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Greg Gunter of Dream Pro Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Parroquia of San Miguel de allende with surrounding streets– Best Places In The World To Retire – International Living – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingReaders, this question is answered differently depending on WHERE you are looking in Mexico to own a home. As a Realtor in central inland Mexico, in San Miguel de Allende, I can tell you that you own property fee simple here, just like in the U.S.  You can even get title insurance on a home here, just like in the U.S.
 
However, in border areas or on the coast, like in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and others, you must hold property through a bank trust called a fideicomiso, which means you do not hold fee-simple title to the property.  Mexico has been saying they would eliminate the fideicomiso for years but it has not been rescinded yet.
 
(Pictured: Parroquia of San Miguel de Allende and surrounding streets.)
Ariadna Delsol of COLONIAL REAL ESTATE – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, you can buy land or any real property in Mexico as a foreigner. However, there are some restrictions if you are buying along the coastline and the national border because then you would need to buy that real estate through a trust. If you are not buying on the coastline or on the border, you could buy property under your name and your deed will be under your name just the same as in the US.
 
The notary is in charge of doing all the survey. A notary here in Mexico is not the same as a notary in the US. A notary in the US can be a pharmacist who can stamp or notarize something. Here in Mexico, a notary is a lawyer that is appointed by the government. So a notary puts his title at risk if he doesn’t do the surveys well. If you want to be sure that you have a clean title, you can rely on a notary to make sure that you have a clear title. That is why people do not get title insurance in Mexico and why the closing costs varies because of the investigation of the title. You can have title insurance if you want to but it is very unusual here.
 
(Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico, pictured.)
Francisco Araiza of interlago realestate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Private clubhouse for residents of La Reserva, Interlago Development, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, you can own land in Mexico as a foreigner but there are some restrictions depending on where you are buying. There are places such as if you are buying close to the border or if you are buying on the beach where you can only own property here through a trust.
 
However, here in the Chapala area, including Ajijic, which is not by the beach and not by a border, you could buy a house and it would be yours, under your name and you will have a complete deed. You don’t have to use a trust just like you would in the US or Canada.  You have to have a certain type of immigration status in order to be able to own property in Mexico.  
 
(Private clubhouse for residents of La Reserva, Interlago Development, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Alicia Gomez of Collins Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
House on the Pacfic at Cuyutlán, a favorite destination for residents of Lake Chapala, Mexico, three hours away – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs a foreigner in Mexico, you cannot buy a land or property that has only rights of possession or has no deed. If the property is ejido, which is a tribal land owned jointly by a group that is not able to sell it to you, you cannot buy that. So if you’re a foreigner wanting to buy real estate in Mexico, you have to make sure that it has a title and that it can be transmitted to you. Also as a foreigner, you cannot buy land within a certain distance of a border or the ocean. 
 
There are federal zones. If you buy a property close to the lake, there is a property between the lake and your house that is called a federal zone. You cannot buy that but you can get a concession, which means nobody can get that part because you have the permit for it. As an example, in Lake Chapala, there are properties close to the lake that are owned by Mexicans and there are properties owned by foreigners. All of them have to get permits for the land in the federal zone. The rules are the same for foreigners and locals. The only difference is that if you are a foreigner buying real estate in Mexico and you want to avoid paying capital gains you have to have a temporary or a permanent residency, a tax number, you have to prove that you’ve been in Mexico for a certain period, and you have to show receipts of bills paid under your name, and you can’t have sold a property in the last 5 years. If you have sold a property in the last 5 years, you cannot avoid paying capital gains. If you do not have a residency and you are a foreigner, you cannot avoid paying capital gains.
 
(House on the Pacific at Cuyutlán, a favorite destination for residents of Lake Chapala, Mexico, three hours away, pictured.)
Mark O'Neill – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Entrance to Hacienda O'Neill in Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAs a foreigner, you most certainly can own real estate in Mexico. Some of my experiences in the past were in coastal areas of Mexico, and there are indeed laws specifying that within about 30 miles of the ocean that you cannot own property as an individual; you have to only take it on a 99-year lease.
 
Further inland, for example, where my village of Ajijic is located, you can fully own real estate as a US citizen. You will have simple title, which is the same kind of title most people have if they buy real estate in the US. Being able to receive simple title was delightful because it certainly affected my outlook on purchasing real estate in Ajijic.  
 
(Entrance to Hacienda O'Neill in Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Carl Timothy of Timothy Real Estate Group – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Casa Alegria, Riviera Nayarit, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, absolutely, a foreigner can own land or other real estate in Mexico. They can have title to their property and own it almost fee-simple.  (“Fee-simple” means that you have title to your property, as opposed to leasehold or any other manner in which you can hold property.)
 
 
The easiest way to explain to somebody who is from the US or Mexico how a foreigner owns land in Mexico is through the concept of a trust that functions much like a family trust would in the US.  In that trust you hold your asset, which is your property.
 
When you hold a trust in Mexico, you hire a bank to administer the trust for you.  In order for the contract between the homeowner and the bank to be legally enforceable, it has to have an end date. As a result, here in Mexico, we sign contracts to have a bank administer our trust for us for up to 50 years, with an automatic extension for another 50 years. At any time the bank is administering your trust you don’t like your trust bank and you want to hire another trust bank, you simply cancel your contract with the bank you’re with and take it to another bank to hire them to administer your property.
 
Sometimes people think that because there’s a 50 year time commitment or a 50 year contract that you sign with your bank that it might relate somehow to a leasehold property that somebody might be familiar with in regard to buying property in Hawaii or in Palm Springs California, but that is not the case. You own the property outright, you have all the rights to the property, and that 50-year contract is just simply the amount of time on the contract for the trust bank to administer your trust for you.  Functionally, there is no difference between holding a piece of property in Puerto Vallarta through a trust and holding a piece of property in Los Angeles as you would normally.
 
The cost to have a bank administer your trust runs between $400 and $550 annually at the present time, for the term of your trust. 
 
Real estate trusts in Mexico have many great benefits for a family. Among the benefits, depending on how you set up a trust, is if you pass away and you leave a secondary beneficiary to your trust, there’s no inheritance tax. As a result, you wouldn’t have to pay any inheritance tax like you would in the US and as we know in the US those percentages are extremely high on the amount of tax that they collect on estate transfers.  There is also the added benefit of leaving everything clean for your heirs. In case you pass away it’s a simple process of contacting the trust bank and letting them know that somebody has passed away and they make the secondary beneficiary the primary beneficiary of the trust.  
 
(Casa Alegria, Riviera Nayarit, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, pictured.)
Ivan Castillo of Stewart Title Riviera Maya – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Pool overlooking a mangrove in the Riviera Maya, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, foreigners can buy real estate property in Mexico.  This can be accomplished through multiple vehicles.
 
A foreigner could own land in Mexico through a trust that is created with a Mexican bank.  The reason for the trust is that the Mexican constitution states that no foreigner can acquire land directly in an area in a restricted zone, which is an area of land a defined distance from the ocean.  The way to get around this restriction is to create a Mexican trust to which the owner of the property would be the banking institution. However, the banking institution through the trust agreement will designate the buyer as the main beneficiary of the trust, with that the buyer has full right over the property, he can use it for a lien, donate, or do whatever the he or she want with the property. It’s just a formality that every buyer needs a trust.
 
However, if you’re going to be buying multiple properties, let’s say for commercial reasons, then what some individuals do is to buy property through a Mexican corporation. However, if you’re going to be buying one, two, or even three properties it’s even better to create a Mexican trust for each property instead of creating a Mexican corporation. The reason is that, from a financial and administrative perspective, the trust is simpler. The only thing that you have to do is pay on an annual basis the trustee bank to administer trust, which usually costs around $400 every year. However, if you have a Mexican corporation that means that you need to hire an accountant and you have to pay them on a monthly basis in order to present a tax declaration to the government on a monthly and an annual basis, which creates a lot of administrative work and more money than having the trust. So for practical reasons I consider having the Mexican trust to be much simpler.
 
If you’re going to be buying property out of the restricted zone then you can buy directly as a foreigner. However, you would need to give a notification to the ministry of foreign affairs through which you will assume every single obligation as a Mexican national towards the property.
 
Using a trust is nothing to be concerned about; it’s standard operating procedure. Using a trust is how foreigners have been buying property for many years and you will not find anything that puts your ownership to your property at risk.
 
Currently, in the Mexican Senate there are discussions to extinguish the trust so that foreigners would be able to acquire any property directly even if the property is in the restricted zone.
 
(Pool overlooking a inlet mangrove in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, pictured.)  
John Venator of Casa de los Venados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Underwater Museum, Cancun, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere is a law here in Mexico, which says that if you are within, I believe 50 to 100 kilometers of a coast or the border, you cannot legally own freehold property. The way foreigners hold property here, which is the way our house is held in Cancun, since it’s on the ocean, is through a Trust Deed called a Fideicomiso. The bank holds the deed in trust and you own the trust. You can will it, sell it, or lose it through a poker game but you cannot legally hold the deed to the property itself. You, in effect own the trust that owns the deed. You pay the bank a fee to set up the Fideicomiso, usually in the City of Cancun, where it costs several thousand dollars. We paid the bank about US $300 per year to maintain the Trust Deed for us. In all of the rest of Mexico, you can free hold property just like you would in the US. 
 
Something I didn’t know until we sold our first condo in Cancun and bought the other is that I thought they would have to get their own new Trust Deed. They don’t have to since they are able to assume our Trust Deed. They didn’t have to pay anything to set it up and we just changed the owner of the Trust Deed and just continued to pay the annual fee.  
 
(Underwater Museum on the ocean bottom, Cancun, Mexico, pictured.)

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