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Costa Rica Retirement Seminars

Orbit Real Estate and Toyota will be sponsering free seminars for newcomers to Costa Rica discussing topics that will help navigate the potholes in our paradise.  Below is example of the type of information we will be discussing.

Bylaws are the key to comfortable living in a condo complex

By Angela Jimenez Rocha

and José Manuel Hildago*

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Most new buyers of property are now seeking the protection of gated, guarded condo complexes whether these are high-rise or single-family living units under the condominium law known here in Costa Rica as Ley de Horizontal.

However, after attending several annual meetings of some of the most famous condo projects over the years, the authors have discovered almost none of the new owners has done the homework in understanding the bylaws and the workings of the administration of these projects.

First owners and would-be owners must read the bylaws which by Costa Rica statute are in Spanish. For North American expatriates, a certified legal English translation should be obtained.  Next owners and would-be owners  should make an appointment with a qualified person who can explain the terms since the English translation may not be fully definitive.

The bylaws may establish an administrator who has all the power to collect maintenance fees and administer the project. There may be a board that does this, or there may be any combination of the two.  Usually the developer controls this process, and that is what would-be owners must watch out for since the developer has a much different agenda than residents, in most cases.  Too often the bylaws have no teeth for enforcement to solve problems that arise.  What most buyers do not understand is that the bylaws are as important as the physical dimensions and appearance of the condo.

In this country No. 1 is telephone service, which is not a given like in the States.   Usually the condo association must donate the easements needed to connect telephones since usually there is a central box for connecting all the telephones of the complex.  Too often this can take 

months if not years, so a buyer may own a new condo with no telephone service.  José Hidalgo, one of the authors, fought for six years at a project which featured homes in the $3 million range to get telephones installed due to an easement problem.

Angela Jiménez, the other author, has watched promotional material which indicates beautiful views for new condos, but the developer neglects to explain he will be building and blocking those views once he sells out the first structure.   Going to the municipality and the Instituto Nacional de Vivienda, known as INVU and the institute which oversees condo projects, is obligatory to see exactly what is permitted and what might take place..

The best new condo developments offer a fiduciary program where a bank guarantees the developer will transfer deeds as promised once final payment is made. Most projects sell on the basis of 20 percent deposit and final payment when building containing the buyer's unit is complete.  A fiduciary program gives the buyer protection.

A buyer must use horse sense here and understand that there are tradeoffs.  Once the building is complete, the prices of units have moved up substantially over the past years not just because they are complete but the cost of materials keeps rising.

These are just a few of the items to consider but the authors recommend doing serious homework with qualified professional advisors independent of the developer’s sales office first.

*Angela Jiménez is a licensed appraiser and architect.  José Hidalgo is a lawyer. Both will be speaking at a free seminar in late September sponsored by Toyota Costa Rica and Orbit Real Estate.   This is oriented toward newcomers to Costa Rica who want to get advice from experienced professionals.  They may be reached at

Retirees and second home buyers will benefit from our 23 years experience.

 There is no charge for the seminars.

 Toyota will be organizing tours in their luxury 16 passenger bus to several areas of the country for those interested.

Our objective is to make the price reasonable for this tour so you can get a snap shot of what exists without spending a fortune.

 There is a lot more information on our real estate section at send us an email and we will keep you on our list



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