Like most other markets, Mexico real estate offers investors a broad range of styles suitable for investment. The style each investor chooses will be determined by purpose, personal taste, etc. The following are a few different styles, and some suggestions.
Investors looking for a constant and steady income, rental properties are the best way to go. Vacation rentals can offer a higher, over-all income, but fluctuate throughout the year. Fluctuation can also take place from year to year, depending on the strength of tourism in Mexico. While 2009 saw a very large dip, 2010 has already seen a recovery surpassing 2008’s pre-recession highs. Tourists are still spending less money, but this lower spending effects accommodations less than restaurants, etc. For this kind of investment property, it is of key importance to work with a strong property/rental management company or plan. There have been cases of excellent properties bringing very little return because of the lack of publicity. Large homes and condos (3-4 bedrooms) tend to hold the highest appeal, since they are attractive ways for small groups of vacationers to save money. Excellent locations for this purpose include Cancun/Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta, which receive the highest numbers of international tourists.
Another option is long-term rental, which is more constant, both month to month and year to year; while it tends to bring a slightly lower income, it also requires less constant attention in finding renters, and is less dependent on tourism fluctuaton. A wider variety of locations can also be considered, including non-tourist locations.
Investment you can enjoy
Many investors are looking for an investment that is not purely return, but offers enjoyment as well. Mexico real estate is a prime choice for this kind of investment because of the close tie between the real estate and tourism industries. On the most basic level, it is just like the vacation-rental properties described above, but investors use the property part of the year.
It is becoming more common, however, that condo-hotels (or "condo-resorts") are being specifically designed to allow for this. Some include specific rental pool plans, where investors choose how much time to dedicate to income, and how much to enjoyment. One possible feature is an on-line "portal" which allows owners to control their investment, deciding how often and when to place their property in the pool. This concept can range from full investment income, with owners enjoying the property in the low season, when the property would be unoccupied anyway, to a focus on the owner’s enjoyment, using the rental income just to balance maintenance costs and their own vacationing expenses.
Closely related is the amount of effort which each owner wants to put into their investment. Many of the condo-hotel style developments offer a complete hands-off package, where everything from maintenance to room cleaning is included in the plan, as well as complete control of the rental system (in these cases, owners usually have to indicate there vacationing time at the beginning of the year, and it is sometimes a limited number of weeks.)
A similar situation can set up with condo bought in a non-hotel style complex, through hiring a property management company. In both cases, it is very important to confirm the success of the company in question.
While there is a higher cost involved, this kind of arrangement can be ideal for those who don’t have time to find and track their own property rentals or take care of maintenance. Just as important as the amounts involved is the number of items included in the management plan / condo fees, and, again, the occupancy rates offered by that company.
Mortgages through Mexican banking institutions are becoming more and more common. A handful of savvy buyers have managed to find rental properties where the rental income covers the maintenance costs, utility bills, property taxes, insurance and even the monthly mortgage payment. While due care must be taken and it is advisable for investors to have a backup plan, these owners are obtaining a property at minimal costs (the down payment and closing costs) and will enjoy a potential return of almost the entire value of the property (which, if done right, will also have risen significantly) when the mortgage is completed, plus the ongoing income from rental.
Return from value appreciation
Investors looking for future return based on the resale of a property also have many options in Mexico. In fact, some of the properties focused on rental incomes can also enjoy good appreciation. Most often, however, buyers looking for this kind of return will choose properties with a specific focus.
One common choice is land in up-and-coming tourism locations. Tulum, just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula, is currently a favorite, with a new international airport on the way, and an expected boom both in tourism and real estate. Other areas, such as Campeche, on the other side of the Peninsula are also promising for growing tourism and expat populations, while prices are still very low.
For investors who enjoy making a personal project out of their investment, there are also many excellent options. The same land purchases in up-and-coming areas can become exciting home-building project, bringing even further value to the investment and making the project much more involved.
Another option is the classic fixer-upper. Renovation projects are available in a broad range of locations, including colonial cities such as Merida or Mazatlan, beachfront resort cities, like Cancun, or small towns like Progreso near Merida. These kinds of projects involve a great deal of care in property choice, and also careful planning to avoid a situation where the cost of the project comes close to the resale value. A patience, or even love for, the unexpected and finding innovative solutions is a good trait for fixer-upper investors. A reasonable number of investors have made a fortune in this way.