Are you dreaming of living abroad? Buying property in Mexico may seem like a pipe dream or a logistical nightmare, but many Americans have pulled the trigger and are living in their dream home in Mexico. From the hustle and bustle of Mexico City to the charming cobblestone streets of San Miguel, the white sand beaches of Tulum, and the cliffy Pacific coastline, there are plenty of reasons to want to make Mexico your forever home. Who wouldn’t want to live abroad but still be just a short plane ride away from family and friends? If you’re itching to take on a new adventure and are thinking about buying land abroad, continue reading below for Everything You Need to Know about Owning Property in Mexico: A Guide for New Expats.
Can Americans own land in Mexico?
The short answer is yes, Americans can be and own land in Mexico. Owning beachfront land in Mexico was initially forbidden under the original Foreign Investment Law, which stopped foreigners from owning land anywhere within 64 miles of an international border or 32 miles from shore. Fortunately, the law was amended in 1993 to allow foreigners to invest in and own property in Mexico near both borders and coasts.
How to purchase beachfront property in Mexico
While owning a beachfront property is not restricted to foreigners, it does require permission in the form of a fideicomiso. A fideicomiso is a bank trust that allows foreigners to legally buy land in areas near the coast or national borders. Since the amendment of the Foreign Investment Law in 1993, foreigners are permitted to set up a fideicomiso that gives them indirect ownership of restricted land through a trustee. In a fideicomiso, the trustee is the legal owner of the land, but the beneficiary of the trust maintains all rights to sell, lease, or pass on the land. One benefit of the current fideicomiso system is that foreigners can pass land to their heirs without needing a Mexican will.
Still, the system does rely on the credibility of Mexican institutions to honor the trust. That’s why we strongly suggest working with an attorney in Mexico who can ensure that all the paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. Don’t know where to find an attorney fluent in Mexican Law? No worries, at Live Everywhere, we pride ourselves on our ability to get you connected to the right help.
Now, let’s break down the purchasing process into bite sized steps:
- Find the Perfect Piece of Mexican Real Estate
Work directly with us to locate your dream property in Mexico. Once you narrow down your desired location, we will work tirelessly to find your new forever home and negotiate a fair price.
- Create a Sales Contract
Once we have an agreed-upon price, we will create a sales contract to document the terms and conditions of the sale, which includes the final agreed-upon price. Sales contracts vary depending on the exact location, but they are always all in Spanish with an English copy provided. The Spanish copy is the legally binding copy, so be sure to study it carefully.
Working with a translator or trusted advisor on the sales contract is recommended. My (Lisa) connections to these entities are well established and trustworthy, making that one less thing for you to worry about.
- Put Money Down
Once the sales contract is in place, it’s time to place the down payment. This initial deposit will secure your piece of Mexican real estate and begin to finalize the purchase of your dream home.
- Create a Fideicomiso
As mentioned previously, a fideicomiso is required if you are purchasing land within 64 miles from an international border or 32 miles from the shore. You can either create a fideicomiso or have a previous fideicomiso transferred to your name. Fideicomiso instructions last for 50 years, so be sure to check how long an existing fideicomiso is valid for before transferring it to your name.
- Notarize the agreement & sign the escritura
Next, using a notary, seek permission to complete the purchase and sign an agreement stating you’ll be bound by Mexican law in all real estate dealings. The escritura becomes your title to the property once the purchase is finalized and all outstanding costs have been paid. Visit a notary to sign the escritura. Your legal rights to your new home and land will be registered three months after closing the deal on your dream home.
Buying land abroad can be intimidating, but don’t let semantics stand in the way of the next chapter of your life. Head to our website to find your new dream home.