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What You Need to Know About Real Estate When Moving to Costa Rica

Many people dream of moving to Costa Rica to improve their quality of life, get access to more affordable healthcare, and to own their dream home. Expats can own property in Costa Rica, although the process to secure the property of your choice is different than what you might be used to in your home country.

Real Estate for Expats in Costa Rica

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Housing Purchase Process Overview

  1. Consider taking an exploratory trip to Costa Rica to learn where you want to purchase property

  2. Secure a buyer's agent

  3. View listings and make a decision on what property to buy

  4. Put in an offer and have it accepted

  5. Get a qualified real estate attorney (also called a notary in Costa Rica) and set up an escrow account with an official service

  6. Your attorney will draft a Seller Purchase agreement that lays out what you want to investigate during a due diligence period. Once this agreed upon, you will deposit an initial sum into escrow

  7. Your attorney will conduct a title search and review the title commitment, check water rights, property access, and more

  8. Have an inspector conduct an inspection during the due diligence period

  9. Once due diligence is complete, deposit funds into escrow

  10. Close on property (execution of transfer deed, disburse funds, etc.)

  11. Register as the new owner with the Public Registry


Expected Fees

  • Real estate agent fees - 4-10%, and usually 5-6%

  • Transfer tax -1.5% of either the property valuation or purchase price, whichever is higher

  • Stamp fees (ie: Registration, Agrarian, Municipal, Bar Association, etc) - 0.84-1% of purchase price

  • Notary + legal fees - 1-2% of purchase price

  • Escrow services - $300-$1000

Note: A 13% VAT tax is applied to all legal and escrow service fees


Property Tax

0.25% of the assessed value of the property, annually. For properties with values above CRC 137 million (2022) you will also have to pay a luxury tax of 0.25-0.55%.

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