CAN FOREIGNERS REALLY OWN PROPERTY IN MEXICO? Yes, Americans and other foreigners may obtain direct ownership of property in the interior of Mexico. However, under Mexican law, trust ownership of real estate cannot own property outright within the restricted zone.
Instead, a real estate trust must be set up to hold title for the foreigner. Since foreigners are not able to enter into contracts in buy real estate, they must have a bank act on their behalf, much as a trust is use to hold property for minors because they also can not contract. WHO’S INVOLVED IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS IN MEXICO? All four are helpful in their respective areas in assisting with real estate transactions.
Transactions outside of the restricted zone do not involve a bank since it is not necessary to establish a real estate trust in those areas. Otherwise the transactions are much the same. Because of the similarities of real estate transactions in general, it is easy to assume that the basic terms and principles which are familiar in the United States also hold true in Mexico. This assumption becomes easier to make when United States real estate terminology is adopted for transactions in Mexico. Much of the paperwork is similar, if not exactly the same, as that used in the US. Mexican real estate transactions are not carried out in the same manner as United States real estate transactions. The buyer must retain professionals to assist in the transaction.
Mexico has yet to regulate real estate transactions. Real estate agents and brokers are not legally licensed in Mexico. Consequently, a foreign buyer cannot always depend on the normal safeguards that would be applied to real estate transactions in the United States. There are good reasons why the real estate industry in the United States is highly regulated. Until the real estate industry is regulated in Mexico, there will always be some real estate companies who prefer that buyers know as little as possible about real estate transactions. After all, a buyer cannot ask questions if he does not have any knowledge of the laws. Currently there is nothing similar to a Real Estate Commissioner or a Department of Real Estate in Mexico.
Some states are beginning to look at some kind of real estate legislation, but it might be some time before this is a reality. The American Embassy and the American consulates in Mexico are good places to start when trying to determine if a real estate company is reputable. Some of the real estate companies have established quite a reputation for themselves at some of the Consulates. A Mexican attorney should be involved to draw up contracts and to review the conditions and terms of sale. Additionally, an attorney can do a title search and point out any problems or alternatives a buyer may have. The buyer should always have his or her own attorney rather than using the attorney of the seller or some attorney used by a real estate company free of charge. American attorneys are not licensed to practice law in Mexico and should not give advice on Mexican Law.