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Preparing to purchase beach home

Hi,
I am heading to Luquillo Beach for 4 months to relax, enjoy the culture and hopefully to locate a beach house for purchase. This will be my 3rd visit to Puerto Rico.  Question: What are the most important questions and concerns about purchasing in Puerto Rico, more specifically Luquillo Beach? Additionally, what concerns are important to understand when purchasing a property in the Caribbean? Thanks in advance for your help.

Psych2 :

Hi,
I am heading to Luquillo Beach for 4 months to relax, enjoy the culture and hopefully to locate a beach house for purchase. This will be my 3rd visit to Puerto Rico.  Question: What are the most important questions and concerns about purchasing in Puerto Rico, more specifically Luquillo Beach? Additionally, what concerns are important to understand when purchasing a property in the Caribbean? Thanks in advance for your help.

Ask about the roof, have it inspected!!!! Some parts of Luquillo tend to flood (from the sea), look for water marks, salt marks and or fresh paint that does not necessarily match the rest of the paint (hiding stuff). Look for erosion specially around the foundation. Beach front is hard on houses both wood and concrete, everything tend to rust or mildew, look for signs. Check lower part of cabinets to see if they been wet in the past.

Any concrete house check the roof!!!!! they leak after a while sometimes it is minor and sometimes it is major, check it!!!

You absolutely, positively must have a title search done. There have been many shortcuts in the past, when property changed hands.  The person who you think owns the property may not legally own the property.

Beach erosion is a big issue here, some condo buildings look about ready to join the ocean!

I have to agree with Frogrock, a title search is mandatory. Some properties DO NOT HAVE TITLES. Those were simply public lands that were taken over by settlers and they were never removed, the property could be under a family for several generations but still have no title.

Excellent advice!  I will add these comments to my to do list.  Your comments are very helpful.

Yes to all the above.   title search/review and title insurance are a necessary step, if any liens or cloud on the title, you need a real estate lawyer. 

And - a new land survey may be a good idea.  We recently discovered our lot is larger than originally thought, a survey confirmed the actual property corners and boundary lines.  It turned out to be to our advantage, but it could have gone the other way - best to know for sure what you are buying.

My recommendation is to go to the CRIM office with the house address and ask for a search. They will be able to tell you who's the current owner, if the property is behind in taxes and if there is a lien on the property. All properties should be listed in the locan municipality CRIM office.
When you decide to buy, the current owner should provide the tittle and CRIM certificate of the property. A lawyer should be able to finalize the purchase for you and will be responsible to register the property in your name.

Some people (me included) had issues with owners that split their property into different lots. In my case they had to remeasure the land and it took 4 months to remeasure and get the paperwork straight, by that time my offer had expired and I selected a different property. My lawyer was the one that noticed the discrepancy.

I was lucky with our purchase, the lawyer had all the paperwork and the transaction was smooth. We had the tittle done in about a month and the property register on our name.

Welcome to PR and glad you had a smooth transition.

First - find a good lawyer.

Check the tax status carefully, research the property type.  Many properties were originally farms (fincas)  which were granted to families to settle them.  The families later subdivided them and sold lots without legally registering the individual lots (think co-ops).  The good news is that many of these are tax-free.  The bad news is that the legal ownership is at the finca level and getting a clean title is complicated and difficult.

We are in a situation like that.  We were ready to close on a property, using the seller's lawyer.  Fortunately, we had friends who had just closed on a house.  They recommended their lawyer, who advised us that by PR law, the buyers chose the lawyer and the sellers pay that lawyer.  Good thing we took their advice.

Our lawyer found a number of issues with the title.  She told us she would not make the deed unless the issues were cleared up.  She told us that we, not being Puerto Rican, and not being fluent in Spanish, would have zero chance of resolving the problems post purchase.

Currently, the sellers are working on clearing the title.  It's been three months and they have said it will be another two or three months.  So...  we wait. 

My advice is to know your rights and get a good lawyer.

Welcome to the Island. All of the advice above os great. Title search, taxes "crim" check and a lawyer. You didn't mention if is a cash buy or if you are going to finance. If you are going to finance with a local lender as a second vacation home you will need between 10% and 20% of down payment plus closing costs. The property should not have significant repair issues. The are no rehab loans for second homes/vacation homes/investment properties. The property have to be functional and livable before closing.

Best

Danny

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