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.
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
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