San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lehman Brothers Finance Mortgages for Foreigners

Lehman Brothers Bank now finances mortgages for foreigners hoping to buy properties in Costa Rica. Lehman officially announced the launch of this new service June 20 at the Paradisus Playa Conchal hotel in the northwest province of Guanacaste.

Lehman is the first foreign bank to provide home financing to nonresidents. The Delaware-based institution struck a deal with Stewart Title, which has an office in San José, to facilitate the process on local soil. However, the bank does not mean for the deal to be exclusive.

Up until three years ago, nonresidents were not allowed to take out home mortgages at Costa Rican banks. That did not deter home sales. Instead, potential property owners would come with ready cash or take out a second mortgage in their respective countries. Local banks have since loosened their lending restrictions, opening up the mortgage market to foreigners.

Lehman has strong name recognition internationally, something that gives a sense of confidence and security to future borrowers, explained Oscar Salas, a commercial manager at Stewart Title.

Lehman began fielding mortgage inquiries as of July 1, the same date the bank opened a similar agreement in Mexico.

In general, future clients can pick from six different amortization periods, ranging from one to 30 years, for fixed-rate mortgages with 20 percent down on the home purchase price.

The mortgages will be secured with the property through a lien filed with the property section of the National Registry.

Only those with good credit need apply, as Lehman is looking for credit scores of 700 or higher.

Lehman will deal solely with U.S. citizens at first, and plans to expand its operations in time.


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