To purchase titled property in Costa Rica, these steps must be followed:

1. Due diligence of the property: Before buying a property, it is recommended to conduct a title investigation to get all the information about the current and legal status of the property.  The due diligence should also consider reviewing zoning regulations, environmental restrictions, the availability of public services, and general regulatory compliance.

Depending on the type of property and its location, due diligence elements may vary.  It is common to enter a purchase option contract before executing a transfer deed, so that the buyer has time to review the property to his/her satisfaction.

2. Incorporation of a new company: A common practice in Costa Rica is to acquire property through a new company.  This instrument is especially useful if the buyer wishes to sell the property in the future through a share transfer, or if the property will be managed from outside of Costa Rica.

If the property to be purchased is already owned by a company, it can be acquired by purchasing shares/partnership interests (depending on the type of entity), provided that a due diligence of the company is conducted.  Nevertheless, this would imply the payment of the “Indirect Tax”, which is equal to 1.5% of the real estate.   

3. Public Deed of Transfer: Once the buyer has a clear view and understanding of the status of the property, the parties can execute a public deed of transfer of ownership.  The deed of transfer shall contain all stipulations relating to the transfer of real estate, including the basic information of the property, the buyer, the  seller, the purchase price, and any other terms and conditions of the sale.   

The transfer deed must be signed before a notary public of Costa Rica and registered at the Real Property Department.  If the buyer chooses to purchase the property through a the acquisition of the company´s shares/partnership interests (depending on the type of entity), the agreement can be formalized in a private document.  

4. Registration process: Once the public deed of transfer is signed, it must be registered at the Real Property Department of the Notational Public Registry.  

As soon as the public deed is filed at the Public Registry for its  annotation, the property will be protected against any interest of third parties.  While the filing of the public deed guarantees its preemption rights, it does not automatically guarantee the registration.  The Public Registry must first approve the sale contract and verify that all legal requirements have been met and that the corresponding taxes and expenses have been duly paid.  

The property transfer registration takes between five (5) and ten (10) business days.