Buying Property and Property Disputes in Nicaragua

Please note: The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the entities or individuals whose names appear on the following lists. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department or the U.S. government. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information on the list is provided directly by the local service providers; the Department is not in a position to vouch for such information.

Property Disputes in Nicaragua

U.S. citizens should be aware of the risks of purchasing real estate in Nicaragua and should exercise extreme caution before committing to invest in property.

Please bear in mind that property cases in Nicaragua are under the jurisdiction of Nicaraguan authorities.  Potential investors should review the annual Investment Climate Statement, engage competent local legal representation, and investigate their purchases thoroughly (due diligence) in order to reduce the possibility of property disputes.

The 1979-90 Sandinista government expropriated approximately 28,000 real properties, many of which are still in dispute or pending resolution by the Nicaraguan government.  Land title remains unclear in many cases.  Although the Nicaraguan government has resolved several thousand claims by U.S. citizens through compensation or the return of properties, the Embassy continues to receive reports of unresolved and new claims held by U.S. citizens.

In addition to expropriations, the Embassy is aware of numerous cases in which buyers purchase property supported by what appear to be legal titles, then find themselves subsequently embroiled in legal battles when the titles are contested by an affected or otherwise interested third party.  In many cases, multiple parties will claim to have legal title to the same piece of land.  Once a property dispute enters the judicial arena, the outcome may be subject to corruption, political pressure, and influence peddling.  Those who have pursued redress for property rights infringement through the judiciary have found that any type of court proceeding in Nicaragua takes time; simple court cases may take months and often years.  In other cases squatters, and/or former owners, have simply invaded the land while the police or judicial authorities have been unable or unwilling to intervene to remove the trespassers.  There is no guarantee that a favorable court ruling will be recognized or executed.

The Embassy advises extreme caution when considering the purchase of property in Nicaragua, especially coastal property.  Additionally, prospective buyers in certain regions should be aware of announcements regarding a proposed trans-oceanic canal, as properties on or near this route may become subject to eminent domain in the future.

Potential investors should review the annual Investment Climate Statement, engage competent local legal representation, and investigate their purchases thoroughly (due diligence) in order to reduce the possibility of property disputes.

U.S. Embassy

The U.S. Embassy cannot provide legal counsel or interfere in Nicaraguan judicial or administrative processes, including cases where the Government of Nicaragua is a party.  If you are a U.S. citizen involved in a property dispute, the American Citizen Services unit can provide a list of attorneys registered at the Embassy.

As part of our efforts to maintain and publicize assessments of Nicaragua’s investment climate, the Economic Section monitors ongoing U.S. citizen property claims and investment disputes against the Government of Nicaragua.  The Embassy regularly informs Nicaraguan government officials and the general public of the current investment climate here in Nicaragua.  In particular, we have highlighted the poor rule of law due to weak institutions and limited protection of property rights that have affected or deterred U.S. citizens from investing here.