Real estate is booming along both coasts. Prices in some areas are going wild, although other places still have bargains
available. The situation is somewhat murky, because much of the land that is being bought and sold has tough building and
ownership restrictions which you might not be told about until you’re ready to start construction. Foreigners are
supposedly limited as to ownership of ocean front property, and everyone is restricted as to how close to the beach they
Although laws protecting beach front properties are on the books, in some areas they don’t appear to be rigidly
enforced. In fact, in many localities the laws are all but ignored. When buying beach front property, it is important to know
the rules and be prepared for the government to someday step in and begin tougher enforcement. It may never happen,
then again, if the public becomes indignant about it, there could be problems.
Generally, the law goes like this: The first 200 meters ashore, starting halfway between low tide and high tide lines is the
“maritime zone,” and it belongs to the municipality. It cannot be sold, but it can be leased. The first 50 meters
from the beach is the “public zone,” which belongs absolutely to the public, off-limits to construction of any
kind. The next 150 meters is called the “restricted zone.” Construction within this zone must have per-
Mission of the municipality. Building permits are sometimes issued only for tourist-related projects. It’s also my
standing that permission can be withheld from non-citizen they have five years residency. (I may be wrong; I’m not a
lawyer.) Buyers sidestep these laws by registering the prop lease in the name of a Costa Rican corporation (sociedad
anonimo). Theoretically, the owner is an anonymous corporation, r foreigner (see explanation later). This sounds like
subterfuge me, but my attorney claims that it is perfectly legal, and out that everyone is doing it. Clearly, they seem to be
getting with it. As a matter of fact, it appears that almost all de beach property was long ago bought by foreigners (r
Americans and Canadians). Now they are trading back and boosting the price on each transaction and selling to Europeans
who are getting in on the act. Germans and Swiss, in particular seem to be buying everything with a for-sale sign.
Remember that most Maritime Zone beach property be to the government and is leased from the municipality for 9 terms.
That $35,000 lot on the beach is not an outright purchase; you actually pay that money for the right to renew a lease five
years. It’s yours providing you do everything right, mal lease payments and pay taxes on time and obey all the Should
you miss a move, you could see your lease evaporate check with your lawyer to ascertain whether you own or
are the property, and determine your rights and obligations.
Another problem: sellers claiming existing buildings, fall within the first 50-meter mark, are legal because they’ve
“grandfathered.” More likely, someone in the past ignores rules, and the bureacuracy hasn’t gotten
around to enforcing laws. The government can force you to dismantle the buildings and restore the property to its original
state, when and if itch to do so. Check grandfather clauses with a skeptical eye.
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