With the holidays officially at an end, perhaps some of you walked away from the Christmas tree with a gift to yourself – a plan to invest in Costa Rica. It’s easy to get lost in the euphoria of an international move. Your dream is finally coming true. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, things can certainly go wrong in a hurry if you choose the wrong broker. So come down from cloud nine, just for a moment, to follow these important tips in selecting the right broker and ensure you’re protecting your investment.
1. Broker profile
Knowledge is imperative. As a client, you should ask for their license (usually from their home country) to sell real estate, and additionally a license from the Cámara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes Raices (in English, the Costa Rican Chamber of Realtors). Unfortunately just having this license doesn’t mean you’re in the clear either. The Costa Rican government allows just about anyone to have a license. Personally, I find it terrible and irresponsible. There is, however, a law to change this situation, though it has been waiting for several years to be approved. Sadly we will continue to damage our credibility and image until Costa Rica enforces stronger regulations on real estate brokers.
Simply put, if your broker has experience you will get the best deal that the market has to offer. He or she must know not only the regulations, but also the community. Speaking of the community, it’s imperative that your broker be at least bilingual in Spanish and obviously your mother language. I know a lot of great brokers who speak more than six languages. Any other way and you will be missing out when it comes to better understanding the locals, sellers and buyers.
This is admittedly difficult to monitor if you’re new to investing in real estate, but it’s also a far too important point to ignore. Ultimately, you have to do your homework and check with people from the area to get some background on your broker. If you turn a blind eye and work with someone unethical in his or her dealings, I promise you’ll be sorry later on. What starts bad will end even worse, so please take this seriously. I’ve heard too many people say they bought a ghost property, were lied to, or any other number of things suddenly went wrong.
The right broker will give you all their information and more. Buy and invest smartly by getting an experienced, licensed broker with an ethical background. Follow these steps and you’ll protect yourself from a nightmare.
Lucrecia Cordero has been a real estate professional for over 25 years after working as a journalist and public relations adviser prior to becoming a broker. She also currently serves as president of the Chamber of Realtors of Costa Rica in Guanacaste.