With the piece of land identified and the price decided upon, only a fraction of the formalities have been completed. Deciding upon which attorney-notary will assist you with the entire process is another big step closer to becoming owner of your own real estate property in Costa Rica. The procedure associated with title transfer is what will actually make you the owner of the property, and hence is all important.
The process of title transfer can be a tricky one if the necessary precautions are not taken. The best way to do away with the head ache of getting into sticky situations is to deal through U.S. affiliated real estate consultants. This way you can be assured that all the necessary background checks of the prospective seller are done to ascertain that there is no ambiguity whatsoever regarding the ownership of the property in question. Particularly after a few instances of fraudulent deals where a few unscrupulous locals 'sold' property they never owned in the first place! They simply took advantage of enthusiastic buyers and cheated them of their money; ever since, the importance of researching well before closing the deal has come to the fore.
The real estate law in the Republic of Costa Rica requires that all documentation pertaining to a title to real property be duly registered in the Public Registry's property section as per Article 460 of the country's civil code. Most real estate properties have a legit titled registration number that is known as the 'folio real', and can be located in the records database with the help of this number or else by searching with the name of the owner in the name index. The Public Registry report, which is also known as the 'Informe Registral' provides detailed information regarding the property, along with details about the name of the title holder, exact boundary lines of the property, tax appraisal schedules, information about any existing liens, mortgages or other recorded easements, along with any other recorded instruments that would affect the title transfer procedure. The Costa Rican administration follows the doctrine of 'first come first served' more popularly known as 'first in time, first in right'. This implies that the recorded instruments that are presented to the Public Registry are given priority as per the date and time that they are recorded on. As expected, this system of referring to the Public Registry also need not be fool proof and hence the importance of doing adequate research before closing the deal. It is important to realize that every situation is different and in certain cases a review of the Public Registry records alone may not be sufficient to uncover all encumbrances. There hence is not scope for opting for short cuts at this juncture.
The expenses incurred in the form of closing costs are usually shared by the buyer and the seller. This usually includes government transfer tax, registration fees, documentary stamps, notary fees and mortgage costs if any. Soon after all the necessary fees have been paid, the notary then presents the transfer deed at the Property Section of the Public Registry. It usually requires constant follow up by the notary who presented the deed in order to ensure that the matters proceed as soon as possible. On acceptance of the transfer deed and ascertaining that there are no delimiting encumbrances on the property in question, the Public Registry will then return the original document duly sealed and with all the required documentary stamps affixed to it. If no defects are located in the transfer deed, it gets registered by the Public Registry usually within 45 to 60 days after presentation.
We can help you with the necessary research and background checks on prospective sellers / buyers and also guide you through each step of the title transfer process. Always remember, help is only a click of a button away.