Generosity Abounds

Living in Atenas, we are very lucky that the majority of strong storms do not hit us directly and that is exactly what happened with Hurricane Otto which just passed through the area.  Very rarely do hurricanes hit directly Costa Rica in general as they curve North before hitting land.  However, if they get close, the Caribbean coast gets hit hard with the heavy rains and winds.  Hurricane Otto hit both the Caribbean coast and the Northern area of Costa Rica.  Videos are displayed all over social media with the destruction and power of this storm.  Here is just one example ( video Upala ).

With tragedy, the best in human nature is often seen.  The community of Atenas has collection sites at the Municipality, the Red Cross, the grocery stores, churches, and with private groups who are gathering supplies to take up to the disaster victims.  The amount of giving is really overwhelming and amazing.  Everyone is doing their part.  donations Atenas 1.jpg

I am always impressed with the generosity of people, especially here in our town.  Whether it is contributing to the children’s home, to the Angel Tree program, or helping neighbors in need, the community comes together to give.  I have even been told by some that they want to help, but just need to know when and how.  This giving culture is something that has really been cultivated in Atenas and is a beautiful thing to behold.  In addition to being a part of the general Costa Rican culture, I also think it  has to do with living in a small town.  People look out for each other and come together to help in all kinds of tragedies, large and small.

We had our Thanksgiving lunch on Sunday and were able to be thankful both for the fact that Atenas did not get hit by the hurricane, but that there is so much generosity in this community to help those who were not so fortunate.  And a special thanks to all of those volunteers who rushed up to Upala to personally help everyone involved in the tragedy.

Tina Newton is co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate in Costa Rica.  Feel free to contact her with questions of any kind through her email or Facebook.

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The Big OOPS

What could be worse than two days before a closing on your house, you discover that you can’t close because the registry information doesn’t match up?  Oops! We’ve all heard horror stories of properties being sold that don’t officially belong to the person that sold it or official sizes being way less than the offered size, for example seeing an original plot map (plano) of 5000 square meters but pieces were sold off and it is no longer the actual size of the property.  Then there is a long legal battle to correct it (if there is any way to correct it after purchase).  However, there are more simple and honest mistakes that can happen in the system that can still stop your sale until it is corrected.

We’ve heard it a million times.  Check your credit score and history to make sure all is accurate before you need credit.  This is true for more than credit scores.  Before you decide to sell your house and even if you aren’t planning on selling anytime soon, check the registry for your property to make sure all is correct.  Make sure your name, identification number, and the information about the property is correct and updated.  Even when you know that the property should be in your name and that there aren’t any true discrepancies, such as a property being in the name of a family member that passed away years before, errors still exist in the system.  The registry in Costa Rica has many, many errors that you should make sure are corrected in advance or it can slow down or stop a sale and even if it’s not caught at the time, it can cause a new updated registry request to be rejected.   Nothing like the horrible feeling from the buying side that you just paid money on a property, the owners have left the country, and you can’t get the property passed into your name.  If they are legitimate, honest sellers, they will have to jump through hoops to get it all corrected both for the buyers and so the property doesn’t remain in their names with taxes and other liabilities still due.  And if they aren’t so honest or don’t want to bother???  Oops!

What kinds of errors can happen?

1.       Name misspellings.  If your name is misspelled, the registry can doubt it is you as it doesn’t match your i.d.  If the name is spelled incorrectly and does not match the i.d. spelling, a lawyer may have to swear that you are the same person and file that paper as well.  If the spelling is very different, it should be corrected completely.

2.       Unmatched name with identifications.  For example, using a name copied from a passport and an i.d. number from your residency which are not always the same.  Maybe the property was bought in a maiden name and now you are selling with a married name on your i.d.  You need to get it corrected and again have a lawyer justify that you are the same person.

3.       Incorrect or even expired identification numbers.  Each time your residency number changes or you change from a passport to an i.d., your registry doesn’t.  This may not cause a problem, but you will have to verify that you are still the same person by having a lawyer justify why the identification number is different.

4.       Properties in the registry which don’t match up with the plot (plano) numbers or sizes.  There are times when the plot registry has a different measurement for the lot than the registry of the property.  This should never be the case but it happens quite frequently.  This needs to be corrected for a buyer to have the correct size of property that is being bought.  This could be due to the plano not being updated with sales of pieces of the property or even a typographical error.

5.       Debts listed to the property.  Make sure that any loans that might have been taken against the property and are now paid are cleared off of the registry.  These are not taken off automatically but have to be requested to be removed.

6.       Easements that have not been updated.  All easements should be listed in the registry of the property.  However, if something has been eliminated or added, it is important to check that these changes have been made.

All of these apply if the property is listed to a corporation as well; checking who has the write to sign in order to sell and therefore, making sure that all names and i.d. numbers match up.  These things are not difficult to check and a lawyer or even your real estate agent should check these at the time of listing your property so you don’t get down to the moment of closing a sale and have a surprise.  If you are a buyer, your agent should also be checking the registry to make sure all is correct before closing.  However, in the end, it is up to you to stay on top of it and make sure someone is confirming this.  All of these issues listed above are usually minor and can be corrected fairly easily, but it takes a little time and you wouldn’t want to lose a deal because of a typo.

To avoid your “oops” moment when selling a home, contact Tristan & Newton Real Estate through the website or by email.  Making sure that all is smooth and easy in your home selling and buying process.  Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish.

Dengue, to Fear or Not to Fear?

The Scare.  A friend of mine, who is headed back down to Costa Rica, asked me about the dengue situation in Atenas because they had read that the cases in Atenas were sky high.  I was surprised about the question because I’ve only heard of a couple of cases recently.  I’m not sure exactly where my friend read this information, but after searching the internet, I did find an article about dengue in “La Prensa Libre” which publishes online and listed Atenas at the top in Costa Rica (http://www.laprensalibre.cr/Noticias/detalle/81094/atenas-encabeza-cantones-afectados-por-dengue). 

Time to put it all in context.  First, the way this article was reported was incredibly misleading.  Statistics can be used to influence people in many ways.  For the average person, who may not be professionals in economics, these stats without explanation or improperly stated can be alarming (which is probably the intent in the first place).  This specific article states that Atenas leads  with the highest percentage of cases for the first 31 weeks of the year 2016.  It reports that there are 3,134 patients.  But if you read closely, that number is per 100,000 inhabitants.  Since Atenas doesn’t have 100,000 inhabitants, but only around 15,000, the actual number of cases would be closer to 450.  Still terrible, but a truly different number.  Also, the director for the country states that at the beginning of the year, they were getting reports of 1000 cases/week (for the country, not Atenas), but since it was stated right after the statement about Atenas having the most cases, with a quick read, you might think he was talking about Atenas.  And he goes on to state that currently (August), he was at about 100 cases/week for the country.  We are now in November.

Fighting dengue.  Atenas had a large fumigation campaign several months ago.  It was recognized that mosquitos and dengue were a problem and addressed (although probably not totally eliminated).  But people are reading these statistics, now, in November, and are getting scared to come now. 

Dengue transmission.  Dengue and the other mosquito carried diseases are transmitted when one infected mosquito bites another person.  The distance that mosquitos travel is usually not that far (typically no more than 300 feet reported by mosquito.org), so it is the biggest problem between families and people living or working close to each other.  It’s also more common in the lower altitudes where more mosquitos thrive rather than up where it is cooler.

Symptoms of dengue.   Dengue is terrible.  I have seen true cases of dengue where people run high fevers for 5-7  days straight, are in extreme body pain, and break out in rashes with an extreme tiredness that can last for weeks.  Unfortunately, it seems that every time someone here has a fever, immediately it is proclaimed that the person has dengue.  Even if they get better in 48 hours and discount it, they already made the announcement in the community that they had dengue and that is what people remember.  Fact, the regular labs don’t do dengue exams.  Only the Ministry of Health can run a dengue exam which takes 1-2 weeks for the report to come back.  Therefore, no one waits for this report and instead, the doctors request blood exams for platelets counts which can be returned the same day.  The labs check the levels of platelets in the body and if they lower to an extreme amount, it is assumed to be dengue.  Regular viruses will also lower the platelets.  So only after multiple days of platelet testing and counting will a doctor declare that it APPEARS to be dengue.  Treatments for these viruses are the same with lots of liquids, medicine to control the fever, and rest.  Antibiotics do not work as these are viruses, not infections.   

So, what to take from this?  Be careful and a bit suspicious with health reports in unofficial news sources.  You need to check the source, understand the stats, and put it in context.  Atenas does have flair-ups with dengue, so use repellent or long sleeves to help prevent mosquito bites and but don’t give up your life just because of rumors or badly-stated statistics.  

Tina Newton is the co-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate and has lived in Atenas for 17 years.  Feel free to contact her at tina@tnrealestatecr.com with any questions, real estate related, or not.  Check out the website for current listings and the Facebook page for updates.  They look forward to helping you find the home of your dreams.  Names to Trust…Homes to Cherish.

Spring Cleaning in Costa Rica

Now that “winter” or the rainy season is heading out and “summer” or the dry season (and high season) is heading in, it’s time to do some serious spring cleaning. The rains can do damage and leave everything smelly and moldy.  So, to prepare your house for the high season, it is important to do a little “spit shining”.  What to do and where to start?

Start from the top and work your way down.

1)      Check the roofs and the gutters to make sure all is in good shape and that there are no left over blockages in the gutters that will produce mosquitos until everything dries out completely.

2)      Check the ceilings for any spots that might have been caused by backed up gutters in the heaviest rains or from mold which can build up just from the humidity in the air.  Replace, clean, or repair.

3)      Check the paint inside and out.   Are there areas that might have been damaged or need a bit of refreshing?  Even a good scrubbing can take away some muddy dog prints that might have been left on the walls.

4)      Check in and behind the furniture and closets.  ALL of it.  Especially with wooden or leather furniture, mold can hide behind from the humidity and smell really bad.  For some people, they won’t even know what is wrong but will get a sudden headache from being in your home and it might be something you don’t see but is lurking behind the furniture or inside drawers.  Personally, I wipe it down and Lysol it as that is supposed to kill most mold spores.  I’m sure there are other options out there as well.

5)      Air everything out.  Things just get stuffy in the wet season.  Air out mattresses and covers.

6)      A deep down scrubbing on the floor will get the tracked in mud out and then you will be back to just sweeping and mopping dust again.  Don’t forget the entry way and the front and back porch areas as well.  The cleanliness of your home is seen long before anyone steps in the front door.

Now you know why the locals call the rainy season, winter.  So, in the transition month of November, get your cleaning gear out and prepare for the sale.  Spring cleaning, here we come!

Please add your own best cleaning tips and share them with everyone.  Tina is a Realtor and half-owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate.  Feel free to send her any questions at her email and check out the properties in Costa Rica on the Facebook page (like to see the newest updates) or on the website.