Shipping our trusty 2007 Daihatsu BeGo back to the US was utterly and completely out of the question. And for the same reason you don't bring your American car to Costa Rica - we will not be shipping this car back to the States... there is nobody there to fix it when repairs are needed.
Finding The Right Buyer...
Usually when selling a car, the process goes like this...
What made my selling situation unique, I was selling my car two months in advance of my departure. Since I needed the use of the vehicle during this period, I was seeking a buyer who could wait for delivery.
I was fortunate to have found a buyer who was moving to Costa Rica just 1 week before we were leaving. The only issue being, this person was buying a car sight unseen. That's funny because I bought this same car in 2009 without ever have seen it.
Apparently my honesty and integrity came through because they wanted to buy the car. I was 100% up front about everything and even would allow them to back out of the deal should the car not be as described as it was in my offer.
The deal was sealed when I secured a conditionally, non-refundable deposit of $1800. This money was automatically deposited into my U.S. bank account. The balance would be due (using the same method) no later than 1 week prior to our agreed upon closing date, 1 week before we leave Costa Rica.
You Can't Spit Without Needing A Lawyer...
Expats all agree, the term Costa Rican Efficiency is the quintessential oxymoron. Just like selling your house, the sale of an automobile also requires a lot of pomp and circumstance as well as a lawyer. When I explained to my buyers what was needed in order to "close" the deal, I sensed that they were beginning to feel a wee bit overwhelmed. Hell I was feeing overwhelmed! The sale of my car was now contingent on newbies, unfamiliar with all things Tico, navigating (sight unseen) through the quagmire known of the Costa Rican process.
I decided to make it easy for them. I contacted a half a dozen lawyers in my area, and asked them to provide a quote on how much it was going to cost to transfer my car to a new set of buyers. All the competing lawyers needed was the vehicle's license tag number. They would then validate the true cost of the vehicle with the "Registro", a governmental agency responsible for knowing everything about Costa Rica. From there they would be able to calculate the proper taxes, transfer fees (and most importantly) lawyer fees in order to close this deal. I'm really glad I did this because I received quotes ranging from $1100 to $639. That's kinda odd considering everybody was using the same valuation basis from the Registro?
Bottom line, I hired the $639 attorney with whom I have already had professional dealings. We will be doing the closing at my house and when we are done we will celebrate with a wine and cheese celebration and a perfect Guanacaste sunset.