In getting a real estate agent in Mexico, it is best to find someone who has experience. I would recommend someone who knows both languages - whatever language you are comfortable in and the local language, which in Mexico is Spanish.
You have to choose a real estate agent that you are comfortable with and someone who you feel is telling you the truth and is listening to you. When you tell someone what you are looking for and they do not get it, you need to look for someone else. Being comfortable is the most important. You should be comfortable that they are telling you the truth and they are not just into making the sale because no matter how much you think you know it all, you don’t when you are moving into another country, so probably someone that is local and who has been in the business will know a lot more than you.
Choosing a real estate agent in Mexico is different than choosing a real estate agent in San Diego, where I am from. First of all, a lot of people in the US just go with the listing agent of whatever property is available. In Mexico, I would recommend that you get a buyer’s agent that is looking out for your interest. Find one that you trust and have them show you his listing, and other people’s listings, even for sale by owners. There are agents that do that in San Diego and that is a good way to probably do that anywhere in the world but more importantly in a place like Mexico where if you are not careful, you would always run into some architect or developer or a real estate agent that would try to pull a fast one on you. There is no disclosure law here so they are not required by law to disclose anything.
In Chapala and Ajijic you need to be licensed as a realtor. There is a local real estate association that oversees the licensing and there is an MLS. Most touristy destinations at this point should have some sort of licensing and some form of MLS. There is a national license that you can get but it is not a requirement. And, there is no national MLS. It is not run by the states either, such as when California has a California MLS and the California Licensing Board. Jalisco has at least three real estate associations in Guadalajara and another three outside of Guadalajara. Each of them has different rules to licensing and each has their own MLS. They all have their own website that works like MLS. Ours is probably the most advanced Multiple Listing System. Puerto Vallarta has one that is just as advanced or pretty similar. However, the ones in Guadalajara leave a lot to be desired.
In Lake Chapala and Ajijic, it works just like in the US. Everyone is on a MLS. It is usually 50/50 commission split between the listing brokerage and the selling brokerage, while here, just like in the US, an agent makes more money if he sells his own listing, which is worldwide. After that, he will show you everyone else’s property because the commissions are shared. That varies from one spot to another in Mexico, but that is how it works in Chapala and Ajijic.
(Chris Gruenwald, broker and real estate office owner, Ajijic, Mexico,pictured.)