Buying a home in Cabo, Mexico
Imagine buying your dream home. Let me help you make it happen. Please read this important information, answering to common home buying questions in Cabo.
Q. Can non-Mexicans own real estate in Mexico?
A. Yes! Ownership of real estate in Mexico is via a Mexican land trust called a fideicomiso (fee-day-coe-me-so). The trust has a term of 50 years and can be renewed in perpetuity to allow for long-term control of the asset or to will the land from generation to generation. For this purpose, we offer secure U.S. financing and Title Insurance on properties purchased in Mexico.
Q. What is the history of the Mexican property trust/fideicomiso?
A. With the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Mexican government recognized that it was crucial to make foreign investment in Mexico safer and easier for non-Mexicans. Because the Mexican Constitution prohibits non-Mexicans from purchasing or owning real estate within 60 miles of the U.S. international border, or within 30 miles of the Mexican coast, an innovative and secure method of holding title was created. This method allows non-Mexicans ownership through a Mexican property trust called a Fideicomiso. This is a trust agreement, much like an estate trust in the U.S., which gives the Purchaser all of the rights of ownership.
In order to gain the rights of ownership, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City issues a permit to the Mexican bank of the Purchaser’s choice, allowing the bank to act as Purchaser of the property. Essentially, the bank acts as the “Trustee” for the trust and the Purchaser is the “Beneficiary” of the trust. The trust is not an asset of the bank; the banks simply act as the Trustee to hold the trust.
Q. What is the function of the trustee bank?
A. Much like living wills or estate trusts in the U.S., the Mexican bank, or Trustee, takes instruction only from the Beneficiary of the trust (the Purchaser). The Beneficiary has the right to use, occupy, lease and possess the property, including the right to build on it or otherwise improve it. The Beneficiary may also sell the property by instructing the Trustee to transfer the rights to another qualified Purchaser, or bequeath the property to an Inheritor. The initial term of the trust is 50 years, however the trust can be renewed for additional periods of 50 years indefinitely, providing for long-term control of the asset.
Q. What rights do I hold as a purchaser of Mexican real estate?
A. The Purchaser holds the same rights as a property owner in the U.S. or Canada, including the right to enjoy, sell, rent, improve the property, etc. This is not to be confused with a land lease. The property purchased is placed in a trust with the Purchaser named as the Beneficiary of the trust — the Purchaser is not a lessee. If the property purchased is already held in a trust, the Purchaser has the option of assuming that trust, or having the property vested in a new trust.
Q. How long does it take to establish a trust?
A. At Snell Real Estate, we partner with Federal and State notaries for all of our closings in order to secure your trust. A Notario Publico in Mexico is much different than a Notary Public in the U.S. In Mexico, Notarios are specialized attorneys who act on behalf of the state and federal government in relation to any transaction; they are comparable to a U.S. Clerk of Courts.
On average, Snell Real Estate can obtain your trust within 60-90 days. In some cases title has been transferred in as little as two to three weeks. We oversee the entire process and make certain you understand each and every step involved. For your benefit, we can even provide you with a sample trust in English for your review.
Many real estate purchases in Mexico have only a simple buy/ sell agreement between the Purchaser and the Seller as evidence of ownership. This is not a safe method of ownership and is not recommended by Snell Real Estate or our Third Party Escrow provider.
Q. When do I pay for my property?
A. The Purchaser should only release funds when the Purchaser holds clear title. By utilizing our Third Party Escrow service, your money is held in an individually numbered escrow account until your trust is complete and the property rights have been transferred to you, the Purchaser.
Q. Is Title Insurance a necessity?
A. Whether you purchase real estate in the U.S. or Mexico, Snell Real Estate recommends Title Insurance for every property your purchase. We insure our cars, homes and our health — it is just as important to insure one of your largest investments: your property.
Title Insurance is available for properties in Mexico purchased by U.S. and Mexican citizens.
Fact: Just because you have a trust does not ensure you have free and clear title. Title insurance is a necessity.
Fact: In a Snell Real Estate property search, the property’s title is searched all the way back to the Mexican Revolution. Most trust-securing title searches only go back to one or two owners of record.
Q. How do I ensure ownership of the land that I am going to purchase?
A. In the trust document the Purchaser must name the Beneficiary or foreign Owner of the property. The purchaser can be an individual, multiple partners, a foreign corporation, an estate trust, a living will, or another entity. The Trustee of the trust (the Mexican bank) will take direction from whomever you name as the Beneficiary. Note: You can name a U.S. corporation as the Beneficiary of the trust. This is perfectly legal.
• If you sell the shares in the U.S. corporation, you have created a real estate transaction in Mexico and all Mexican capital gains taxes apply.*
• You can own a property in a Mexican corporation and take title fee simple only if the property is for development or investment purposes.
• You cannot own property through Mexican corporation to bypass the trust process.
• It is against the law for a foreigner to own property in a Mexican corporation for residential purposes.