Owning in Mexico

Purchasing property in Mexico is safer than ever before. With U.S. Title Insurance and U.S. Third Party Escrow, let Snell Real Estate guide you through your entire real estate transaction, ensuring that the process is done legally, safely and securely.

The following is an overview regarding the ownership regulations currently in place for individuals. Please note that the information is intended for individuals, not corporations. Over time these regulations may change, therefore it is important to make sure that the process outlined here is still in effect by contacting a certified accountant or Mexican Notario.

Within the last twenty years real estate in Mexico has become a lucrative and viable investment strategy, bringing with it a new breed of sophisticated investor. U.S. Title Insurance, U.S. Third Party escrow and comprehensive title searches are the standard—promises and handshakes are not. Today, there are established regulations for non-Mexicans owning land in Mexico that make the process of purchasing safer and easier than ever before. These rules are in place to both protect the Purchaser’s ownership rights and to promote the sales of real estate to foreign investors. The key to purchasing in Mexico is an established and perpetually renewable Mexican property trust called a Fideicomiso (fee-day-coe-me-so).

WHAT IS A FIDEICOMISO (MEXICAN PROPERTY TRUST)?

With the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Mexican government recognized that it was crucial to make foreign investment in Mexico safer and easier for non- Mexicans. Because the Mexican Constitution prohibits non-Mexicans from purchasing or owning real estate within 60 miles of the U.S. international border, or within 30 miles of the Mexican coast, an innovative and secure method of holding title was created. This method allows non-Mexicans ownership through a Mexican property trust called a Fideicomiso. This is a trust agreement, much like an estate trust in the U.S., which gives the Purchaser all of the rights of ownership.

In order to gain the rights of ownership, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City issues a permit to the Mexican bank of the Purchaser’s choice, allowing the bank to act as Purchaser of the property. Essentially, the bank acts as the “Trustee” for the trust and the Purchaser is the “Beneficiary” of the trust. The trust is not an asset of the bank; the banks simply act as the Trustee to hold the trust.

Much like living wills or estate trusts in the U.S., the Mexican bank, or Trustee, takes instruction only from the Beneficiary of the trust (the Purchaser). The Beneficiary has the right to use, occupy, lease and possess the property, including the right to build on it or otherwise improve it. The Beneficiary may also sell the property by instructing the Trustee to transfer the rights to another qualified Purchaser, or bequeath the property to an Inheritor. The initial term of the trust is 50 years, however the trust can be renewed for additional periods of 50 years indefinitely, providing for long-term control of the asset.

The Purchaser holds the same rights as a property owner in the U.S. or Canada, including the right to enjoy, sell, rent, improve the property, etc. This is not to be confused with a land lease. The property purchased is placed in a trust with the Purchaser named as the Beneficiary of the trust — the Purchaser is not a lessee. If the property purchased is already held in a trust, the Purchaser has the option of assuming that trust, or having the property vested in a new trust.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ESTABLISH A TRUST?

At Snell Real Estate, we partner with Federal and State notaries for all of our closings in order to secure your trust. A Notario Publico in Mexico is much different than a Notary Public in the U.S. In Mexico, Notarios are specialized attorneys who act on behalf of the state and federal government in relation to any transaction; they are comparable to a U.S. Clerk of Courts.

On average, Snell Real Estate can obtain your trust within 60-90 days. In some cases title has been transferred in as little as two to three weeks. We oversee the entire process and make certain you understand each and every step involved. For your benefit, we can even provide you with a sample trust in English for your review.

Many real estate purchases in Mexico have only a simple buy/ sell agreement between the Purchaser and the Seller as evidence of ownership. This is not a safe method of ownership and is not recommended by Snell Real Estate or our U.S. Third Party Escrow provider, Stewart Title Guaranty, Houston, Texas.