Every continent, every country, every culture has its own sets of habits and different ways of doing things. The same accounts for doing business, such as Real Estate.
As Costa Rica is part of the American Continent, its Real Estate customs show more similarities with those in North America, than in overseas countries.
With the current and ongoing influx of Europeans, seeking for a new place to settle or to enjoy the tropical beach life for mid or long term in Costa Rica, it appears appropriate to give a brief overview of the way the Real Estate world operates in the Tamarindo area and Costa Rica in general. Having some knowledge of local Real Estate habits, will certainly improve any buyer’s experience.
The modus operandi of Real Estate agencies in Costa Rica is easier to understand when one realizes that sellers can either list their property exclusively with one agency, or non exclusively with every agent that is willing to do so. Exclusivity in this case, means that the seller trusts his property to one agent, or agency, who will be the only one representing him in the process. This agent can then put maximum effort into marketing the property, and maximize its exposure by sharing it with other agencies, through methods such as monthly newsletters sent out to all local agents. Any other agent, representing a prospect buyer, can contact the agent representing the property in exclusivity and offer it to his client.
Other sellers, prefer the non-exclusive approach, meaning that not an agent, but the seller himself coordinates the distribution of his property with and the updating of several agents during the process. If the follow up is not ideal, this can lead to discrepancies in listing prices or announced availability on different media.
Thus, one property can be offered and marketed by several agencies, either with or without exclusivity, and an agent representing a prospect buyer, can show all properties on the market, with the difference that for properties listed exclusively he will always have to go through the listing agent, in case of a non-exclusive listing he does not.
This system makes the Real Estate Market in Costa Rica an “open market”: any agent can offer any property to his prospect buying client– in contrast to markets in some European countries where properties are exclusives of a sole agency and are not being shared with other agencies, due to which the prospect buyer needs to contact or “shop” with all agencies of one area, to have access to and an overview of all available properties.
Hence, in this “open market “, when a buyer new to the area contacts several agents, as is usual in his home country, he will most likely end up seeing the same properties several times.
Therefore, it is recommended, to any buyer, once decided on a certain area, to find one reliable real estate agent in that area, to build up a solid communication and continued relationship with him, to share with him his desires and search criteria as detailed as possible, and to let that agent do a profound market search for and with him. The chances of finding that dream property will be optimized and the whole process of searching and purchasing property in Costa Rica will most likely become a more efficient and a pleasant experience! With this understanding of the modus operandi, it might even bring you relationships for life!