Selling Your Property in Costa Rica

by Geoff McCabe

Help us to help you sell your property

Selling a property in costa rica

Let’s face it… since the worldwide financial crash, the market in Costa Rica has taken a hit like everywhere else. While Tropisphere still has many interested buyers, they are much pickier than before, sniffing out bargains and extra cautious about investing their life savings.

As a property owner who’s serious about selling a property, there’s so much that you can do to improve your odds of us being able to close a deal for you.

It may help you to understand that the real estate market is like a big store, and the properties for sale are a type of merchandise. Most of the rules of retail apply in real estate as well. Does your property have shelf appeal? Is it easy to find and does it stand out among the competition? It is easy to purchase or is someone going to have to jump through a lot of hoops?

Keep in mind that this “store” has sales agents, who have to decide whether they are going to show your property or not. Selling real estate is a very difficult job. How can you keep the eye of your salespeople to make sure they show your property when they have a limited time with a client. So you are competing not only against other properties, but for the attention of the realtors.

The following is a list of things you can do to help your property sell:

Get us the Basics:

  • Fill out our PROPERTY QUESTIONAIRRE and answer every question, so that we have everything we need to sell your property.
  • Fill out and sign our REAL ESTATE LISTING CONTRACT, so we know we can trust you to pay us when we sell your property.
  • Email us a copy of your planos.
  • Send us your best photos.
  • Send us a very detailed description of the property, including all its benefits and all it’s problems/challenged.
  • Send us a detailed description of how to find it.
  • Send us a copy of your passport and as much contact information as possible so we can easily find you when we need you.
  • The more seriously you take this, the more serious of a seller you appear to us, and we’ll put in more effort for you.

Price it Right

This seems so obvious it seems silly to mention it, but the fact is that most properties aren’t priced right these days. We realtors aren’t going to waste our limited time hiking around on your property if it’s overpriced. Contrary to what most people think, good realtors don’t “sell” a property. Clients are nervous about buying here, so our job is to present the great properties that sell themselves, winning the trust and respect of our clients so they can make informed decisions. Your property needs to sell itself. More than half the properties in our list are overpriced to the point where they have almost no chance of being sold and so we rarely show them. I call them “drive by listings” that we point out to our clients, as we zoom past them, as a point of reference to make the properties they’ve actually seen look good in comparison. Do you want to have a property for sale, or to sell a property?


Obviously, it’s self serving to suggest this, but many smart sellers have begun offering higher commissions than the usual 6%. Of course those properties are going to the top of our list. Not only because we can make more money, but because we appreciate the sellers who value our work. And if your property is a difficult one, such as something that requires a lot of hiking to get to, or a long drive from our office, or has a lot of complications such as a beachfront property without a concession, then consider offering a higher commission. If your property hasn’t sold, and you’re thinking about lowering the price, instead consider offering the realtors a higher commission. I personally offer realtors, even within my own company, 10% for my properties for sale, because I think the extra 4% is worth it. The flip side of that is that if a property owner is cheap with me and argues about our 6% commission, trying to knock it down to 5% or less, you can be sure the property will go to the bottom of my list, if we take the property at all. Show your salespeople that you value them and respect their time and work, and they’ll put in the extra effort for you.

Basic Maintenance

You might be surprised how many people have properties listed with us that are a total mess. They’re covered with weeds. Ocean views are blocked by tree branches. Houses need paint and have rotting wood. Yards have junk in them from messy renters. Our clients are generally looking for a good value, but more importantly is the way a property makes them FEEL. At most, perhaps 5-10% of buyers can see past their emotions to see the potential in a house or lot. In today’s market, you can’t afford those odds. Your properrty needs to feel right to people. A buyer needs to be admiring the view, not worrying about being bitten by a snake in the head-high weeds. Most of our clients are viewing properties in flip flops and shorts. And we realtors don’t like unkept properties either. Who wants to be bitten up by chiggers and ticks while showing a property?


You have to walk around with one of us realtors to see the real impact that short-cropped grass, a few flowers, and a wide open view have on the emotional state of buyers, especially women. A mediocre lot that just has lots of wide open space and very nice grass always gets positive comments. People will say things like “I love the way this lot feels.” It’s just an illusion, but this is very important. As a property seller, please understand that you are selling a fantasy to someone. They imagine themselves living in Costa Rica in paradise, with a simple life focussed on relaxing on the beach, staring at parrots and monkeys, and leaving behind the urban chaos of their home countries. You can do a lot to help them feel at peace while on your lot.

Property Boundaries

A surprising number of the properties we have for sale don’t have clearly marked boundaries. I recommend putting in cement posts at the corners at a minimum, and it’s even better if it’s fenced in barbed wire, which is required by law in Costa Rica to mark the territory of your property. It’s so nice when a property is well-marked, so clients can clearly see what they’re buying, and we realtors don’t need to guess or try to remember which tree marks a property boundary, when we have hundreds of properties to remember details for. Many property owners don’t know the boundaries of their own property! And many who hire topographers find out their borders aren’t exactly where they thought they were.

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.