Real Estate Made Easy With Guide

February 26, 2010

If you have any questions about buying, renting or building property in Costa Rica, Christopher Howard’s “Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica” may help.

The exhaustive, instructional guide, released in 2009, has covered the gamut of all things real estate in Costa Rica, from architectural designs, title insurance, property laws, taxes and selling a home to cultural expectations. The 519-page volume is a valuable resource for both potential buyers and longtime property owners in Costa Rica.

“I’ve kept an eye on real estate in the country and had pretty good knowledge of the market,” said Howard, a 30-year resident of Costa Rica who has written more than 10 books on living and retiring in the region, including “The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica.” “I remain in constant communication with people in the real estate business, and when I decided to pursue the book I had two other people helping me who went around the country doing most of the research, and then we all collaborated on the writing.”

Howard said the impetus to write the book stemmed from surging real estate sales in Costa Rica during 2006 and 2007, and cited a 2006 CNBC report that deemed the country one of the top five hottest emerging real estate markets in the world.

“It was on fire at that time,” Howard said. “Particularly in Guanacaste (the northwestern province) and in the Central Pacific, which was going crazy at that time.”

“Lately it seems like the trend is moving toward the Central Valley,” he added.

Wherever real estate is, was or will be in Costa Rica, this guide has it covered. Using reporting from former Tico Times business reporter Peter Krupa and Lindsay Whipp, who has worked for both Bloomberg news service and The Financial Times, Howard has created an informative guide that caters to the foreign reader. The writing is clear and explanatory, and the coverage meticulous and helpful.

All 16 chapters of the book are useful. The opening chapter provides an overview of living in Costa Rica and what to expect from a cultural angle. The second chapter gets into national real estate, opening with the line: “First-time home buyers – as well as people who have bought property in other countries – will want to read this chapter in order to get a general understanding of how buying and selling works in Costa Rica.”

It is this type of straightforward, concise dialogue that aids the reader. Howard and crew understand that purchasing, selling and renting property in a foreign land presents a daunting task, and the guide simplifies it.

The central chapters cover the finer points of property ownership, explaining the laws, due diligence, insurance, financing and permitting processes of Costa Rican bureaucracy. Foreign property buyers are often miffed and perplexed by the extensive, confusing bureaucratic processes involved in obtaining property in Costa Rica, and the guide provides its own “due diligence” to the reader in Chapter 8. In referencing the Costa Rican legal system, the book notes: “That labyrinth of paperwork and linoleum-hallwayed public buildings is best avoided in any circumstance, and especially if you’re buying a property in the country so you can get away from it all.”

The detailed advice that follows seems to derive from the point of view of the experts. It is evident Howard, Krupp and Whipp have observed and experienced the process of property ownership in Costa Rica, and that the book was crafted to pass along their wisdom.

The formula works.

Christopher Howard’s “Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica” is available for $26.95 at

7th Street

Books in San José (Ca. 7, Av. Central/ 1, 2256-8251) or discounted at $17.79 from www.amazon.com.

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