When an American or Canadian decides to buy real estate in Mexico, the first part, or even perhaps all of the search process will be carried out from distance. While for many buyers this may seem to be an obstacle, there are excellent resources available to make this task easier and even offer some advantages over the option of searching and viewing directly in person. Many of the resources will be similar what buyers would use when buying at a distance in their home country, but some of the implications are different.
Online Listings – The internet abounds in online real estate listings. This is as true of Mexico as of the rest of North America. However, it must be noted that Mexico has no universal MLS listing system like those in the U.S. and Canada. The thoroughness of a listing is usually entirely dependent on the effort of the agency which compiles it – their effort to go out and find as many suitable properties as possible. Some areas have local MLS networks and it is an advantage to find listings that are a part of these. In all cases, a slightly larger amount of effort is required in finding, evaluating and choosing a listing service that will offer a good variety of properties to consider and offer good descriptions, photos, maps, etc.
The Internet – Besides online listings, there are many ways in which the internet can help. There are videos of locations, reports on growth, blogs about the market and trends and much more. The internet also becomes a powerful tool in communication with a professional, experienced agent.
An Agent – This will be a buyer’s most valuable resource. The right agent will be their “eyes and ears” while the buyer communicates with this agent from their home country. With a budget range, preferences in property type and location and purpose of buying (i.e. vacationing & investment combined, rental income, construction, etc.) an agent will be able to go above and beyond what appears on the online listings; they will research listings from their network of sellers’ agents & developers to find all properties that meet the buyer’s criteria. This is especially important since there are no complete MLS listings available in Mexico. Knowing an buyer’s purpose, an agent will also be able to make suggestions on properties that differ from some point of the buyer’s criteria, but are potentially good choices for the purpose; the agent will know the market better and for this reason will be able to advise on this point. An agent will also be able to send videos and additional photos. They will also research the title and find any available information about the property, and send all of this via internet. Since Mexico’s laws and legal statuses of properties differ from those in Canada and the U.S., as do construction methods, an agent who is familiar with the market and laws is essential.
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More Efficient – The advantage of this approach is that it is more efficient. Rather than spending time on an ongoing basis viewing properties, waiting for inspections and evaluating them personally, the investor allows a professional to carry out these tasks for them, helping the investor to screen properties that simply aren’t suitable and create a dossier of suitable properties with good potential. A buyer can do his part of these tasks from the comfort of home, or in breaks at work, etc. The same agent will help arrange one visit to Mexico in which the best properties can be viewed in person all in one short visit.
Professional Advice and Opinions – If this approach is used properly, it leaves no choice for the buyer but to work with a leading professional, highly experienced and knowledgeable of the specific market in Mexico. The agent’s task will be more than just showing homes the buyer wishes to see, but actually giving advice, professional opinions and suggestions on any given property.
Distance from the Market – While this may sound like a disadvantage, in reality it forces an buyer to be more efficient and not spend time doing what they could have a professional agent do for them.
Buying from a distance doesn’t have to be a stressful or uncertain process; if a buyer uses online tools efficiently and works with the right agent, it can, in fact, offer real advantages in efficiency and making use of professional services that exist.
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