Preparing Your Costa Rica Real Estate For Sale

by Geoff McCabe

How to prepare real estate for saleDue to a competitive Real Estate market in Costa Rica selling property can be challenging and many homes stay on the market for long periods. Therefore it is important to show the property at its best and prepare it well before placing it on the market. Experience shows that Vendors who put in the effort of clearing up the land and staging the house receive the first offers and often the best price.

There are many low-cost improvements that can make a big difference on the appearance of your land. The best approach is to walk from one end of the property to the other with a notebook and a critical eye. For additional input you may want to ask your agent or a friend for suggestions and advice. And don’t be defensive about their suggestions; remember you are trying to higher the appeal factor for others, not yourself. Look at your property not longer as your home but a commodity that others must find attractive.

Before you place your property on the market you should get an update of the property’s planos and have all paperwork done:

    • You have to have the taxes paid.

    • You must have a LEGAL water supply. The Municipality has become very strict with this and is denying building permits. You can’t just say you’re using the neighbor’s well anymore. This can be very problematic for many property sellers. If you have a well, then you must get a concession, which takes 3 years and costs around $2000.

    • You need to make sure that any liens/mortgages on the property are listed, or clearly documented what they are.

    • If you’re not living in Costa Rica, you should prepare a POA (Power of Attorney) with your lawyer so you can sell it without being in Costa Rica, unless you want to have to fly back.

    • Get the “uso de suelo”; this paper guarantees to a buyer what the Municipality will allow them to build. Only the owner can get this document.

    • Mark the exact property line and keep the plants along the fence chopped so you can walk up the whole outline.

    • You need to make sure that any easement (servidumbre) to access your property is actually registered in the catastro nacional, and not just put on the plano (this is a common problem here.)

The following tips will help you get your property as aesthetically pleaseing and functional as possible and therefore achieve the best results on the sale of your property.

The First Impression of Raw Land

For buyers the first impression is crucial. Within the first seconds most of them set their heart for or against your property. This is called the property’s “curb appeal”. Since it is the very first thing the prospective buyer will see make extra sure that the exterior looks as need as possible.

Here are some tips in maximising your curb appeal in Costa Rica

    • For selling raw land it helps to have all utilities installed.

    • Clean up the property; sweep the pathways, clear up any garbage, extra building materials etc. and keep bins out of sight.

    • Keep the grass cut and clear out dried plants to keep a need look and enable buyers to walk up the property.

    • Plant some nice flowers and plants in the right places; choose those that don’t need much water, so they are healthy looking – you don’t want your land looking like it needs a lot of work.

    • Trim back bushes and trees, especially if they are blocking the nice views, prospective buyers need to see all the beauty there is, not just imagine it.

    • Repair what needs repairing; like fences, doors, windows and roof shingles.

    • Clean the pool, so it has a nice blue colour and no leaves, it will give the place a fantastic plus.

    • Display the outdoor furniture setting to show off the certain lifestyle we have here.

If you don’t like to do this kind of work yourself, hire a local handyman. These kinds of jobs are quick and cheap to do, and make a big difference.

The Interior

Now that the prospective buyer has taken a good look at the outside, they will make their way indoors. If they were impressed with the homes curb appeal, don’t mess things up with a disorganised and unclean interior.

Here are some tips in maximising your interior appeal:

    • Do a complete spring clean. And pay particular attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. (Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market may be a good investment, especially for owners who must commit their time and efforts elsewhere.)

    • Equally important is that you remove as much clutter and personal items as possible. These things make it hard for the prospective buyers to visualize the home as theirs.

    • Most of us have too much furniture per room, this can make the room appear small. Space is not space unless people can see it.

    • Give the walls a fresh coat of paint where it’s needed. Choose light and neutral colours that have a wide appeal.

    • You should repair leaking tabs or broken appliances that you wish to include in the sale.

    • Check that windows and doors open and shut properly and don’t squeak.

    • Make sure all bins are clean and empty.

    • Check all lights are working and dust them up. Check as well the switches. A broken switch or plug may look like it could set the house on fire.

    • Many people are sensitive to the smell of smoke or pets. Try to minimize these smells before you show your house.

Please don’t forget, all these steps are important to create a situation that will help to sell your property. But to have an overall positive outcome please don’t overspend money on renovations, stick to cosmetic repairs unless major changes are absolutely necessary.

by Geoff McCabe

Geoff McCabe is CEO and co-owner of Tropisphere. He has been working in real estate in Costa Rica since 2003. Currently he lives on his organic farm, Rancho Delicioso. Geoff enjoys surfing, fire dancing, photography, and spending time with his friends here on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula.