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Why does Costa Rica not have a good real estate MLS?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Why does Costa Rica not have a good real estate MLS?

Costa Rica has never really had a good real estate MLS system.  The main reason is that the two Costa Rica real estate boards are very disorganized. Besides, most real estate agents in Costa Rica prefer a 50% commission of nothing instead of working together.

This makes it harder for a buyer to find the right home or lot for sale. This, in turn, obliges buyers to not be loyal to just one agent.

A buyer’s agent, for example, doesn’t have the MLS tool to find the right property for his/her client. To view homes listed by other agents, it is necessary to spend hours surfing websites and calling around.

I turned in my CCBR (Cámara de Corredores de Bienes Raices as well as CCCBR) real estate license in 2002 for the same lack of organization.

To my opinion, having a license from the CCBR real estate board doesn’t give my agents or me any value at all. Not even for the 4-day course they teach. Because you just pay for the course, sit in, and get your license automatically. I know agents who don’t speak Spanish and have a license. Of course, the course is given in Spanish and not in English.

That’s why in 1998, with Kjersten van Horn and Barry Ashworth, I started the American European Real estate Group. This was and still is the first mini-MLS in Costa Rica. We now have, in 2019, 29 agencies from coast to coast. Most agents have done the CCBR real estate course, but few are still a member.

Why does Costa Rica not have a good real estate MLS?

What is an MLS

Real estate MLS means Multiple Listing System for those who didn’t know. It is a well-organized listing system where you can search for property for sale in a certain area, with all the correct information and price. For years, the CCBR has had a real estate MLS. But you would find the same Costa Rica property for sale and for rent listed many times. Unfortunately, they are all offered at different sales prices and with different information.

A good real estate MLS system allows a real estate company or agent to have an option to do a search from the companies’ website on the MLS through an IDX. Therefore, I’m suggesting you try Flipsnack’s real estate MLS automation software. You can instantly create listing presentations and real estate brochures with all the property details and information by just connecting it to your listing database. Their MLS automation software will help you to create more in less time, so give it a try.

Open listings and exclusive listings

To my opinion, it is necessary to have a real estate MLS system that is not written for the US or Europe, but for Costa Rica specifically because everything is different here. First of all, in most areas in Costa Rica, real estate agents use an open listing system and not exclusive listings, so you have many agents selling the same properties, all at different prices.

Only in beach towns like Jaco Beach and Tamarindo, you will find that professional real estate agents use exclusive listings to protect themselves from losing a property sale because a bartender or a taxi driver got ahead of them. Second, we have no addresses and the real sales prices are not shown at closing, therefore no comps.

Why does Costa Rica not have a good real estate MLS?

12,000 Real estate agents

In the Central Valley, you will find probably 12,000 real estate agents, between housewives, waiters, masseuses, gardeners, and professional real estate agents, which makes it difficult for the buyer and seller to know which way to turn. I think it’s amazing why anyone in his/her right mind would want to buy a house from anyone who is not rightfully trained as a real estate agent.

Most sellers do not care who sells their property in Costa Rica, as long as it sells, just as an owner will rent his property without using a real estate agent. But should a buyer just trust anyone to do a good job? Many buyers and sellers do not understand the value of a good real estate agent until they meet one.

Maybe one day I will sign up for the CCCBR real estate board again if they get their latest real estate MLS to work. But as long as CCCBR affiliate agents do not show each other’s properties, I don’t see that happen.  I will celebrate the day it will if they have good rules and regulations in place.

Buying or selling real estate in Costa Rica? Then I invite you to contact us!


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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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