The Insider's Guide to Buying Property in Nicaragua

With excellent surfing conditions, long golden sand beaches and comparatively affordable real estate, Nicaragua has attracted increasing attention from international property buyers in recent years.

If you are currently considering investing in real estate in Nicaragua but you are wondering “where are the best places to buy property in Nicaragua?” or “how do I go about owning property in Nicaragua as a foreign buyer” then this guide is for you.

Our guide takes you through the process of buying property in Nicaragua from beginning to end, including an introduction to the real estate market, the buying process and the taxes you will need to be aware of.

Couple relaxing in a pool in Nicaragua Beautiful beach in Nicaragua - aerial view

Overview - The Nicaragua Real Estate Market

The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua has long Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean coastlines with beaches that stretch for miles. With a tropical climate and landscape which varies from fertile valleys to tropical rainforest, the country is extremely biologically diverse, hence its nickname “the land of lakes and volcanoes”. Until recently Nicaragua was one of Central America’s best kept secrets, but now, the secret is out. The country was named by CNN as one of the “World’s fastest-growing tourist destinations for 2017.” Its blossoming tourism sector attracted approximately 1.5 million tourists in 2017 and plans for a trans-continental canal to rival the canal in Panama, would, if realized, provide a major boost to economic growth.

While the slated opening of a new breed of high quality resorts on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, such as the proposed Six Senses, is likely to bolster Nicaragua’s luxury credentials, the real estate market is still considered emerging. It is very much a buyer’s market and, for the time being, property prices in Nicaragua remain lower than in nearby Costa Rica, Panama or Belize. Real estate for sale in Nicaragua, which ranges from newly built condos overlooking manicured golf courses to finished turnkey beachfront homes, is particularly popular with North American buyers, including retirees looking for more bang from their buck and investors with an eye on the increasingly lucrative rental market.

“With excellent surfing conditions, long golden sand beaches and comparatively affordable real estate, Nicaragua has attracted increasing attention from international property buyers in recent years”

Why Invest?

1 / 7

Emerging real estate market with comparatively low prices.

2 / 7

Rapidly growing tourism destination considered one of “the best under-the-radar destinations” in the world.

3 / 7

Attractive retiree incentives, including duty-free import of household goods, vehicles and building materials.

4 / 7

Relatively undiscovered, untamed landscape ranging from golden beaches to rainforest-covered mountains.

5 / 7

One of the world’s top surfing destinations.

6 / 7

Easily accessible via direct flights from North, Central and South America, as well as Europe.

7 / 7

Off the beaten track destination with fascinating colonial towns and pre-Columbian ruins to explore.

Buying Process, Fees & Taxes

Can foreigners buy property in Nicaragua?

Yes, foreigners can buy property in Nicaragua and the Government of Nicaragua welcomes investment from overseas buyers. There are practically no restrictions on foreign buyers acquiring real estate in the country and the buying process is the same for citizens and foreigners alike. However, foreign buyers are not permitted to purchase land within 5km of the international borders and require a waiver permit to purchase land within 5 to 15km from the international borders. Land that lies within 50 meters of the high tide mark is considered the property of Nicaragua and its citizens and is unavailable for purchase.

Buying process

Buying property in Nicaragua is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:

  1. Begin your property search.
  2. Find your perfect property and make an offer.
  3. Once you have signed a contract for sale, your attorney should conduct due diligence including a title search and property survey.
  4. Your attorney will then draw up an Escritura (Title Deed) and witness the signing by both you and the seller.
  5. Once payment has been transferred your attorney should register the property in your name at the Cadastral Office.
  6. Pay all required taxes and fees.
Fees & taxes

Transfer Tax

There is a Transfer Tax paid by the seller (except in San Juan del Sur where it is paid by the buyer) that varies by the property value:

  • 1% (<$50,000)
  • 2% (~$100,000)
  • 3% (~$200,000)
  • 4% ($200,000+)

Registration Tax

There is also a Registration Tax and IMI Tax – 1% each.

Property Tax

There is an annual property tax (IBI) of 1% of the assessed value of the property.

Residency & Citizenship

How long can a foreign citizen stay in Nicaragua?

Citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, and many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America are permitted to visit Nicaragua without a visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

As Nicaragua is party to the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4) tourists can travel within the CA-4 countries (Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala) for up to 90 days without completing entry and exit formalities at border immigration checkpoints.

How do you become a resident of Nicaragua?

Nicaragua offers foreign nationals who would like to live in Nicaragua 2 optional routes to obtaining residency status:

Retiree Residency

According to the Law of Resident Pensioners and Retirees (Decree 628), retirees aged over 45 with an income equivalent to at least $600 per month from Social Security or a pension can apply to become resident in Nicaragua for a 5 year period (renewable). Residency offers tax benefits including no tax on out-of-country income, exemption from duty on importing up to US $20,000 worth of household goods and a vehicle valued at less than $25,000.

Investor Residency

According to the Foreign Promotions Investment Law, individuals investing a minimum of US $30,000 in a business or real estate in Nicaragua can apply for residency in the country. Applications must be made in person in Nicaragua and applicants must remain in the country for at least 30 days following the application to allow for follow up visits from Immigration officials.

How do you become a citizen of Nicaragua?

Individuals who have lawfully resided in Nicaragua for 5 years can apply for citizenship by naturalization.

Mortgages in Nicaragua

Looking for financing to fund the purchase of property in Nicaragua?

Contrary to popular misconception, it is possible for foreign nationals looking to invest in Nicaragua real estate to apply for financing.

Some local banks offer mortgages for qualifying non-residents buying, building or improving a second home in Nicaragua.

How to get a mortgage in the Caribbean

How to Get There

There are direct flights to Nicaragua’s Sandino International Airport near Managua from Europe and the Americas.

From the USA you can fly to Nicaragua’s Sandino International Airport in Managua with American Airlines from Miami, with Delta from Atlanta or with Continental from Houston.

From Europe, fly with Iberia from Madrid or connect in the USA.

There are also regular flights to Nicaragua from various Central and South American cities.

  • Miami to Nicaragua 2h 35m
  • Houston to Nicaragua 3h 20m
  • Atlanta to Nicaragua 3h 45m

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Fast facts

  • Population 7
  • Capital Managua
  • Language Spanish
  • Currency Nicaraguan Córdoba
  • Time zone GMT-6 | ET