The small colonial town of Alamos is quietly making a name for itself among travelers seeking solace from the chaos of other, well-known, Mexican destinations. Visitors can spend their time hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, and acquainting themselves with the numerous indigenous villages in the surrounding area. Those who have discovered its charm rave about it.
“It sits in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in a in sub-tropical deciduous forest that blooms each month with a new array of color,” said Liliana M. Carosso, a licensed real estate broker at Alamos Realty. “Its architecture is colonial. Its people [are] warm, always with a friendly smile. It is a true Mexican town at the end of a Road, [hidden from] the hustle and bustle of other cities. [It is a place] where families still stroll around the Plaza on Sundays.” Alamos isn’t for those who equate slow with boring. People who expect entertainment to come and knock on their door need not visit.
About Alamos, Mexico
Located in the Mexican state of Sonora, Alamos is one of the “Silver Cities” which were founded after the precious metal was discovered in the region in the 16th and 17th century. Covering an approximate area of 2,682 square miles, the population of the municipality hovers at about 25,000 people. With no shortage of sunshine, the average temperature of the city is about 58 °F with some days heating up to a scorching 117 °F. In 2005, Alamos was designated as a “Pueblo Magico” or magical town, a classification reserved by the Mexican Secretariat of Tourism for places that offer exceptional experiences.
Alamos boasts a unique bio-region where tropical plants mix with desert vegetation, according to Journal of the Southwest. Known as a dry tropical forest by botanists, desert plants like acacias, mesquites, organ pipe cactus co-exist along with tropical varieties such as lianas, orchids, ficus, and bromeliads. Visitors interested in hiking will most certainly find a thriving environment in the areas surrounding the city. Some 400 species of birds have been recorded around the town, according to AlamosMexico.com. Among them are exotic birds such as the Roseate Spoonbills and Macaws.
Alamos reached the heights of its economic power at the end of eighteenth century when the city’s mines produced an inordinate amount of silver. The possibility of greater wealth attracted well-heeled families and government representatives from Spain, leading to the establishment of the town at the end of the 17th century. Now, Alamos’ economy is mainly dependent on farming and ranching, according to AlamosMexico.com. In addition, tourism brings much needed jobs and income to the city. Residents have also benefited from the opening of two mines, Minera Corner Bay Silver Mine and the Piedras Verdes Copper Mine.
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The real estate market in Alamos, Mexico is a little different than other popular destinations in the country. For one, it is overwhelmingly a retiree market. After spending some years in the town, retirees tend to return home – most probably for health or family reasons. So the real estate market, for the most part, recycles the same homes over several years. “Alamos has always been a market that cycles and where it is not uncommon for a property to sit on the market two to three seasons before it sells. The monthly cost of maintaining a home is under $500 with a gardener/housekeeper, utilities and taxes so people are willing to wait for their price before they compromise,” said Carosso.
Alamos hasn’t escaped the influence of events outside the city’s control. “The market has been very slow since winter season 2006 when a colleague and I looked at each other and laughed at how low our for sale inventory was,” said Carosso. Issues that are affecting the Alamos real estate market are not unique to the city. The global economic slowdown has definitely dampened the international market. It also doesn’t help that Mexico’s reputation is being sullied by the continuing news coverage of drug traffic related violence. The Swine flu scare, although temporary, is also sure to have had an undesirable effect. “All these factors have limited the number of people coming to Alamos looking for their dream house.”
When compared to 2007 and 2008, 2009 has shown improvement. “I must admit that 2009 has started out well, we have sold several homes in the Colonial Center,” said Carosso. “We [also] have a high inventory of available homes for sale.”
As for cost, it all depends on the type of property, size, and location. The current asking price for the former home of actor Carroll O’Connor – a 10,000 square feet house on an acre of land in the Center of town is $525,000, according to Alamos Realty. “New Construction costs are approximately $55 to $65 per square foot with an engineer/contractor managing the work including the social security payment requirements for the workers,” said Carosso.
Buying real estate in Alamos
The buying process in Alamos is pretty straight forward, according to Alamos Realty. “It is not as frightening or difficult as it is touted to be particularly, when working with a reputable realtor,” said Carosso. “When arriving new in town to look for a property it is good to check on the reputation [of an agent] and recommendations of the locals.”
There are no limitations on non-Mexicans purchasing property in Alamos. The restrictions that govern coastal and border area property transactions don’t apply. “There are no special rules other than foreign purchasers are required to secure a permit to purchase from the Department of Foreign Affairs, ‘Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores’,” said Carosso. “Alamos is outside of the restricted zones that represent 100 kilometers from the Borders and 50 kilometers from the Sea. Titles are held ‘fee simple’ for Alamos properties.”
As a tourist destination, Alamos has some good things going for it. Realtors and investors are hopeful that this means the property market will remain stable and continue its upward trend. “The Alamos market will continue to steadily appreciate at its normal rate. It is a unique destination with an appeal to the well traveled and adventurous in spirit,” said Carosso. “It is only 8 hours driving time south of the US border which represents easy access to family or specialized health facilities when these are necessary and still provides a bit of the laid back life of a small Mexican town that is picturesque and sincere.”