A disastrous title problem on an Escazu building lot
In the past, I have had people question if the testimonials on my websites are for real or invented. All our agents always ask both buyers and sellers to write a testimonial and some do and others don’t.
Most don’t want their email address posted because they don’t want to be bothered. You can check our testimonial page and see it’s a mile long, not something I could easily invent.
I just received a testimonial from the owners of a building lot in Escazu that I closed a couple of weeks ago and I thought it would make up a good story about a title problem. Below the testimonial, I will explain a bit more about this special Escazu building lot, why the sellers were so happy we sold it for them and what was wrong with it in the first place. This is a textbook example of how NOT to purchase Costa Rica real estate.
Ivo Henfling is not only amazing, but also brilliant, knowledgeable, a marvelous support and effective communicator! You will be well taken care of with Ivo as your real estate agent.
We came to Ivo asking for help to sell an Escazu property that we had purchased using a very unprofessional real estate agent. The property was mired in red tape and a complicated title problem with quasi legal actions. Ivo not only readily accepted the challenge, but drilled down through the tangle of legal issues, using his exceptional skills to clear the title and allow the land to be put up for sale.
Ivo then acted on our behalf to advertise and sell the property ensuring that we understood every step of the process and communicating frequently with us. Every email inquiry sent was answered within 24 hours regardless!
Ivo exhibited compassion and understanding with his dealings with us and we highly recommend him as a most ethical, honest and highly skilled realtor who thoroughly understands the Costa Rican market.
We welcome any inquiries from persons seeking to utilize the services of this very dynamic and effective realtor, Ivo Henfling
What was wrong with the Escazu property?
Marlene and Edward bought a small Escazu building lot of 284 m2 – 3,100 sq.ft. from a real estate agent they trusted. The Escazu property was purchased in a Sociedad Anonima (corporation). They were living in Canada and had planned to eventually build their retirement home in Costa Rica but for several reasons decided to put the building lot up for sale, so they contacted me to list their Escazu property.
Since all GoDutch Realty agents always check the property in the National Register before we list, I found that this Escazu property had the following problems:
* The Escazu property had complicated title problems with a legal encumbrance described as electrical easement in the property title. The easement turned out to be a power line that was planned by the power company 30 years ago but it was never installed. The original lot was subdivided in 3 parts and the lot in the middle was the one with the power line. Both other properties were built on. The buyer’s attorneys of both the former and actual owners never checked the encumbrance. We asked for a uso de suelo from the municipality of Escazu that would show if you could build on the lot, which was rejected because of the non-existing power line.
* Another title problem that was equally complicated: the property had a mortgage with a local bank in the name of the former owners while the property was owned by a corporation controlled by the new owners.
* The new owners trusted their real estate agent and gave him full power of attorney. They also send him money from time to time to pay the mortgage and had agreed with him against payment of $125/year. The agent would also keep the books of the corporation. The agent was not responding to any emails or phone calls and the mortgage was behind in payments, for which the seller sent money to the attorney hired by us.
A free and Clear Title
It took us a full year to clear up the title problem with the electrical easement through CNFL, which is the power company, but since this is part of ICE, both companies had to send their own inspectors. This sounds easy in one sentence but I can assure you that many requests, forms, powers of attorney and phone calls were necessary to get the encumbrance cleared from the National Register.
As soon as we had the clearance from the register, I had a buyer waiting to close. Suddenly, the trustworthy agent turned up requesting the payment of $2,500 for rendered services and to return the books and cancel the power of attorney.
Finding out the outstanding balance and paying off the mortgage that was in someone else’s name was another steep hill to climb but we finally made it all happen.
The best news is that the new owner has his architect designing a townhouse that will match the neighborhood and will soon start construction.
Before you purchase any property in Costa Rica, hire a knowledgeable real estate agent as well as a trustworthy real estate attorney so you can stay clear of any title problem. If you want to enjoy the ultimate real estate experience, feel free to contact us at any time.
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. I know you all meet people on the plane, in the supermarket, at yoga, at the gym, at the Blooms ladies club, at the potluck organized by your community. Please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, when you meet someone who wants to purchase one, we appreciate it.