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How do you become a Real Estate Broker in Costa Rica ?

by rpetersen

How can you become a real estate broker or agent and work in the Costa Rica real estate sector ? Costa Rica is one of the top vacation destinations and also a top retirement destination.   This means the country attracts many foreign visitors and people that want to live or retire in Costa Rica.

Many foreigners that settle in Costa Rica and are looking to supplement their income often turn to the real estate industry as a way to earn a living in Costa Rica. That is why I am often asked, “how do you become a real estate agent in Costa Rica”

Currently entering the real estate brokerage business in Costa Rica has no barrier to entry and as such it is not surprising that many foreigners gravitate towards the real estate sector when they move to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica does not have a real estate licensing law nor does it have a real estate multiple listing system (MLS).   As such to enter into the Costa Rican real estate business all you need is a legal residency status that let’s you work in the country; a website and some listings and clients and you are ready to go.

This is far different then what is required to be a real estate agent in the United States or Europe.   In the United States Real Estate Agents must be licensed in the state where they will practice. In addition they must abide by dozens of Federal laws that regulate the real estate industry.

Depending on the local state requirements those that want to work as brokers in the United States generally must work as a real estate sales agent before they are allowed to apply for a real estate brokerage license. Applicants are also required to complete training courses and pass a broker licensing examination. In California for example the following courses are mandatory as part of the licensing process:

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Economics and Accounting

In Costa Rica there are currently two real estate associations that accept membership by real estate agents. The Camara Costarricense de Bienes Raices (CCBR) which has been around since the 1970’s and the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors originally formed by US citizens working in the real estate sector in Guanacaste.   Membership to either association is voluntary and both are self-regulating. Each has their own internal rules for accepting members.

Recently the Camara Costarricense de Bienes Raices (CCBR) has been working with Costa Rican legislators to approve a real estate licensing law.   Previous attempts have failed in the past.   This time around the proposed licensing law, which was introduced into the legislature in April of 2018, seeks to impose licensing requirements for all real estate brokers.   The pending legislative bill number 20761 called the “Law to Regulate Real Estate Brokerage” (Ley Reguladora de la Correduria de Bienes Raices) will require that any company or person involved in the real estate sales sector be licensed to do so. The government entity that would oversee the licensing would be the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC), which also governs the consumer protection agency of Costa Rica.

Article 12 of the proposed law indicates that to obtain a license the following would be the requirements:

  • Be a citizen of Costa Rica or a foreigner that has either a work permit or permanent residency free of any limitations.
  • Approve the education requirement to be established by the MEIC
  • Pay the licensing fee to be established.

The law would prohibit working as a real estate agent or broker without being licensed. Violations to the proposed law would fall under the preview of the MEIC who could impose sanctions and injunctions for violations.

Article 20 of the proposed law imposes the following sanctions as options for any grave violation of the law:

  • Monetary fine for each infraction of approximately $8,000 for individuals (10 X base salary) and $23,000 for corporate entities (30X base salary).
  • Suspension for 2 years
  • Permanent suspension for continued violations

According to the current President of the Costa Rican Board of Real Estate (CCBR- Camara Costarricense de Bienes Raices), Ana Seydi López the proposed law is essential to protect the parties in a real estate transaction while ensuring that the tax obligations to the National Treasury are complied with.   It would also be key for the prevention of money laundering through the real estate industry.

If the Costa Rican legislature approves the licensing law the next time we are asked “How do you become a Real Estate Agent in Costa Rica ? ”  My answer will be to get licensed with the MEIC. For now it is business as usual.

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