Recently I’ve read and heard a few people commenting about their observations on real estate advertised on craigslist. For those of you who aren’t familiar with craigslist it is a website where people can find and post pretty much anything for sale and barter. The site has also become a very popular place for finding real estate......
What I have noticed is that because there is no official MLS in Costa Rica many people regularly check the listings in cragislist Costa RIca and use it as a gauge for the market. While I can understand the reasoning I want to point out all the mistakes and dangers with using craigslist to purchase real estate. #1 – The Listings
The listings are simply not a fair sample. Getting a snapshot of listings to learn the market will not help you. Just like in the states markets vary from regions, even from different neighborhoods and different projects. If there is one thing that is certain in Costa Rica it is that all areas are not equal. You have to remember too that craigslist tends to cater to bargain hunters so the listings on there tend to cater just that.
#2 – Misinformation
I have seen many listings advertised that are clearly inaccurate, recently I saw someone advertising some condos in Jaco for $200,000 when the real asking price is $299,000. In another case I saw one ad saying the lowest priced condo in a project was $330,000, when it was really $250,000. Remember craigslist does not regulate the listings so if you are using the prices you see to learn the market it can be a nightmare.
3# – Scams and Fraud
I know of many cases of bait and switch tactics on sites like this. Craigslist clearly warns about fraud and scams on their site, there is a reason they do this.
Craigslist is a great tool, don’t get me wrong. I use it regularly to advertise listings, but the truth is you should still treat the site as just that a tool, users still need to research. Remember the trick with real estate in Costa Rica is to spend more time researching and finding a realtor who is knowledgeable and trustworthy and simply consult with him/her. A reputable and knowledgeable realtor will know the market much better than someone watching craigslist, and you wont have to worry about losing your shirt in the process!
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