The cool thing about Costa Rica, a foreigner can buy real estate and pass that title down, unlike Mexico where foreigner can only lease, and cannot buy, which as caused numerous disputes when titles suddenly change and/or were fraudulently made.
The best way to buy real estate is set up a anonymous corporation instead of putting the property in an individual name. You will need a good attorney. Ownership of recordable assets, such as real estate and motor vehicles, is now the main purpose of most of Costa Rica’s registered corporations (S.A.). This method of “indirect” possession is the most highly recommended means of managing recordable assets.
The advantages of having one’s real estate owned by a S.A. rather than held in an individual’s name are:
- An anonymous corporation, as the name indicates, provides a measure of privacy for its owner(s). It will be difficult to obtain information about who owns the shares, providing the discretion which many foreign investors desire.
- Personal liabilities are reduced by having your assets registered under individual Costa Rican corporations.
- If you own real estate in your own name, you will have to pay land transfer taxes every time a property is sold. As of this moment, if a Costa Rican corporation owns the property, land transfer taxes do not apply (although legal fees do) – if you decide to sell your property or give it to a family member, because you simply transfer the shares of the corporation to the purchaser.
- There is no capital gains tax paid in Costa Rica when you sell a corporation owning a property, since the sale is a private transaction.
- Inheritance taxes in Costa Rica are high, but an anonymous corporation (S.A.) never dies. Your spouse or your children can indeed enjoy the fruits of your labor without having to worry about such taxes, as long as you leave them the shares of the corporation in your will. They can then appoint themselves to the Board of Directors of the corporation and carry on the tradition.
A Costa Rican lawyer will have first incorporated the “blank” corporations that are used for real estate transactions. The lawyer is usually registered initially as President and signing officer of the corporation until the corporation is turned over to you. The Board of Directors of the corporation is comprised of a President, Secretary, Treasurer and Comptroller, in order to meet legal requirements. However, only the signing officer and shareholder(s) have legal powers over the corporation.
Once you are registered as President, signing officer and principal shareholder of the corporation (along with any other persons) that you may wish), the corporation becomes entirely yours, along with whatever it legally owns.
The deed to the property guarantees you sole rights of who has access to and over the property.
REAL ESTATE AGENT
You do not have to be a resident or citizen; anyone can open up a real estate business. And because of this agents are a dime a dozen. All you need is something to sell, lease, buy and of course money. You don’t even need a sign on the door that you are an real estate agent. No permits, schooling or business license required; as for hot spots, just about anywhere along the Pacific Coast. Places like Jaco and Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast are going crazy building high-rise condos and land is skyrocketing in value, which many who have been selling real estate for a long time predict the market will crash a while back, which it did.
If you plan to get into the market, again, get a good attorney, to make sure the title is clear. Many agents are scam artists and titles have been forged since there is no regulating agency as there is in the US.. And make sure if you do work for someone that you establish a contract on commissions, which is between 4-8%.
Source: Costa Rica Real Estate