Mexico Real Estate
Can foreigners buy real estate in Mexico? Yes, they can, even near the coasts.
Mexican real estate transactions are not regulated and caution should be exercised,
but tens of thousands of foreigners have purchased Mexican property without incident
and have discovered that being a Mexico real estate owner can be a rewarding and profitable experience.
Some buyers seek investment properties while others vacation in Mexico often enough that buying a vacation rental property makes financial sense.
Foreigners purchase real estate in all shapes and sizes and in all areas of Mexico,
from sunny resort areas such as Puerto Vallarta to popular retirement destinations such as Lake Chapala.
When considering buying Mexico real estate, it is first important to find the right kind of property.
Many foreigners buy in gated, planned developments, which may be comprised of single family homes or condominiums,
and most coastal resorts are experiencing a boom in these kinds of real estate projects.
For example, in Puerto Vallarta new projects in a variety of price ranges, including small,
affordable residential condo developments to luxury, master-planned resorts, are popping up from Mismaloya
on the southern shores of Banderas Bay to San Pancho north of the city.
Developers know what buyers want, and many of these Puerto Vallarta communities blend the charm of traditional Mexico
with world-class amenities such as beach clubs, tennis courts and spas.
Buyers are not just buying a Puerto Vallarta home or vacation property; they are buying a lifestyle.
While planned communities are becoming more and more popular in Mexico,
many foreigner buyers would rather buy a traditional single family home in an established Mexican neighborhood.
Often foreigners who buy real estate in gated, master planned developments are seeking neighbors similar to themselves,
while buyers who choose to live in Mexican neighborhoods, whether one in a small village or in a sprawling city such as Guadalajara,
are usually hoping to experience everyday Mexican life by immersing themselves in the Mexican culture.
Neither choice is better than the other. Different foreign buyers just have different tastes and goals.
Understanding Mexican law when it comes to buying real estate goes a long way in making the buying process less intimidating.
The rules are different from those in the U.S. and Canada, and it is important to know them before jumping into a major purchase.
Generally, Mexican law states that foreign nationals may purchase property for residential use outside of the 100km restricted
land border zone or outside of the 50km coastal zone. Inside of the restricted zones, foreign nationals may own land through
a fidecomiso (a trust) which is set up through a bank and provides for ownership of the land and property in all but name.
The property cannot be taken from its owner, and it may be deeded to heirs.
To navigate this buying process, it is necessary to have a good notary public.
This is a lawyer with specialized training and is a highly trusted public official charged with overseeing important legal transactions.
Your notary will perform a title search to ensure that the person selling the property is the person who actually owns it,
and he will draw up the Convenio de Compra/Venta (sales agreement), set up a trust if necessary, ensure that all permits
are properly filed and obtain a property appraisal. He will also make sure that no taxes or utility bills
are due (it is still a good idea to purchase title insurance just in case any liens suddenly show up after the purchase).
Payment, whether it is cash or a down payment if using financing, is due when the closing papers are signed.
There are a few other things to keep in mind when purchasing
real estate. There are no official building codes in Mexico,
and construction methods are often not the same as those in
the U.S. and Canada. In some small villages, homes are made
of concrete mixed in a wheel barrel in the street. In resorts
such as Puerto Vallarta, traditional construction methods use
rebar-reinforced concrete, although some developments are now
using cranes and steel beam and column construction with concrete
for the floors. While most Mexico buildings are sound, an engineering
survey of the property to be purchased is usually a good idea.
Also keep in mind that while Realtors in the U.S. and Canada are regulated, there are no such regulations in Mexico.
Virtually anyone can set up a real estate office - no licenses or tests are required.
And while the vast majority of Mexico real estate deals occur without problems, foreigners should have a "buyer beware" attitude.
It is important to remember, too, that U.S. and Canadian attorneys are not licensed to practice law in Mexico
and should not be relied upon to give accurate advice about buying Mexican real estate.
Why buy Mexican real estate? A better question might be why
not? Who does not dream of a home by the beach or a in a quiet
village off of the beaten path? Home prices in Mexico's resort
areas can rival prices found in the U.S., Canada and Europe,
but buyers often receive more for their money in Mexico. Homes
designed with tile floors, arched doorways, exposed beams and
cupolas exude charm, and higher end residences, ones marketed
primarily to foreigners, may boast fruit tree groves, ocean
views, Jacuzzis and satellite TV. Puerto
Vallarta real estate includes beautiful private residences
with sea views, boat slips, roof gardens, swimming pools and
secluded beaches. Similarly spectacular properties may be found
in most of Mexico's resorts, from Cabo to Cancun, and they are
often are a great value, whether as an investment property,
a future retirement sanctuary or a vacation home.