Moving to Mexico? It’s different. Do your homework

articles Living, Working, Retiring

J. Brad Grieve

I have determined a list of the best recommendations for any buyer purchasing in a foreign country.

What has struck me a few times this past year have been some of the minor last minute conflicts that could have been resolved easily and earlier. Sometimes these conflicts are the result of miscommunications, ignorance or misunderstandings. It is sometimes difficult to decipher answers and understand whether the answer is the whole truth or a convenient and/or incomplete truth.

After investigating some of these cases for clients, I have determined a list of the best recommendations for any buyer purchasing in a foreign country.

Do your research

Understand the impact of the move you are considering and the practical side of your dreams to spend your retirement years in the sun. This is often done by talking with family, friends and acquaintances. However, more and more people are investigating sources on the Internet. Remember to qualify the source of everything you read on the Internet. I have found the best sources of information to be Internet magazines, which have content edited by a second person (editor).

Do your due diligence

Compare the house you want to other homes in the area or that are of similar size (land and construction). Understand the differences between your “dream home” and the other “comparable” homes. Whether you are buying a previously owned house “as is” or new house with warrantees, be sure about the condition of the house you are purchasing – see clearly and decide wisely. This may require the counsel of an inspector or engineer.

While performing a comparative market analysis, I have seen similar sized properties that have varied in price more than can be accounted for in terms of location, chattels, amenities and quality of construction.

Use plenty of common sense

If it looks like horse, walks like a horse, sounds like a horse and acts like a horse, then likely it is a horse. Too often I have seen buyers make decisions without using common sense. Buyers sometimes do not ask the normal questions for fear of embarrassment or because of a relaxed mood. Although they understand they are in a different country and assume everything is different, they sometimes do things that would not do at home. There have been cases such as purchasing a property after accepting a promise of a future deed.

Keep a healthy skeptical mind

Sometimes, I have heard clients tell me that their agent, the seller or builder had “promised” something that they later failed to carry out. Remember, the builders/developers and the agents only get paid if they sell you something. And that list may include the taxi driver, the waiter, hotel or B&B manager, and others who have referred you along the way. I am not saying all the aforementioned people are corrupt or interested only in their commission and not your well being. But understanding an individuals’ motivation will help you keep their relationship and the quality of their answers and advice in perspective.

If you need evidence of a verbal agreement, write a letter of agreement, letter of intention or letter confirming a verbal agreement and send it to the other party and a friend or legal counsel. If there is a problem, remember the Mexican court will not recognize an e-mail alone.

There have been cases of a person buying land with the understanding that the developer or real estate company will manifest the construction onto the deed at a later date that seems to drag on and on. Sometimes the blunder is not discovered until the homeowner tries to sell the property.

In conclusion, enjoy the process of purchasing your dream home in a foreign country. Be wary, be smart, but never let skepticism rule your life. Too much skepticism can make you unhappy and keep you from moving forward with anything. And you could miss out on the excitement and adventure most of us have found here at Lake Chapala.

Published or Updated on: June 1, 2008 by J. Brad Grieve © 2008
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