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7 reasons not to look for a Costa Rican vacation home during the Christmas holidays

Thousands of tourists visit Costa Rica during the Christmas holidays, either trying to get away from the cold and snow, or looking forward to finding their future Costa Rican vacation home.

If you plan to take your vacation during the Christmas holidays, Costa Rica has so much to offer, including beaches on two oceans, volcanoes, bird watching, ziplines, bungee jumping, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. I recommend you look into all your options for leisure before you book your flight and your hotel.

However, if you plan on coming to Costa Rica over Christmas to hunt for  a Costa Rican vacation home, it may be best to reconsider your timing. Here are seven reasons why this might be a bad idea:

1. Most real estate offices in Costa Rica close down for the holidays so their staff can spend time with their families.

2. Real estate agents who don’t have any family generally don’t work either because they head for the beach to enjoy the holiday.

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3. Real estate agents who are still wet behind the ears and are convinced by a buyer to stay and work during the holidays will find out that it is a waste of time and effort (see reasons 4-7 below).

4. The National Register, which is where all property deeds are registered, usually closes from Dec. 18 to Jan. 4 every year, so deeds cannot be served to the register until the second week of January.

5. In addition to the National Register closing, attorneys and notary publics in Costa Rica also go on holiday. There won’t be anyone around to write up a purchase-sale agreement or a deed for a vacation home purchase.

6. Homeowners who have their property for sale often go to the beach during holiday season, so nobody will be home to open the door. We don’t use lock boxes in Costa Rica and housekeepers go home to visit their families.

7. Vacation home owners will have the unit that’s for sale rented during the high season, so you won’t be able to get inside.

If you have never been in the Central Valley during the Christmas holidays, you’ll be surprised by the feeling that you’re in a ghost town because so many people head for the beaches.

If you have already planned your Christmas holidays to look at a Costa Rican vacation home, you should contact your real estate agent to make sure someone is going to be available. If not, don’t worry, there is plenty to do and see in Costa Rica. You can take a well-deserved vacation and come back to look at real estate at a better time.

Ivo Henfling, a Dutch expat who has lived in Costa Rica since 1980, founded the American-European Real Estate Group in 1999, which was the first functioning MLS with affiliate agents from coast to coast. Ivo Henfling can be reached at (506) 2289-5125 / 8834-4515 or at

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