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How Long Should You Live in a House Before Selling Again?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

How Long Should You Live in a House Before Selling Again

In many countries, it is pretty common for homeowners to live in a house for five to seven years before selling. It’s rare a house is a “forever” house.

The truth is, if you are like most people, when you purchase a house, you only plan to stay for a little while.

In Costa Rica, it’s hard to tell how long the average homeowner lives in a house before moving. The baby boomer and Gen X were living in the same house they bought when they married until they passed away.

Some decide to move when the kids are gone, but it’s not so easy to sell a 30-year-old house with a lot of bedrooms in this country.

How long will the Gen Y and Millennial generations live in a house before selling?  On average, homeowners remain in a house for 13 years. While this is true, you may wonder – how long should you live in a house before selling?

When Is It a Good Time to Sell?

If you have ever been through the process before, you know that selling your home comes with some complexities. Because of this, you want to ensure you are picking the right time to list it for sale.

Factors to Consider:

Here are a few important factors that can indicate this is the time to sell and move on:

The market

You will want to live in your house long enough before selling again, for the market to have appreciated the value of your house. A reminder to the depreciation of the construction value and appreciation of the land value is important.

Talk to an expert real estate agent who covers your area and discuss an upgrade to a better home or to downsize. Is it possible to make the move to another house easy? The experts will tell.

Your Mortgage

In Costa Rica, mortgages function quite differently from other countries. Can you afford to pay off your mortgage and get a new one in the new home? You might not, some banks charge a heavy fine for early cancellation of your mortgage.

If you have bought your house or condo after 2016, you might have gotten a 100% mortgage on your house purchase. That probably means that you owe more than you will be able to sell your property now for.

Talk to your banker first before you decide to upgrade or downsize.

Buy a new house before selling?

Banks in Costa Rica don’t even know what a bridge loan is, so don’t think you’ll be able to purchase a new house before selling the old one!

Realtors see thousands of buyers every year, who start shopping for a new house before they even put their old house on the market. Did you know, that if you don’t price your house right, it might take 7 years to sell it?

Sales Related Costs

Selling a house costs money. You must pay your realtor 5% commission plus 13% VAT. You might have that mortgage to pay off. What about the cost of your new mortgage? You might have to pay 50% of the closing cost, depending on how you negotiate the sale. AND, if you haven’t given your house any maintenance during all those years that you have owned it, you might have to spend a ton of money to fix it.

Consider the costs and the equity in your home when selling. To ensure things will “balance,” try to stay in the home for a minimum of 10 years.

Capital Gains

Capital gains didn’t exist in Costa Rica until July 1st, 2019. Since that day, a 15% capital gain tax is paid ONLY over investment property but not over the sale of your residence.

When you decide to sell, you may have to pay taxes on the money you earn from the sale. However, this depends on how long you have lived in the home.

If you want to avoid these taxes – legally – you must live in the home for a minimum of two of the past five years. If you haven’t, then be ready to pay capital gain taxes.

Finding the Answer

So, How Long Should You Live in a House Before Selling? Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to how long should you live in a house before selling. Real estate in Costa Rica definitely works differently than it does in other countries. Consider all the factors above to ensure you know when to sell.

Are you in need of an expert opinion so you can make an educated decision? Then 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.

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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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