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Just an hour drive away from both Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, the sleepy town of Todos Santos attracts visitors looking to do some serious unwinding. No daily tequila laden parties and all night discos here. Instead, visitors can surf at nearby beaches, dine at one of the many restaurants in town, and peek into several galleries for a glimpse of what local artisans have to offer. 

In Todos Santos, it is easy to sip a hot afternoon away with a pitcher of cold Agua de Jamaica, a refreshing hibiscus flower tea common in Mexico, and still wonder where the hours went. "We are a small unspoiled town were people are friendly and the pace of life is great," said Erik Castellanos from Encanto Real Estate. 

About Todos Santos

Located in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguana Mountains, in the southern part of the Baja Peninsula, Todos Santos is a charming city of about 6,000 people. Established in 1723 by Father Jaime Bravo, Mexicans nowadays refer to it as Pueblo Mágico, a magical village. "Not only does our town have romantic colonial buildings in the petite downtown area, it also enjoys spectacular ocean and mountain vistas along with miles and miles of undeveloped beaches and waves that surfers flock to," said M. Antonio Bolio-Tapia, the manager of the Coldwell Banker Riveras Realty in Todos Santos.

Historically Todos Santos was a big sugar cane producer; at its height it had eight sugar mills. The prosperity that resulted from the sugar trade stretched over a century and left behind the beautiful colonial buildings and houses that make up the old parts of the town. After a severe drought in the 1950's all but killed the sugar cane farms, the town's economic focus shifted to vegetable and fruit farming, fishing, and ranching. Over the last fifteen years, tourism has also grown and is bringing along with it much needed economic benefits.

A number of expatriates, from retirees to artists, have fallen under the town's spell and made it their full-time home. For a small town, Todos Santos indeed has a lot going for it. It has a good selection of restaurants and galleries and a colorful annual art festival. A large number of creative people reside in town and contribute to the city's liveliness. "It is an artist community," said Castellanos.

The coast is only a couple of miles away and there is no shortage of places for outdoor activities such as hiking and surfing. More importantly, it doesn't have much in the way crime. "Southern Baja is much safer than anywhere else in Mexico," according to Castellanos.

The weather is also a consideration for those interested in avoiding extreme heat. "Being on the Pacific we get great weather all year long. During the months of February to July our temperature is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than La Paz or Los Cabos," said Castellanos. The fact that the town is only one hour away from two bigger cities is also an advantage. Residents can drive into Cabo San Lucas or La Paz to get whatever is unavailable in Todos Santos.

Todos Santos real estate

Recent tourist interest has brought with it property restoration and development to Todos Santos. Over the past several years the value of real estate in the area has risen sharply as investors discovered the town and bet on its potential.    

Just like elsewhere in the world, the Todos Santos property market is affected by the current global financial crisis. "The [real estate] market has slowed down considerably. In general prices have maintained their previous levels and have not dropped," said Castellanos. The slowdown is reflected in the types of properties that are moving. "What is mainly selling is great deals and homes under $300,000." According to Antonio Bolio-Tapia, "appropriately priced properties move very quickly."

Prices of properties vary by area. "In coastal areas the proximity of the ocean is what sets the price. A half acre lot with services close to the ocean goes for $120,000 to $200,000. Beach property that is about 1/3 of an acre starts at around $300,000. A nice two bedroom house with ocean views can cost less than $300,000," according to Encanto Real Estate. There are also million dollar luxury homes. "[Some] beach front lots with luxury level residences are offered at the $1,000,000 plus range," said Antonio Bolio-Tapia.

Buying real estate in Todos Santos

There are no special rules for buying real estate in Todos Santos. "They are the same rules that apply to all coastal properties in Mexico which basically means buying through a Fideicomiso," said Castellanos. 

"Property purchased by non-citizens of Mexico is held in a Deed of Trust or Fideicomiso. The predominant difference in the Deed of Trust received here for purchase of property in the Baja peninsula is that a bank is the trustee and the buyer is the beneficiary," according to Coldwell Banker Riveras Realty.  "Foreigners who purchase property here do enjoy the entire 'bundle of rights' associated with property ownership.  [They can] transfer title, assign title, sell the property, and rent the property. A unique [aspect] is that ownership must be renewed every 50 years." 

Purchasing real estate in a foreign country can be confusing. "Buyers should always do their due diligence like they would anywhere else," according to Encanto Real Estate. Castellanos advices buyers to use established real estate agents instead of buying direct and putting money down. Investors should also "use international Escrow companies, get a preliminary title search of the property so it is eligible for title insurance, and have the property surveyed to be sure the boundaries are correct" before making an offer.

Looking ahead

"As infrastructure continues to grow, artists and other [like] minded people will to continue to flock here," said Antonio Bolio-Tapia. "It will continue growing," said Castellanos. "A lot of people are discovering its great features and the quality of life you can have here. It is still considerably cheap, so prices will continue to increase." Outside of Todos Santos' great selling points, the growth of nearby cities such as La Paz and Cabo San Lucas is likely to spillover to the area especially because current real estate prices in Todos Santos are cheaper in comparison.