Video: The role of the real estate agent in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has no licensing requirements for real estate agents, so literally anyone can be one. This is good for aspiring agents, but aspiring buyers should understood exactly whom they’re working with, and whom that person is working for.

In this video, Costa Rican attorney Roger Petersen explores the role of the real estate agent in Costa Rica, especially in the closing process, and why you should proceed with caution.

Watch the video below.


Contact Roger Petersen at (506) 2288-2189 ext. 101 or at Read his blog at


    Robert Davey | February 17, 2017

  1. Mr. Petersons doomsday attack on real estate agents and brokers is nonsense.
    Although a Wild West does exist with untrained and unlicensed realtors many
    (over 800) are licensed and formally trained. Two formal private real estate
    bodies exist. CCBR and CRGAR. Both of these organizations operate
    independently and provide training to gain formal credentials recognized
    by the private entities and embraced by the membership as thier acting
    authorities. This is actually normal worldwide as 90% of real estate
    association representing countries world wide are self goverened without
    government regulation as verified by ICREA the International Real Estate
    Asociations Association. Real Estate reprepresentatives do represent
    buyers directly and I have to take Mr. Petersons slam on the professionals
    in the industry as highly inaccurate as delivered. Robert Davey,
    Plantacion Properties, Christie’s International Real Estate Costa Rica
    and former President of CRGAR.

  2. Thomas Patrick Rosenberger | February 17, 2017

  3. After reviewing this informative video, I now understand that people interested in purchasing property in Costa Rica are relying on a real estate agents experience in the country and the only reason to confide in an agent would be from the recommendations of satisfied customers. I wonder if this informed attorney recommends any particular real estate agents.

  4. Ronald Umana | February 17, 2017

  5. Thank you Roger is true we need to get the Real Estate license , its a priority !

  6. Brian Schaller | February 19, 2017

  7. Nice synopsis of Roger’s article Thomas. I agree with you.
    I’m not sure why Mr. Davey chose to write a hit job on a well written, succinct article concerning Costa Rica R.E. agency law.
    I don’t know where Mr. Davey is from but he appears to be intimidated by Roger and competition in general. I question opinions that are written without clarity and an obvious lack of understanding of basic English grammar.
    Christie’s professes to be an international business that caters to “elite” clientele.
    In today’s global economy, anyone can advertise as a professional without the requisite education. Roger gave us specific facts concerning R.E. in Costa Rica. Your angry spiel is more in tune with Trump’s defense of fraud relating to his R.E. schools and bankruptcies.
    Work hard and you’ll be successful, but don’t try to change Costa Rica.

  8. Rolf Beckman | February 19, 2017

  9. The comments were bang on! Especially the glacial pace of legal proceedings, there are still cases from last ice age working thought the legal system no doubt.

    In Cost Rica, the old saying of ‘an once of prevention is worth a pound cure’ is more like ton of cure… Be very cautious with all legal dealings in Costa Rica related to real estate and business.

    I can tell you from personal experience that breaking even in Costa Rica is a real win! I used to own the Blue Palm Hotel in Jaco and have personal experience, and have heard countless sad stories from guests in relation to this topic.

  10. Dan Burgess | February 20, 2017

  11. I am actually a Realtor out of San Francisco CA and am interested in learning more about the process. Very interesting that there is no MLS!

  12. Robert Davey | February 20, 2017

  13. Yes, punching out a message with thumbs on a phone doesn’t always come out edited so point taken. Also, I know Mr. Peterson personally and I do know him to be a top or ofetional. I am disagreeing with his message that licenses do not exist and that buyer’s do not have representatives. Both untrue. We have been working for over a decade to get government regulated licensing and that process has proven to be very slow but is gaining traction.

  14. Ivo Henfling | February 20, 2017

  15. For those who don’t know Bob Davey, Bob was one of the very first real estate brokers in Guanacaste with a formal real estate office in Flamingo, the Marina Trading Post. Bob is one of the most knowledgeable real estate brokers in the industry and just like me, always working in favor of professionalizing the real estate industry.

  16. Brian Schaller | February 20, 2017

  17. I still agree with Thomas, if one wants to buy R.E. in Costa Rica, find someone that has a track record that speaks for itself.
    Anyone can say they are a R.E. “broker”, including my favorite taxi driver
    Davey appears to have a problem with Roger explaining the LAW in Costa Rica. Mr. Davey, please tell me what remedies a seller or buyer has against anyone that receives a sales commission if there is misrepresentation or fraud?
    I don’t know what a “formal office” is nor does being one of the “first”, in and of itself a reason to support someone that attacks a C.R. R.E. attorney. If you want a diploma, go to law school!
    If you want more clients write a column or tell all why you deserve that work. Again, your hit job is unprofessional.

  18. Roger Petersen | February 23, 2017

  19. Thank you everybody for your comments.

    My parents were real estate agents in Costa Rica from the 70’s through the 90’s working alongside the CCBR (Camara Costarricense de Bienes Raices) until they retired. So I understand the work, dedication and hardships that go along with being a real estate agent in Costa Rica. My video simply pointed to the following undisputed facts.

    1. There is no mandatory licensing of real estate agents
    2. There is no single centralized MLS system
    3. The real estate agent owes a fiduciary duty to the seller that pays their commission.
    4. Buyers should always do their own due diligence.

    I think referring to my video as a doomsday attack on real estate agents is very misguided since it is no different then the message on the CGAR website which states that “In 2017, in the absence of serious efforts to regulate the real estate industry by the government of Costa Rica, CRGAR has decided to take responsibility for monitoring the real estate environment in the country. As an unlicensed, professional real estate environment, there are instances of Trademark Violations, False Claims of Credentials, Ethical Violations, Illegal Activity by Foreign Realtors, as well as Clients of Concern.”

    If foreigners want to “help” Costa Rica and the Costa Rican people in running their own real estate market it should be been done supporting and working along with the existing CCBR (Camara Costarricense de Bienes Raices) which has been around for 43 years. We do not need to create division among the real estate providers and certainly not an attitude of “we are going to teach those Costa Ricans how things should be done “ All of us that work and depend on a robust and safe functioning real estate industry in Costa Rica should work together to ensure that the errors of the past which have tarnished the reputation of Costa Rica are avoided in the future. I am glad the video has sparked a constructive debate about how to get there.

  20. darlene James | February 28, 2017

  21. I have been looking for real estate vacation property in Costa Rica and dealing with a Professional , well educated realtor, He is helping us with each step, explains the law of costa rica , the procedures of purchasing,

    I would highly recommend this realtor to anyone looking in the area . Broker Associate Re/Max Tres Amigos Joseph A. Emanuelli

  22. Justin Timber | March 2, 2017

  23. BRAVO! I, as an ex professional well established and successful Licensed RE BROKER in Beverly Hills California, salute Mr Petersen for his excellent video which points out the Fact that there are NO licensed R.E. Brokers here in Costa Rica..despite what Ivo and one critic “a la Extraordinaire ” here dispute. I have been trying to get these points across for YEARS to no avail. It is like flogging a dead horse !
    Perhaps he states his points more eloquently. For that I thank him.
    Many years ago I, like many other buyers I came here “assuming” that people who had an office or a nice business card was indeed a professional R.E.agent …WRONG! (Well you know the old expression of “assume makes an ass out of u and me..) I soon found that to be very accurate.

    After “qualifying myself ” to at least 10 such “realtors” by telling them WHEN I intended buying, and WHERE in Costa Rica, i chose to live, and How Much I wanted to invest (csh or loan) , and how far or near I wanted to be from major Hospitals, Malls. restaurants, airport. and even the style of home I preferred, and “not in a Gringo filled area ” because I wanted to absorb the local culture and more important I wanted and to learn Spanish, by doing so.
    I felt sure each of them knew they had a good solid buyer on hand .and felt them spending the commission that was about to appear…
    WRONG again because of their obviously NOT listening to a word I said..and so many wasted hours and days were spent in their car using their gas and driving me for HOURS at a time to destinations NOT even CLOSE to what I had explained that I wanted . I almost begged them to please turn the car around and head back to where we had started on this futile expedition.
    After trying and still not finding out that there were no R.E Schools in Costa Rica, so how could they be licensed ? Well the obvious is that I found the first property myself, and have continued to do so although many were never “exclusive listings” IF a competent individual pointed me in that property direction I made sure he or she was compensated.
    I DO understand that many people , as in Hollywood Celebrities do not want a sign outside of their home and usually rely on word of mouth. OR Intelligent advertising . Now with Internet, a breeze whereby you can QUALIFY the buyer in PERSON before disclosing the sellers address. YES the fiduciary relationship is to the SELLER . How can that happen if “agents” here RARELY share listing commissions with other brokers who may have THE buyer if said property,. NOT sharing with other brokers is ILLEGAL in USA, and cause for losing ones license. GREED in attempting to keep ALL of the commission is a gross disservice to a seller!
    MLS is badly needed , and those who say there Is one..Please show me the $$$ All I say that yu shuldTRY to find a foreign licensed broker who at least has had 6 months schooling and passed many difficult tests to qualify for a R License..At least they may know the ropes, and have passed the Law and also the appraisal tests in order to correctly PRICE the property for sale so that sellers do not price themselves out of the market, and “agents” do not low ball the price for a quick commission When did you EVER here of a “broker here pricing the property for sale ?
    And another important law in USA R.E. is if after an inspection a major fault (not cosmetic) is found the “agent ‘ MUST disclose this to both buyer and seller before a “deal” is made. after doing your due diligence then I suggest you find an attorney as good as Mr Petersen to help the closing go smoothly..
    Has anyone covered “Escrows”? I will leave that to the next pro 🙂

  24. Brian Schaller | March 6, 2017

  25. Beverly Hills! Wow!

  26. Ginger | March 30, 2017

  27. I find this article right on also. We tried to call many R.E. Agents. No return calls, No answer to

  28. Ginger | March 30, 2017

  29. This article is right on. I tried to call my R.E. Agents and to no avail, no return calls or emails. I did get the Ivo Hemfling with Go Dutch on the phone and found him quite RUDE and Abrupt himself.. It is trail and errors. WE go a recommendation and we used and loved her. We were shown exactly what we wanted and purchased in two weeks. She was honest and told us she only specializes in Mountain Homes for Grecia and Puriscal, that there were other areas that we might like and to get a realtor for that area, because they know it better. She did not try to pick one and get a commission for ref. We had a smooth ride and have heard of nightmares and lawyers stealing the deposit money and they have been in court for 6 years. So Mr. Peterson is right just beware.

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