to keep the transaction honest, (just in case one of the parties isn’t). If you give the deposit or ‘earnest money’ to the seller or seller’s attorney, it is possible that you may not get any of that money back, should the deal fall through for any reason.
Zoning restrictions are another thing that a good realtor will alert you about. Because of the two-tier tax system, your realtor or lawyer can advise you how you can legally save money on fees and taxes during the closing process.
A seller may not want to work with a realtor if they are trying to take advantage of a buyer, – not wanting to risk having a conscientious realtor ‘blow the whistle.’ “