Some Tips on Buying Lots in a Development

Buying lots in a new development in Costa Rica may be an affordable investment for many people, particularly if the lots are newly developed and there are no homes yet.  You may also have your pick of multiple lots, some with terrific mountain or ocean views, depending on where the property is located.  Many, many foreigners moving to Costa Rica are taking this route.  However, there are a few tips we’ve learned through trial and error, along the way:

  1. The developer wants to sell land–duh!  He or she may not care about what you care about such as resale value, whether someone else may block your view when they build, etc.
  2. Putting in roads and/or utiilties after the sale can be a problem.  Developers, who have yet to put in utilities or roads may promise them at some date but remember they are often at the whim of the local authorities, have other priorities (such as selling more land), so be careful!  Try to understand in detail what the plan is and even find a good friend who speaks Spanish to check directly with the authorities.  See if what the developer is telling you is actually true.
  3. Don’t buy a property you have not seen in person! This is probably a “no-brainer” but actually many people do buy properties this way.  It’s just asking for trouble!
  4. You many not be able to build what you’d like to build on the lot you buy.  For a variety of reasons including topology, local laws, etc., what you thought you could build may not be possible.  Certainly discuss your plans with the developer and definitely discuss with competent surveyors and local issues, before buying the land.
  5. Who’s going to be building near you?  It’s definitely important to get a sense of what will go on around your land?  Zoning laws are fuzzy at best here so try to find out what’s happening in your area.  You probably don’t want a nightclub next door!
  6. Pre-construction can be risky. Sometimes pre-construction pricing signals that the developer doesn’t have all the cash need to finish the project–put in roads, utilities and even get the homes built.  Understand his/her financing and future plans–and try to confirm with others.
  7. Others many benefit if you have to put in utilities.  If you end up paying for the installation of utilities, which could be $20,000 or more, the developer benefits as the price of his/her other lots go up.  He or she makes additional profits while you are stuck with the cost of the utilities.  Any developer worth his/her salt will put in the utilities for you–at his/her expense!
  8. How’s the weather?  An area where you want to build a home may look terrific in the summer/dry season, but what’s it like in the rainy season?  Does it flood every year?  Will you like the amount or rain, temperature, and wind in the rainy season?  Definitely ask lots of questions.

These are just some of the issues to watch out for, but in general, verify and confirm everything!  Good luck!

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