Costa Rica is one of the easiest countries in the world in which to buy property. With the exception of direct beachfront, there is no distinction made between foreign and local purchasers. However there are certain things you should know, especially if considering rural property.
Attorneys in Costa Rica for the purposes of real-estate closings essentially act as ‘power of attorney’, meaning that they are permitted to represent both buyers and sellers, which saves money. You may wish to hire your own attorney. There are a number of attorneys in the San Jose area who are known as “Gringo” attorneys. The fact that they are fluent in English allows them to command much higher prices than a local attorney might. If you are most comfortable with a “Gringo”attorney, do your homework. Not all are ethical.
The advantage of a local attorney (even if you need to work through an interpreter-though most speak at least some English) is that they will understand the history of a particular property and will be best qualified to interpret any of the fine points of the deed specific to the district, especially when dealing with rural property. Most rural properties have standard deed restrictions to protect waterways and certain ecological concerns.
In all countries Caviat Emptor applies. While title insurance exists in Costa Rica, it does not mean the same thing as it does in the US. Rural properties which have been handed down and divided between families over generations, may have surveys, legal descriptions and measurements which are less exact than what you are used to. Make sure that the property you are buying has been registered on the national registry and that taxes are up to date. Those are things any attorney can do for you. Also, what you see is what you get. Make sure that you are clear about the boundaries of the property. Most importantly determine that the property you are purchasing has water or direct access to town water. Also, make sure that it has road frontage or a registered right-of-way to a road, and access to electric. People have purchased property in Costa Rica only to find that there was no way to develop it.