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Male vs. female buyers of Costa Rican real estate

A consumer outlook survey by a large U.S. real estate franchise noted that while men tend to position themselves as more responsible for the financial aspects of the home-buying process, women tend to find their duties in the research and planning areas.

I’m very bad with statistics and surveys but in my experience, the first part about men and finances is correct. Yet I would question the second part.

I find that women tend to make the final decision about buying  Costa Rican real estate. I have not found that women do a lot of research or planning, but that they tend to say, “Honey, this is the home that I want.” Then it’s up to the husband to pull out the checkbook.

Who’s the boss

Many years ago, I had a client from the U.S. who needed a sabbatical for a few years and wanted to give his kids the opportunity to grow up in a different environment. He thought we’d find a house in two days, which turned into a full week of looking at homes for sale. I always assumed he was just doing the scouting and would have his wife visit when he had three or more options to show her.

When he made an offer on a home that he really liked, I found out how wrong I was. His wife moved after the purchase, and it took her two years to take any liking to Costa Rica at all. Some men have the guts to do something like that. I’ve always said that a guy who says he’s the boss at home is a liar. Well, this guy wasn’t.

Is there a real difference between a male home buyer and a female home buyer? In my opinion, there is a huge difference. Female buyers tend to look at a home in a much more detailed way. A lot of home features that appeal to women in particular have to do with the functioning of the house, while male buyers focus on details that have to do with their own comfort.

GoDutch Realty - Costa Rica real estate

Female buyers

There is a steady growth of single female buyers and lesbian buyers, which shows that the Costa Rican real estate market is changing almost as fast as other markets. More and more women in Costa Rica are looking for a professional career before getting serious about marriage.

A few years ago, it was customary in Costa Rica for people to live with their parents until they got married. Now many young people, as soon as they have an income and can apply for a mortgage, move into their own condo and become independent.

Female buyers often have strong opinions about the floor plan, whether the sun shines into the bedroom or into the living room in the morning and the amount of storage the home has to offer.

Male buyers

Single male buyers are not far behind in numbers, and there is a large gay market. Male buyers are very different from female buyers, in my experience. They generally care more about the accessibility of the home and the location, the social spaces the house offers, where the flat-screen TV would go and whether a large fridge with icemaker would fit in the kitchen. The view is a very important feature for a male buyer.

While in the past many men would stay with their parents until they married, young men now are also looking to be independent if they can afford to do so.

When couples buy

Young Costa Ricans are now buying much more Costa Rican real estate than they ever have, as the arrival of large corporations has made it possible for professionals to receive a much higher income than ever before. This in turn has opened up the possibilities of a mortgage for them, especially for couples with two good incomes.

That brings us to the fact that nowadays, it’s not only the partner writing the check who makes a purchase decision, but both partners make the final decision equally, as both will be paying the bills.

Do you have any insights on dealing with male vs. female real estate buyers? Please leave them in the comments box below.

Ivo Henfling is a Dutch national, a resident of Costa Rica since 1980 and a Costa Rican real estate broker for over 20 years. He is the founder of GoDutch Realty, which covers several locations in the Central Valley, including Escazú, Santa Ana, Atenas, Cariari and Grecia.

Ivo Henfling can be reached at (506) 2289-5125 / 8834-4515 or at

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