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Expat Exchange - How to Buy a Home in Mexico
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Huatulco, Mexico


How to Buy a Home in Mexico

By Betsy Burlingame

Welcome Home Mexico
Welcome Home Mexico

Summary: The one tip that you hear expats living in Mexico repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Mexico. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Mexico is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Mexico.

Buying a home in Mexico can be an exciting prospect for expats, offering the chance to own a slice of this vibrant, culturally rich country. However, the process can be complex, with different laws and practices compared to other countries. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of buying a home in Mexico, from finding properties to understanding the legal requirements and potential pitfalls.

How Do I Find Houses for Sale in Mexico?

There are several ways to find houses for sale in Mexico. Online property portals are a popular choice, offering a wide range of listings from across the country. Local real estate agents can also provide valuable insights and access to properties not listed online. Additionally, local newspapers and word-of-mouth can be useful resources, particularly in smaller towns and communities.

Are There Restrictions on Foreigners Owning Property in Mexico?

Yes, there are restrictions on foreigners owning property in Mexico, particularly within 50 kilometers of the coast or 100 kilometers of the country's borders. This is known as the "Restricted Zone". However, foreigners can legally circumvent this through a fideicomiso, a bank trust, where the bank holds the deed on behalf of the foreign buyer. Alternatively, a foreigner can establish a Mexican corporation to buy property.

Does Mexico Have an MLS Type System?

Yes, Mexico does have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system, similar to those found in the United States and Canada. This system allows real estate professionals to share information about properties for sale, providing a comprehensive resource for buyers. However, not all properties are listed on the MLS, so it's worth exploring other avenues as well.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They are Licensed?

Yes, real estate brokers in Mexico are required to have a license. You can verify a broker's license by checking with the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI). It's important to ensure that your broker is licensed to ensure that they adhere to professional standards and practices.

What Documents are Required When Buying a Home?

When buying a home in Mexico, you will need several documents. These include a valid passport, a tourist visa, and a bank trust application if you're a foreigner buying in the Restricted Zone. You'll also need a purchase agreement detailing the terms of the sale, and a certificate of no liens to ensure the property is free from debts.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Buying a Home in Mexico?

Yes, it's highly recommended to hire a lawyer when buying a home in Mexico. A lawyer can help navigate the complex legal process, ensure all documents are in order, and protect your interests. The cost of a lawyer can vary, but typically ranges from 1% to 3% of the purchase price.

Do People Typically Buy a Property with All Cash or Take Out a Mortgage?

Both options are common in Mexico. Many foreigners choose to buy property outright with cash, particularly if they're purchasing lower-cost properties. However, mortgages are also available, both from Mexican banks and international lenders. It's important to compare interest rates and terms to find the best deal.

Are There Inspections That Take Place, and If So What is That Process Like?

Yes, property inspections are a standard part of the home buying process in Mexico. A professional inspector will examine the property for any structural issues, defects, or necessary repairs. The buyer typically pays for the inspection, which can provide valuable peace of mind and potentially save money in the long run.

What are Some of the Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in Mexico?

There are several potential pitfalls to avoid when buying property in Mexico. These include failing to verify a broker's license, not thoroughly inspecting the property, and not fully understanding the terms of the purchase agreement. It's also crucial to ensure that the property is free from liens and that all legal requirements are met. Working with a reputable broker and lawyer can help avoid these issues.

Expats Talk about Real Estate in Mexico

"The move was easy for us because we had help from my husband's company. I would have prefered to live closer to Villahermosa (we are about an hour away) but the commute would have been terrible for my husband. My advice would be to learn as much Spanish as possible!!!! Don't rush into finding a home if you can avoid it. See what is out there. Also if you can get help from locals do so. Mexican people are some of the nicest people on earth. I still stick out like a sore thumb and will probably never master the language but most people are very patient and are eager to learn English themselves," said one expat living in Comalcalco.

"Contact me or someone here about what to bring or not. Choosing a neighborhood and finding a home I would suggest a qualified real estate professional. We have an MLS group in the city. Preferably chose one of those realtors," wrote a member in Manzanillo.

"I am a realtor and very happy to show new people around the city I love. I also make sure they settle in and meet other people. I think of that as part of my job," commented one expat who made the move to Manzanillo.

"Do your research. Figure out what is really important to you. There is so much to do here and lots of people who speak English. The locals are very friendly. There are always exceptions but we have been very happy. It is a noisy country and there is dust. Bill is a musician and does sound for many of the productions and I am a quilter. There is a theater group, a community choir, an art society and a multitude of clubs, restaurants, live music that you will recognize. Medical care is good and you will find alternative as well as traditional medicine. You will see donkey carts and BMWs sharing the road. Working is a problem since jobs are reserved for the citizens so planning on working here may not happen," remarked one expat living in Lake Chapala.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


Welcome Home Mexico
Welcome Home Mexico

Welcome Home Mexico
Welcome Home Mexico

Huatulco, Mexico

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William Russell

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