There are two questions you need to ask any real estate agent in Costa Rica before starting to work with them. The very first question you should ask any real estate agent in Costa Rica is “Are you registered with SUGEF?” The second is to ask if they are a registered active member in good standing with either of the only two government recognized real estate associations, CRGAR (Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors) or CCCBR (Cámara de Corredores de Bienes Raices).
Now you might be asking what is “SUFEG” and why does a real estate agent need to be registered? Well let me start with this than move on to the associations.
“SUGEF” is the Spanish acronym for “Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras” in English it is the General Superintendent of Financial Institutions. This is the Costa Rica government agency that oversees all the banking and any company in Costa Rica that receives third party funds from abroad. As an example, escrow agencies and property manager. The main reason for adding more occupations is to help prevent money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist funding.
Starting roughly last year, SUGEF starting adding different these types of companies and occupations to the list of those that need to be registered and authorized. Real estates agents were one of those professions along with lawyers and others. The requirements to register were quite detailed, I had to disclose every real estate transaction I was involved in from April 2019 until March 2020. The items to disclose were:
1) Do I do real estate in my own name or the name of Costa Rican Corporation
2) Number of transactions that closed from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.
3) Was the buyer a foreign entity or a Costa Rica entity.
4) Was the buyer using a Costa Rican Corporation or their personal name.
5) How many employees does my company have that are receiving benefits of the social security system?
6) What bank accounts and IBAN numbers associated with my company?
7) How many vendors do I utilize to operate my business?
All these items had to be loaded up on their web platform utilizing a digital signature card which thankfully I already have.
The second question you need to ask is if the agent you are thinking of using is registered with one of the two legal real estate associations. Why you ask? Well would you get real estate advice from the cashier at the local grocery store? Or maybe your favorite bar tender? Or the one I like the most, the tour guide that you just spent the entire day with doing ziplining, mud baths and nature tours while in Costa Rica. Now I am not knocking these folks, they have a service they provide and may do it extremely well, but real estate is not one of them.
Use a proven real estate professional, one that legally can work in Costa Rica and can prove it by showing you their residency card that says “Libre Condicion” ( Free of Conditions) or their citizenship card called a “Cedula”. The real estate agent should own property in Costa Rica as well, how can a persona that dose not own or been through the process help you?
Again, the same question, is the agent an active member in a real estate association. A true professional, like myself, have taken the time and expense to learn the real estate laws of Costa Rica. We have taken courses, as well as are required to take continuing educational courses, through the associations so we can properly guide you through the entire buying process.
When thinking of starting the hunt for your Costa Rica Dream home just remember ask if your agent is registered.
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