Costa Rica homes are sold As Is
Did you know that in Costa Rica homes are sold “As Is”?
In every country real estate laws are different and Costa Rica is no exception. In Florida, the purchase of property is handled differently than it is in France, or in Thailand. In Costa Rica, the judicial system might take years to take care of a discrepancy in an agreement signed by the buyer and seller.
It is very easy to get an agreement between buyer and seller signed and authenticated by a notary public. But in case one of the parties doesn’t fulfill their part of the agreement, the other might be in court for many years to make that legal promise come true.
That’s why, at GoDutch Realty, we play it safe and we sell Costa Rica homes “as is”. Read on to see why you shouldn’t get involved in a finger-pointing match.
Sellers and disclosure
In Costa Rica, there is indeed a law that says sellers have an obligation to disclose hidden defects of their property or any other issues that have a direct or indirect influence on the sale of a property.
Taking someone to court on that in Costa Rica is a whole different matter, it won’t be so easy and would take years trying to make it stick. If a problem arises after closing, suing a seller is almost impossible.
Sellers of California real estate have to give the buyers of their property a disclosure form listing a broad range of defects, such as
- a leaky roof,
- deaths that occurred within three years on their property,
- neighborhood nuisances such as a dog that barks every night,
- and other particulars.
All California sellers also have to disclose potential hazards from environmental hazards, floods, earthquakes, fires, and other problems in a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement. They even have to alert buyers to the availability of a database by law enforcement authorities on the location of registered sex offenders.
Not in Costa Rica, we are probably 100 years away from such disclosure laws.
Costa Rica does not have certified home inspectors with certifications from NAHI, FABI, NACHI, ESA, ICC and who knows how many other home inspection associations. In Costa Rica, we don’t have home inspectors who do thermal scanning,
- Mold and moisture inspection,
- Radon testing,
- Air quality testing,
- Bacti Swab testing or
- Sinkhole screening inspection.
We have been able to find a pretty good home inspector, with lots of building experience both in the US and in Costa Rica. This home inspector does a visual inspection of the home, as well as checking electrical, plumbing and other important issues. BUT he doesn’t have any of the U.S. certifications and is not able to do all the above.
Tom Rosenberger, THE Costa Rica home inspector, is way above anybody I have seen in all my years in Costa Rica real estate and you can trust him with the job.
Your real estate agent
It doesn’t matter if your Costa Rica real estate agent is licensed or not. Even if your agent knows about the damage or problems on the property, there is no obligation of disclosure.
Though there are a couple of boards of realtors in Costa Rica, they cannot stop taxi drivers from selling real estate. Due to the informal real estate market in our country, Real Estate Agents Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance does not exist either.
You’re on your own, unless
Unless you find a real estate agent who is not only knowledgeable about
- the local real estate market,
- local construction,
- real estate laws
- and has the right negotiation abilities,
you’re on your own when buying Costa Rica real estate.
It is very usual for real estate agents to double-dip, which is to act as a listing agent and a buyer’s agent at the same time. Agents customarily juggle buyers and sellers without running into trouble. This way they make the full commission.
If you hire a buyer’s agent, the seller pays the real estate commission. Then the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent will split it between them. Then, as a buyer, you do not have any additional cost and you get your own buyer’s agent to look out for you.
The Wild Wild West of real estate – Pura Vida
Costa Rica, compared to many 1st world countries, is still The Wild Wild West. That’s one of the reasons we call everything Pura Vida here in paradise.
The best way to protect yourself against buying the wrong property is by hiring your own buyer’s agent, but you need to understand the facts before you do so:
1. You purchase a property in Costa Rica “as is”.
2. There is no mandatory formal licensing in Costa Rica real estate.
3. A real estate license doesn’t make you honest.
4. There is an obligation to disclosure in Costa Rica, but it is hard to make it stick.
5. Home inspectors are not licensed.
Protect yourself when you buy a home that’s sold As Is, hire a GoDutch Realty agent, we are the experts. Contact us now.
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.