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Are you planning to hire a buyers agent? Then you need to read this blog, as it will explain how important it is you hire an experienced one.
It is not so important whether this agent is a licensed agent or not. In Costa Rica licensing is not mandatory. Unfortunately having a license doesn’t necessarily make an agent knowledgeable. Anyone can obtain a license by doing a 3-day course in a language they don’t read or write.
You just need to find a buyers agent who puts love and care into your property purchase. And that is what today’s blog is all about.
Let me show you a sample of a lack of knowledge and worse, common sense. The day after a recent real estate closing, I received a call from the buyers agent. The agent was complaining the appliances weren’t there. The property was not advertised with appliances nor is it customary in Costa Rica to include them. The agent said that in the US they are always included. She said the buyer AND the sellers are North Americans, so they should be. I never understood the logic of this response. The agent probably didn’t realize that we live and do business in Costa Rica and not in the United States of America.
I asked the buyers agent if she had included the appliances in the inventory attached to the offer and the purchase agreement. She said she didn’t remember…
In my opinion, if the buyers were claiming the appliances, their agent should arrange for new appliances out of her 50% of the commission.
Walk away from a problem?
After negotiating real estate for buyers and sellers in this beautiful country, for over 30 years, I’m able to tell you many stories like this. Sadly enough, many agents are only interested in the commission check and forget the main reason for getting paid a real estate commission: to make sure that both parties are happy and that everything is done correctly and legally.
That said, of course, I have made mistakes myself too. But as far as I can remember, I’ve always corrected my own mistakes and never walked away from a problem. But, I think that the one who makes the mistake should also fix it.
Real Estate Closing Process
So we, both buyers and sellers agents, don’t make any mistakes, I created a real estate closing process checklist for our agents to use. This checklist assists our agents to go through the purchase and closing process with their clients.
It starts with writing up the offer, in English and Spanish, if necessary. Then, we also have a checklist of the documents needed before closing, so the closing attorney can do the necessary due diligence. This way, nothing will be forgotten, EVER.
Whose task is it to ensure everything is legally correct and delivered as promised? An attorney-notary public who specializes in real estate usually knows exactly what needs to be checked and utilizes the due diligence period as a tool to do so.
I have closed with attorneys who didn’t do anything, not even the draft of the deed until we arrived at closing. Most real estate agents leave all the due diligence to the closing attorney, they think it’s the attorney’s job. BUT, many attorneys are not specialized in real estate and don’t do any due diligence, period. These attorneys just transfer the title of the property and they’re done. So everyone assumes that someone does the due diligence, and all kinds of problems appear after closing.
Here are a few
- Property fences and boundaries have not been checked by a surveyor and now you learn you just lost 20% of your property to neighbors who have moved the fence illegally.
- The well that supplies you with water is not registered and turns out to be illegal
- The power cannot be changed into your name because you are not a resident yet
- Nobody told you where the septic tank is located and your toilets are not flushing
- The easement to your house is shared with 5 others and nobody told you.
- Your survey map shows a size that is different from the one in the national register. Which is the correct one?
- The municipality claims that you have never presented the mandatory value declaration
I never forget this closing I had some 25 years ago, and it shows how important it is to get everything checked and done BEFORE closing and not on the closing date.
I was the buyer’s agent and three weeks before the real estate closing I went through my checklist. That’s when I called the listing agent of this property in the Heredia mountains for all the documents on the property. I requested utility bills, property taxes, and other important documents. She got mad at me saying she knew how to do her job, and that she was going to deliver those at the closing. So I left it at that.
The documents of the property
At the closing, on a Friday morning in the closing attorney’s office in San Pedro, on the east side of San Jose, the buyers showed up with their cashier’s check in hand (in those days that’s how it was done) and the seller with an airline ticket to leave the country the next morning.
Surprise, surprise, the seller’s agent didn’t bring any documents at all, only a receipt for her commission. The listing agent tried to defend herself by saying this was the closing attorneys’ responsibility, which of course got him mad.
The utility payments
I asked my buyers to leave the meeting room with me where I told them not to get scared, and that we would fix this problem in no time. I asked them to leave it to me and they agreed. Back in the room, I told the seller that I was very sorry but that we couldn’t close. We needed proof that all the utility payments and property taxes were up to date. The poor seller went through the roof, because he was leaving the country the next day, and had elected to leave with a cashier’s check in his wallet.
I always ask the buyer to cut several checks for the closing:
- A check for the seller,
- one for the attorney,
- one for the listing agent’s commission
- and one for the buyer’s agent commission
So, the solution was really very simple: I told the seller that he didn’t have to worry; he could catch his plane the next morning.
We asked the attorney to hold the listing agent’s check until all the paperwork was delivered by her. If not, the utility payments and back taxes were going to be paid out of the agent’s commission and she would receive the difference.
Are you looking for a serious and expert real estate agent for your real estate needs in Costa Rica? Then contact a GoDutch Realty agent now.