In today’s day and age, when you need something quickly, where else would you go but the Internet? The real estate world in Costa Rica is no exception. Detailed information on properties around the country is available on the National Registry’s Web site, www.registronacional.go.cr.
Using a property’s number, or matrícula, those interested can search for a description of the property and find out who owns it and whether it has any liens or legal problems, explained National Registry Director Dagoberto Sibaja.
“With this information, both parties are ready to negotiate and look for a public notary to prepare a contract,” he said.
Receiving about 1 million hits per day, the Registry’s Web site is one of the most popular sites in Costa Rica. This flood of traffic recently caused the site to work frustratingly slowly, and a revamping was necessary, Sibaja said.
The registry recently upped its bandwidth to speed up the site, and a redesign is expected to be completed this year to make it more user-friendly and provide more complete information.
Additionally, the registry hopes to give its site the capacity to receive and process documents electronically, replacing the wasteful paper chain currently required for notaries to submit information, Sibaja said.
With an electronic system, a public notary would be able to download a form from the registry’s Web site, fill out the required information, pay necessary fees online and submit the form electronically for consideration to be included in the database.
The current process involves paying fees at a bank and going to a National Registry branch in person to submit a hefty stack of paperwork, much of which the registry doesn’t even look at, Sibaja said.
“The idea is that we don’t receive so much paper, that we don’t get a long document that doesn’t even interest the registry,” he said.
Two companies, GBM Costa Rica and Flecha Roja, have been contracted for this and other Web-based improvement projects.
The electronic processing program should be finished by 2009.
Security is another issue the site has encountered recently. The registry discovered that some companies were using “bots” to crawl the database and gather clients’ names and e-mails for marketing purposes.
“Thank God, they haven’t robbed any more information,” Sibaja said. “We’ve had to review our mechanisms to provide more security.”
A system has been installed that requires a user to enter a series of coded numbers and letters before information becomes available. A human being, rather than a computer, manages this system, providing more security.
The registry is also working to improve and fortify its databases, installing new hardware and software to take advantage of “the latest technology,” Sibaja said. GBM is managing a project to improve the real estate database with the goal of preventing system crashes.
Security has been taken into consideration when outsourcing these improvement projects. In cases where “delicate” information is at hand, National Registry personnel work side by side with those from private companies to make sure no information is leaked. In some cases, private companies have been required to sign confidentiality agreements.
“We’ve done a lot with these changes to the databases and the Internet. It’s still not an ideal system, not the system we want, but it’s a system that can provide services without a lot of problems,” Sibaja said.