Costa Rica, general information and updates, December 2023.

Many of you have started feeling the cold rolling in and have begun dreaming of a warm tropical place. To many that place is Costa Rica. I was raised here in this beautiful country and have a different idea of what December brings. To me, the weather is the best at this time of year with tropical breezes and bright blue skies. Once the breezes start it makes me think of Christmas, a time to be with our families baking cookies and boiling tamales.

But to start the month off we celebrate a very special holiday, the abolition of the Costa Rican army. December 1st was declared a national holiday in 2021 but it was in 1949 that the president actually abolished the army and turned the army headquarters over to the National Museum. Having eliminated the army has allowed the country to focus on organizing the government and being a strong democracy, providing funds to improve the infrastructure, education and social benefits. Read more about the abolition of the army here.

This year December has brought many more gifts to Costa Rica thanks to our current president. It is the first time in years that the price of electricity, propane and gasoline are being reduced during this month. Usually due to inflation the cost-of-living increases at this time of year but this is changing and there is a decrease in prices.

Another great gift is that Costa Rica’s unemployment rate is being lowered according to The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 5 years at 8.10%. This was for the third quarter of 2023 and it is well known that during this period the economy is struggling due to low season so I can only be enthusiastic about what will come for the final quarter of the year.

There are various indicators such as a recent statement from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), an update from stating the economy is growing, and the Central America Group that are showing Costa Rica as growing economically and becoming a more stable country to invest in. The government is working hard to strengthen the CCSS and provide better service to the population. There are plans for new hospitals and many new clinics that will help provide better medical attention.

The housing industry is growing due to Costa Rica being an attractive tourist attraction after being declared the travel destination of the year for 2024 by Travel & Leisure. The year-round mild climate, a friendly culture known as Pura Vida and stable economy have made this a hot spot for many seeking peace and quiet. So do not hesitate to reach out to us here at JB Real Estate where we can answer any questions about buying homes in Costa Rica and find your dream home.

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What to expect when visiting homes for sale in Costa Rica real estate.

What to expect when visiting homes for sale in Costa Rica real estate.

Here is a bit of information about real estate in Costa Rica! It is a unique experience when taking buyers to visit homes for sale in the Costa Rica real estate industry. This is part of the introduction to the Pura Vida lifestyle that is so popular. It can be overwhelming for some buyers to take in. The real estate agent representing the buyer should explain these differences before going on tour. Of course, it varies a lot in each area and is more noticeable in the rural areas to see marked differences in the preparation of selling homes.

There are many aspects that are important to consider while looking at real estate in Costa Rica:

  1. There are no exact addresses, so as agents we have to use a pin on Google Maps to find the properties when we are showing listings that belong to external agents. It is best to have an SUV because we are never sure what the roads will be like.
  2. Pictures can be very different from reality, so we can easily drive past a place without recognizing it. Some listings do not show a picture of the front of the house, which makes it difficult to know when you have arrived at your destination.
  3. Many sellers do not believe in preparing the property for sale and do not tidy a place for a showing, there can be piles of debris, grown grass, unpainted walls, and more to observe.
  4. It is common for the sellers to live on the property, so there may be a whole family at home when visiting. Everyone is very nice and helpful, but it can make a home seem crowded.

When looking to buy real estate in Costa Rica read information about be prepared to change your mindset of what homes look like. If you are looking for an authentic piece of Costa Rican real estate that is in a more rural area, be prepared to do some maintenance and repairs. The typical homes in Costa Rica have smaller spaces and are divided into separate rooms because most of our time is spent living outside. It is more common to see bigger outside living spaces where the families gather. It is also uncommon to see AC units and hot water plumbing, so if these are important to you, make sure you ask what the status is on the listing.

The newer homes in areas of high development are being built to foreign standards and will most likely be what most buyers are looking for. There are very good designers and builders in Costa Rica that you can hire if you decide to build your own home.

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How to buy property in Costa Rica

One of the first questions that my clients ask is how do I go about buying a property in Costa Rica? It is important to know that buying a property here in Costa Rica is a process and that there is not a lot of financing as easily available or at good interest rates. There are a few banks that offer financing opportunities to foreign buyers these are Lafise Bank, BAC, and BCT. There are also some private lenders who can provide cash to buy. The financing is for built homes and condos or to build if you have already purchased the land. The average interest rate is between 9-12% with a 20-year mortgage.

Having said this I have to emphasize that most people are using cash to buy a property in Costa Rica because they have sold assets in their home country, or others get a HELOC on their primary home. So here are the steps to buying property in Costa Rica if you have cash readily available for the purchase.


Step #1: Find the property that is right for you.

It is important to see all your options and make sure you feel comfortable in the area you have decided to buy whether it be in a gated community or not. Buyers have to decide if they want the property as an investment for rentals or for a full-time retirement home.


Step #2: Get an accepted written offer between buyer and seller.

The buyer’s agent shall prepare a document with all the price, approximate closing date, how transfer fees are covered, who gets a commission and what escrow company will be used for the transaction.


Step #3: Have a lawyer you will work with to begin due diligence.

The lawyer will review that the property is free of any liens, that all taxes or other fees are paid up to date, and that it can be transferred freely to a buyer at the time of closing.


Step #4: Open escrow to put a deposit down on the property to hold during due  diligence.

To open escrow the buyer will need to have proof of funds, purchase agreement signed and other documents filled out such as KYC and  escrow agreement.


Step #5: Once the lawyer gives the green light then plan the closing date. After the lawyer gives the go-ahead it is agreed on what day works for closing and about a week before this the buyer has to send the balance of funds to escrow.


Step #6: For closing both buyer and seller need to be present or give POA.

In Costa Rica a signature from both seller and buyer is required to legally transfer a property. If either or both parties cannot be present then there has to be a special power of attorney given to a person who will sign in place of buyer or seller. Once the transfer deed is signed this is sent to the escrow company and the funds are released as agreed in the closing statement prepared previously by the escrow company.

Other things to consider when thinking of buying a property in Costa Rica is whether to buy in your personal name or to create a corporation that holds the property. This is something the lawyer needs to explain to each client and help make the decision with as each buyer’s needs are different.

It is also very important to know how a buyer will be paying utility bills and property taxes. Some buyers open a local bank account and can pay using online banking, others hire a property manager to pay and oversee the property they have purchased. And it is important that the utilities are changed over to the buyer’s name and that the buyer is registered with the local city hall so that taxes are updated also.

All of this is part of becoming a property owner in Costa Rica and that is why a good real estate agent can help buyers become informed of all aspects of buying in Costa Rica. To us at JB Real Estate it is about providing a full service to our clients and making the process as easy as possible.



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Tips for how to prepare your home for putting it on the market

Once you decide you want to sell your property the best thing to do is take some time to look around and make a list of unfinished projects or small things that could be done to make your property appealing to a buyer. Keep in mind; If I were buying this property, what would I like to see?


The first impression that a buyer receives from the initial visit is what stays with them and makes a property stand out from others they have visited. Here is a short list to check before having a real estate agent come to take pictures of your property:


Tip #1: Pick up any garbage or debris on the property:

If you are listing a house, make sure all garbage is removed from the outside areas. If it is a plot of land, then have the grass cut and any garbage picked up.


Tip #2: Finish any projects you have started:

If there are any little projects you have started try to finish them up before pictures are taken. Things such as damaged wood, tile that has to be laid, gutter repairs, and broken window repairs should be dealt with.


Tip #3: Invest in some paint:

If you are listing a house or condo it really helps to have a paint job done on areas that look bad. Here in CR paint is not that expensive and you can do this yourself, it makes a world of difference to a buyer’s eye. Keep in mind to use neutral colors as people have different likes and could be put off by your bright paint colors.


Tip #4: Do some garden work:

If there is a yard around the house, then have the grass cut for the pictures and often once it goes on the market clients will be coming to see the property on short notice. Prune any shrubs away from the house and clean out any dead plants. If at all possible, plant a few things with some color to catch a buyer’s eye. If it is a small plot of land then have the grass cut so potential buyers can walk on the property and get a sense of where they would build and what the views are like.

If a buyer takes the time to do a few things like I have mentioned above it will allow buyers to see the full potential of what they are looking at. Taking time to improve the property also allows for better pictures and this will help catch a buyer’s eye. In today’s world, we need to provide exceptional pictures and videos of the properties we are selling to make them stand out from others. This is also a way to get the best price for your property as buyers will not ask for deductions to do repairs.

If you need any help on what can be done to improve your property for a better listing price please feel free to reach to me.


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