You may purchase real estate in Costa Rica either through a direct transfer or through a corporation. The acquisition of property through a direct transfer is where a real person acquires property in his own name.
It is a popular practice in Costa Rica to purchase real estate through a new incorporation or through an existing corporation that owns the property meant for purchase. The process of setting up a corporation is not complicated, but it requires the help of an experienced attorney. However, it is more advantageous for the purchaser to buy property through an existing corporation because he does not have to pay government transfer taxes and duties. That is because the law requires that transfer taxes and taxes be paid anytime there is a change in the ownership of property, but if the purchaser acquires the shares of an existing corporation, legally there is no change in the ownership of property. The downside of this method of property acquisition, however, is that the corporation could be encumbered with liabilities and there is no foolproof way to ascertain that the corporation is clean.
Before the purchaser buys the property, he should perform a title search in Folio Real at the offices of the public registry. The title search may reveal all data on the property, including area, boundaries, mortgages and other liens.