A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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It’s fun to dream about having a getaway place in Mexico, be it a charming condo by the ocean, a little cabin somewhere, or whatever… It’s even more fun to do it!

In recent years it has become easier for foreigners to own real estate in Mexico, including Mexican beachfront property. See below for more about how this works… property near the ocean is handled in a different way from other types. But it’s great that we can do it now!

Buying real estate in Mexico is different from the process at home in some ways, so do work with an attorney who knows the ropes and speaks good English.

We offer you pages on real estate in some cities of Mexico. You can read about real estate in Acapulco, in Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area, in Cancun,in Mexico City, in Puerto Vallarta, and in Guanajuato. In many places, there is a publication with classified ads you can read. Ask at a newsstand when you are there, if you can muster up the Spanish. This could be a regular newspaper or it could be something known for its real estate ads.

Some Tips on Buying Mexican Houses, Land, etc.

Mexican real estate is typically paid for with cash or by check. Mortgages have been quite rare, but are becoming more available in areas where foreigners buy houses.

Due partly to the rarity of mortgages, a house may be for sale for a good bit longer than in the US typically. This could be to your advantage when buying, and less so if you decided to sell.

Mexican title insurance for real estate is much less common than in the US, but you really should arrange to get it.

There’s one kind of land to be wary of — ejido land. Ejidos were land held in common in the past, and the titles can be murky.

If you are exploring the real estate — be it homes, land, condos, or whatever — in a particular area of a Mexican city or state, ask local people what is for sale. You may have a lot of choices that are not listed with real estate offices and don’t even have signs out front. You can find treasures this way, even if your Spanish is pretty basic!

Prices may be higher if the seller knows that a foreigner is interested. So you may pay more than a local, but do feel free to bargain. It’s expected!

Property measurements are often in square meters. To give you an idea, 1 acre equals 4046.86 square meters. One square meter equals 10.7639 square feet.

Buying Mexican Real Estate Near the Ocean

As individuals, foreigners can’t directly own property within about 30 miles of the shoreline or about 60 miles of the border. But there are two ways that you can legally own Mexican real estate within these regions. Experts say that both methods are secure, when set up properly.

[1] A bank trust is commonly used for residential real estate, and that’s called a fideicomiso in Spanish. The bank “owns” the property but you as trustee have total control of the real estate, for building, selling, putting it in your will and avoiding inheritance taxes, etc. You can list more than one trustee, for example, yourself and your spouse or yourself and a friend.

Bank trusts are good for 50 years and are renewable. Setup fees run somewhere around $500 for this arrangement, and annual fees are about the same. There are regulations on how large the land can be.

[2] You can form a Mexican corporation. If the land will be used commercially, this is the way to go. Costs to set up this corporation are several times higher than for a bank trust. Mexican corporate tax reports have to be filed, which you would have a Mexican accountant do for you.

A reader of my blog told me she and others have done this, adding,”A Sociedad Anonima may be totally foreign owned…if none of the owners have their FM3 then there must be a person who is Mexican and acts as an agent for the SA who signs the documents for the land purchase but is not necessarily an owner of the corporation.”

Laws can change. I’m no lawyer. Do your homework before signing anything!

So if you dream of having a home in Mexico, do that homework and go for it! Thousands of foreigners have done it, and many of them are living in their homes right now. You can join them! Here’s an article about buying land in Mexico I recently came across.

And here is a great website  for browsing real estate listings: http://mlsmexico.com/ covers several areas of Mexico popular with foreigners, including the Lake Chapala area where we live. In fact, we found our house on it!

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