How to Buy Real Estate in Mexico

Deborah K. Vick

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.
Some Tips on Buying Mexican Houses, Land, etc.
Mexican real estate is typically paid for with cash or by check. Mortgages are quite rare.
Due partly to the rarity of mortgages, a house may be for sale for quite a while. 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 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, but none of the owners can be Mexican. 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.
So if you dream of having a home in Mexico, do your 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!

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