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Chapter 6 - Finding a Property

Though Costa Rica has drawn the developed world’s attention as a great place to buy real estate, it’s still very much a developing market, which is something to keep in mind as you begin your search for a house, a condo, or a piece of property. The market is still not very efficient at finding buyers what they want. And the lack of a multiple listing service makes it hard for buyers to quickly find fair prices. That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of nice properties out there at good prices – just that they’re harder to find in Costa Rica than in developed markets like Canada and the U.S., and finding the good deals requires more than picking the low-hanging fruit in newspapers and on the Internet.

Fortunately, though there’s work to be done, the Costa Rican market is indeed becoming more sophisticated, and there are a lot more places to shop for real estate and compare prices than there used to be. A few hours on the Internet will give you at least a basic idea of what’s out there. Classified ads in local newspapers will probably give you a closer idea of fair prices, and a few strategic E-mails to the sales reps of developments that intrigue you (if you’re going that route) will help you get started checking references and doing some basic due diligence. All this without leaving your desk at home.

If you’re on a tight schedule and you know where you want to buy, you can hook up with a broker, fly in, and pound the pavement hard for a few weeks. If you don’t know the country or you want to check out places you haven’t been (but are still on a tight schedule) you could take a tour like the kind offered by Christopher Howard (Live in Costa Rica Tours,, which will show you around the different markets and introduce you to trustworthy brokers, developers, and real estate lawyers.

Another alternative are the lifestyle real estate tours offered by Costa Rica Retirement Vacation Properties ( They streamline the whole process according to your specific needs and make it easy to find a property.

In the best case scenario, however, you have a few months to poke around. In this case you’ll want to rent an apartment or house somewhere central, rent a car, and take short trips to the different markets. Talk with brokers, drop by different developments – it’s sometimes even a good idea to hire a Tico fixer who can go with you as a translator so you can stop at all the little farms with the se vende signs out front, if it’s raw property you’re after.

This chapter will function as something of a step-by-step guide to finding a property. Obviously there’s no one, single way to do this, and like everything else in Costa Rica, it’s always a good idea to plug yourself into a network of sharp people that you trust – after reading this chapter, of course.