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Land

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Buying land in Costa Rica can be a rock-solid investment if you know what you are doing, play by the rules, use common sense and follow our advice.  Below are the steps you need to follow to ensure your hard earned money is going to a smart investment.

1.

Agent

Hire the right real estate agent

Buying a House

2.

Lay of the Land

Find out where the growth path of the real estate development in a community goes (i.e. where new construction will be happening next given the lay of the land)

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3.

Zoning

Decide if you are looking for commercial land or residential land to invest in and where. Make sure you or your agent are well versed in the zoning plans for the area as they will limit certain construction, regulate density, and determine commercial, industrial or residential use.

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4.

City Plans

Find out if the city has any plans for renovating the area and if there is a zoning plan.  Request a certification of zoning or “uso de suelo” from the municipality’s engineering department that will describe the restrictions, density and options for subdividing the property.

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5.

Don't get Caught in the Rain

As there is a lot of rain in this country, you always want to be at the top of a hill not the bottom to avoid drainage problems.  Search for possible erosion issues on the property and it’s advised to hire a topographer and geologist before buying in general.

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6.

Know your Soil

Hire a company that can do a soil study on the land to look for bad topsoil and to see if there is landfill or not.  You will need to ask the owner for permission to put markers on the land to have a soil study done.  Search for “estudio de suelos Costa Rica” for companies that can help with this.

Black Soil

7.

Water & Power

Water and power need to be available at the front of the property so you can just apply for a water and power meter with the utility company and get connected within a week.  If your land purchase is a short-term investment, you also want to check with the Internet and cable TV providers in the area.  Some areas in Costa Rica have issues with water and it’s difficult to get a building permit from the municipality.  In these cases, you need a statement from the water company that water is available for that particular property.  As for the sewer, very few areas in Costa Rica have city sewer and most of the country is on septic tanks. 

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8.

Enjoy the View

If you are buying a piece of land for the view you need to make sure that the view cannot be obstructed by new construction or neighbors who may let trees grow too high.

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9.

Check the Title

Have your attorney run a complete title check to see whether the property is fully titled or a concession in the maritime zone.  Also check for any liens and get title insurance.

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10.

Check for Easements

Check for any water easements, power easements and right of way easements to make sure you are not buying land that is giving an easement to someone else.

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11.

Survey

Have a property survey done showing the correct size of the land and its boundaries.  Make sure the survey map is stamped by the Cadastre (National Registry).

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12.

If a River runs Through it

If there is a river or creek on the land or in the boundaries there are probably setbacks where you cannot build within a certain distance of the water.  Request an “Alineamiento fluvial de rios y quebradas” to have this checked and certified. 

River
 
  • Water:  Wells, municipal water  

  • Electricity:  On-Grid v Off Grid, Off-grid solar companies.  List of CR Electricity Companies.  The process to apply for electricity.

  • Developing beach towns

  • Concession v Title: comparison table