Buying or Selling Real Estate in the Mexican Caribbean?
As in many countries, understanding Real Estate in Mexico can be challenging! If you want to buy or sell a home in the Mexican Caribbean, your best bet is to look for a serious local real estate firm with an excellent reputation in this area.
Mexico just recently started to license real estate offices and agents in certain States and Quintana Roo State is one of them. It is still not even close to the firm laws applied in the U.S., but it is a good start and national real estate associations like AMPI are forcing their members to get certified and licensed. Every day you will see more and more professional, well trained and honest agents taking up this noble career.
More and more Americans and Canadians are heading South of the Border seeking the sunshine, beaches and the rich Mexican culture and enjoying the great friendly service of the Mexican people. Many of them choose to purchase a little piece of paradise down here for enjoying a vacation home, retiring, or investment.
Buying a home in Mexico is an easy procedure when you have a professional broker on your side.
The purchase process for foreigners looking to buy real estate in Mexico is simple and straightforward. If you’ve done your due diligence, and you are represented by experienced real estate professionals and a well-recommended notary, you’ll have no problems.
Mexico passed the Foreign Investment Law in 1973, allowing foreigners to purchase real estate anywhere in the country the only restrictions being border and coastal land (within 100 kms of international borders or within 50 kms of the coast).
In 1993, the law was amended to allow for purchase within restricted areas through a fideicomiso - a trust agreement established with a Mexican bank.
A fideicomiso allows a foreign buyer to hold property with all the rights and privileges of a citizen.
With a single fideicomiso, you can hold multiple Mexican properties, own them in perpetuity, and will the property to your heirs.
Plus, you can easily transfer the trust to another foreign buyer, should you wish to sell.
A fideicomiso is good for 50 years and is renewable thereafter (by you or your heirs).
It can be held by one or more individuals or by an entity (an LLC, for example).
- The initial setup costs range from US$500 to US$1,000, and maintenance fees amount to US$500 to US$700 per year.
- Foreigners can also own land in restricted areas through a Mexican corporation, and these can be 100% foreign-owned.
You should only consider a corporation if you’re buying real estate strictly for investment or business. If you plan to subdivide and develop land, a Mexican corporation makes sense.
Corporations come with more restrictions and reporting requirements than fideicomisos.
They are required to submit monthly reports on income and expenses - completed by a certified accountant - to the Mexican Department of Treasury. And property held in a corporation is considered commercial, so it’s subject to additional taxes (VAT, for example).
The initial costs to set up a corporation will vary depending on the attorney that you use, but the minimum required is $50,000 Mexican pesos (about US$2,800 at today’s exchange). You’ll also incur costs for the certified accountant to maintain it (US$600 to US$800 annually).
No matter the use of your property, your attorney should be involved in reviewing its legal status, including title search, the review and preparation of contracts, and setting up your trust or corporation. Many title companies are available now in Mexico.
The buying process should play out like this…
Offer And Acceptance
Make an official offer. While Mexican law recognizes verbal agreements, both the offer and acceptance should be made in writing, ensuring no confusion on terms and conditions. Your offer should be sent in the form of an “Offer to Purchase” contract, detailing the main terms of the sale, including price, payment plans, details on an earnest money deposit, and a deadline for the seller to accept the offer.
Once the deposit is made, the promissory agreement (contrato de promesa) will be drawn up, binding both buyer and seller into a timeframe to execute the purchase contract. Having this in place locks in the basic terms of the offer while you and the seller track down all the paperwork you’ll need to complete the purchase contract - which can take some time. It also allows time for both parties to work out the details for the final purchase contract.
Under Mexican law, both parties are bound by the terms of the promissory agreement - if all the terms and conditions are met to execute the purchase contract, neither party can back out of the sale.
Once the promissory agreement has been signed, the seller contacts your bank (the one you used to set up your fideicomiso) to initiate the trust application. Your attorney then orders a trust permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During this time, your lawyer should also be verifying the legal status of the property, including review of title, confirming that the seller has the right to transfer the title, and reviewing the terms and conditions of the purchase contract. He’ll also need to request documentation from the seller, such as the certificate of no encumbrances, a certificate of no tax liability, and a property appraisal.
The documentation required from the buyer is minimal - all you need is a copy of your passport and driver’s license, a recent utility bill showing your name and home address, and corporation documentation (if applicable). These are presented to a notary and are filed at the public registry.
If everything is in order, the notary and your attorney will work with the bank to have the trust documents drafted and finalized.
Closing And Title Transfer
At this point, both parties should be able to execute the purchase/sales agreement (compra-venta), start the closing process, and transfer title of the property to the fideicomiso. By this time, the bank trust office should have received the trust permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and your attorney will be able to start the drafts for the closing deed. Your lawyer, a notary, and a bank trust officer will then review the final draft of the deed.
Once everything has been verified as correct and all the closing paperwork is ready, you’ll be notified of a closing date and the final closing costs due. At closing, the final deeds will be signed at a notary, final payments settled, and the property title officially transferred to the bank trust. The notary then issues a notarized copy of the closing deed. This is your first proof of ownership and can be used to put utilities in your own name.
Within approximately three months of your closing date, the Public Registry issues the final deed containing an electronic folio, copy of all certificates, and payment of rights.
RETIRING IN MEXICO
Retirees in Mexico live active, healthy, lifestyles underpinned by Mexico’s agreeable climates, first-class amenities, and affordable living costs.
People who have come to retire in Mexico comment on how they enjoy and savor their active and enjoyable lifestyle and activities as retirees in Mexico and the country regularly tops popular lists of ‘best places in the world to retire to’…
As a country, Mexico has an enormous amount to offer retirees. You have a choice of climates, ranging from spring-like weather all year-round to warm humid seafront locations, and the dry heat of desert.
Mexico’s pace of life is ideal for retirement - you can relax, and still lead an active retirement. While stress levels depend on each individual, Mexico’s laid-back atmosphere, it’s agreeable climate, friendly people and welcoming culture provide an ideal environment for low-stress living.
The food is wonderful. Fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and fish are available at the local markets, and you’ll get great value for your money. There is an enormous variety of tropical fruit, which is sweeter and juicier than the kind that is shipped to colder climates.
Fresh, locally produced food is also less expensive in Mexico, although prices and quality vary throughout the year, depending on the season. The variety of vegetables is also immense, including local kinds such as nopales (cactus) and chayotes. Mexico is also the home of the avocado and is the world’s biggest producer of the fruit.
Retirement Lifestyles and Living Standards in Mexico
For those who know Mexico, retirement here can be part of a dream come true. Retirees in Mexico enjoy a great climate, great food, a rich culture, and warm, friendly, people.
Some retirees move into local Mexican communities and integrate there; this can make the whole living experience in Mexico much more worthwhile and fulfilling.
For those with hobbies, the hobby or interest can almost always be pursued in Mexico. Communications via the Internet can keep you up-to-date with the latest news and information and sports scores if you want to keep abreast of what’s happening back home. If you enjoy participating in sports, Mexico offers the climate, the groups and amenities for you to participate actively.
Many people continue their passion for, or turn to, pastimes like art, photography and writing - using Mexico as their landscape and inspiration. Some find that their work can be sold inside or outside Mexico, supplementing their income.
Other people get involved in social work: helping deprived communities to build new infrastructure, getting involved in charity work, sharing their extensive knowledge and experience of life with others and making a significant and positive contribution to the communities where they live in a wide variety of ways.
There’s no better time to learn Spanish. Surrounded by the language, engulfed in a country passionate about its history and culture, there is no better place to learn than in Mexico.
Language classes are available everywhere.
If you view your retirement as an opportunity to improve your golf game, Mexico has no less than three of the world’s top ten golf courses for you to try - and dozens more besides.
You can retire in Mexico in total seclusion if you want to, buying a property in the middle of a stunning landscape, with nothing but nature around you for miles.
Or you can live in the middle of one Mexico’s towns or cities surrounded by the local communities, sharing their culture and their way of life - or something in-between.
Whatever you want, you’ll find something to suit your tastes somewhere in Mexico.
Many retirees buy 2 or more condominiums to live in one and rent the others to have an income.
"Return on investment on rental properties in tourist areas usually average from 6 to 12 % per year"