Real Estate Update

Real Estate Made Easy With Guide

By Adam Williams - Tico Times Staff

Costa Rica Real Estate Book If you have any questions about buying, renting or building property in Costa Rica, Christopher Howard’s “Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica” may help.

The exhaustive, instructional guide, released in 2009, has covered the gamut of all things real estate in Costa Rica, from architectural designs, title insurance, property laws, taxes and selling a home to cultural expectations. The 519-page volume is a valuable resource for both potential buyers and longtime property owners in Costa Rica.

“I’ve kept an eye on real estate in the country and had pretty good knowledge of the market,” said Howard, a 30-year resident of Costa Rica who has written more than 10 books on living and retiring in the region, including “The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica.” “I remain in constant communication with people in the real estate business, and when I decided to pursue the book I had two other people helping me who went around the country doing most of the research, and then we all collaborated on the writing.”

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New book is the expat guide to buying real estate here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guide to Real Estate in Costa RicaChris Howard, the resident author and Costa Rican expert, has turned his talents to real estate. The result is a new book “Christopher Howard’s Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica.”

"Purchasing real estate in Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart," said Howard, a 30-year resident.. "Many have made money while others have lost their shirt. Realtors don’t need a license to operate here, so potential buyers have to be very careful with whom they deal. It is sort of like the Wild West at times because of a lack of regulation and frontier mentality. However, with the correct information and guidance you can make a good purchase and find the home or property of your dreams."

"Guide to Real Estate" is available from Amazon.com. The book is $26.95. 

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New Real Estate Tax Deadline Extended

Recently a luxury tax was passed on homes worth more than $170,000. The charge is .25% to .55% depending on the value of the residence. The money raised from the new tax will be used to build housing for people who live in extreme levels of poverty.

The original deadline to pay was the 31st of December. However, the new deadline is January 15, 2010. The main reason for the extension is that very few homeowners paid because they found the whole payment process is very confusing.

New rules to help protect potential homebuyers

Real estate developers who offer future projects or projects in development must now comply with strict rules for the protection of consumers.

Those offering real estate for sale with delivery at a future date to register with the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio and show they have the financial capability to carry out the project.The decree also covers other broad types of sales to consumers. The decree specifically mentions homes and apartments as well as subdivisions and a host of other commercial and industrial projects.

Costa Rica's recent real estate history is filled with cases where developers promised certain amenities or improvements and never followed through even though some purchasers paid substantial sums.  In some cases, all the developer did was erect a gateway or a welcome center or bulldoze a few roadways.

The new rules also require that purchasers pay for the real estate or services in a proportional way rather than with all the money up front. There also are restrictions on what may be in a sales contract. For example a purchaser cannot surrender his or her rights. Some current contracts required arbitration or require the buyer to hold the seller harmless in case of problems.

Purchasers also have eight working days to back out of the deal. Previously the rule was eight calendar days to rescind.

In the past some developers set up shop, obtained an option on land and began selling lots, houses, apartments or other real estate that they did not really own and which had not yet been built. Some tried to zero finance their projects by accepting substantial sums from purchasers and using the money for development instead of putting the money into escrow.

The decree also requires a seller to provide his or her exact home address and to assume the obligation to notify purchasers of any changes allowing them to exercise an escape clause.

The rules specify mathematical calculations of the solvency of sellers and what appears to be a complex application process. If ministry employees do not think that the seller has the funds to met the obligations, they are empowered to require additional financial guarantees, according to the decree. The decree also said that the ministry will review contracts.

The ministry also has the right to file complaints against vendors who are not registered.

Developers of projects already in the works have six months to comply with the new regulations, the decree said. The new rules are updates and additions to existing laws and rules which mostly covered just time shares, said the ministry.

*Courtesy of AM Costa Rica

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