Garland Baker has a wealth of knowledge, that's for sure. Like on the topic of squatters. In 2004, he wrote this article explaining how…

Possession is more important than ownership

By Garland M. Baker
Special to
A.M. Costa Rica

Owning property in Costa Rica is much more than just having a deed. Possession is nine-tenths of the law in this country.

Most people believe it is a simple procedure to buy a piece of land in Costa Rica. One just needs to have an attorney check to see if the catastro, or plat plan, exists in the Registro Nacional, Costa Rica’s national registry of properties, and check to see if the property is free and clear of liabilities and other encumbrances, then sign a legal sales document to transfer the property from the seller to the purchaser.

In reality there is much more involved if you want to be sure your rights are protected.

First of all, catastros, plat plans, are sometimes wrong. They do not match the property being purchased. The reason being, most plats were made many years ago … continue reading here.

For a little icing on the cake, read today's A.M. Costa Rica. Even though I report bad news, I'm not saying, "Don't buy Costa Rica real estate." There are some good deals out there these days, we are looking… thinking about buying cheap Costa Rica property, thinking about selling (as in working the market). For us to buy, the deal has to make sense. As in better-to-buy-than-rent sense. So far I haven't seen that, but I have my eyes open. These days, it's more and more likely to happen.

If you are going to buy Costa Rica real estate, educate yourself so you can buy it smart. Read everything you can on the topic, including blogs (see the Costa Rica Expats & Blogs column, right side), books (below for starters) and online news sites (A.M. Costa Rica, Garland's site and Tico Times in English, La Nación in español.) Talk to as many people as possible who've walked a mile in those shoes.

And here's the critical detail: don't trust anyone until they earn your trust. Then remain suspicious. Costa Rica's legal system can so easily be made to work against you by those more familiar with the nitty gritty. Once you are here, in the door, fluffing the nest, the life is good. With a little preparation, you'll be able to enjoy it!

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