Living and working as a real estate broker in The Riviera Maya, Mexico, I am constantly engaged in conversations with folks who recently purchased their “dream home” in Mexico.
To this day, it never ceases to amaze me how almost exactly half of the people end up elated with their purchase, while the other half wish they never decided to move forward with it. I have heard just about every story – both good and bad – that you could possibly imagine.
In just about every case, though, the individuals that had negative experiences could have easily avoided those unfortunate circumstances with a little guidance and common sense. We call this phenomenon, "Margarita Fever". Some folks visit Mexico, go snorkeling, see a sea turtle, and then decide that they can’t live without that new condo. There is no excuse for leaving your common sense and brains at the border!
The following is a checklist for those considering purchasing real estate in Mexico.
- Obtain the services and expertise of a Mexican attorney, title insurance company and a good realtor.
- Understand and adhere to the unique Mexican laws regarding real estate purchases.
- Review a copy of all existing public deeds on the property you are investigating (Escritura Publica)
- Familiarize yourself with any Municipal or State development restrictions.
- Obtain a copy, and review any conditions, restrictions, or covenants regarding the property, as well as any HOA bylaws, budgets and financial statements.
- Pay close attention when buying property where improvements or infrastructure have not been fully completed.
- Consider all of the risks associated with developer or seller financing.
- Only enter into a written contract that has been notarized with the seller (Both in English and Spanish) that meticulously details everything you have agreed upon with the seller.
- Ensure that all deposits are placed into a 3rd Party escrow account pursuant to a fully binding escrow agreement.
- Obtain your Title from a Mexican Notary Public at the time of payment in full.
While these are very important things for you to keep in mind, they are not the only things you need to consider when buying real estate in Mexico – or any other foreign country for that matter. Please keep your wits about you, as you look to invest in Mexican real estate. This includes seeking the legal advice and direction of a professional lawyer (Abogado), and realtor – educated in Mexican Real Estate Law – to help ensure you are protected, and that your purchase ends as an enjoyable and positive experience.