Starting the Search Again …

I returned to Costa Rica about a week later, met up with the same real estate sales guy, and told him I would have appreciated knowing about the original house without having returned to Alaska to get the bad news. It is a learning process for me, and these houses are not really registered for sale…but verbally quoted, and in limbo until an actual offer is made. The houses are “for sale” because a local Tico scout goes through the neighborhood knocking on doors to find out if the owner would sell if someone was interested. Often the houses that are for sale, are not really for sale, unless the price is attractive enough for the owner to get serious. The price is then usually negotiated from this point.

You are not required to have a real estate license in Costa Rica. You are not required to have experience either. You can just get some cards printed up, and start knocking on doors. It is necessary however to speak fluent Spanish, and if you are not a local Tico, you can count on the price being 50% higher than a house found by a local scout.

The house before I bought it

The house before I bought it

I Liked the Neighborhood

One particular neighborhood captured my interest.  I toured the neighborhood again with my sales guy, and spent a lot of time looking at a house that was abandoned, and needed a lot of work, but was at least 50 meters from the high tide line. I had my sales guy drop me off in Tarcoles, a small town just 3 miles from Playa Azul, where I was staying at the Carara Hotel.
So I Returned
I went back to Playa Azul, and walked through the neighborhood for a couple hours, just to get a feel for the place. That is when I met an elderly gentleman named Alvaro, who had been watching me from his front gate.
NEIGHBORS ALVARO AND HILMA

Neighbors ... Alvaro and Hilma

I had been looking at a shack across the street from Alvaro’s house. The house was not on the beach, and was at least 200 meters from the ocean. The house needed a lot of work, but the foundation was good, and having Alvaro as a neighbor really added to the attraction. Alvaro had also informed me that the house was not in the maritime zone, and had a title. He had been friends’ with the current owner for many years before she had moved to Heredia, a suburb of the Capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.

Alvaro spoke a little English that he had learned from having a satellite dish on his roof, and he was crippled on his left side. I assumed that he had suffered a stroke at some point, and he watched a lot of television. Alvaro owned a VHS tape of Rambo, and I am certain that he had watched it at least 100 times, and maybe more. Alvaro was a very classy guy, and we became friends quickly. He invited me into his home for coffee and I met his wife Hilma, who was equally gracious.

Costa Rican coffee is wonderful stuff. The rich volcanic soil keeps the acid down in the coffee, much like coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii. In Costa Rica the coffee is typically filtered through something that looks like an old sock hanging from a small wooden stand.

Saw It; Loved It; It’s Mine

A title meant that I could fix the house up without the need to be inconspicuous about repair, and additions to the house. This house was not on the beach, but the fact that it came with a title made all the difference to me after the last failed attempt to purchase. I contacted the sales guy and told him to start the process. We drove to Grecia and met with a lawyer that spoke good English. I was informed that the standard procedure in purchasing a house in Costa Rica involved setting up a corporation. A corporation offers some liability protection, and it only cost $300.00. I returned to Alaska and wired the funds to the attorney’s account. The attorney filed the paperwork, registered the paperwork with the municipality, and the house was mine.

JohnAlaska’s Quest May Be at An End

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