There are two ways for foreigners to purchase beach property in Mexico. The first is via a bank trust called a fideicomiso and the second is via a Mexican Corporation.
The fideicomiso is a bank-held trust and is similar in function to a real estate trust in the US.
An authorized Mexican bank is designated as the trustee of the property. The purchaser is the trust beneficiary who enjoys all the rights of ownership. The beneficiary has full rights to rent, lease, encumber, sell, give away, or pass the property on to heirs. The bank is the trustee, but the trust is yours; it is not the property of the bank.
The trust enables you to name a beneficiary upon your death. It is actually a useful estate-planning tool as the trust property passes outside of the probate process.
Fideicomisos are the preferred method for purchasing property intended for residential purposes.
If you intend to use your prospective property for commercial purposes you will most likely want to purchase it through a Mexican corporation. Mexican corporations can be fully owned, operated and administered by foreign shareholders. You should consult with a Mexican attorney or accountant to determine if your particular circumstances warrant purchasing your property through a corporation versus a fideicomiso.
A Mexican Notary Public (Notario Publico) is similar to a notary public in Canada with far greater responsibilities than a notary has in the US. All real estate transactions in Mexico are required to be completed by a Notario Publico. Among other things, the Notario’s job is to ensure the legality of the transfer of title, to coordinate appraisals, and to calculate and collect related taxes. The Notary must register the transfer of title deed in his books, witness it being signed by the respective parties and have it recorded in the appropriate Public Registry of Property.
When you’ve decided to look for a property to buy in Mexico, you should start by finding a realtor who is local to the area you are searching in and who is well known in the community. Ideally, he or she will have years of experience living and working there, and an in-depth understanding of the place and the people. As well, a truly local realtor may become a long-term support service for you, well after you have purchased your property.
The Usual Process of Purchasing
Find the property you wish to buy and agree to a sales price with the seller.
Have a Buy/Sell agreement drawn up and signed by both parties. A down payment is usually made at that time.
The fideicomiso (bank trust) needs to be set up and the transfer of title deed needs to be prepared. This can take 2 to 3 months, which must be taken into consideration when projecting a closing date.
The last steps are executed in front of the Notario Publico. These include signing the deed and paying the balance owed to the seller. Notary fees and acquisition taxes on the purchase are also paid at this time.
The Notario or your attorney will ask you for copies of official documents such as your passport and your tourist or resident card. It’s important that all documents prepared show your name exactly as it appears on your passport.
Total closing costs usually amount to between five and seven percent of the purchase price.
While an attorney is not necessary to the process of purchasing property in Mexico, it is usually in your best interest to have one. This is particularly true if you have never purchased property in Mexico before or if you do not speak or read Spanish.
An attorney will represent you and advise you of your legal options. He or she can draw up your contracts, review the terms and conditions of the sale and make sure your interests are protected. He or she can also set up your trust (or corporation) and assist in the closing.
Also if it appears you will not be able to be present for the signing of the final deed, your attorney can draw up a Power of Attorney document so that you can have someone sign for you in your absence.
We at Troncones Property can recommend excellent bilingual Real Estate attorneys in nearby Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa.