It is absolutely no problem for foreigners to buy and own property in Costa Rica. The Costarican law is valid for everybody! The legislation assures the purchase, the ownership and the sales of land and property regardless of a persons origin.
There is a limitation for acquisitions of property in a 200 m zone to the coast, an estuary, nature reserves and islands in front of the coast, but those limitations are valid for private persons only.
The registration of property is very well organized. According to the Costarican civil law, all property is to be registered in the Registro Nacional. Property documents contain all information about the according real estate including mortgages, rights of way or usufruct rights.
Before buying real estate there should always precede research for an adequate property title as well as registered liability like mortgages or usufruct rights. Copies of the land register map as well as the sales contract should be verified by a lawyer before signing anything. The actual transference of the ownership is legally sealed by signing the sales contract. In case of a sales process that lasts a long period of time, there is also the possibility to define a preliminary sales contract. The buyer of a real estate has the choice to make the contract as an individual, together with other people or in the name of a capital company.
The sales contract is handled by an authorized notary. As per law the notary is a neutral party and as such he is obliged to represent both interested sides. For those who do not have enough Spanish language skills, it is recommended to consult a lawyer that speaks the according language or hire a translator.
The search for the adequate property is in general very exhausting and time consuming. Reliable real estate agents are normally of great help, they take over some of the work, ease your day and navigate you professionally through the jungle of offers on the Costarican real estate market.
With real estate business, the lawyers fees comply with legal regulations. According to the official tables, lawyers fees are between 1,25 and 1,5% of the actual sales price of the property. Transfer or Sales taxes as well as other legal fees are not included in those lawyer fees and sum up to about 2,7%. If there are no other terms defined, a hired estate agent normally charges 5% of the sales price.