The property owner stole the city park and hoped the buyer wouldn’t figure it out. I’m sure the property owner sold that property to someone else who did not know what was done.
I would like to make you aware that there can be certain issues about a property that will not be seen by your closing attorney. Do your due diligence before buying a Costa Rica property, and hire the right people for that. Unless you hire a competent real estate agent, you might be in for some surprises.
During my many years of selling Costa Rica property, I have seen some pretty incredible things happen and I would like to share them with you. This story will hopefully make you aware of what a property owner can do before selling.
This story explains about the property owner who stole the city park. So you understand this story better, read last week’s article about why you should look at the survey before you buy a property.
In this negotiation, I am acting as a buyers’ agent for a client. We are negotiating a residential property for sale with 6 new townhouses. This property is located in a very nice neighborhood in Curridabat. I had asked several agents to look for investment properties with rental income potential for this client.
In this case, the listing agent did not get a chance to check the property in the National Register. He did not receive a survey map of the property from the property owner. So when viewing this property, nobody had received any legal information on the property on the day of the showing.
On a cul-de-sac
We arrived at the property located on a cul-the-sac in the Los Guayabos subdivision in Curridabat. The property we are looking at has a nice gate and wall up front. There is a lot of parking space and some garden area. 6 Townhouses are built on the left side of the property, in a condominium.
On one side of the property is a single family home and on the other side a large farm that is waiting to be developed into the next residential subdivision. It shows clearly in the Google photo on the right. This property for sale is the only developed property on the cul-de-sac. The rest belongs to the large farm.
Nice curb appeal
We get to meet the property owner, a local attorney. He built the homes to sell separately or as one property. The condominium is well designed with great curb appeal and each two-story townhouse of 1,800 square feet.
The townhomes have a nice layout with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Each unit has a carport for 1 car and the living-dining room has a large window to the front of the property. A 12 feet wide driveway goes from the front to the back of the property, so each tenant can park a car in the carport. There is plenty of guest parking and landscaped gardens. It looks like the property owner did a great job building it.
See on the left how the yellow lines show the property lines as seen when we first looked at this property for sale. These units are easy to rent in the up and coming San Jose east side area. Therefore, my clients show a lot of interest in this property.
Survey in hand
After more discussion with my clients, we decide to go back for a closer look. I ask the listing agent to get a current survey from the property owner and to pull a study of the National Register before we go back.
When we arrive at the property, we use the survey map to compare with what we see. It seems that the front of the property is much wider than it is in the survey.
I do not have a measuring tape with me but stepping it out (one big step is close to 1 meter or 3 feet) there turned out to be quite a difference between the survey and the actual size of the front of the property. The land on the south end of the property, marked on the survey as a city park, has totally disappeared.
No access to the carport
On the survey map, also called a plot map, the property shows to be a triangle. But the triangle is much smaller on paper than it is in reality. After measuring back side of the lot, we find out that the back of the property is also much smaller than it shows on the plot map.
See on the right how the registered property is only the blue property lines. The townhouses are marked in red. And the yellow pie-shaped part is the land that belongs to the city of Curridabat.
Tearing down the townhouses
An unknowledgeable buyer would have never found out all the above. Until one day the city claims the park area back, probably years later. This will not happen until the green area full of trees to be seen on the photos will be developed. When they do so, the solution will be tearing down all 6 townhouses as they will not have any access.
The property owner had done this very smartly. If we wouldn’t have requested the survey map from the property owner, we would have never found out.
Very few closing attorneys in Costa Rica will go and see a property before the closing. Unless the buyer asks specifically for this service, this is not part of a standard closing procedure.
We walked away from this property; the listing agent did not even list the property after this, which showed his professionalism.
Not every property owner is honest. If there is any doubt, hire a surveyor to check the boundaries of the property before formalizing an offer. Unless you make the offer subject to a revision of the survey.
The above is another reason to purchase Costa Rica property with the assistance of a professional real estate agent affiliated to the American-European real estate group. Contact us now for assistance in your Costa Rica property purchases.
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