What You Need to Know Before Buying Property in Mexico as a US Citizen

Mexico has a favorable climate and is a prime tourist destination all year round. America’s next door neighbor to the south is also a close trading partner. A range of factors make this friendly Spanish-speaking nation a popular destination for Americans to buy property. Here are some considerations before you go scoping for prime real estate in Mexico.

Objective

Americans don’t need visas to buy properties in Mexico. However, it is important to have clarity about your goal for buying estate abroad. You may want to work from Mexico, have a second home there, buy property as an investment, earn rent as additional income, start a farm or other production unit, or simply retire and move to a quiet beach town. The contractual and legal considerations can differ a lot based on what type of property you opt for, as can the methods for finding a suitable piece of land. The location of your prospective new real estate is equally important.

Zones

Usually Americans are permitted to buy land in the interiors of Mexico. That means it has to be at least 100 km from an international border and 50 km from the coast (that’s right, in Mexico distances are measured in kilometers, not miles). The rest is restricted area. In addition, an antiquated law stipulates that much of the land in Mexico is communal and therefore unavailable for ownership as private property. An amendment to land ownership law has made some swathes of land within the restricted areas available for purchase. You must double check about legal salability when scoping real estate for purchase.

Legality

Land ownership is not the same in Mexico as in the US. Most land cannot be purchased by foreigners directly, and a third party must be involved. This consists of entering into a trust agreement with a Mexican financial institution, usually a bank. The bank becomes a trustee and holds the title to the property, while you may enjoy the benefits of the estate in all the ways that matter. With such an agreement it is possible for both individuals and corporations to buy and own private properties, rent them out, sell them to other foreigners, or pass them on as inheritances. Agreements have nominal setup costs and a modest annual maintenance costs. In addition such agreements have to be renewed periodically. Commercial property is a bit different. For the purchase of commercial land in Mexico you must setup a Mexican corporation, pay VAT, and pay for annual accounting charges. For all property agreements in Mexico it is vital for foreigners to formally involve a licensed Mexican attorney for overseeing the entire process.

Credibility

Real estate agents in Mexico do not require to be licensed or even be trained as brokers or realtors. In that sense the real estate market in Mexico is rather unregulated, which is a world of difference when compared with the US. American attorneys are not authorized to impart legal advice on property matters in Mexico. A licensed Mexican attorney should be involved during every step of the process to establish credibility of the agencies involved and salability of the property. As an American you must ensure the credibility of the attorney foremost. Ask to see the license of your Mexican attorney before employing them.

Local help

Employing a Mexican attorney can help you save time, money and effort in all sorts of ways. Ensuring that the owner has the right to sell the property, determining the accurate value of the estate, knowing which of the transaction costs are to be paid by the seller, easing the transactions with banks and notaries, completing the correct paperwork, providing useful tax advice on your transaction, and generally speeding things along with their expert local knowledge and language skills are only some of the useful things a local attorney can help you with.

Payments

You always have the option to continue to live in the US while making mortgage payments on your property in Mexico. Although it is possible to get a Mexican bank to finance your property, most Americans prefer US banks. You can make a downpayment as well as regular mortgage payments from your US bank account. Currency conversion is invariably a prerequisite with such international money transfers. In order to minimize your transaction fees and optimize the exchange rate when you send money to Mexico you should opt for a convenient and versatile service such as Ria.