Your heart may be set on buying a property in Costa Rica but are you truly ready or qualified? Below are a few things to keep in mind before taking the leap. It’s critical to know all the details so you can make your dreams an actual reality.
Or should I say lack of financing? If you are not a Costa Rican citizen or legal resident you will not be approved for a loan. There are a few banks that “say” they offer financing to foreigners, but I have yet to see some one get a loan in the 14 years I have been here. Even if you become a legal resident, the odds of getting a loan are slim but doable. I know because I got one. Costa Rican banks have a very hard time verifying your financial information from the US, Canada, Europe, etc. thus making it difficult to secure a loan.
But don't lose hope! There are other ways to secure financing.
- Sometimes sellers or developers will offer owner financing.
- If you own a home in North America you can get a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit.
- You can use your retirement fund. If you are from the US, your 401k or IRA can be converted into a self-directed IRA which can be used to make your purchase.
- Lastly, you can use a private lender, but be prepared for higher interest rates then the local bank which are high to begin with.
Are you happy with the location you have decided on? Is being in close proximity to an International Airport convenient? Do you enjoy all the amenities such as Pricesmart, Walmart, state-of-the-art hospitals, a variety of grocery stores, plenty of fabulous restaurants, little boutiques, banks, hardware stores, appliance stores, post offices, dentist and doctors’ offices and more? Do you care about great roads and reliable internet? Most importantly the weather!
Obviously, Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa are my first choice but maybe you still want to search around? Maybe you are interested in the traffic jams and crime in the Central Valley around San Jose or what seems like the endless rain and humidity down in the southern Pacific region like Dominical, or Manuel Antonio? Now don’t get me wrong, they are interesting and can be fun places to visit, but not necessarily a place I want to have a home and spend lots of time.
Type of Property
Have you thought about what kind of property you want? Are you hoping to rent this property or is it strictly for personal use? Do you prefer an ocean view or a walk to the beach? Are you interested in having an HOA or being within a gated community? How many bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, lot size? It is good to know all the advantages and disadvantages of each style of property.
If you are not ready to move to Costa Rica maybe a piece of land is the right choice. Or if you want to get your foot into the door, start small and get a condo. It’s important to look at all your options to make sure if they work for you.
Just being able to afford the property isn't always enough. It is true that property taxes in Costa Rica are low, only a one quarter of one percent ( .25 of 1%) but there are always additional financial responsibilities. If this is a second home for you, then it will be double the everyday expenses such as utilities, upkeep, HOA fees, travel costs to get to the home, property management fees, taxes.
It is important to budget accordingly and factor in all the expenses. You want to guarantee you have enough in savings to cover any unexpected expenses. Things to consider can be….
- Do you have an emergency cash fund readily available?
- Do you have any credit card debt? Or still paying down another loan?
- Is your current home paid off? Or are you still carrying a mortgage?
I am eager to help make your dreams a reality but it is important for buyers to take a step back and see if they are both ready and qualified to take the leap.
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