Land Reform and Democracy in Costa Rica

In 1838, Costa Ricans obtained “the right to own private property” or as it’s listed in their Constitution under Artículo 21, Derecho a la Propiedad Privada. One of the things I enjoy about being the parent of a 13-year old is discovering new things. It’s like being in the 7th grade all over again except … Read more

Cars in Costa Rica

Cars in Costa Rica

When we foreigners first hear about the amazingly high tax rate on cars, we are shocked and wonder at how can that be? This is lunacy! There must be some way around it.

First off: there is no way around it, and as for the lunacy part, perhaps. But there is a rather twisted sort of logic that I’ll go into later that may help to explain this.

What kind of car to own? Observations and suggestions.

Poll #1 Results – Top Reasons To Buy Property In The Zone

I was excited to find the Poll functionality on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. The question I came up with “What is the top reason to buy land in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone?” seemed like a good jumping off point for this regular feature on the blog. Although the sample size was small, … Read more

Costa Rica Real Estate Closing Costs

“Four percent of the sale price on top of your commission?!” exclaimed our client, a long time resident in The Zone. (In keeping with an old Guys’ tradition, I’ll refer to him as Mr. Zellbren throughout this article.) Ben and I first explained that we are currently dealing with a severely down market (approximately 50% off the peak value of three years ago) and an excellent time to wait for the market to rebound. Mr. Zellbren wasn’t interested in waiting, so we continued to explain the standard closing costs of a Costa Rica real estate deal. Some of the data he was familiar with; some of the finer points had to be clarified.

Traditional Closing Costs

Closing costs, when you add up the transfer tax, stamps, and legal fees, usually equate to approximately 4% of the sale price. Mr. Zellbren told us he would accept a $550,000 offer for his house equaling $22,000 in closing costs. In 99% of the deals we are part of, Buyers and Sellers split closing costs 50-50. It’s what we do here in Costa Rica. Additional costs—re-surveys, title insurance, new corporations—are typically paid by the Buyer.

Interestingly, there are a variety of stamps required to transfer a property in Costa Rica. They are– the Legal Bar Association Stamp (Timbre del Colegio de Abogados), the Municipal Stamp (Timbre Municipal), the Fiscal Stamp (Especie Fiscal), the National Archives Stamp (Timbe del Archivo Nacional) and the Agriculture Stamp (Timbre Agrario). Like everything else, your lawyer will take care of the licking and sticking of these stamps, which equate to roughly .05% of the sale price.

Legal fees, also known as notary fees here in Costa Rica, are calculated at 1.5% of the sale price. This is what is paid to the lawyer/notary for setting up the Sales and Purchase Agreement, as well as, researching and filing all of the necessary documents in the sale. These standard legal fees do not include any additional legal work (e.g., a new corporations, establishing an easement, etc.). One last point regarding lawyers that I would like to add is… you often get what you pay for.

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What People Are Buying In Costa Rica

Who needs a pool when you have a river?

It’s one of the most popular questions we, the Guys In The Zone, field— “What’s been selling? We get this question from both buyers and sellers. Generally speaking, the answer is— great deals.


Price is the #1 determining factor for a great deal, but there is another factor that is equally important— the living experience. Ben, my business partner in Costa Rica real estate, phrases it this way, “do any unique features of the property significantly affect the quality of the living experience?”

Who needs a pool when you have a river?
This gorgeous natural swimming hole sits below one of the nicer homes in Uvita.

There are very few remaining places on the planet where things are (1) inexpensive and (2) incredible.  During the boom years of 2004-2008, Costa Rica real estate was inexpensive and incredible.  Large farms were purchased $1.00/meter squared and nice ocean view lots were under $100,000.

Three years after the peak of 2008, property values across the border came down between 40-50%.  Many houses are now selling for replacement cost or less.  Once again, we have large farms for $1.00/m2.  The obvious reason was the global economic downturn and continual 10:1 ratio of sellers to buyers.  Basic economics tells us that price, or in this case property value, had to come down.  Our listing database is now filled with good properties in every category—houses, land, large parcels and commercial.


For most people, buying real estate in Costa Rica isn’t just about getting a great deal.  You can move to Orlando, Florida if that is your only goal.  It is about the unique features that significantly enrich the living experience.  When Ben and I get a new land or house listing that has an ocean view and a trail to a nearby river…

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Why Canadians LOVE Costa Rica!

A few years ago, when I moved down to Costa Rica full time, I realized there are a lot of Canadians visiting (102,471 in 2009*) and living the area. One of the main reason Canadians (virtually all nationalities for that matter) visit, buy land, and in some cases, relocate to Costa Rica is

Did Taxes & Tourism Blow Costa Rica Real Estate Out?

Costa Rica Real Estate Listings

I just received an e-mail from a reader that shamed me into sitting right down and writing.

I have read your face book page and articles on the tax issue there.

I had been planning to take a trip in March in the hopes to travel to Domincal and Uvita nd look at some land that over looks (has view of) the playa. But with all this discussion of election and no tourism and the tricky tax factor it sort of puts a damper on it.  Was this a major blow to the real estate and tourism market, and did it blow you out?

I’m sorry but I’m not aware of the negative effect that the election could have on a land purchase in Costa Rica so I’m not able to address that.

As for tourism – well now that’s an interesting topic.

Tourism has been as hot here over this last holiday season as I have ever seen.  With the new road from Dominical to Quepos, I think that we’re really in for it here.  I understand that the status of tourism is currently anybody’s guess.  Around here it feels like we are in a growth mode. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of media recently and I don’t have a TV, so as a news source I’m limited to what I see and feel.

Over the holidays Uvita was caught by surprise.  The grocery shelves were bare and we spoke with people everyday looking for a place to stay.  I think that everyone found a bed and it felt like one big party around here. I think that it is notable that the beer supply seemed to hold despite what appeared to be a gargantuan demand.

Although the crowds have left, the festive feel continues with a good strong tourist presence.  So, without reading an article to the contrary, I’d say that tourism is alive and well in Uvita and Dominical Costa Rica, and that the prospects for the future are bright, especially with the two new segments of road making the drive from San Jose to Dominical a 2 hour and 40 minute affair now, instead of the former 4+ hours and some of that on teeth loosening dirt roads.

I have not seen an article written from your blog or website in February on your website so I want to know if you are still in business down there?

Well, I thank you for getting me off of my butt to get this article posted.  I sure don’t want to give the impression that we’re out of business.  Our lack of posting is a testament to our being busy.  Rod and I have been doing quite a bit of real estate business.  We’ve done some deals, and more are coming our way.  All of the agencies are reporting the same, some with best ever numbers – (I heard this last part through a third party, but I hope to confirm it shortly.)

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