Are Real Estate Agents Licensed in Costa Rica?
As a prospective buyer or seller, choosing from among the many real estate agents in Costa Rica can be a tough decision. How you choose your agent can be based on many different factors.
Two key questions are whether or not your real estate agent is:
- Registered with Costa Rica’s General Superintendency of Financial Institutions (SUGEF)
Other considerations can also provide more comfort when choosing an expert who will guide you through the entire process of buying or selling a property in Costa Rica.
Changes are coming
Yes, there is licensing for real estate agents in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, it is not required by law; but we, as an industry, are working very hard to change that.
Not only does the government of Costa Rica not legally require real estate agents to be licensed, but in general, it is very lax about licensing requirements for most other businesses and professions. Hair stylists don’t need a license and neither do massage therapists, personal trainers or most contractors. It’s up to each industry to take control of its own destiny and change it, just like the United States did 50 or 60 years ago.
Fortunately, the government of Costa Rica is changing its ways. Recently, the country passed a law that requires ALL real estate agents and property managers to be registered by SUGEF. This government authority oversees all banking, investments and money transactions. For example, escrow agents and money management companies are registered with SUGEF.
To be able to register with SUGEF, individuals must be a permanent resident or a citizen of Costa Rica. They must have a background check done by the Costa Rica OIJ and a U.S. background check done by the FBI. Their bank accounts will be monitored by SUGEF as well as the banks themselves. And if they receive a commission or handle third-party funds, but are not registered with SUGEF, their accounts will be immediately shut down.
Real estate boards
Professional real estate agents in Costa Rica formed their own boards over a decade ago, and have encouraged everyone in the industry to join. The classes are based on the same requirements as those for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the United States. We monitor and police ourselves, adhering to the highest standards of ethical practices.
The two main real estate associations in Costa Rica are the Costa Rica Global Associations of Realtors (CRGAR) and the Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Agents (CCCBR), or Camara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes y Raices in Spanish. Both associations together are pushing Costa Rica’s senate to pass a law making it mandatory that all real estate agents become licensed according to a standard of ethics you would expect in this industry. We hope in the next couple years to have this accomplished.
In the meantime, it is up to buyers and sellers to help us weed out the fly-by-night agents in our industry.
Be sure to ask
If you are trying to choose from among the many real estate agents in Costa Rica, please ask each contender the following four questions:
1. Are you a legal permanent resident or citizen of Costa Rica?
If the answer is no, or vague at best, immediately stop communicating with this person and find another agent.
Ask to see everyone’s cedula, which is their Costa Rica identification. Anyone who is not a permanent resident is working illegally. First of all, those who have not even taken the time to invest in their own ability to stay and work legally in this country surely are not going to have your best interest at heart. Secondly, they are just looking to make enough commission to stay a little while longer in paradise, before packing up and moving to another destination. Their only concern is their income, NOT finding you the correct, best and safe investment. They surely won’t be here later on when you move or need to resell your property.
2. Are you licensed by CRGAR or CCCBR?
Anyone who self-represents as an agent, but has not taken the licensing classes, obviously can’t be educated about all the intricacies involved with purchasing property in a foreign country. Find yourself another agent who treats real estate as a career, not just a way to pay the bills or something to do to keep from being bored.
3. What do you own in Costa Rica? Show it to me.
This is an essential question. It is amazing how many real estate agents don’t own a piece of property themselves, but rather rent a house or a condo. How can you expect to get investment advice from individuals who haven’t even purchased a property with their own money? Surely these people are not in this business for the long haul. And they can’t be very good at what they do if they don’t even make enough money to buy a small piece of paradise themselves.
4. Are you registered with SUGEF?
This is obvious. If the answer is no, then immediately say goodbye to this individual and find yourself another agent.
About our agents
All of the real estate agents at Tres Amigos Realty are:
- Legal permanent residents or citizens
- Licensed with CRGAR or CCCBR
- Property owners in Costa Rica
- Registered with SUGEF
All of the real estate agents at Tres Amigos Realty Group have a vested interest in Costa Rica and have chosen to make this their career and home. We live here and LOVE Costa Rica, and are committed to helping you find your little piece of paradise.
Hope to see you down here soon! Know that you can count on us when you need a Costa Rica real estate agent.
Tres Amigos Realty Group
Playas del Coco