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?

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.

There is some law that gives rise to this misunderstanding

More info:

From here:

I googled ‘can non-citizens own land in mexico’ (without quotes).


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?