I started the post to see if I could locate others people that might have had similar experiences as us when dealing with real estate in Cr. Below is our story of buying property in CR from Cr-home and the nightmare the whole thing has been. Since this story was posted on their site Randy has deleted it twice and then he did away totally with his FORUM on the Cr-Home website to try to cover up this mess. The latest news on top of what you will read below is that they have decided to not pay for any of the lawyer fees, lost time or other expenses we have incurred during this buying process.
"My wife and I, like many of you, found CR-Home through the internet while looking for “our piece of heaven” in Costa Rica. We were in contact with Randy via email for the following two years and followed their website looking for the perfect property and follow what was going on in Costa Rica. We were very fond of their “two story cabina” and the published price of 35-40K seemed to be in our budget. After making our final decision to make the dream happen and move to Costa Rica, we contacted Randy and set up a few days to visit properties we had seen on the internet and some that were not published. We were invited to stay at their cabina while we were going to be in the Grecia area, and so we did. We traveled with Cr-Home employees for three days and after some debate, made a decision on what we thought would be “our perfect fit”. We went back to the office to discuss details and future plans. We were shown the plans of the property and were told at this time that the property had all utilities on it and it was a buildable lot because it had a “visado” stamp among others official looking stamps. After over two years of talking with Cr-Home we felt comfortable believing what they were saying and trusting that they had done all the checking in to the property that was needed to buy it and build on it. This is what we were told at the time by Randy. After this meeting with Randy, and confirmation that everything was final with the land purchase we began to design our future home with the help of Rhonda and their architect, Gerald. We were sent ideas that we liked and my wife and I altered the plans to match our liking better. We were using their “cabina” template to work with and felt that if we did so, the price would be close to what they advertised on their website. A few months passed and we had become official landowners in Costa rica with blueprints to build. The architect for Cr-Home had our plans and finished them in 6 weeks, we were ready to build…or so we thought. I then planned a five week trip to Costa Rica to oversee the land development and to begin the construction process on the home design we had chosen. First thing that was set up to be done on the land was back hoe grading work, excavation and road gravel delivered and installed where the future driveway would go. Everything was moving forward SLOWLY but surely. It is Costa Rica and this is the way things move, slow. THEN, the bottom dropped out! It was on the third week of my time here when I was approached by a Grecia Municipality worker who had seen us doing work on the land. He advised me that we needed to check for an “uso de suelo” on the land because he felt like it was very close to a “tapped water well”. I then called Randy at CR-Home and told him this news and he once again assured me that with the “visado” we could build there. He also stated once again, “I have done everything prior to you purchasing the lot to ensure you could build on it.” A request was made for a map from the CR-Home topographer to show these “water springs”. Four days passed and we were told and shown a detailed map of our Carbonal property and it was confirmed that there were indeed two active springs that were capped and supplying water to Grecia right next door to our property. I emailed Randy while he was on vacation in the states, and told him of my frustrations and my feeling that we had been let down, misrepresented and lied too. He replied and once again told me that, “he had done everything in his power to ensure we could build and that there are a lot of grey areas in Costa Rica now with the regulations on construction changing over the last few months.”
Have any of you ever read anything on his site or in their newsletters that addresses’ “new regulations and these changes that cause grey areas in construction in Costa Rica.” In fact, when I talked to the Cr-Home attorney, he said that there were no “grey areas” as long as the proper steps are taken, and there had been no recent changed to the regulations.
I was then advised by one homebuilder and a CR-Home sales rep to go to the municipality of Grecia and request the official “uso de suelo” on the property. I did so and was told it would take 8-15 days to hear the outcome. Have any of you heard the term “Uso De Suelo” or of an organization by the name of the MINAE? After living here now in Grecia and meeting people, hearing similar sounding horror stories, knowing how things here work, I know that many of you that have purchased land and don’t have an Uso De Suelo and have never heard of the Minae. So let me do the honors and tell you about the MINAE and the “use de suelo.” The MINAE is an environmental group that does all it can to regulate and control deforestation, protection of the land, locate sensitive environment zones, protect water ways, locate water springs, create water caps on springs so that Costa Rica can have great drinking water, and the list goes on. The MINAE has been around for a long time, you can GOOGLE search MINAE and get more info. The municipality and the MINAE issue the Uso De Suelo, which means the “use of the soil”. This letter from the Municipality is your ticket to know what you can do on your own land. Without this letter the “perfect property” you own might just be farmland and never be able to be built on. Recently we were told that the MINAE was finding up to 10 “water springs” a day on Cajon De Grecia. These water springs stop all construction within 100 meters if it is not being used, or “capped” and no construction allowed within 200 meters if it is being used for supply to the municipality. If I only knew then what I know now, we would not be in this situation. Also, about the “visado” stamp, we were told by Randy this was all you needed to build, this is not the case at all. It is just one of many stamps needed prior to getting the green light to build. Oh and the stamps all expire after THREE years, not NEVER, like we were told. As for the “35-40K cabinas they advertise, I showed the plans to three of their own builders and the bids were not even close to what they advertise. The first bid was over 90K, second one was 65K and the final one was from a guy that would build it but take a lot longer. We never actually got a final bid from the last guy because he would build and get paid weekly until the home is done. Kind of shady HUH?? What you will learn if you plan on building here is that all the good builders you would actually trust your future investment to, will only bid on “contract” like they do traditionally in the states. If you do choose to build without a contract and pay week to week, good luck! I personally want some warranty on the labor and materials of my investment as there is little in terms of home insurance here.
So here we are now 8 months after we closed on the purchase of our land in Carbonal. We have hired an attorney to represent us and our interests in this nightmare. We in fact should be moving in to our dream home in Cost Rica this month but instead are still dealing with this mess and still living in a rental home. One way or another CR-home has an attorney that has supposedly gotten this resolved yet we still don’t have the new “uso del suelo”. This is a direct quote from an email Randy sent to me after his attorney “took care” of this part of the situation. “Thanks to Luis and the connections he has in the municipality, it has been handled. It is unfortunate that things have turned out to be as frustrating as they did. But you are in Costa Rica and much of the time the areas are gray instead of black and white.” There again is this “black and white” term he uses with me but never cares to bring up in his newsletters. Just when you think things couldn’t get worse, they did. This past month we found out that the property “that had all utilities and services” already in place does not. I had a meeting with the water director for Carbonal and he advised me that our property has no water at the road but it is in the works to be put in with in the next year. By this point you probably think this is a joke but it really isn’t. The water director said they have been working on getting the money to supply municipal water to this part of the hill for over 5 years but no funding has been available. Turns out that our neighbors have been there for a long time and have wells for water for their homes. The water director did give us the option to try and “experiment” and bring our own pipe and connections to try to run a line from a lower holding tank some 150 meters away up the hill to our property. He really did not have to allow this “experiment” but after he heard our story he felt bad enough to allow this to be done. This whole time I am of course remembering just how many times I have read the words due diligence, transparency and integrity in Randy’s news letters and articles.
This is our experience that we are dealing with now. Please let me know your comments and thoughts if you have them. Good or bad, I want to know what you all think. If you have questions or need additional information that I might know after having to go through this nightmare please email me. Thanks for your attention and opinions.