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The Role of the Closing Attorney in Costa Rica

by Roger A. Petersen for the Easy Times

Costa Rica ocean view mansion for saleAt every Costa Rica real estate closing, the role of the closing attorney should be clear. Each real estate agent works different and usually many details are left to the closing attorney.

And the choice of closing attorney is not always in the power of the real estate agent. In a cash purchase, the buyer has the choice of the closing attorney and the real estate agent can of course recommend the buyer who to his/her opinion is the best closing attorney to work with.

In case of a mortgage by a Costarican bank, the bank’s attorney will do the closing. In case of owner financing, the seller will want to protect his interest and generally there are two attorneys involved.

 For this reason, I would like to clarify some details that during the real estate purchase process will be important.

I. Earnest money and establishing Escrow When Possible

In all real estate transactions that we handle we prefer to designate our escrow company as the escrow agent for the earnest money deposit. Some Sellers will accept this while others will insist on holding the earnest money deposit. This changes on a case by case basis and depends a lot on the real estate agent and his/her interest in securing this deposit.

Regardless, the conditions of escrow and disbursement of the earnest money deposit to either the Seller or the Buyer needs to be fully addressed and understood by all parties to the transaction. On many occasions we find contracts that are vague regarding the disbursement of the earnest money deposit and vague as to what constitutes a breach of the closing terms and conditions of the agreement.

Escazu luxury home for saleII. The Responsibility of the Closing Attorney.

It is very important to have the buyers real estate agent involved with the closing Attorney throughout the transaction to avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings. If the closing Attorney is hired by the Buyer, the Attorney will perform the following:

1. The Initial Title Search.

Most title searches initiate with an initial on-line title search which is conducted at the National Registry website. Depending on the property and the findings of the initial search the title search can be expanded to include a manual search of the National Registry Archives.

2. Due Diligence.

Depending on the transaction the amount of due diligence required must be contemplated and proper time allotted for completion.

3. Drafting the Purchase Agreement.

If retained to do so the Attorney will draft the purchase agreement either a Reciprocal Promise to Buy and Sell or a Purchase Option depending on the transaction. The Buyers agent will supply the necessary information on the property, price and other details to draft this agreement.

Costa Rica closing documents4. Preparing the Transfer Deed

In Costa Rica the transfer of property title can only be executed by a property transfer deed before a Notary Public who in turn pays the applicable transfer taxes and records the property transfer deed. It is the responsibility of the closing Attorney to draft the deed and record it in the National Register. Once the recording is completed he must deliver the original document to the Buyer.

If the sale is being done by way of a stock transfer of the corporation the closing Attorney will prepare all necessary documents to transfer ownership, board of directors and powers of attorney of the property from the Seller to the Buyer.

By Attorney Roger Petersen for the Easy Times

Attorney Roger Petersen is specialized in Costa Rica real estate and is fully Bi-lingual English and Spanish. As a foreigner, you will feel totally comfortable using him as a closing attorney. Roger is also the author of “The Legal Guide to Costa Rica“. Feel free to contact him by email

Roger is also the author of “The complete guide to Property Taxes and the New Luxury Home Tax in Costa Rica“.

If you purchase a property in Costa Rica, using your IRA or 401K, Roger is the expert attorney on this matter. He also offers the following services:

Real Estate Closings
Property Title Searches
Due Diligence
Escrow Accounts
Development Planning
Residential and Commercial Leases
Title Insurance
IRA Investment Property Purchases
Purchase and Sale Agreements
and any matter incidental to your real estate transaction in Costa Rica

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Ivo Henfling

Ivo Henfling started the American European Real Estate Network Costa Rica in 1996 and has grown it into the largest Costa Rica MLS with thousands of up to date property listings for sale and for rent. Ivo has written hundreds of articles about real estate and living in Costa Rica for The Tico Times and other online informational sites.

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