Feb 212018
Buy a property in Costa Rica for a vacation rental

Below is a copy and paste from an e-mail inquiry regarding buying a property for the purpose of investment initially. It needs to be an existing rental property that the buyers intend to move to and live in at a future time. They need for the property to, at the very least, cover its expenses during the time they own it prior to moving to Costa Rica. This is a good example of a rather typical scenario here for a buyer’s criteria.

Thanks for writing. I’ve interspersed my comments below.

Hi Ben, my name is Meltown Bradwinkle (name changed). I found your blog and have really enjoyed the articles I have read so far, thank you!

​Thank you for the encouraging comments.​

The reason for my email is to ask you for your opinion of the purchase of a home in the Dominical to Uvita area, whether or not the right home can show a good enough ROI to carry the debt against it.

Short answer: yes.​

My wife, Melvania, and her family are from Costa Rica. My wife and I currently live in [US State] with our 3 kids, but plan on retiring to Costa Rica in 10-15 years. In the meantime we come down once or twice a year to visit family and vacation in your area. We have visited most parts of the country, but keep coming back to the southern pacific coast, where the jungle/mountains meet the sea! The blog post of yours I just read talks about the “low” season, and I agree completely with the theme of your piece. We were just there this past September and spent a wonderful couple of hours in the middle of the day having lunch, beers, and watching the downpour, beautiful!

Meltown, you sound well suited to your intention. There is a learning curve to investing in Costa Rica. Your comments indicate that you have already traversed a good bit of the curve and have a rational basis for your interest in this area of Costa Rica. 10-15 years allows for a lot of possible movement, up or down, from the conditions that you buy in now. The indicators right now are that we are heading into a time of property values increasing. I know that you’re asking about rental ROI and I’ll get to that in a minute. Initially I’ll address…

Property values:
Having endured the toilet flush of values in 2008 we have seen how dramatically the market can move. We are currently in a time of stasis. There hasn’t been much movement price-wise since the recession, but I would characterize the conditions as follows.

During the recession there was essentially no market for real estate in our area of Costa Rica, and perhaps in the whole country. There were a few anomalous sales that happened, but they stood in stark contrast with the reality of the the sleeping market.

Then, we passed through a time of buyers showing up and us realtors were in a bewildered state of “a buyer???” Our inventory had been languishing for several years and now we had buyers. The sellers were wondering if they would ever be able to sell their Costa Rica property(ies). We passed through the “fire sale” phase where these dejected sellers would take 40 – 60 cents on their dollars to move their property.

The fire sales are now gone. But the asking prices have not gone up. Well, maybe a little now and if so, more so with houses than raw land. Houses in the $300k – $500k range are the bread basket of our market and if they are reasonably designed and have an ocean view, they sell rather quickly. When I say “quickly” I mean by Costa Rican standards.

I just had a couple of clients that came to Costa Rica, bought a small hotel and a riverside residential piece for the future. They put these properties under contract knowing that they had to sell their home in San Francisco prior to closing. The market in SF is such that an immediate sale was expected. When they didn’t get an offer on the first day of the listing going public they panicked. It took 3 days to sell and they were a little disappointed that they only got $100k over asking price.

Costa Rica is not this way. The norm here is that the property will sit on the market for a few months at least, and then there are negotiations of roughly (and this varies) 10%.

As for raw land – lots that have ocean views and services & access in place, there was a glut. This is slowly changing to where we realtors are now having the occasional request that challenges our ability to come up with some options. But overall there are still a good selection of lots available.

The message of all this is that the prices are good for buying but they are firmer than they were as the market establishes it’s equilibrium.

Sorry rambling on a bit. I have equity in assets of my business, and am contemplating using that equity to purchase the “right” home in the area. But it will be borrowed money, so I don’t want to jeopardize my business related assets, hence the need for the property to carry itself. Is this realistic or just a dream? I have researched the property rental business in the area, but it has been impossible for me to come up with good hard numbers, occupancy rates being the most critical, and what is the right price point for a specific property to rent for weekly.

I’m inclined to respond to your inquiry about a financed property’s ability to cover its own costs in the positive – but of course, with caveats.

About Rentals:
Rentals in this area are strong. The area is growing in its prestige as a global vacation destination of choice. There are not a lot of hotels here and just the nature of tourism here leans towards the “destination” accommodation instead of the “bed” accommodation. By this I mean that visitors to the area seem to prefer having a multi-bedroom home, complete with kitchen and amenities that make the rental where they are staying a part of the stay. A pool is important. They may spend a day or days just hanging around the home.

Vacation rentals offer some enticing numbers. You’ve probably done a search on VRBO for the Dominical area. The homes here get a good penny for a weeks stay.

I think that long term rentals are the sleeper rental opportunity here. Most buyers are romanced by the high vacation rental numbers but fail to calculate the end-of-the-year numbers.

Comparison of short and long term renting:
Short term: your per-week price is considerably higher. Your maintenance and marketing costs are also higher, as is the hassle-factor. Your occupancy is lower.

Let’s say that you get $2,000 per week for your vacation rental home. To calculate a monthly on the same property, you’d end up somewhere close to the weekly. Let’s say $2,400 per month. Now calculate the costs associated with having the occupants change every week or 10 days – laundry, cleaning, re-stocking, administrative etc…

Occupancy rates vary depending on the property and the owners ability to market the property. I use the following and won’t argue with anyone that comes along with different numbers. This is just my take.

First year short term, shoot for 35%. The next couple of years your objective is 50%. Some reach 60% and higher with an exceptional property and exceptional marketing and probably years of history.

​Long term, you’re looking at 100% occupancy and the costs are very reduced when compared to the short term.

Take the above scenario as a loose guide only. Look at what your money costs you, your level of investment, and what you need in order to have the property cover itself.

There are times of the year when there aren’t enough beds in the area to accommodate the demand, and there are times of the year when there unoccupied beds.

Any input and guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Meltown Bradwinkle

Thanks for reaching out to me. I appreciate the confidence and I hope this helps.

I may post an edited version of this e-mail to my blog as I think that you address concerns that many others have as well.

Please keep me in the loop as I’d love to know what you decide to do and how it turns out. And of course, if I can be of assistance with your real estate concerns, I’m available.

The above e-mail was written in January of 2016. Many of the statements regarding current property values have proven to be accurate and what I like to call a rational market prevails. Also, my estimates on occupancy percentages remain as stated.

Nov 232016
Whales Tail view property Uvita

What a glorious rainy season it has been. After a few years of lighter than
normal rains, we’re having a season now that fits the descriptions old-timers here give to what rainy season “used to be like”. Rains starting in the early to mid-afternoon. Going into, and perhaps through, the night. Partly cloudy but clearing glorious mornings with Costa Rica’s plethora of wildlife providing the background symphony for the morning’s coffee. Ahhh!

Whales Tail view property Uvita

The Whales Tail View from Bella Vista #5.

OK, enough of that life enjoyment stuff. Let’s get to business. By my reckoning, the high-season started 2 days ago (Monday, the 7th of November, 2016). I have been enjoying the typically slower time of September and October here in The Zone. Not nearly as many visitors here, glorious weather (a well kept secret is the rainy-season here in Costa Rica) and the demand on us real estate agents gets a bit lighter during these months as well.

Monday, this changed as though someone had thrown a switch. Numerous e-mail inquiries coming in regarding various properties, sellers wanting to list their properties and buyers that are here wanting to see properties.  So for those who are wondering when the high-season begins here in Costa Rica’s southern pacific zone, it is during November. And if this year is any kind of determining factor – early November.

I mentioned in a previous post that we are doing a countdown on the number of under-$100k ocean view properties. There are still some left, but they are getting mopped up at a rather quick pace.

Somehow, amidst all the business that is going on, there are a couple of ocean-view properties that are priced below market value – that haven’t yet sold. These have been topics for repeated discussion between myself, as the listing agent, and both buyers and agents from other agencies, in recent days.

One of the properties is located here in Uvita and has a wonderful Whale’s Tail view as well as a soul-touching mountain range view that is frequently shrouded in tropical mists. It is essentially a 270° sweep from the ocean to the mountains behind.

The other is located in an area south of Uvita that is called Ballena, which is Spanish for whale. Ballena is an area where the coastal mountain range comes down to very near the beach. So the ocean views in the Ballena area are frequently quite nice.

Whales Tail vew property in Uvita

Panorama of Bella Vista 5, the primary building site. The ocean is off to the right and also the lower building site.

Bella Vista #5
The first one is lot #5 in a development called Bella Vista (I fear using the term “development” due to the mental image it conjures up from other countries. This is “development” Costa Rica style. Large, private parcels tucked into the jungle and that look out at the ocean.) All of the properties in this development have sold over the past 10 or so years. This is a re-sale. As mentioned, it features a sweeping ocean to mountain view. It has a primary building site and a separate smaller building site for a guest house. The seller paid considerably higher than his asking price of $88,000. And in fact, he has recently lowered the price from $119,000 (also lower than he paid) to move it.

Why this one is on the market still is a mystery. I had a real estate agent from another agency call me this morning. He has an inquiry on the property. He asked me why it is so darn cheap. “Is there something wrong with it?” he asked. “Nope. Nothing wrong with it, and a lot right with it.”

I wonder if the price can actually be too low. Maybe the prospective buyer is thinking that there must be something wrong with it that’s not being disclosed. Relative to comparable properties on the market, this one is lower than it should be. In fact, I told the seller this when he told me to lower the price. He stuck to his guns and said that he’s got other interests in his home-land and he’s ready to sell.

Roca Ballena View

View of the Roca Ballena from this property located between Uvita and Ojochal

The view out to the Roca Ballena

As for the Ballena property, it is in a great location and looks right out at Roca Ballena. It also has lots of usable rolling land where several other cabinas can be built. The asking price on this one is $83,000.

Here’s the data on both properties:

Bella Vista #5

  • Price: $88,000
  • 8,125 sq. mtrs (just over 2 acres)
  • water & electric
  • ocean, Whales Tail & mountain views
  • 4WD access
  • located about 7-8 minutes from Uvita’s core
  • Annual road fees: $450.00
  • Annual water fees: $520.00 in 2017
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value

Expenses to get the property ready to build: There is no tractor work done on the primary building site. The entry drive will need to be cut in. This is not extensive work. The area for the drive is already cleared so it is just a matter of some tractoring and bringing in material. I’d say around 40 meters in length or less.

There may be some tractor work necessary to flatten the primary building area. I say “may” because of the various building methods that don’t require a flat building site.  The natural lay of the land is flat-ish already. The smaller building site is ready to build. Overall, very little tractor work necessary.

The water is to the property so there will be whatever the pipe costs to run the short distance to hook it up. The electric is about 200 meters away and will need to be run underground to the property. This is a slightly higher than normal expense for hooking up electricity, but not prohibitively so.

The Ballena Property:

  • $83,000
  • 4,525 sq. mtrs (just over one acre)
  • electric (water explained below)
  • ocean, Roca Ballena & jungle views
  • 2WD access
  • the rolling areas apart from the primary building site have no ocean view. But, they are in a nicely shaded and accessible area.
  • located about 10 minutes from Uvita and 12ish minutes to Ojochal
  • Annual road fees: as needed. The community pitches in. This fee is low on this property.
  • Taxes: .25% of property’s declared value, same as any other in Costa Rica

There is no tractor work necessary for the building pad. There will be a very little bit needed for the entry, mainly to put in a cement tube (culvert) that passes under the drive alongside the road. This may be done by hand.

If the large area between the primary building area and the creek is to be developed with additional cabinas, this will require additional tractor work.

There is a creek that runs by the property. There is also a spring. There is no community water (ASADA) in this area so a concession is needed for water from the creek & spring. The cost of such a concession is $1,000-$1,200 at this  writing. The labor and materials to set up the water system: catchment, pump and pipes, will probably be less than $2,000.

The electricity runs right by the property so the hookup is standard.

This article was inspired by my conversation with another real estate agent this morning. He said “Ben, it seems to me that these properties are priced quite a bit lower than they should be”. Indeed. So, I thought I’d share.


Sep 062014
Uvita Costa Rica Walk-to-the-Beach development Villa Del Sol

Video done by Chuck Chastain of Aerial Media

Typically the type of property that I have sold over my years in Costa Rica real estate have been multi-acre, ocean view properties. These have been sold to hardy individuals that have deemed themselves up to the task of taming these jungle laden acres to their will – and then keep them that way.

There is a new trend popping up in various areas around The Zone that the term “urbanization” aptly describes. These are boulevards & lanes lined with single family home lots. The developer provides the services: water, electric and the road. The lots are 200 to 1,000 meters in size (1 acre = 4,000 mtrs). These bring to mind a common suburban residential area in other areas of the world.

These new developments to the area have made the thought of, and the ability to, buy a property in Costa Rica and in particular The Zone, a reality for a new breed of property buyer, not to mention the investors whose left eyebrow goes up when the concept is presented.

I was approached a couple of years ago by an investor who had a question. He was looking to pick my all-knowing Costa Rica realtor brain (OK, he was going around talking with various realtors.) He had purchased a large property just south of Uvita. Uvita was growing faster than any other growth that I have seen in my one-half-century-plus life. At that time we had 3 banks, 3 pharmacies, 2 Internet cafes, doctors, a dentist and numerous auto mechanics in Uvita. This was all just a few short years from a time when just getting to Uvita was a dubious bet. The growth was truly explosive.

When he bought, it seemed that there was no end in site. Uvita was a robust real estate market and the concept was blue-chip through and through. There would be a residential community behind a commercial center that fronted the coastal highway and – here’s the biggie – you can walk to the beach. It is located on the ocean side of the highway which made the blue of the blue-chip concept quite royal.

Then, 2008 happened. Someone turned off the lights on the world economy. The recession shut down the market so completely here that sellers who had repeatedly lowered their pricing were told: “you can lower your price to $5.00. It won’t matter. There simply are no buyers”.

This resourceful developer asked me what I thought about an urbanization idea. A walk to the beach neighborhood, complete with sidewalks and nice landscaping. The utilities are all underground and the lots themselves will be in the 500ish meter size range.

My response to him was “Michael, this has never been done here before, so we have to guess. My guess is that it will work, but it is just a guess.” To me the concept was akin to the early investors that bought land here in the area – I like to refer to them as The Mavericks – they bought land here in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific zone at a time when there was no rational reason to do so. It was so rustic and jungly that it required genuine “visionary” status to make a buying decision.

The Mavericks saw some insane returns on their decision. Turn a dollar into $120 and you’ll get an idea of the early days in the Costa Rica real estate market around these parts.

The spread for this 2nd tier investor is nothing like that. He is setting out to get his initial investment back and so with the bar set low, he has set out with an untried concept and voila! We have a neighborhood project just on the south side of Uvita where you can buy a lot for $40,000 and by the time all is said and done, you’ve got $200,000 into a beautiful home in a nice area with that oh-so-desirable walk to the beach component that so many are looking for.

Villa del Sol: 5 have sold so far. There is a lovely model home done and 1 house broke ground yesterday. I understand that one of the other sold lots is going to start construction soon.

Funny thing about this concept – others have had it as well. I am currently aware of at least 3 other such projects in the Uvita area. Two of which are being developed by Ticos (Costa Ricans) and one other by a US developer who has previously had some success with luxury homes. It appears that it is an idea whose time has come.

I can’t speak much about the other projects yet. I ran into one of the Tico developers the other day and asked him how his project is going. He has sold 15 lots in the $12,500 range. They are half the size of Villa Del Sol lots and the electrical wires are above ground, which is an important point. The net result, to my way of thinking, is that these won’t appeal to foreign tastes and will mostly sell to locals but… we’ll see. I assume that the US developer will go underground with his. I’ll post more as I get the data.


Jul 122012

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s beyond obvious, Mr. Guy In The Zone.” For those who tune into this blog on a regular basis, I agree… BUT, did you know that the search term “Where Is Costa Rica” gets over 13 million global monthly Internet searches? Two things came to mind when I saw this statistic—

  1. The Pura Vida Buzz, a phenomenon I will expand upon below
  2. Rising Interest in Vacation and Retirement

Searching for Costa Rica…?

The Pura Vida Buzz — The last time I asked the question “Where is Costa Rica?” I was waaaaay back in college.  My roommates were surfers, and they mentioned Costa Rica as a possible surf destination.   Search engines weren’t as populated with information in the early-90s, but there were a few travel books in the local bookstore.  The thing I remember jumping out at me was the color green.  Whether it was the frogs, the jungle, or the aerial views… Continue reading »

Jun 242012

Yes, we moved… from our office in Uvita to a new, larger space in Ballena, just a quick drive down the Costanera Highway. Ballena and Uvita are both home to the Marino Ballena National Park, an area that is vibrant with wildlife, as well as, electric green and blue hues.

Ballena is only 7 kilometers south of Uvita, at kilometer marker 169. Our new office is in the same building with the used clothing and furniture boutique Adorable and the Roadhouse 169, the hottest new restaurant and bar along the Costa Ballena. If you want to find us on a Google Earth map enter: 9° 7’23.84″N by 83°42’4.88″W.


Courtesy of JP Cudahy, Aerial Photog

Why did we move?

The landscape of Costa Rica real estate continues to evolve.  As wonderful as a prime location with big windows sounds, 99.9% of buyers do not window shop and buy.  In fact, plunking down $100,000 for an ocean view lot while on vacation (a phenomenon that was a frequent occurrence as recently as five years ago) is more rare than a Resplendent Quetzal at the beach.  The three primary ways potential buyers contact us are–

  1. Google “Costa Rica real estate” or “Dominical (or Uvita) houses for sale”, or some version thereof, and find this blog or our listing website.
  2. They view one of our property videos or Talk Shows on our You Tube channel.
  3. Visit Dominical.biz while planning their vacation Dominical and areas south like Uvita.

If you need to sell your property here on the Costa Ballena, please contact us by phone at 011-506-2786-5407 or email us at info@guysinthezone.com.  If you want a little more information on the best way to list your property, including our new Modified Exclusive program, please watch this video.

For those sellers who are already taking advantage of this service, do not worry.  We are in constant contact with the other agents in the area.  They are aware of your Modified Exclusive Listing. In fact, I am showing three of these exclusive properties today!

KM 169

If you follow the kilometer markers south out of Uvita, you will quickly arrive at km 169.  The building (pictured above) is just before the turn for the Crystal Ballena Resort; on the right (or beach) side of the highway.  So… come on down, grab a beer from the bar, and let’s talk real estate.


See you soon!

May 292012

About a year ago, my business partner Ben, with his unique perspective on Costa Rica real estate, wrote about the changes with “escrow accounts” in his blog article- Wire Transfers, Escrow & An Investment Idea. He explained,

For years we have used a rather casual system here in Costa Rica by which lots of land was bought & sold. Buyers generally put 10% of the purchase price of a piece of property into escrow while we real estate guys and the lawyers went about being duly diligent making sure that the property was what it claimed to be. That money was put into what we called an “escrow” account.

signing costa rica-real estate contract

Escrow makes closing easier.

Well, as it turns out, those escrow accounts were anything but actual escrow accounts.  They were simply the attorney’s business bank account and he held the money pending the closing when he would then disburse the funds.

The process of buying a house or land in Costa Rica did include fewer steps, although I’m not sure it was necessarily a clearer or safer process for buyers and sellers.  Although we haven’t experienced any issue in our office, we have heard a few stories of deposits not being returned due to defects in the title or terms of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.  That is not the case now, as everything is clearly explained in the legal documents for a deal.

Escrow Companies In The Zone

Last week, we was visited by two lovely ladies from Stewart Title Company.  Even though our companies haven’t worked together (yet), they wanted to drop off their business card and a one sheet on “How To Open An Escrow Account”.  They went through it line by line and the words “Blog article!  Blog article!” kept echoing in my head.  It’s the life of a writer who also happens to be a Costa Rica real estate professional.

Ok, so you find your dream property in Costa Rica and negotiate a good price.  Your lawyer drafts up a Purchase and Sale Agreement, and all of the terms (including the escrow information) are contained therein.  Usually, your lawyer will recommend an escrow company he or she has worked with successfully.

These representatives typically speak English, and here’s what your escrow agent is required to ask for—

  • Two Forms of Identification (think- passport number and driver’s license)
  • Escrow Agreement (Stewart Title said it was 6 pages and basically summarizes terms of the deal)
  • KYC (Know Your Customer) Form (applies to individual shareholders of acquiring corporation with at least 10% of the shares)
  • Proof of Income (Tax Returns, W2 Form, CPA Letter, etc.)

The last one, Proof of Income, often raises the eyebrows of prospective buyers, but escrow companies have to ask for it since the Bank Secrecy Act was tightened when the Patriot Act was passed.  The IRS and other government agencies just want to make sure people are not laundering money in a foreign country like Costa Rica.  Simply put, banks in Costa Rica now require a legal document for private transfers of large amounts of money.  They will not release the funds to the seller if it is not provided.

There are still instances when property transactions and large amounts of money are kept out of the banks, but understandably most people don’t feel comfortable living with a stack of money in their house (even in a safe,) and I don’t blame them.

Depositing Monies In Earnest

Most sellers require a minimum of 10% of the purchase price to be held in escrow.  This is the earnest deposit.  This deposit is sent to the recently opened escrow account and tied to the terms in the contract.  If there is an issue that wasn’t disclosed or degrades the property in a significant way, the buyer can elect to cancel the deal and have their deposit returned.  Other common “terms “ that can result in a seller requesting their deposit back are—

  • Title- Issues can include improper registration in the National Registry (Registro Nacional), clouded ownership, probate, etc.
  • Property Size- Normally, contracts stipulate that “the size (in square meters) of X property will not differ more than 3% from register survey; however, I have never experienced a deal that did not close because of this issue.
  • Liens/Encumberances- Restrictions on the title/property that can be financial, environmental, or legal.

The vast majority of times, a good lawyer will uncover some aspect of the property (referenced above) that requires clarification and/or fixing.  In rare cases when there is no solution to the problem during due diligence, the buyer is able to request their deposit be returned.  Escrow isn’t the most exciting aspect of buying Costa Rica real estate, but it is important and it does work to the benefit of sincere parties.  Pura vida.

Easements… Made Easy!

 Posted by on May 19, 2012  For Buyers  2 Responses »
May 192012
Legal right of access in Costa Rica real estate

The fact that you are reading this article means you are interested in purchasing or selling a piece of Costa Rica real estate.

For buyers, let me first lead you through a visualization to help attract the perfect property… You drive up a well-maintained gravel road and turn onto a large, flat building area… A cool ocean breeze is blowing as you step out of the car… the 180 degree view stretches from emerald mountains to a wide and tranquil blue horizon. After days (dare I say years) of searching, you’ve finally found it!

Servidumbre de paso in Costa Rica real estate

Servidumbre de Paso in Costa Rica.

The next step is getting into the details.  The property boundaries are clearly defined for you using the registered survey (el plano catastrado).  Upon closer inspection, you see a squiggly line labeled servidumbre is running inside the boundary.  What is that squiggly line, and is it even important?

In Costa Rica, a servidumbre refers to an easement.  It provides a legal right for the owner or owners of a property touched by the easement.  Without getting too technical, the “dominant” property is encumbered and the “servant” property is improved by the easement.  Even if the dominant property is subdivided and sold to new owners, the new properties created will carry the legal title of the servidumbre.

There are instances when an easement is not labeled on the plano, but (if done correctly) they are registered as a “lien” on the title.

Types of Servidumbres

Servidumbres provide value for property in the ever-growing and changing landscape of Costa Rican real estate. They come in a variety of distinctions and protect a variety of interests—

  • Access to a property, often through another property  (Servidumbre de Paso)
  • Water, the right to use a water source and/or maintain water lines (Servidumbre del Acueducto)
  • Environmental, like extracting road material like rock/stone (Servidumbres de extracción de materials)
  • The View, often important with ocean view property (Servidumbre de Vista)

Protecting “The View”

View easements have played a part in a few deals in the past.  Our friend Eduardo Abarca Vargas, who happens to be an excellent lawyer in Uvita, helped me understand the details of this important property detail.

There are a couple of ways to legally describe view easements.  The first is a description based on the numbered boundary points on the plano . (see illustration)  The description (always in Spanish) could read ¨the easement will affect the area of the property within the boundary point 1 and 3 of the property.¨

The second method is when a certified survey crew uses GPS coordinates (lat./long. and elevation).  Based on that data, the maximum height of buildings, trees, towers, etc. on the property below are stated in meters.  Eduardo explains, “One of the most important items is to state the direction the view will be protected, for instance, the easement will protect the view towards the ocean.”

Costa Rica real estate sample plano with easements

What is a Servidumbre de Agricola?

These Legal Teeth Are Sharp

That’s one of the best things about servidumbres; they have legal significance that cannot be separated from the estate or piece of land to which they are registered.  We know of a few cases where a property owner has tried to prevent access along a servidumbre de paso by putting up a gate.  Thanks to the easement, a judge ordered him to take it down under the supervision of the police.  Legal costs aside, there is no cost to having a servidumbre other than paying for any work associated with enjoying the easement (e.g., road or water system maintenance).

Normally, easements are granted into perpetuity and remain unchanged when the property is transferred to new buyers.  There are only a few ways an easement can be dissolved:

  • The owner of the dominant estate acquires ownership of the servant estate or vice versa.
  • Waiver from the dominant estate holder, although such waivers have to be reviewed by a judge.
  • No use. Typically, it takes between 10 and 20 consecutive years of non-use to dissolve an easement.

New servidumbres can be registered, but they require the written agreement of all of the owners of a property.   This can be challenging when dealing with a large family farm, but not impossible.

Due Diligence

As I mentioned, easements can be found on the registered property survey and in the title, recorded as a “lien”.  They are discovered during the due diligence phase of buying your property.  Click here to read more on the stages of buying Costa Rica real estate.

I may sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress the importance of a good lawyer enough.  If you want to ensure your dream property doesn’t have any “surprises” get a good one with years of experience with property transactions.  Our legal associate Eduardo has uncovered many interesting easement issues for our clients over the past four+ years.  Feel free to contact him directly at: edabarca@racsa.co.cr or (011) 506-2743-8345.

It wasn’t the most entertaining subject to write about, but it’s an important one to consider before buying a piece of Costa Rica real estate.

May 162012

Has the Costa Rica real estate market hit the bottom? As realtors in Costa Rica we frequently get asked this question, so we decided to share our thoughts on why there are signs pointing toward a positive answer. Regardless of what we think, more and more people are retiring, relocating, and investing in Costa Rica real estate. Thanks for watching and if you have a minute, please comment in the section below and “Like” this video on YouTube. The “Like” helps us reach more people interested in buying and selling Costa Rica real estate.


Interested in Costa Rica real estate as an investment. They primarily live somewhere else, but they own property in Costa Rica for the asset appreciation potential as well as possible rental income. Some just buy and hold (land-bank). For developed properties, the investor has a vacation home to visit as desired.

Migrators spend a regular amount of time in Costa Rica during each year.

Re-locators are those that are looking to move to Costa Rica from wherever they are. They will live full-time in Costa Rica.