The enduring appeal of Mexico’s breathtaking landscapes, idyllic beaches, delicious food and rich cultural history draws in droves of travelers and vacationers each year. But Mexico is more than a spot to spend a few days enjoying a resort. It's also the perfect place to find great value on a real estate investment, a retirement home, or a family vacation home.
Although the Mexican constitution once prevented foreigners from purchasing real estate in certain areas, the Mexico real estate market is now wide open, meaning that Americans can buy property in Mexico wherever they see fit.
For Americans, buying real estate in Mexico is easier than ever before, but the process has some important differences from American real estate markets.
This short guide will explain the essential steps involved in buying a house in Mexico, and how Zisla can help you find the property of your dreams.
Why is Mexican Real Estate so Popular?
People from all over the world flock to Mexico's many resorts, and they keep coming back because of Mexico's natural beauty, warm weather and affordable cost of living.
For most foreigners, the first visit to a Mexican beach is an unforgettable experience. Once they start to discover Mexico's rich cultural heritage and delicious cuisine, people tend to fall head-over-heels in love with the Mexican lifestyle.
Mexico's lengthy coastlines provide some of the finest surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing to be found anywhere on earth, which gives visitors plenty of options. Whether you prefer relaxing on the beach of the exhilaration of an ocean adventure, you can have it all in Mexico!
Mexico's affordability is a huge plus for travelers and vacationers. All sorts of expenses, ranging from food to transportation to professional services, are much more affordable than equivalent offerings in American cities. This low cost of living lets people enjoy luxurious lifestyles on non-luxury budgets.
Straightforward travel policies make it easy for foreigners to spend lengthy amounts of time in Mexico without the need for complicated paperwork. Canadian and American citizens can stay in Mexico as tourists for up to 179 days without a visa.
Because it has been such a popular tourist destination for so long, it's easy to find affordable, direct flights from major American cities to various Mexican destinations. This ease of access is another reason why so many Americans purchase vacation properties in Mexico.
Buying Property in Mexico
Although the steps involved might seem peculiar to foreigners at first glance, the help of an experienced real estate agent makes buying property in Mexico just like any other real estate transaction.
Buying Property in a Restricted Zone
Anywhere within 50km of a coast or 100km from a national border is considered part of Mexico’s “Restricted Zone,” although the name is slightly misleading. In the Restricted Zone, the only restriction faced by foreign nationals is that they must buy any property through a bank trust agreement.
This agreement, called a fideicomiso, is sanctioned by the Mexican government. When using an authorized bank, fideicomisos provide all the same property rights that Mexican citizens enjoy. Through a fideicomiso, Americans are able to rent, lease or sell Mexican real estate in the Restricted Zone however and whenever they like.
To establish a fideicomiso, foreigners must apply through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and register in the Public Registry of Property and the National Registry of Foreign Investment.
Even if buyers are unfamiliar with this type of arrangement, the process of creating a fideicomiso is actually quite easy to navigate with the guidance of your lawyer and real estate agent.
To read more about this setup and other subtleties in the Mexican real estate market, read our detailed guide on how to buy Mexico real estate. It explains everything you need to know!
Once you find the property that suits your needs, the purchasing process begins when you make an initial offer. This is a standard part of real estate transactions in many places that informs the seller of your intent to purchase the property in question.
After the eventual acceptance of the offer, once all negotiations are final and after everything has been agreed upon, the next step is drafting a promissory agreement. In this document, called a contrato de promesa de compraventa in Spanish, the buyer and seller will agree to a timeframe to finalize the purchase.
The promissory agreement is the official hard copy version of the agreement, including relevant details of the transaction (such as the price) negotiated by the parties.
Walkthrough, Delivery & Title Transfer
In Mexico, properties are often delivered before the title gets transferred to the new owner, an order that is uncommon in the United States.
For Americans buying in Mexico, this means that you will receive the keys to your new property before the title is transferred to your fideicomiso. It is at this point that, following a satisfactory final walkthrough and inspection, a signed delivery statement will register the delivery of your property.
Following the delivery statement, buyers will receive a notice for the amount of the closing costs. Once they are paid, the fideicomiso will take possession of the property title, and the local public registry will issue the final deed.
Make Sure to Explore These Areas
If you have been considering buying property in Mexico, make sure to put the regions of the Yucatan peninsula at the top of your list of prospects.
Yucatán State is an area that has flown under the radar, thanks to the popularity of neighboring Quintana Roo. Even though word is starting to get out, the Yucatan real estate market presents great value for real estate investors and ideal destinations for snowbirds.
You can find some of the most popular resorts in Mexico in this sunny state, but the hidden value in this area is found in the small towns along the Riviera Maya.
In Quintana Roo, the real estate in Playa del Carmen offers everything you would expect in a world-class travel destination, while real estate in Tulum presents great value, even as this hotspot continues to grow in popularity.