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Buying Real Estate in Mexico

So you have fallen in love with Mexico and want to own a piece of paradise.  Before proceeding any further you should decide what arrangements suit you best: do you want buy land and build, purchase an existing house or condo or participate in a time share arrangement.   Whatever you decide to do, make sure you understand the whole process and should take care to follow all the formalities under Mexican law. Itís wise to hire professionals to help you through the labyrinth of Mexican bureaucracy. Competent legal, tax, and other professional advice can make the whole experience go much more smoothly.

The first thing you should know is foreign ownership laws.   As a foreigner you can acquire property in Mexico and hold title under your name providing that the property does not lie within 100 km. of an international border or 50 km. from the coast.   Since the majority of you with probably fall within this exclusion, the following information on Fideicomiso or trust laws would apply to you.

FIDEICOMISO

In 1917, to protect national security, the Mexican Congress decided to limit foreign ownership of property within 100 kilometers (62 Miles) of the borders, and 50 kilometers (31 Miles) from the coast. Most of the property being sold along the Riviera Maya and in Cancun falls into this area. In 1971 the law was altered so that foreigners could own property in the Restricted Zone and the Ministry of External Relations created FIDEICOMISO. This is document that allows Mexican banks to holds the deeds to properties owned by foreigners in the restricted zone for up to 50 years. The bank only holds the deed and can act under instructions of the Beneficiary ("owner) of the trust. All owners act as if they have direct title, renting, improving or living on the property. When the property is sold, the bank must be contacted to sign transfer documents to the new owners. All real estate rights, obligations and profits belong to the owner. 

 The bank will charge for first establishing the trust and then a yearly maintenance fee.  Fees vary from bank to bank ranging from flat fees to 1 - 1.5% on the assessed value at the time of purchase. These charges are usually in Pesos and can be updated yearly. Trusts are contracted for up to 50 years and the cost to establish it is now the same regardless of the specified period; thus the bank automatically drafts a contract for the longest term, unless the client instructs otherwise.

Mexican companies in which foreigners hold stock no longer need a trust as long as the property is for business purposes such as commercial, industry, tourism or agriculture.  

 PROCEDURE TO ESTABLISH A TRUST

-         The buyer will approach a bank to act as the trustee with respect to the property.   Different banks have varying costs for setting up the trust.  It is wise to approach several banks and compare both their setup cost and annual maintenance charge.

-         the owner furnishes the following:

o       A description of the real estate to be purchased

o       The purchase price for the property

o       The payment terms

o       A personal data concerning the purchaser

o       A statement as to the purpose of the trust.

-         the Mexican Bank then applies to Mexico's Ministry of External Relations for a permit authorizing the trust.

-         once the permit is obtained, the trustee, as well as the other parties involved contact a Public Notary. The Notary functions as the closing attorney in Mexico and draws up a deed for the property.

-         the Notary then registers the trust with the National Registry for Foreign Investment.  You will be able to receive an official copy of your title from your Notary about three months after it is filed.

 

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