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Buying an existing apartment or house can be frustrating. Here are the key things to know without going into the technical and legal jargon:

  • No licence is needed to sell real estate in Mexico, thus anyone can say they are an agent. On the other hand, there are reputable firms in the area and this is changing.
  • Foreigners can buy property but there is a rule that you cannot directly take title this close to any coast or border. The solution that everyone has is to set up a trust with a local bank. I pay my bank around USD $400 a year for the trust.
  • You will make use of a Mexican Notary, which here is a glorified lawyer who is appointed by the governor of the State. The notary will find most paperwork defects such as liens, unpaid bills, etc.
  • Defects in material and workmanship are up to you to discover.
Renting |  Buying |  Construction |  Electrical |  House Security | 

The central figures in all your dealings will be the Notary Public, the buying agent, the listing agent, and the bank.

The buying agent is your realtor or the person who is helping you to find a place. They are supposed to represent you and get a commission from you when a purchase is finalized. That means the buying agent wants to see a sale go through so they may withhold information from you (tacky but truthful - they are not necessarily on your side either).

The listing agent is the realtor or person who is selling the property. The owner of the property will take care of paying them a commission. The listing agent is on the side of the seller so be careful when getting their sales pitch.

If you find defects in material or workmanship in the place you want to buy then I suggest you fix it yourself after the purchase. The chances that the existing owner will fix it are about zero, even if it is in writing. A guarantee also means very little. I also suggest not getting a quote from the owners builder or workers. Of course they want you to buy the place as it is ‘fresh capital’ so they tend to make their prices low until you buy. Then, “ah, it is a bit more difficult than we anticipated because of this load bearing wall.” There is nothing better than a fresh gringo that does not know the prices (trust me, I know this from first hand experience).

Another strong suggestion is to rent for the first 6 months until you get to know if you like it or not here. Also, you will get to know the prices better.

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