Most Americans and Canadians have gone through the process of buying real estate in their home country at least once, if not more often. The process they are used to involves very direct contact with the market; they see for-sale signs up on lawns, and see the home that goes with those signs. They can make an appointment to see that property during their free time, as early as the next day. Whether they like the home or not, they can go back home, search online listings, look at real estate magazines and find more for-sale signs while being out and about. When people are searching in their home community or nearby, they can essentially re-start the process as often as they like. They now the community, they know the market, and they probably have a pretty good grasp on “how things work.”
Buying in Mexico is different for 2 big reasons (in addition to many smaller reasons.) One is the fact that buyers are not physically present in the market while they are searching, or even nearby. The other is the fact that laws and business culture are different from the U.S. or Canada.
Searching from a Distance
While it is cheap and relatively short to fly to Mexico (between 2 and 5 hours for most North Americans) it is still not feasible for the vast majority of us to fly to Mexico every weekend to view a new property. Even if it were, buyers would still not have that direct contact with the market, seeing homes for sales as they are out and about, as they do in their home community.
The most efficient way for buyers to proceed with the search process is to carry out a fairly intense and well-thought-out search by internet, creating a list of Mexico real estate possibilities that have very high potential to be the right one for their needs. At this point, they can plan one single trip to Mexico, stay at a hotel, view each property, and, hopefully, be able to make a final decision.
Most people will assume (correctly) that this is easier said than done. During the search process, buyers will need to use a variety of resources on the internet to get to know their area above and beyond real estate listings, such as articles, pictures and travel guides.
Yet, at the same time, they will need to go even one step further. Ideally, buyers will invest time into finding an experienced agent who lives and works directly in the area. This agent will not only guide them through their online search, sending property suggestions as well as other relevant information about the area (Related:
In Mexico, this also helpful in terms of language; most Americans and Canadians buying property here do not know Spanish, so their agent’s bilingual skills will also be a huge asset.
Using a variety of resources and working with an experienced agent will leave a buyer in a much better position to make the most of their visit and greatly increase the likelihood that they will find that ideal property on the first visit.
Different Laws and Culture
The other point is difference in laws and culture. Even if a buyer had the time and money to simply head down to Mexico and stay for the length of their search until they found the right property, besides the language barrier, most Americans and Canadians are simply not familiar with relevant laws or business culture in this country.
In terms of laws, non-Mexican buyers will have to go through special steps to buy Mexico beachfront for sale, since there is a law that requires ownership by means of a bank trust within 50 km (30 miles) of any coast, or 100 km (60 miles) of an international border. In addition to being very familiar with these processes, an agent will be able to provide information that, although not related to real estate, will be key in getting established in Mexico; for example, there are residency requirements for owning a car in Mexico.
Mexican business culture is also different. When Americans and Canadians go to a meeting with a mortgage agent at a bank, they may expect to come away from the meeting having accomplished something or having gained more relevant information. This may not always be the case in Mexico and to English-speaking North Americans, meetings of this sort may seem inefficient and disorganized. An experienced agent will be quite familiar with the pushing these processes ahead with the right balance of insistence and good relations.
Related: Purchasing Property in Mexico
In both differences – buying from a distance, and dealing with distinct laws and culture – working with an experienced agent will be invaluable for North American buyers. For this reason, the best approach for Americans and Canadians interested in buying real estate in Mexico is to invest time at the beginning to find an agent who is professional, with degrees or certificates and membership in Mexico’s professional association (AMPI), experienced and dedicated to the best interest of his or her clients. With this approach, the differences will most certainly still be noted, but the buyer will greatly increase their chances of enjoying a smooth, hassle-free and efficient search and purchase process.
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