If 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.)