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Old 01-18-2005, 08:35 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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Can Americans Own Land in Mexico?

On the 1/16/05 episode of King of the Hill, Hank's dad got scammed into buying a time-share propery in Mexico, despite Hank's fervent protestations that a) timeshares are a bad investment generally; and b) Americans can't own land in Mexico.

Is this true? And if so, are there timeshare operators in Mexico selling essentially nothing to gullible Americans?
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:39 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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Yes, you can own land in Mexico.

The line was allegedly humorous, to show off Hank's "Texas Redneck" qualities.
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:44 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
Yes, you can own land in Mexico.

The line was allegedly humorous, to show off Hank's "Texas Redneck" qualities.
Are you sure about that? I heard years ago that only Mexican citizens can own land in Mexico. There was a case a couple of years ago where people thought they bought some beachfront property, and they retired there. They were told that non-citizens could not own property and that what they really had were leases. They were evicted and lost everything they had.

Maybe it's changed recently, but AFIAK you have to be a citizen to own property in Mexico.
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:51 AM
Nametag Nametag is online now
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There is some law that gives rise to this misunderstandinghttp://www.lectlaw.com/files/int22.htm
Quote:
Under the Mexican Constitution, only Mexicans have the right to own land
or receive mineral or water rights. Foreigners have the right to own
real property, provided they do not invoke the protection of their
government. That sounds reasonable enough, doesn't it? All this means is
that any dispute concerning land ownership will be decided by Mexican
courts, treating foreign landowners the same as Mexican nationals.
Foreigners have no legal recourse in the legal system of their
homelands. This is done to prevent the historic recurrence, prevalent in
Latin America in the past 200 years, of a capital-exporting country
meddling in the sovereign affairs of another nation to protect a private
party's economic interests.

Foreigners are prohibited from directly owning real estate within the
"Forbidden Zones" of 100 kilometers of the Mexican border and 50
kilometers of its coasts. Within these restricted areas, foreign
ownership is possible under a fideicomiso, or bank trust.
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:52 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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More info:
Quote:
The purchase of real estate in Mexico by non-Mexican citizens is regulated by Mexico’s Foreign Investment Law of 1993. While non-citizens can directly own real estate in the interior of Mexico, purchases within the so-called “Restricted Zone,” an area within 100 kilometers of the border or 50 kilometers from the coastline, are restricted. Prior to enactment of the 1993 Foreign Investment Law, foreign purchasers could generally purchase commercial or residential real estate in the Restricted Zone only through a Mexican bank trust known as a “Fideicomiso.” While the Foreign Investment law was amended in 1998 to allow greater flexibility for commercial purchases by foreigners in Mexico, residential purchasers still must purchase real estate in the Restricted Zone through a Fideicomiso.

A Fideicomiso is formed by contract between the purchaser (beneficiary) and bank (trustee) to provide the beneficiary with beneficial use and enjoyment of the real estate purchased for a term of 50 years. The trust may have multiple beneficiaries and can be renewed for additional 50-year terms. The beneficiary may lease, sell or transfer the real estate at any time.
From here:
Quote:
In Mexico, for example, Americans cannot buy coastal property. They can lease it, but eventually the property and everything built on it reverts back to its Mexican owner.
I googled 'can non-citizens own land in mexico' (without quotes).
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:56 AM
Nametag Nametag is online now
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Dammit: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/int22.htm

Yes, the laws surrounding Mexican land ownership are complex, and it's easy for a foreigner to get cheated. Still, it's pretty easy to get cheated in the U.S., if you don't know what you're doing. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is that there is no such thing as a realtor's license in Mexico.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:29 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag
Yes, the laws surrounding Mexican land ownership are complex, and it's easy for a foreigner to get cheated. Still, it's pretty easy to get cheated in the U.S., if you don't know what you're doing. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is that there is no such thing as a realtor's license in Mexico.
Spoken by a realty person (don't wanna say Realtor®)?

Anyway, not using a lawyer -- in the USA as well as Mexico -- is the most dangerous, stupid, thing that someone can do. Realtors don't really do all that much anyway.

A couple of my (American) coworkers have told me they've already been offered the "90 minute presentation for a free weekend" deal in San Carlos. One thing that is legal (or so it seems) is age discrimination. They have to be 25+ and married, or 35+ if single! That doesn't surprise me, though; I've always seen help wanted signs for 23 year old girls and so on at various locales.

I think another way to own property is to be married to a Mexican. I'll have to see if I qualify. Otherwise, the bank trust near the ocean, although I've always heard 99 year terms rather than 50.

Also the previous owner of my father-in-law's beach house was an American. He sold it cheap because (I'm told) that at the time foreigners could only own property for 20 years, and then had to sell it. I don't know if this was a trust that couldn't be renewed, or if it was legitimate ownership.

Finally, what constitutes legitimate ownership? With the ease that corrupt cities (Toledo, OH, for example) can institute imminent domain for their own selfish interests, no one has any guarantee to being the true owner to any real property. Another consideration is your property taxes -- try not paying those for a few years, and you'll see who really "owns" any piece of land. So, having to use a bank and trust or being a real land owner aren't really much of a difference. Yeah, corrupt bank in Mexico, corrupt city in Ohio. What's the difference?
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