Foreign Ownership of Real Estate in Mexico

While foreigners can own property fee simple in the interior of Mexico, including valuable sites in such tourist micas as Guadalajara and Cuernavaca and the capital of Mexico City itself, they are technically prohibited from holding title to property in the so-called “Prohibited Zone” along the na tion’s coasts and borders.

This restricted area, which was established under the Mexican Constitution, extends 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) deep along the coasts. This means that virtually all of Baja California is included in the “Prohibited Zone”.

Three Ways to Hold Property in Mexico:

Mexican Bank Trust -Fideicomiso
(Fed e co mi so)

Mexican Land Lease

Federal Zone Concession

The Mexican Bank Trust

The Mexican Bank Trust was created in 1971 to promote tourist and retirement investments along popular coastlines by Mexican President Echeverriua, which authorized the 30 year Bank Trust program. This is the most secure method to hold real estate in Baja California.

Your Bank Trust must be established at an authorized Mexican Bank in their Trust Department.

In 1989 President Salinas mandated the 30 year Trust be extended for an additional 30 years. Then, in December 27, 1993, President Salinas extended the Trusts from 30+30 year arrangement to the new 50+50 year time period.

The property you hold in a Bank Trust is yours to improve, build, sell, leave in your estate, etc. You’ll enjoy all the same rights you have in your U.S. fee simple real estate via the Bank Trust.

There are several Subdivisions in the area that were set up as a Master Bank Trust by the developers years back. Two of those subdivisions were San Antonio Del Mar and Las Gaviotas. They both have the original 30 year Trusts. They are in the last year on those two Trusts and the Homeowners Associations are assisting owners to obtain the first renewal period of those Trusts, which will be under the new 50 + 50 Year Trust Law!

When you decide to sell your home, in all probability, another foreign person will be purchasing your Trust Rights.

Your buyer will have the required documents from you to instruct the Bank of the sale and the name will be changed that also includes your beneficiaries. Your Buyer can assume the remaining years of your Trust or they can apply for the 50 + 50 Year Trust. It is the Buyer’s choice.

If you sell your Trust Rights to a Mexican National, he has the option to take title in his name in the Trust or remove the property from the Trust and take title in “Escritura” (Mexican National form of Ownership). Sometimes the Mexican National will opt to pay the annual Trust fee and stay within the Master Trust, especially, if his most likely buyer would be another foreigner. Once he removes the property from the Master Trust, it is more expensive for the property to be placed in a NEW Trust for the buyer.

The Mexican Land Lease

Nearly every day clients ask, “Can I get a 99 year land lease?”. A land lease for more than 10 years is not legal and never has been. Not the 10 + 10 + 10 year arrangement, either.

If you enter into a 10 + 10 + 10 agreement with a Mexican land owner and at the end of the first 10 years the land owner decides he does not want to recognize that second ten year lease you thought you had, he does not have to do so. You have no recourse, because you entered into that agreement which was designed to circumvent Mexican Law, thereby giving you no legal status to use the Mexican Court System.

If you lease land, the lease should be 9 years and 11 months to stay with in the lease land laws. It is possible and perfectly legal for the Mexican land owner to give you a new 9 year 11 month lease at the end of your first 9 year 11 months and so on.

I only suggest Lease Land arrangement if you are (a.) limiting your second home investment to a smaller total purchase amount rather than a Bank Trust purchase and (b.) only if you can obtain a 9 year 11 month lease. Just be sure the total investment you are willing to pay for the structure on lease land is an amount you can average over a 10 year period and be willing to “walk away” from at the end of your first lease period of 9 years 11 months. That may not be the case, but know it could be the case given the property values rising in this area at such a rapid rate, especially large parcels.

A land lease for more than 10 years is not legal and never has been!

Lease Land Fees

Land lease rents run about $150.00 to as much as $600.00 per month. Most leases have a “cost of living adjustment” at the end of your lease for the next lease term. Usually there’s a 10% fee when you sell your structure that goes to the land owner and your buyer will probably have a nominal increase in the rent as well. Usually a 10% increase.

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