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Is Mexico safe?

For many years Mexico enjoyed a reputation as a safe country with friendly and welcoming people... making Mexico by far the #1 international destination for North Americans (statistic from US census bureau).

Unfortunately the news coverage over the past few years about drug cartel violence gives the impression that "Mexico" in general has become a dangerous country, which simply is not true. In reality only specific areas are affected. Drug related violence takes place in regions very far from our paradise here in Bacalar... in some border cities and a few spots on the Pacific Coast (more than a thousand miles away from us). Imagine if international tourists decided not to visit the USA because they saw a news report about gang violence in Detroit. This is the same as North Americans deciding not to visit Mexico because they've been misled by irresponsible reporting.

The reality is that Mexico is a wonderful country to visit and to live in... that's why we're here! The Mexican people, culture, nature, cuisine, and low cost of living are a few reasons over one million American and Canadian expats have chosen to call Mexico home. Don't allow the news networks to scare you with their poorly explained reporting!

Read an interesting article on this subject.

Can foreigners own land in Mexico?

YES.  Mexico has very strict laws protecting foreign investment and property ownership.  When you use the proper legal channels to acquire property (which of course we do) your Mexican investment is 100% safe, backed by established law. There are a few horror stories that circulate about foreigners buying land in Mexico only to later have it "taken away". It may sound harsh but we have no sympathy for these people! All "horror story" cases involve foreigners who DID NOT use the proper legal channels when buying property or knowingly gambled on buying cheap, untitled property.

How do I know the property I want to purchase has good title?

It is necessary to work with experienced professionals who guarantee you property with clear title. Here at Bacalar Properties we only represent properties with clear title... our reputation depends on it.

Your Mexican real estate attorney will do a comprehensive title history check to make sure the land you purchase has clear title.

Recently Stewart Title has begun to offer title insurance for Mexican properties. Stewart Title does the same title history check that a Mexican real estate attorney does, reviewing the same documents in the same government archives. We don't discourage our clients from using this service, although with our knowledge of the system here we feel it is redundant. However, the decision (and expense), is yours.

How does the final transfer of funds take place?

There are several ways we can safely manage the final transfer of funds. We will advise you on this on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of the buyer and seller.

What is a Notario?

Many people mistakenly believe a Mexican Notario is the equivalent of a Notary in the US... not true! In Mexico a Notario is a government appointed “super attorney”. To be appointed as a Notario is the apex of an attorney’s career in Mexico and very few achieve Notario status... only the most respected and experienced attorneys are appointed "Notario".

The Notario completes a title history check of the property you are purchasing, as well as witnesses and approves the property transaction. His or her signature and official government seal is legal gold in Mexico.

Do I have to come back to Mexico to attend the closing?

No. You may close “in absentia” by granting a temporary power of attorney to any Mexican citizen. This person is legally empowered to sign the closing documents on your behalf. Many buyers authorize either their Mexican attorney or accountant for this purpose. This temporary power of attorney is activity-specific, meaning that after the person signs the closing documents for you the power of attorney expires. An extended power of attorney can also be granted (handy if you plan on making several property acquisitions). Closing in absentia is a common practice and we can assist you with this.

Is financing available?

Yes. Some US banks have recently begun to offer financing for Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who need to finance the purchase of their Mexican property. Rates are slightly higher than you would pay if you funded your Mexican property purchase via a home equity loan in your home country, but still reasonable. Also, in certain cases owner financing is available.

How much are property taxes?

Approximately $50 USD annually per $100,000 USD of property. In Mexico real estate taxes are not used as a major source of government income as in other countries.

How much does it cost to build?

$60 to $90 USD per square foot. $90 per square foot buys you very high-end construction with marble floors, marble kitchens and baths, high ceilings, and a tiled roof.

How much are closing costs?

Closing fees very greatly and are based on the "reported" sales price of a property. This is why reported sales prices in Mexico are usually lower than the true sales price. Closing fees generally come out to between 3 and 6 percent of the value of the property. The fees cover an acquisition tax, property-registration fee, a fee for the tax certificate, the title-search fee, and attorney’s fees.

What about airport access to this part of Mexico?

There are two options when arriving by air. Many people find great buys on international flights into Cancun and will spend a day or two up on the Mayan Riviera (the Cancun-Playa del Carmen-Tulum corridor) before driving down to Bacalar or the Costa Maya. We are a 3 to 4 hour drive on very good roads from the Cancun airport. Some people store a vehicle at their home in Bacalar or Costa Maya and take a bus from the airport. First class busses here very comfortable and safe.

Another option which I use whenever possible are the flights in and out of Chetumal, especially handy for people in Bacalar as the airport is only 30 minutes away. Chetumal is a small airport but flight options have expanded over the last few years and will continue to do so in the future. There are currently no direct flights into Chetumal from North America or Europe but there are four daily flights connecting Chetumal with Mexico City. From Mexico City there are direct flights to most major North American and some European cities. One thing I love about the Chetumal airport is that there is almost no wait to check in and go through security; I’ve showed up 15 minutes before a flight and got on (ok, cutting it that close is not recommended!).

A third option is to take a 30 minute connecting flight from Cancun to Chetumal, and this will soon also be an option from Cancun to the Costa Maya airport.

What is the Federal Zone?

All Mexican beaches are Federal property. The Federal Zone is 20 meters (66 feet) from high tide on the coasts, and 10m (33ft) for lakefront. This is the closest you can build your home to the water. You do not own the Federal Zone but you may use it. With a permit you can build a gazebo, pier, dock, etc.

Do you have references?

Yes, we will be happy to provide you with a list of past clients who you may contact to ask about their experiences with us.

Any unanswered questions? Don't hesitate to email or call us.