Legal Ease: Purchasing a Condominium
In Costa Rica, all real properties are duly registered within the Registro Nacional (National Registry) and all relevant information about the title and the survey maps must be duly recorded. Any modification in the status of a title or any claims that might affect it must also be noted on the registry, making it possible to verify said title.
Before buying any real estate in Costa Rica, potential buyers should get proper advice from a Costa Rica real estate attorney, who will conduct a proper and full Due Diligence (DD). The purpose of this DD is to verify that there are no annotations, liens, easements, or encumbrances affecting the property, confirm that any and all taxes, dues, and utilities are duly paid and current, ensure that the property has legal access to water and electricity, determine if there are zoning restrictions or Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and appraise any other relevant matters. The real estate attorney’s office will conduct the research and verifications with the National Registry, Municipality, Department of Social Security, Tax Office, and other government offices. Hiring a licensed contractor to perform a home/condo inspection alerting the buyer of any potential problems that need attention or repairs is also highly advisable.
When purchasing a condominium, the DD shall also include CC&Rs or Condo Bylaws, existence of the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) legal and accounting books (duly legalized), the last three HOA meeting minutes, breakdown on the approved budget, dues per month, any extraordinary assessment/dues approved, proper registration of the HOA legal administrator’s term, any lawsuits against or in favor of the HOA, the HOA’s insurance policy, voting rights set up, common and private areas of the HOA, survey map for fully-built condos, parking space assignment (titled or common use for condo owners), pet policies, and Master Condo bylaws for condos that belong and are subject to a Master Condo complex.
Before the end of the DD period and based on the DD report, purchasers can negotiate with the seller for necessary repairs or credits for repairs, accept the real property in its present condition “as is”, or cancel the sale.