Check out the property
First and foremost, hire a reputable lawyer - never buy land before consulting a lawyer who can speak both English and Spanish. You can find a list of registered lawyers here. Secondly, the property should be thoroughly assessed. The utilities such as water, electricity, sewer, internet, TV and phone-lines should be checked and made sure they have been legally installed. It might be wise to ask a builder to further inspect the house to avoid any unforeseen problems.
After you have made sure there are no problems with the property your lawyer has to check a few things. He/she will request the Libertad de Gravaman (Free of Lien) document from the Public Registry office, which will show if the property is free of any previous promises of sale or pending legal cases. This document should also include the name of the real owner. Your lawyer should also carefully review the chain of title to the land and make sure you are in fact dealing with the true owner.
There is a lack of clear title on many properties in Nicaragua, and it may be difficult to determine who the original owner of a property is due to all the land redistribution over the last 30 years.
If the property belonged to the state of Nicaragua in the past you will need a ‘no objection’ letter to register your real estate. Also, make sure that you will receive a free, clear title and can get out of the contract if there is a serious issue with the title. Effective communication with your lawyer and seller is crucial.
Your lawyer will then draw up a new title deed, called escritura, which will show you as the new legal owner. Double check that this deed does indeed transfer possession and ownership. This document will be signed by you and the seller and will have to be witnessed by a lawyer in order to be legally binding. The deed must be written in Spanish, so be sure to find a reliable translator. The property will also have to be approved by the cadastral office.
The seller should provide the relevant documentation, such as his Tax ID number, land registry certificate, land registry survey and power of attorney.
When you decide that you want to buy a property, a non-refundable deposit of 5% to 15% will need to be paid to the seller.
One estate agent is usually involved in the purchasing process, with a commission of around 5% to 10%, which the seller of the property usually pays for. There is also a transfer tax of 1% to 3%, depending on the price of the property.
The lawyer’s fee is typically 1% to 2% of the purchase price. Finally, a registration fee that ensures the property is registered in the buyer's name will also have to be paid to the public registry, usually 1% of the assessed value of the property.
It is recommended to register all real estate transactions in the public registry. Most real estate purchases are made in cash and the buyer and seller can usually negotiate directly.