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Can Foreigners Buy Real Estate in Costa Rica

Costa Rica, with its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and stable economy, has long been a popular destination for foreigners looking to invest in real estate. One common question that arises among potential buyers is whether foreigners can legally purchase property in Costa Rica. In this blog post, we will explore the regulations and processes involved in buying real estate as a foreigner in Costa Rica.

Legal Framework for Foreign Ownership

Costa Rica has a welcoming attitude towards foreign investment, and the country’s legal framework allows foreigners to own property with the same rights as Costa Rican citizens. The Costa Rican Constitution guarantees equal rights for foreigners and nationals in terms of property ownership. Foreigners can own titled property, beachfront property, and land within the maritime zone.

Types of Property Ownership

When purchasing real estate in Costa Rica as a foreigner, there are several ownership structures to consider:

  1. **Direct Ownership**: Foreigners can own property in Costa Rica directly in their own name. This is the simplest form of ownership and allows you full control over the property.
  2. **Corporation Ownership**: Some foreigners choose to purchase property through a Costa Rican corporation. This can offer tax benefits and additional privacy, but it’s important to set up the corporation correctly and comply with all legal requirements.  The biggest reason you would want to own the real estate in a corporation is for the flexibility.  Ie: You do not have to be here to buy or sell property; change a cable package; put the utilities in your name.   This can all be done with a specific Power Of Attorney document.  With a signature you can assign your law office to assist you with these matters.
  3. **Trust Ownership**: Foreigners can also purchase property through a trust (fideicomiso) with a Costa Rican bank. The bank holds legal title to the property on behalf of the buyer, who retains beneficial ownership. This is a common method for owning property in the restricted maritime zone.

Restrictions on Foreign Ownership

While foreigners have the right to own property in Costa Rica, there are some restrictions to be aware of:

  1. **Maritime Zone**: The Maritime Zone Law establishes restrictions on property ownership within 200 meters of the high tide line. Foreigners can own property in this zone through a concession or a trust with a local bank.
  2. **Agricultural Land**: Foreigners looking to purchase agricultural land in Costa Rica may face additional restrictions. It’s important to consult with a local attorney to ensure compliance with regulations.
  3. **Residency Requirements**: While you do not need to be a resident of Costa Rica to own property, obtaining residency can offer additional benefits such as tax breaks and ease of doing business.

Buying Process for Foreigners

The process of buying real estate in Costa Rica as a foreigner is similar to that for Costa Rican citizens:

  1. **Find a Property**: Start by researching properties that meet your criteria and budget. Utilize local real estate agents who can assist you in finding suitable options.
  2. **Due Diligence**: Conduct thorough due diligence on the property, including title searches, property inspections, and zoning regulations. It’s crucial to work with a reputable attorney who specializes in real estate transactions.
  3. **Purchase Agreement**: Once you’ve found a property, you’ll need to sign a purchase agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the sale. This document should be reviewed by your attorney before signing.  Typical the real estate agents draft up the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
  4. **Closing**: The closing process typically involves transferring funds, signing legal documents, and registering the property with the National Registry. Your attorney will guide you through this process and ensure all legal requirements are met.

In conclusion, foreigners can legally buy real estate in Costa Rica with the same property rights as Costa Rican citizens. By understanding the legal framework, ownership structures, and buying process, you can navigate the real estate market in Costa Rica with confidence. Whether you’re looking for a vacation home, rental property, or retirement destination, Costa Rica offers a wealth of opportunities for foreign investors seeking to own a piece of paradise in this beautiful country.

Clients choose Flamingo Beach Realty for their real estate needs in Costa Rica because of our unparalleled expertise in the local market and our dedication to providing personalized, attentive service tailored to each client’s unique needs and goals. With our deep understanding of the region and commitment to excellence, we ensure a seamless and rewarding experience whether buying or selling property in this beautiful destination.  Let us be your guide in your property purchase in Paradise!

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