The Public Notary in Mexico has a purpose totally different than Notaries in the United States and Canada. In those countries, the Notary functions only to certify the signatures on documents. The Notary in Mexico, however, plays a more important role and is essential in transactions of goods and matters of business.
In Mexico, the buying and selling of all types of real estate must be performed through a Notary. The Notary is both a public servant and a lawyer with a private practice. The Notary can serve as a lawyer and consultant to assist in the real estate transaction. The Notary can advise foreign investors of the alienability of the different types of property in Mexico and prepares the appropriate contracts and documentation for the property registration. The approval of the real estate documents with the Notary’s faith becomes an absolutely legal guarantee and with judicial security.
Questions most frequently asked by Foreigners are:
Can Foreigners (Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Russians, etc.) own property in Mexico? Yes!
Yes, foreigners can own property in Mexico, however direct ownership of property in “restricted zones” is prohibited. Restricted Zones are areas50 kilometersfrom the beach or100 kilometersfrom the border. To acquire property in Restricted Zones in Mexico, foreigners must utilize a Trust (“Fideicomiso”) with a bank that will own the property for the benefit of the foreigner; or foreigners must set-up a Mexican corporation that will own the property, with the foreigners being stockholders of the company.
How do you start the purchase proceedings on a piece of property?
Once the seller and buyer have reached an agreement, the next step is to go to the Notary Public. The buyer chooses the Notary Public. For real estate transactions you do not need an attorney. The Notary Public is completely capable and legally authorized to carry out the transaction.
Before giving any type of down payment or committing to a real estate transaction, take a copy of the actual “escritura” (property deed) to the Notary to check the deed’s validity. A copy of the “escritura” should be given to you by the seller with no argument if everything is in order.
If buying property from a developer, have the Notary check to see that the developer has the proper permits for the development and for construction. Have the Notary determine that the land is not “ejido” land (communal agricultural land). The right to use this type of land can be purchased, but it is always risky.
Insist on making all real estate transfer agreements before the Notary. Do not be pressured by someone who says that you need to put money down right away.
For complete notary services, visit Notary #1, Lic. Bolívar Navarrete Heredia, Álamo No. 8, Colonia El Hujal, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero. Telephone: 554-3100 or Direct Dial from USA or Canada: 011-52-755-554-3100 or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Please see Shops & Services | imagine-mexico.com for information and a map to the office.
Coming next month: Part 2
- Which is better – to own property through a Trust (“Fideicomiso”) or through a Mexican corporation?
- How does the Trust or “Fideicomiso” (Fe-day-co-me-so) work?
- What documentation is needed for the real estate transaction?
By: Lic. Bolívar Navarrete Heredia, Public Notary #1 of Zihuatanejo and William H. Tucker, Publisher, who attended the University of Michigan Law School