If you are an experienced buyer in the United States but want to extend your real estate portfolio to the Costa Rican market, this is everything you need to know to do it like a local.

We spoke with Alfredo Gallegos, a specialist lawyer at Activa Legal, which offers advice for foreigners interested in investing in Costa Rica.

Most important differences and similarities between USA and CR when buying properties


  • Closing mechanism: In the United States it is done through real estate agencies, escrow agencies, or title insurance companies. While in Costa Rica it usually takes place in the lawyer’s office or an office that the bank can provide when the transfer is being made to one of the parties.

  • Mediation between the parties: In the United States, the real estate agent or “closing agent” will ensure that all necessary parties are present at the time of closing. The agent therefore acts as a mediator between the parties and confirms that all the necessary documents have been signed.

    In Costa Rica, there is the figure of the notary public, this is a lawyer licensed to act and make the parties appear in order to make the transfer of the property title legal. In the same way, real estate advisors always accompany during the process and collaborate to follow up until the closing.

  • Public registry: In Costa Rica the public registry is used as the entity that legitimizes transfers, while in the United States, they have “title insurance” where they put insurance on the title.

  • Document Delivery: Once the documents are signed in the United States, the agent will ensure that all funds are properly paid and disbursed, including closing costs and security deposit payments.

    In Costa Rica, the notary will not only grant the respective deed of transfer, but will also have the obligation to carry out the pertinent study of the property in the National Registry before closing, and thus reduce to a minimum the contingencies that may affect the buyer; review the existence or not of liens, annotations or municipal debts that prevent the free enjoyment of the property by the buyer.

    The notary will grant the documents and, in practice, will coordinate with the agents on the closing day for the disbursement of the funds (earnest money and sale price), as well as any other request.


  • Closing date: In both countries and as stipulated in the option contract, on the closing date the property title will pass from the seller to the buyer.

  • Downpayment: It is a payment offer that reflects the interest of the buyer. This deposit is paid to say that the process is going to start and the inspection is paid (which Costa Ricans usually do not do but foreigners do). If the process is given correctly and the payment is finished, then the parties can continue with the legal matters.

Benefits of investing in a property in Costa Rica

  • A dynamic country: Costa Rica has gradually developed to offer the best real estate options for both nationals and foreigners. Without a doubt, the country offers something for all tastes, city, mountain, beach, and everything in between!

  • Cultural experience: this country has a lot to offer, not only for its gastronomy, art, and lifestyle. But thanks to its attractiveness, Costa Rica is multicultural; a country where foreigners and nationals live who have managed to create unique communities.

  • Lifestyle: Costa Rica is known for being a ”Pura Vida” country, here you will feel comfortable in all aspects as Costa Ricans will make you feel welcome. This country is definitely perfect for investing and living nowhere else in the world.

  • Capital gains: Thanks to tourism, properties in key areas can increase in value very quickly. For this reason, you should consider Costa Rica as part of your portfolio and guarantee an almost certain return on investment.

The advantages of buying and investing in Costa Rica go beyond the value of a property. The lifestyle, the real estate market, and the strategic location are key elements that are difficult to find in other countries in the region.

Alfredo Gallegos, Expert Real Estate Lawyer

NATIVU is a member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World™, offering quality real estate advice anywhere in the world. NATIVU advisors have access to the highest caliber of real estate professionals in more than 70 countries and on six continents with 565 Associates and 4,300 offices worldwide.

If you want to invest wisely, do not hesitate to contact us!