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Buying a Condo in Costa Rica – how does it work?

Owning a condo in Costa Rica may seem like a luxurious dream at first, but many people find this option to be well within their reach and the perfect fit for their lifestyles. However, once the difficult decision of investing in Costa Rican real estate is made, potential investors often have no idea how to begin the process. Whether you had considered condos to be a serious real estate option for you or not, it’s important to understand the benefits of condo living and how to go about purchasing your own.

The Convenience of Condo Life

First off, many people looking to buy real estate abroad are immediately attracted by the idea of a condo. Choosing a condo over a private family home comes down to one word: convenience. Families looking to make a permanent move to Costa Rica are often attracted by the idea of the more comfortable and communal life which condos offer their residents. Having neighbors with similar lifestyles and interests can be a huge advantage when making such a move, and the added security of a condo puts a family’s mind to ease. This convenience, however, is multiplied significantly for investors searching for a vacation home, never intended to be their permanent residence. If you are considering buying a vacation spot or a second home, a condo may be the perfect opportunity for you. Costa Rica is a vacationer’s haven, with a strong tourism industry that grows every year. Using your condo as an income property, renting it to tourists while you’re away, can be an amazing opportunity for any investor. As tourism in Costa Rica becomes more and more popular, the country has experienced a sharp increase in short term property rentals. More people are looking to rent condos during their stay rather than hotel rooms. A condo building’s administration can ease this process by managing the reception of any clients, guaranteeing the security of your condo, supervising the cleaning process, and in some cases, can even help book reservations. A property such as this can be a low-risk rental and provide significant added income to the owner.

Finding Your Realtor

So you’ve decided to look into condo options in Costa Rica. The first step is to find a trusted realtor who can help you in this process. As is always true for a real estate buy, location is key. This is especially true if you intend to use this purchase as a rental property, as well-located properties can charge significantly higher rates and become a stronger asset for the owner. A trusted realtor can show you options along the beaches as well as in the cities and advise you on how each location would fit your goals, whether they be creating a permanent family home or managing a rental vacation property. Access to restaurants, shops, main roads, and tourism destinations are serious considerations when looking for your properties location, and often a realtor is needed to help analyze the options. A condominium in a beach town can cost anywhere from $40,000 to as much as $600,000, so the options are extensive.

Meet the HOA

When touring a condo, it’s important to think of more than just location and aesthetic appeal. In condo living, the Homeowners Association plays a significant role. This is the association of all condo owners. Together, they make the rules and policies for life inside their communal building. It is important to understand what is included in the Homeowners Association fee and what is not. Typically, this monthly fee should cover public area maintenance, building security, trash removal, and often water use. The fee will vary significantly depending on the building’s amenities. For example, a simple condo building will charge significantly less than one which offers pools, a golf course, and elegant communal lounges. If you are serious about buying a condo in a specific building, meeting with the Homeowners Association gives you an opportunity to ask about any rules which may affect your lifestyle or rental options.

Run a Property Inspection

Once you’ve found a beautiful condo in the right location with good administrative policies, you’ll want to have a private inspection before making an offer. Keep in mind that this inspection should be specific to the geography of your chosen location, as building material used for a beach condo must be able to withstand the effects of salt. This inspection will usually take a couple of hours with immediate results. Once your inspection is approved, you can start negotiations. Making the initial offer can be a tedious process. Rather than making a verbal offer, it will be in the best interest of your investments if you decide on an offer with your realtor, and let your realtor speak to the sellers. Eventually, both you and the sellers will agree on a selling price, a contract will be signed, and a deposit will be requested, often around 10%. The closing process may take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. During this process, your realtor will stay in contact with the sellers and manage the finalization of the sale. While it’s extremely important you visit the property in person and approve the location, the realtor will work to close the deal and you will be free to return to your home country, if needed.

Owning property in Costa Rica is 100% legal without residency or citizenship, a major draw to potential investors. Foreign purchases of condos in Costa Rica is very common and a rather easy process. You’ll enjoy extremely affordable condo prices, breathtaking location options, and amazingly low property taxes. Condo living, while considered expensive and luxurious in the United States, can be an affordable and secure option when looking for a home abroad.