Foreigners Are Advised to Hire a Lawyer to Purchase Real Estate in Mexico
Foreigners may purchase property in Mexico without applying for residency.
However, there are restrictions on foreigners buying property within specific zones. The restricted zone is any property within 50 kilometers from the coast or 100 kilometers from the border. Foreigners may purchase property within those zones, provided it is held in a fideicomiso (bank trust) or a Mexican corporation. The trustee bank is a Mexican bank authorized by the federal government to act as trustee. Owning property through a fideicomiso provides the buyer all the rights and privileges of property ownership.
Before a foreigner can purchase property in Mexico there are many procedures to complete, information to verify, and the process may be intimidating if you do not have the proper representation. There are many reasons why it is crucial to consult a Mexican real estate lawyer before making an offer or signing any documents.
We will address a few of the benefits of using a lawyer in this article. We suggest you retain the services of an English speaking internationally licensed lawyer who is governed by, and accountable to a professional order. This is particularly helpful if you do not speak fluent Spanish. Avoid any misunderstanding by working with an English-speaking lawyer.
A lawyer will perform a complete title search on the property, including the chain of ownership, ensuring the seller is authorized to sell the property, and that no one else has a claim on the property.
Dealing with official agencies can be frustrating at the best of times and much worse if you are not fluent in Spanish. Your lawyer will do the work for you, and you avoid dealing with the red tape of various government offices.
Do not expect a lawyer from your country of origin to represent you in Mexico if they do not have a license to practice law in Mexico. Only a licensed Mexican attorney should provide advice on Mexican law.
Which Actions will the Mexico Real Estate Lawyer Take on my Behalf?
- Prepare contracts and review the conditions and terms of sale.
- Submit the permit to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs on your behalf.
- Provide comprehensive title search on the property and a clear history on title and reveal any liens.
- Collect all the no-debt certificates from government agencies.
- Arrange appointments with the bank for the fideicomiso.
- Confirm that property taxes are paid to date.
- Locate an active survey certificate of the property (cadastral)
- Save you money through their association with real estate related businesses, banks, notario publicos, accountants and insurance companies.
- The lawyer will review your plans for the property, whether you are you buying the property as a rental or as a personal residence, and determine the best strategy.
- Review options for creating a Mexican corporation for property ownership without a fideicomiso.
- Coordinate with the bank officers, the notary public, and supervise the seller’s documentation.
- Provide accounting, tax reduction and capital gains advice.
- Confirm the property is not Ejido land.
- By hiring a competent law firm, there is no need to purchase title insurance.
Understanding the Difference Between the Notario and a Lawyer
The notario is a lawyer licensed by the Federal Government and the State and carries a great deal of responsibility. The notario is responsible to verify the identity of the parties and for registering the deed at the Public Registry Office. If a real estate transaction has not been recorded in the public registry by a notario, it is not valid.
The notario publico is required to finalize every real estate transaction; so you may be wondering why you should pay a lawyer.
The reason being is that the notario does not represent you. They are an unbiased representative of the government.
Although the property registries issue certificates of no encumbrances, if a discrepancy is found after the fact, the buyer will have no recourse against the government or the notario for any errors.
Pre- Construction Sales
Developers offer a discounted price and great perks for pre-construction condos not only to promote their project but also to use the funds to build. You are trusting the developer to use your funds and eventually provide you with a property and Title Deed. Obviously, this is risky without a contract.
Before you sign any contract you should have a lawyer review it to ensure your funds are protected in the event that the developer does not finish the project, declares bankruptcy or does not provide a Deed.
Your lawyer should conduct a thorough due diligence on the developer to determine their legal status, license, ensure all permits are in order, review their experience and history, and confirm who holds the Title Deed on the land.
There is a misconception by some foreigners that the Mexican Government may take your property from you, these beliefs may refer to foreigners purchasing Ejido land ‘propiedad comunal.’
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Foreigners have bought land from private citizens at a discounted price only to find out that they do not legally own the land. The seller has the right to the property but does not hold a Title Deed.
Ejido land is property that was given to Mexican citizens for agricultural purposes, it is not private property and was not meant to be sold to foreigners.
Your lawyer will establish whether or not the property you are about to buy is Ejido land.
Buying these properties puts your investment in jeopardy as the communal commissary or the government may reclaim the property at any time.
Other situations of loss include foreigners unknowingly purchasing property which was encumbered or not legally owned by the seller.
Purchasing property in Mexico is safe and secure as long as you retain a reliable lawyer and use the proper legal channels to protect your investment.
Insured Escrow Service
Mexico does not have the same type of licensing and regulations regarding escrow services as the rest of North America.
In Mexico, your deposit will most likely end up in the realtor’s or the developer’s bank account.
The bank account holder may be trustworthy and have the best intentions, but unforeseen events can occur.
For instance, the government could seize their account, and there is no guarantee of recovering your funds.
Hire a law firm that provides an insured escrow service with funds held in a segregated account in the US or Canada.
Guaranteed Title Deed
Choose a law firm that provides a guarantee and will assume responsibility to remedy any defect in the Title. One of the biggest issues in Mexico is obtaining the notarized, registered Title Deed on the property, delays, misrepresentation, and unforeseen claims on the property often prevent the buyer for receiving the Title Deed. Therefore a Title guarantee from your lawyer is essential.
We work with a Mexico estate law firm that is the only Mexican-based law firm that is owned and operated by licensed Canadian and American lawyers that have partnered with Mexican Lawyers. They are accountable for their conduct, integrity, and competence to professional order and their clients.
This firm has the experience and the expertise to represent you through the entire process of acquiring real estate in Mexico.