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Alfonso Galindo of I Go Yucatan – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Floor plan of condo at The Reserve at Celestun – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes you will use a attorney in the process of buying real estate in Mexico.

We recommend using an attorney because we believe it is in your best interest. An attorney will represent you and protect all your legal transactions. The attorney will draw up contracts and review the terms and conditions of the sale. Legally, only a licensed Mexican attorney should provide advice on the laws. Foreign attorneys are not licensed to practice law in Mexico and should not give advice on Mexican law.
 
Insider Tip: Buyers Beware
 
A common story in Mexico: sometimes well-intentioned, but more likely unscrupulous people, will promise a better deal saying they have a friend or relative who can offer discounted costs and save you money. This is NEVER the case. Allowing inappropriate people to become involved opens the door to improper documentation. Having to go back and fix what was done incorrectly will end up costing you thousands of dollars as opposed to having an attorney represent and protect your interests from the beginning. 
 
What purpose does an attorney serve?

In addition to representing your best interests and protecting your legal transactions, an attorney can be very helpful in saving you money. This is because attorneys are involved in many of the different transactions necessary and have contacts with banks, notaries and the Mexican government. They are aware of the most competitive costs and fees involved and make sure the buyer is given the best possible prices.
 
 
You will also receive your attorney's advice on legal options to be sure no opportunities are missed, such as tax planning, closing costs that should be paid by the seller, and ways of taking title. Very often one piece of good advice can save buyers thousands of dollars in tax or other savings when the buyer eventually decides to sell the property.

Who is a Notary?

A Mexican Notary (Notario Publico) is a licensed attorney, certified by the state and Federal government to act as an official and unbiased representative of the government of Mexico. A Mexican Notary is very similar to a notary in Canada and has far greater responsibility than a notary in the US. A Mexican Notary has passed stringent exams required by the Mexican government and is a government official. They provide strict security of original records and documents and they record the documents with the Public Registry of Property. A Notary's role is taken very seriously in Mexico in that the Notary could be held liable in both civil and criminal terms.
 
What purpose does the Notary serve?

The notary performs a variety of tasks including the authentication of legal documents, the calculation of capital gains tax and is responsible for ratifying ALL real estate transactions in Mexico. Any real estate transaction not ratified before a notary and duly recorded in the Public Registry is considered invalid and not enforceable.
 
In a real estate transaction, the notary is equally responsible to the buyer and the seller and ultimately responsible to the Mexican government. Their job is to ensure the legality of the transfer of title, to calculate and retain the seller's capital gains tax on behalf of the government, collect the purchaser's acquisition tax and pay it to the Department of Foreign Affairs, coordinate appraisals, certificates of no liens, certificates of no debt and request all corresponding permits. After the closing, the Notary must record the transaction at the Public Registry and the Tax (Cadastral) Office. This role is taken very seriously in Mexico in that the Notary could be held liable in both civil and criminal terms.
 
The Mexican notary is capable and legally authorized to carry out the transaction. However, we recommend also using an attorney to represent all your interests and protect your legal transactions.
 
(Pictured: Floor plan of condo at The Reserve at Celestun.)
Ivy Del Pozzo of Coldwell Banker SMART – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
A beautiful San Miguel home for sale – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, an attorney called a notario will be involved in the transaction of the purchase and/or sale of your home.
 
If you are represented by a real estate agent, which is the easiest way for you to navigate your way around all the new nuances of buying in another country, they will help you through the whole process including the paperwork that the notario will need to be able to do his job for you.
 
The notario  is similar to a closing company and a title search company as he will do all of these things for you.
 
The process is very easy if you are familiar with it but can be a bit overwhelming if you are not and don't have someone to help you through.
 
An early welcome to Mexico to you!
 
(Pictured: A beautiful San Miguel de Allende home for sale!!)
Mark Eager of Eager & Asociados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
House in lovely Ajijic neighborhood ,Ajijic,  Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you buy a home in Mexico, you need to hire a notary, who is an attorney, upon closing the sale. A notary in Mexico represents both the seller and the buyer. In any operation, the money paid to the notary is paid through the buyer’s closing costs. Usually, no money is earned from a seller. All the notary does is represent the laws of the country or state on how the closing should be done. 
 
There are many lawyers who can handle the closing but will go to the notary at the end of the day and get him to sign off the deed. The only guy who can sign off on the deed is a notary. 
 
You don’t need an attorney to protect your interests. In North America, everybody hires their own side. That’s not the case here in Mexico, although you can bring your own attorney along if you wish. You can hire somebody to be there with you throughout the closing process, but it’s not necessary. 
 
A good notary is going to follow the letter of the law to follow through what the buyer’s and the seller’s needs are. The notary makes his money upon the transaction of the closing via the buyer. Is there a bargaining point on there? One could say there are. They have tabulators and ways of figuring out how they figure the closing costs. 
 
One of the parts of the closing costs that are the most important is the transfer tax which doesn’t have anything to do with the notary and is paid to the municipality.  The notary pays it via the buyer to the municipality to transfer it from the seller’s name into the buyer’s name. The highest part of the closing costs is the notary’s fee. You could mediate there a little bit and try and get a better fee, but that’s 90% of the closing costs.
 
There are certain title companies that have operated in Mexico. For example, if you go to Vallarta, they have Stuart Title. In this area, there’s not enough business for title companies. 
 
In all of my history in real estate since 1992, I have never had a problem with the title or had a title insurance involved. The job of the notary is to get a title search on the property via the Registro Publico, which is the public registry of property in each area where you buy real estate. Once he’s got that title search of the property, you can ask him to go back 15-100 years and they will go back that far if they have the records. 
 
Mexicans, a lot of times, don’t trust other Mexicans. Just because something was done, doesn’t mean it was done correctly. For me as a realtor in this area, it’s important to direct you as a buyer or seller to a notary who’s a hands-on guy and does the job himself.
 
The notary might have other lawyers working in his firm, but he’s there- he’s present. He’s the one who’s given the title to from the government. To become a notary, you have to be over the age of 32, a lawyer, and pass the notary exam which is a very big and important position nowadays. Each notary is given a designated number. There’s one notary for every 30,000 inhabitants of Mexico. If they come to an area here with 400,000 people, they divide that by 30,000 and that’s how many notaries can be in that area. 
 
Here in the Lake Chapala area, you don’t see notaries greater than five or six because that’s a sufficient number of notaries for the area. If you get to Guadalajara, you can get notary number 187 because there are five million people in the center and outlying areas. 
 
Being a notary is an important job. Anybody I work with in my office is always a notary with a title and has a plaque on the wall. He knows what he’s doing. You will not be needing an extra lawyer, but if somebody says they want one, I would go out of my way to help them find that lawyer to sit beside them to close that property. You can never avoid having a notary to close a property.
 
(House in lovely Ajijic neighborhood ,Ajijic,  Mexico, pictured.)
Greg Gunter of Dream Pro Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Street in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingTo legally buy a home in Mexico, you MUST use an attorney--he will be an attorney called a Notario with a Federally issued authority to transfer title in a property transaction.  To think of a Notario in U.S. terms, he is like a title search company and a closing company rolled into one role.
 
(Pictured: Street in San Miguel de Allende,from a nearby balcony. )
Iona Chamberlin of Hacienda San Pedro Nohpat – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Iona Chamberlain next to the original caretaker's home on her property at Hacienda Nohpat San Pedro, near Merida, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYou need to hire an attorney when buying a house in Mexico because you want to make sure that all the papers are done properly and that the sellers do own the land they’re selling. Attorney charges here are cheaper, though. Depending on the price of the house and how much work had to be done, an attorney here might charge about $1,000, if everything is on the level.
 
In Mexico, there’s a central registry office where the Mexicans can check to see who owns the land. Every time a house is bought and sold, it’s registered in ‘Catastro’ office, which is a municipal tax office. The city or the state knows who owns every piece of land, and you can’t sell a piece of land that you don’t own. That would be the attorney’s job: to make sure that you have the right to sell whatever property you’re selling.  
 
(Iona Chamberlain next to the original caretaker's home on her property at Hacienda Nohpat San Pedro, near Merida, Mexico, pictured.)
Mark O'Neill – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mark O'Neal's Hacienda O'Neal, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn the real estate firm I used to purchase my home in Ajijic, the owner was not just an attorney, but also a notary, which here in Mexico, is a step beyond being a standard attorney. It was helpful to have their advice and consultation. You can probably get those questions addressed through any competent real estate realtor in Mexico.
 
I would encourage you to be aware of things depending on your level of research. In my case, having the consultation I received certainly expedited the process tremendously. A notary is a few steps beyond a standard law degree in Mexico whereas a notary in the US is something very simple and many people can become one. A notary here can be obtained after your full law degree is received. So it was an advantage for me that the owner of the real estate firm was an attorney and a notary because she was very aware and conscious of any elements, aspects, and legalities of what it takes to procure a property in Mexico.
 
(Mark O'Neill's Hacienda O'Neill, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Liliana Cota of Stewart Title Baja and Stewart Title Puerto Peñasco – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Logo for Stewart Title Puerto Penasco, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are buying a house in Mexico, you can hire a title company like Stewart Title to do everything for you. We can even hold your money in an escrow account and we will not release the money until you get the title for the property. We hold the earnest deposit as well.
 
In order for you to acquire a property in Mexico, you have to get certain documents such as the Certificate of no Liens and Appraisal. We also gather a significant amount of information for the buyer through our closing coordination service. In the move out, we have the funds in an escrow account. We will not release until all the conditions are followed on the agreement of the parties. Stewart Title does everything for you for the acquisition of the property.
 
If you are not aware of a title company like Stewart Title, you could hire an attorney when you are buying a house in Mexico.
 
For a transactions starting from US $5,000 all the way to $500,000, we charge $1,850 for escrow and closing. Title Insurance is based on the premium, which is based on the purchase price, so it varies. Title Insurance is paid by the buyer. He will stay with the Title Insurance as long as he holds the property. If he gets the Title insurance now and he sells the property in a year, then he doesn’t have Title Insurance anymore because he transferred the title to someone else.
 
The costs for the fideicomiso (the bank trust that foreigners use to buy and hold property in Mexico that are in the restricted zones) are closing costs separate from our fees. You may pay 5% to 8% of the purchase price for all your costs, including our services. This includes fees to the government that the buyer pays but it would not include mortgage fees.  
 
(Logo for Stewart Title Puerto Penasco, Mexico, pictured.)

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