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Bitcoins and real estate in Costa Rica

Isabelle Emond

Is it possible to buy property in Costa Rica with Bitcoins?

A Bitcoin changing handsBitcoins are not new, they exist since 2009. The Bitcoin (BTC) is the first cryptocurrency that has been created and a cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange. Cryptocurrencies are classified as a subset of digital currencies and are also classified as a subset of alternative currencies and virtual currencies. Until recently, people were not talking much about it but in 2017, the market exploded and people who invested at 100$/BTC have made up to 20,000 time their initial investment and have a lot of money to spend. They can now deposit in their US account and pay the income taxes on the profit they made, and spend the money in the States.

What if they want to buy a property in Costa Rica with that money? As of today, they cannot transfer the money here or in an Escrow account because Bitcoins are not accepted as a legal currency in Costa Rica. The banks in Costa Rica and the Escrow companies don't recognize the incomes from the sale of cryptocurrencies as being legal and don't accept the deposit coming from it, even if it comes from a U.S. or Canadian bank account. Cryptocurrency is something seen as dirty money, as being strange because it is unknown. People don’t know what it is, how it works because they cannot buy them or sell them here yet. A Bitcoin real estate transaction is not possible in Costa Rica at the moment. And the money coming from the sale of cryptocurrencies is not accepted either.

I believe it is just a matter of time before things change. The banks and Escrow companies will eventually have to accept the funds when they will realize how many clients they are losing. People will find a way to purchase without them. New companies with innovative solutions will replace the typical banks to make their usual transaction and the banks will end up losing their clients and business. Only the older population will stick to them, and they are generally not the ones with money. The Costa Rican government would be the first one to profit of it by charging an income tax, which would help to improve our infrastructures and reduce the level of poverty. 

Many people think it is just a trend but it is becoming an accepted way to purchase things in the US. Small things such as grocery or gas but also bigger things. You can buy a house in the States with your Bitcoins as explained in this article of CNBC: "It's not as hard as you may think. You just need one thing: For the buyer and seller to agree on exchanging bitcoin for the property. Consider the first single-family home sale in Texas involving bitcoin, announced in 2017: "The challenge, which actually wasn't all that challenging, was to figure out who would do an exchange that large," J Kuper, a broker at Kuper Sotheby's International, told CNBC's Diana Olick. The parties involved completed the transaction with BitPay, which turns bitcoin into dollars because the seller wanted U.S. dollars, Olick reports. BitPay has handled other real estate transactions, including a Lake Tahoe property that sold in 2014 for 2,739 bitcoins, or $1.6 million.”
There are already some real estate websites displaying prices in cryptocurrencies in the United States. If we can pay with Dollars, Colones, Euros, we should be able to pay with Bitcoins. I can’t wait to make an update on our website and have a section “Buy with Cryptocurrency”! Until then, if you decide to purchase with your money earned through salaries, dividends, retirement funds, inheritance, loans or the sale of a property you own, I'll be happy to assist with your real estate purchase. 
Isabelle Emond, Owner/Broker, January 2018