Learn how to navigate the complex process of purchasing property in El Salvador as a foreign investor with these tips on legal representation, due diligence, property permits, and contract review.
With the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender, the inauguration of Surf City and the relevant improvements made in security over the past 3 years, or so, El Salvador has appeared once again in the international landscape as an interesting go-to place for foreign investors seeking to purchase recreational land.
However, despite the natural beauty its beaches have to offer, purchasing property in El Salvador can always be a complex process, particularly when being a foreigner.
As a foreign investor, it is important to understand the local laws and regulations before proceeding with any property purchase. Failure to do so can lead to costly legal issues down the line.
In this blog post, we will provide some tips for purchasing and clearing property in El Salvador as a guide to foreign investors that will help them navigate the process
Tip 1: Hire an independent and reputable lawyer
The first and most important step when purchasing property in El Salvador is to hire a reputable lawyer who is familiar with the local laws and regulations.
This lawyer must also be independent from the person who is selling you the land to avoid issues regarding conflicts of interest.
Generally speaking, parties tend to seek the service of a lawyer once they are ready to go ahead with the transaction and sign. Sometimes even, after making some sort of advanced payment to the seller. Big mistake!!
In addition, it is not usual within our legal practice to have an attorney represent each party in any given real estate transaction. Normally both parties seek the services of an attorney (generally known to the seller) to only make the deed and sign. But this professional, almost never clears the property, nor does he give any kind of legal advice to any of the parties, and most specially to the opposing party of he who recommended him.
Therefore, as there is more than meets the eye to a transaction of this kind, it is essential to have a legal expert on your side who can help you avoid any potential pitfalls and ensure that your investment is well protected.
Tip 2: Conduct thorough due diligence
Before purchasing any property, it is essential to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure that the property is free and clear of any liens, debts, or legal issues.
Your lawyer will be able to assist you in this process by conducting a title search at the Registry of Deeds, as well as the local municipality to assess its taxing situation. If the property is located within a gated community, research must also be made thereto as to any amounts owed by the seller.
Regarding properties that appear to be registered, it is also a good idea to make a thorough investigation as to the title itself and its history. Unfortunately, we have seen cases where land titles have been falsified by former owners, without any knowledge to the current ones. Should this be the case, you would be purchasing a time bomb, ready to explode at any time once the real owner of the land appears.
Also, it is highly advisable to perform an onsite investigation to determine if the property to be purchased, exists, if its measurements are correct, if it has any occupants, among others.
This may increase the closing costs, but it is well worth every penny.
Tip 3: Review and Obtain the necessary permits and approvals
Although there are usually no permits or approvals to be required for the acquisition of land, there may be zoning permits or approvals that may be required for the use of land and for construction.
Environmental protections may be in place, that you will have to consider for your future project as well. A thorough investigation will take into consideration this aspect.
This may also increase prices at the beginning, but it is very important to at least understand what you can or cannot do with your property.
Tip 4: Review and negotiate contracts
Finally, before closing any deal on the property, it is important to carefully review and negotiate any contracts or agreements involved in the purchase. This will much depend on the legal status of the property itself.
You may begin by negotiating a Promise to Purchase agreement, with the advancement of fees, pending on the results of your due diligence. Therein, you may include a series of provisions protecting your position upon any irregularities that may be identified in the process.
Therefrom, you should also exercise some kind of control over the execution of the deed, and its subsequent filing at the Registry of Deeds. Many people sometimes never go through with completing the registration process itself. Also the property must be recorded with the governing Municipal authorities.
As you can see, there are several aspects to consider before going ahead to purchase land in El Salvador. Although not something impossible, it has its complexities worth considering.
Perhaps, the most important of them all is seeking competent and independent legal representation. Preferably someone who speaks English fluently so that it may facilitate this task for you.
Your lawyer can help you identify any potential issues or red flags and negotiate favorable terms that protect your interests.
But once all this is done, I assure you that you will have your investment well protected and will have a beautiful place where to enjoy sun and waves.
At DE LA GASCA & CIA., our experienced team of lawyers can provide you with comprehensive legal advice and guidance throughout the entire property purchase process in El Salvador.
Our services include due diligence, contract review and negotiation, obtaining permits and approvals, and more.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you navigate the complex process of purchasing property in El Salvador and protect your investment.
Whatsapp: +503 7468 6516/4352