5 Ways Buying a Home in Mexico is Different Than in the US
October 11, 2021
For many people just like you, buying a vacation home in Mexico is a dream — and it’s easy to see why. With miles of white-sand beaches, friendly communities eager to receive newcomers, and plenty of natural areas to get outside and adventurous, having a second home in the country offers plenty of appeal.
Though it may be a dream for many, most future home buyers interested in purchasing property in Mexico are deterred from doing so due to the lack of clarity in the buying process. To put it plainly, buying a home in Mexico tends to be more difficult than buying a home in the U.S.
Not only are listings widely unsearchable in Mexico — they can rarely if ever, be accessed by a quick Google scan — there’s also no country-wide standard or testing requirement that real estate agents, brokers, and realtors are required to pass in order to oversee the buying and selling of homes. As the buyer, this can make it difficult to find the right agent for you, and with no established system that unites real estate brokers in any given region, it's harder for you to find the quality listings that you seek.
At Kocomo, we take all the guesswork out of the entire home-buying process, from the initial home search all the way to your final purchase decision. Here, we break down for you how the buying process differs in Mexico and the US. But have no fear — if you buy with us, you can eschew all of these potential bottlenecks in making your dream of owning a vacation home in Mexico a reality!
1. There isn’t an easy resource to browse listings.
In the U.S., most real estate brokers use an MLS system or multiple listing service. These services connect brokers and allow them to share information on properties they’re hoping to sell. MLS services not only enable cooperation and compensation amongst brokers, but it also allows home buyers to see more properties and homeowners to have their properties seen by more buyers. This type of system isn’t available in Mexico, which makes it more difficult for buyers to do analysis on comparable homes in a region or browse historic price appreciation.
2. There are no widely-used selling platforms like Zillow.
In the U.S., there are several aggregate systems for potential buyers to search homes, which can be done without ever hiring a broker. These range from online real estate marketplaces like Zillow to listing sites like Realtor.com. In Mexico, there are no widely-used sites that contain a curated set of listings, and, often, the best homes are never listed online at all. This makes it imperative for buyers to intimately know the area in which they plan to purchase a home.
3. Brokers aren’t required to have a license.
In the U.S., real estate agents, brokers, and realtors are required to pass certain exams and carry certifications to buy, sell and rent real estate. For example, all real estate agents must work directly for a brokerage firm or be sponsored by a broker that, in addition to being a real estate agent, has completed further training and received certification to also act as a broker. In the U.S., there are also governing bodies like the National Association of Realtors that require their member realtors to adhere to a strict code of ethics. In Mexico, real estate agents, brokers, and realtors are not required to hold any certifications whatsoever. This can often create confusion in the seller-buyer exchange.
4. Tax payments can be confusing.
In the U.S., most states charge taxes when a home changes hands. The price of this tax fluctuates from state to state and is based on a percentage of the total purchase price. In Mexico, the home buying process can often become unclear, especially when it comes to taxes. This is often due to there being no required code of ethics for realtors to adhere to country-wide. Deals are often done off the books to avoid tax payments, which could present a problem for foreign buyers in the long run.
5. Mortgages are unavailable.
In the U.S., most home buyers first offer a down payment and then pay off the cost of their home over time. In Mexico, it’s impossible to get a U.S.-based mortgage to pay off a home in Mexico. This means that foreign buyers in Mexico are required to pay the full total in cash.