Knowing how to choose a realtor in Costa Rica makes all the difference in whether your purchase or sale of real estate is a success or a struggle. It can be a nerve-wracking process. It always involves money and unknowns, and, frankly, salesmen have been the subject of many jokes, even if they aren’t selling used cars. No one likes to feel like they are being swindled, and the feeling of uneasiness is even greater when you are selling or buying a property in a foreign land. To build your confidence and increase the chances of a pleasant and productive experience, here are a few pointers. This can truly be a Cinderella story, as you will see!
First of all, do your due diligence. Research the area you are looking at and read articles about the general condition of the market there. There are a lot of people writing blogs about every little aspect of life here in Costa Rica. Some of these blogs are really good, some are people that just complain, but both can be a wealth of insider information. But – beware of accepting just one person’s opinion. As and example of how to go about finding a potential place to live in Costa Rica, google the phrase “real estate Playa Hermosa”. Select a site and start researching the property listings of the various real estate agencies and/or individual realtors in that area. Sometimes you can get a feel for realtors and their style through his website. Don’t be quick to judge a book by its cover! Some long-time realtors may not have a slick, modern websites, but they are a wealth of knowledge and experience. On the other hand, a slick modern website indicates the agent is willing to spend hard-earned money to promote his listings. As a minimum send an inquiry and see how fast they respond.
The next step is the Glass Slipper Test: Line up the prospective realtors and see which one the show fits, especially if your intention is to sell a property. Just because someone calls themselves a realtor, the only people that can legally sell real estate in Costa Rica must be members of NAR (National Association of Realtors). Request a meeting, and take note of qualities such as punctuality and appearance. Does he/she take a personal interest in you? If you are not a high-dollar client, do you still feel your business is valued and important? Trust your instincts; it is very hard to change a first impression. Ask a lot of questions. How long have they lived in Costa Rica – specifically the area in which you are interested? How long have they worked in real estate? Are they legally allowed to work in Costa Rica, are they a SUGEF registered real estate agent? Is selling real estate a full-time job or a hobby? Are they affiliated with any real estate associations in Costa Rica or internationally? What geographical area do they cover and what is their area of expertise? How and where will your property be marketed and promoted?
Good realtors should be able to list off all the promotional websites and platforms they will use. How many sales have they completed in the last year? Of course, the answer to that question may depend to some extent on the market in the area, so it is a good idea to investigate the market trends beforehand. If the realtor in question begins to make excuses for why they haven’t sold anything in 2-1/2 years when you know properties are selling like hotcakes in that region, well…you may have an ugly stepsister on your hands. Sanitize your glass slipper and try it on the next eligible one! If things are clicking and the shoe seems to fit, it is time to discuss fees and terms of the contract. Any agent worth his salt will have all that information readily available.
After the interview, ask yourself: Am I comfortable with the answers provided? Does the agent have experience in my target area? Does he have the best marketing plan for my property and enough tools to promote my property? Do I like him?
When you have reviewed the roster and chosen the realtor with whom you feel most comfortable, it is time to let him know. If you are selling a property, you will need to decide if you want to commit to an exclusivity agreement. It may seem like you will have better odds if you are non-exclusive with one realtor. Prince Charming may want to keep his options open! However, and this is important an exclusive sale agreement has benefits. Most real estate agents are not going to invest in advertising if there is a chance another agent is going to sell the property. The other agent could feel the same way, resulting in neither agent marketing your property. Just because you have a lot of realtors involved in the sale of your property does not mean that you will get more buyers. Here in Costa Rica many sellers think this is the way to go. In reality, it takes longer to sell your property. It is much more productive to have one motivated, committed agent whose livelihood depends on selling your property and who will pull out all the stops to get it done.
I hope this helps you in your search for a princess or prince realtor, and that you live happily ever after in beautiful Costa Rica.
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