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Are Real Estate Agents Licensed in Costa Rica?

As a prospective Buyer or Seller, choosing among the many Real Estate Agents in Costa Rica can be a tough decision. How you choose your agent can be based on many different factors. Two key factors are whether or not your Real Estate Agent is Licensed and are they registered with the banking authority SUGEF? There are other key factors that will give you more comfort when choosing an expert who will guide you through the entire process of Buying or Selling a property in Costa Rica.

Yes, there is licensing for Real Estate Agents in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, it is not a requirement by law, but we, as an industry, are working very hard to change that. The government of Costa Rica does not legally require Real Estate Agents to be licensed and in general they are very lax about most requirements in other businesses and professions.

Hair stylists don’t need a license and neither do massage therapists, personal trainers or most contractors. It is up to each industry to take control of their own destiny and change it, just like the USA did 50 or 60 years ago.

Fortunately, the government of Costa Rica is changing their ways. Recently, the country passed a law, that requires ALL Real Estate Agents and Property Managers to be registered by SUGEF.  SUGEF is the government authority that oversees all banking, investments and money transactions. Escrow agents and Money Management companies are registered with SUGEF as an example.  In order to be able to be registered with SUGEF the individual must be a permanent resident or a citizen of Costa Rica. They must have a background check done by the Costa Rica OIJ and a USA background check done by the FBI. Their bank accounts will be monitored by SUGEF as well as the banks themselves, and if a person receives a commission or handles third party funds, and they are not registered, their accounts will be immediately shut down.

Professional Real Estate Agents in Costa Rica formed their own boards over a decade ago and have encouraged everyone in the industry to join. The classes are based upon the same requirements as NAR in the United States (National Association of Realtors) and we monitor and police ourselves, adhering to the highest standards of ethical practices.

The two main Real Estate Associations in Costa Rica are CRGAR (Costa Rica Global Associations of Realtors) and CCCBR (The Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Agents or Camara Costarricense de Corredores de Bienes y Raices in Spanish).  Both associations together are pushing the Senate to pass a law making it mandatory that all Real Estate Agents become licensed according to a standard of ethics you would expect in this industry. We hope in the next couple years to have this accomplished.

In the meantime, it is up to the Buyers and Sellers to help us weed out the fly by night agents in our industry.

If you are trying to choose among the many Real Estate Agents in Costa Rica, please ask them the four following questions:

Are you a Legal Permanent Resident or Citizen of Costa Rica?

If their answer is NO, or vague at best, immediately stop communicating with them and find another agent. Ask to see their Cedula, which is their Costa Rica identification. If they are not a Permanent Resident they are working illegally. First of all, anyone who hasn’t even taken the time to invest in their own ability to stay and work legally in this country surely isn’t going to have your best interest at heart. Secondly, they are just looking to make enough commission to stay a little while longer in paradise, before they pack up and move to another destination. Their only concern is their income, NOT finding you the correct, best and safe investment and they surely won’t be here later on when you move or need to resell your property.

Are you licensed by CRGAR or CCCBR?

Anyone who is representing themselves as an agent, who hasn’t taken the licensing classes, obviously can’t be educated about all the intricacies involved with purchasing property in a foreign country. Find yourself another agent who treats real estate as a career and not just a way to pay the bills or something to do to keep from being bored.

What do you own in Costa Rica?

Show it to me. This is an essential question. It is amazing how many real estate agents don’t own a piece of property themselves, but rather rent a house or a condo.  How can you expect to get investment advice from someone who hasn’t even purchased a property with their own money?  Surely this person is not in this business for the long haul and can’t be very good at what they do if they don’t even make enough money to buy a small piece of paradise themselves.

Are you registered with SUGEF?

This is obvious. If the answer is NO, then immediately say goodbye to this individual and find yourself another agent.

All of the Real Estate Agents at Tres Amigos Realty are:

  • Legal Permanent Residents or Citizens
  • Licensed with CRGAR or CCCBR
  • Property Owners in Costa Rica
  • Registered with SUGEF.

All of the Real Estate Agents at Tres Amigos Realty Group have a vested interest in Costa Rica and have chosen to make this their career and home. We live here and LOVE Costa Rica and are committed to helping you find your little piece of paradise.  Hope to see you down here soon.  Know that you can count on us when you need a Costa Rica Real Estate Agent.

Tres Amigos Realty Group
   Playa Hermosa
   Playas del Coco
   Playa Panama

Tel: 011-506-2672-4100