Buying in Nicaragua
Buying here is simple. Find a property,
- 10% deposit with accepted offer and signed contract in English and Spanish
- At Colonial Villas due diligence includes a complete history of the property from the National Registro
- Document from the Government Records (Public Register) “Libertad de Gravenman” stating there are no debts , liens or other interests in the property
- Tax statement saying that taxes are paid and the property is legal and salable property,” Solvencia Municipal”
- We also have a surveyor ” topographer” make a plan of the properties and compare it with the existing plan in the “catastral” where all maps and plans are kept in Nicaragua to make sure they are the same.
- A lawyer writes the deed or “Escritura” when everything is ready, that is signed by both parties. Money changes hands at that time. The property is then registered at the catastral and transfer taxes are paid.
- The property is then registered and inscribed in the National Registro in the buyers name.
- There are no restrictions on ownership except within 5 kilometers of the north and south borders. Property is fee simple just like in the states and your kids can inherit it.
Sequence of how to buy property in Nicaragua
Common law, not civil law so things are different from US Civil law
- Find a property
- Get your own attorney; do not rely on seller’s attorney
- Contract to Purchase – can be in English but has to be in Spanish for it to be enforced in Nicaragua.; include any promises, amenities, due diligence
- Deposit – your deposit should be held in escrow until certain things happen, tie the deposit to completion of certain things, discuss need for a trust acct to hold funds. No trust accts in Nicaragua yet, therefore must use a trust account outside of Nicaragua.
- Closing – 30 days for closing but 60 if you are buying with IRA, have to be physically in Nicaragua for the closing, if you cannot be here, before you leave you should leave a limited POA otherwise a POA from the US has to go through authentication process- notary, Sec of State, and Nicaraguan consulate in US, then to Foreign Relations Office in Nicaragua and translation. This process takes time and greater expense.
- Purchase and sale deed – done in front of a Notary Public, you have to accept the sale and sign the deed, notary public keeps the original, you get a certified copy, registration may take several months
- 2-4% transfer tax (what would be capital gains tax in the US), usually paid by buyer
- Property Tax- paid yearly not prorated for a sale
- Escrow- two US title insurance companies provide escrow services. Be sure you have escrow instructions signed by buyer and seller as to when moneys can be disbursed.
- How can you hold title to the property
- Your name and/or spouse as tenants in common, joint tenancy is not available.
- Nicaraguan corporation – ask your attorney for the pros and cons of this type of ownership.
- IRA (only for investment purposes, cannot live in the property). Also, for Nicaraguan tax reasons you must create a Nicaraguan corporation and have your IRA own the shares of stock in the corporation.
- US trust, LLC or corporation- creation documents must be translated and authenticated
- Remember there is no joint tenancy only tenants in common, (if you and your spouse hold title and you die your spouse will not automatically get your part), therefore you should make a Nicaraguan will for your Nicaraguan properties beginning of process.
Certificados, formerly called CNOs, are a letter from government stating that the government has or does not have an interest in the property. This takes time and cannot be requested until title is transferred and deed is submitted to Cadastral (survey) Office prior to registration. Attorney will advise purchaser how to protect his purchase price if a Certificado is not obtainable after the purchase is completed.