Updated: Mar 23
View of the Parroquia from Calle Aldama
So, you have discovered this most incredible town, San Miguel de Allende, and you have decided to buy a house and you are ready to start your search.
That is great, it has happened to many of us. However, do yourself a favor, take a deep breath, and think about where you are and what is entailed in buying property here.
Normally when you buy real estate in Mexico you do so by paying the full purchase price in cash at the closing. Not many expats have purchased property in this manner. The reason is because it is commonplace for banks to be in the middle of these transactions putting their money in the deal along with yours. It is the lender that protects its own interests by having the property’s title, the language of the deed and the contracts of sale thoroughly checked by lawyers it hires and charges those costs to the buyer in the form of closing costs. These are processes that the average real estate buyer takes for granted in the USA, Canada, and Europe
Take the lenders out of the equation (like is done here) and who protects the buyer’s interest in these critical areas? Who is making sure that the buyer and seller receive the benefit of their bargain? The answer is scary: no one.
In a large majority of real estate transactions in San Miguel, neither the seller nor the buyer is properly represented legally. Almost no real estate agents and brokers are lawyers and, even if they are lawyers, they are not acting as your attorney in the transaction. They are salespeople making their living on real estate commissions.
It is a widely held myth that Public Notaries in San Miguel (and nationally) are protecting the interests of the buyers and the sellers. The truth is, Public Notaries do not represent either the buyer or seller in real estate transactions. Public Notaries are special lawyers, with special additional legal education, that are appointed by the State government to represent the State making sure that certain projects (like real estate transactions) are handled uniformly and are properly recorded with the State’s public registry.
It is therefore incumbent upon buyers and sellers to protect themselves here in Mexico. So, before you start your property search seek brokers that have qualified attorneys on their team that will assure your interests are protected from beginning of the transaction to the end. Remember where you are, take a deep breath and make sure you are taking logical precautions because if you don’t protect yourself, no one else will.
Jeff Kimmel is a lawyer and a member of the California bar since 1980. He became a partner of the Mexican law firm PORTILLA, RUY-DIAZ Y AGUILAR in 2017. He started KIMMEL REALTY GROUP in SMA in 2021 with the mission to help its clients take the risk out of buying real estate in Mexico.
© 2021 Jeff Kimmel DBA KIMMEL REALTY GROUP all rights reserved.
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