|How does Title insurance work?
Title insurance is offered to ensure that the property in question has no liens or financial encumbrances. In Costa Rica when you purchase a property you inherit all aspects of that property. For example, if a property was ever used for a financial loan in the past and the mortgage has yet to be paid, you, as the new proprietor of that land, would inherit that mortgage. Good attorneys will automatically research a title for you to ensure the property is clear and available to sell. If not, feel comfort that escrow companies, such as Stewart Title, can do the background check for you. To most, this step of the negotiation seems basic but there have been instances when a property wasn't properly researched and issues have been inherited. What happens if you find that the property you are interested in DOES contain financial liens? Your attorney should include a clause in the contract that the sum owed be paid from the monies given as the selling price for the property. Again, a good attorney will instruct you on all of these matters.
Do most properties come with electricity and water?
Most properties with homes will have electricity and water. However, most lots or small farms that are purchased do not have electricity OR water. Nearly every property you come upon will need to have a well dug somewhere on the property. Some larger farms can use one well to feed many lots... it all depends on the layout of the property. There are certain seasons to dig for a well and not dig for a well. You want to make sure you hit your "True" water source. Any well digging professional can easily advise you on finding water. As for electricity, you need to provide your own wire (and quite often, poles) to your property. Having a power source near a property can save a lot of time and money.
How do you obtain electricity and water and how much does it usually cost?
If you're providing power down a public road, the government requires that you place a pole every 50 meters (160 ft)... you can guesstimate that cost to be about $1000 per pole. It's really important to pay special attention to local power points when looking for property... you can really save yourself a bundle. A well's cost can range anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on how deep the well needs to be to reach water.
Why are there so many realtors in Costa Rica? Is there any type of licensing?
If you've traveled through Costa Rica then you've probably noticed that every waitress, desk clerk, hotel maintenance worker and taxi driver are trying to sell you property. It is true that in Costa Rica there are no licensing requirements whatsoever. This does make it very difficult as a customer interested in Real Estate!! So, who do you trust? It's easy to go for the names you know and trust. Nearly every large Real Estate Company has some sort of representation in nearly every city of Costa Rica. That's not to say that the small, independent companies don't have their fair share of properties, either. The reality is you really need to meet a person that you trust. Stick with someone you feel comfortable with and make sure it sounds like they know what they're talking about. There are definitely horror stories on both ends. The more researched you are on realty in Costa Rica the better off you will be.
Are there advantages to owning property on a Public Road? Any disadvantages?
We should really make a calendar of "Public Roads of Costa Rica" because many of them aren't roads at all. In fact, many public roads dead end into mountains and rivers and are just waiting for some one to revive them and bring them back to use. What is considered a "road" here doesn't necessarily have to be. But, according to Costa Rican law, if you have property touching a public road you have the advantage of splitting up your land into as small a lots as you'd like. In accordance with this law, Condominiums are ONLY allowed to be built on a public road. Don't plan to buy a mountain, create a private access and build condos. It's against the law. If the bottom of your mountain property touches a public road then you can put condos wherever you'd like. Condominium projects are excellent developments and have a huge return. Therefore, land on a public road tends to be very sought after. The only disadvantage of a public road would be the fact that you can't build within 5 meters (16ft) of the public road and you may encounter a large amount of traffic because it is a public road. I suppose that could be an advantage, too, depending on your situation.