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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-3-2023 at 10:20 AM
Buying/Building in Mexico


Hello Nomads,

I'm in the preliminary stages of planning my retirement in Mexico. I'm married to a Mexican citizen. We are looking to buy a lote south of the border (Baja or Mainland) in the next 2 years and start building in 3-5 years. We are also throwing around the idea of purchasing something already built in Northern Baja (Ensenada to Playas de Rosarito).

My questions (I have millions but I'll limit them to a couple for now) after reading horror story after horror story the last 30 years are:

1. Any resources (websites or realtors) out there for me to consume about purchasing land in Mexico (by a Mexican citizen)?

2. Any of you married to a Mexican citizen who can offer any advice on how a gringo like me should be listed on any of this official paperwork or things to protect myself with?

3. When you purchase a lote in a community that is in the early phases (like a presale) are there any standard timelines that you must start your build within?

As you can tell from my questions, I'm ignorant beyond belief. But not for long...............

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.

Ateo :saint:



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nandopedal
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[*] posted on 11-3-2023 at 02:20 PM


I am a person with dual citizenship and have owned property in Baja in the past, the best I can tell you is, to make an appointment to go to any of the "Notarias" in Tijuana for a consultation on all of your questions, they are qualified lawyers with a special permit by the government.
Hope that helps.




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BAJA.DESERT.RAT
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[*] posted on 11-3-2023 at 07:32 PM


hola ateo,

when you use a notario, PLEASE take the time to READ your paperwork thoroughly. i had a corporation done in san jose del cabo with a notario and it was full of errors. i needed to have a power of attorney done for my son to be on the corporation and it also was not error proof with the notario in tijuana.

just a word of caution.

BIEN SALUD,

DA RAT
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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-4-2023 at 07:40 AM


Quote: Originally posted by nandopedal  
I am a person with dual citizenship and have owned property in Baja in the past, the best I can tell you is, to make an appointment to go to any of the "Notarias" in Tijuana for a consultation on all of your questions, they are qualified lawyers with a special permit by the government.
Hope that helps.


Thank you so much! I'll get Thea Notary visit scheduled!

Thanks nanopedal
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Terry28
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[*] posted on 11-4-2023 at 10:15 AM


I used the notario #1 in Rosarito..excellent service, he was very helpful and fluent english...u2u me for more info....



Mexico!! Where two can live as cheaply as one.....but it costs twice as much.....
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[*] posted on 11-4-2023 at 10:53 AM


nan,

If you buy, avoid using a title company that is in any way connected with the seller. Conflicting titles are very common in Mexico especially near the coast. If your wife doesn’t yet have an RFC number have her get one. The notary can advise you. Also find a builder you trust to inspect any house you’re thinking of buying. Find out in advance where your water comes from as well as the cost.

Good Luck!

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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-4-2023 at 09:26 PM


Quote: Originally posted by BAJA.DESERT.RAT  
hola ateo,

when you use a notario, PLEASE take the time to READ your paperwork thoroughly. i had a corporation done in san jose del cabo with a notario and it was full of errors. i needed to have a power of attorney done for my son to be on the corporation and it also was not error proof with the notario in tijuana.

just a word of caution.

BIEN SALUD,

DA RAT


Hola DA RAT nd Muchas gracias amigo. Thanks for the "heads up". I'll make sure I read everything thoroughly!
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gnukid
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 09:37 AM


Building in mexico is very difficult, especially for gringos, partly because gringos project an expectation that things will be done as they are where they come from, and because gringos have money to lose, there is an epidemic of fraud in building homes for gringos, largely the fault of gringos who don't manage their projects and payments, fraught with surprises and high stress, especially for the owners, often a couple is put under tremendous stress that can cause lack of sleep and health issues during the process.

To succeed, you need a building team that is experienced, honest and reliable with the style and method you want to build, willing to work at the location you want to build, oftentimes, teams are imported, meaning, a builder brings the team to live there full time from a long way away, if they don't already exist there.

Each worker will have their own family issues, health issues, may lack experience or willingness to learn, may be unwilling to follow instruction, may become injured, become ill, may have bad attitude, may have addictions, some are thieves who will steal critical expensive materials and tools etc.

It's really no fun to have a house be built totally incorrectly, bad plumbing and electrical, crooked, cracked, etc. unlevel floors, weak ceiling that isn't water tight, windows and doors that don't open or close properly, tile that is poorly installed, paint that is falling off before you move it and worst of all is cement that wasn't properly mixed with high quality materials and poured for the location and weather.

It's an expensive process that requires cash on hand daily, weekly etc. It's more expensive to have architects, plans, engineers, inspections, permits, building managers and skilled craftsmen, but it's worth it, cheap is never cheap.

If you can find a home that is built and of good quality you will save a ton of stress, unless you enjoy the stress of building in an extremely difficult environment, where you must be on site 24 hours a day and be hands on never turning an eye for more than 10 seconds, or it will go wrong.

Best plan is to choose a location where you would like to live and go there and rent, begin the process to meet and interview architects, builders, take time to visit their work, see examples, if work examples don't exist they don't have local experience.

Expect 99 out of 100 that you initially meet and interview to be less than able to do the work and likely to waste tons of materials, time and money with error prone faulty work. But, there are excellent builders, you just need to find one with excellent references and then work with them to schedule a time when they are available, could be 1-2 years away, followed by 1-2 years to build, overall 4 years is typical process.

Buy a home that is already built exactly as you would like with all the problems worked out if possible unless you enjoy the challenge and stress of building, and have the temperament and patience, with thick skin and are able to be on site.

Start with an outline plan of the type of home you want, size, materials, even a basic sketch and begin to get a sense for costs of materials and labor, then add on management fees and extras, in order to have reasonable budget. You can do search on estimated costs to build in various parts of mexico.


[Edited on 11-5-2023 by gnukid]
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 10:00 AM


Two thirds of my construction career was in residential construction. I'm done now, and if I get ready to buy in Baja it will be a completed structure with more than a couple of years of occupation to weed out the flaws.

I'm still kicking myself in the rear for not committing to Udo's Bahia Conception residence before someone else did!




If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space!

"Could do better if he tried!" Report card comments from most of my grade school teachers. Sadly, still true!
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surabi
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 10:10 AM


While there were definitely challenges to building in Mexico, this gringa did not "expect that things will done as they are where I come from", nor did I "have money to lose".

No one defrauded me, no workers stole my materials, none of them had addictions, none of them took advantage of me.

I did not have an architect, nor a contractor, I designed the house myself and just had to get an engineer's drawing to get the building permit. I ran the crew myself, I hired local masons and workers and hired a qualified plumber and electrician to do those things.
I bought the materials myself, so avoided a contractor's markup.

And while yes, it was important to attend the job site daily, it wasn't necessary for me to "never turn an eye for more than 10 seconds".
And it didn't take 4 years, it took one year.

There are a few things I would have done differently in retrospect, but I ended up with the house I wanted, and nothing has fallen apart. Of course, some cracks developed as the house settled, or after earthquakes, and the climate can be hard on things, but any house anywhere requires maintainance and repairs after a number of years.

I did know quite a bit about construction, and had done a lot of cement and tile work myself previously, so I wouldn't advise someone who is clueless about construction to attempt to do it like I did, but if you are somewhat experienced in building, there's no reason not to. Also, I rented and lived in various houses in my town for 6 years before building, so I was aware of what I did and didn't want, aware of shoddy workmanship, etc.



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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:18 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Terry28  
I used the notario #1 in Rosarito..excellent service, he was very helpful and fluent english...u2u me for more info....


Thanks! U2U sent!
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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:20 PM


Quote: Originally posted by RFClark  
nan,

If you buy, avoid using a title company that is in any way connected with the seller. Conflicting titles are very common in Mexico especially near the coast. If your wife doesn’t yet have an RFC number have her get one. The notary can advise you. Also find a builder you trust to inspect any house you’re thinking of buying. Find out in advance where your water comes from as well as the cost.

Good Luck!



Clark, Thanks! All great advice and things to watch. I'm adding to my list. I'll have to ask what an RFC number is. I'll get to the bottom of that! Thanks!
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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:23 PM


Quote: Originally posted by gnukid  
Building in mexico is very difficult, especially for gringos, partly because gringos project an expectation that things will be done as they are where they come from, and because gringos have money to lose, there is an epidemic of fraud in building homes for gringos, largely the fault of gringos who don't manage their projects and payments, fraught with surprises and high stress, especially for the owners, often a couple is put under tremendous stress that can cause lack of sleep and health issues during the process.

To succeed, you need a building team that is experienced, honest and reliable with the style and method you want to build, willing to work at the location you want to build, oftentimes, teams are imported, meaning, a builder brings the team to live there full time from a long way away, if they don't already exist there.

Each worker will have their own family issues, health issues, may lack experience or willingness to learn, may be unwilling to follow instruction, may become injured, become ill, may have bad attitude, may have addictions, some are thieves who will steal critical expensive materials and tools etc.

It's really no fun to have a house be built totally incorrectly, bad plumbing and electrical, crooked, cracked, etc. unlevel floors, weak ceiling that isn't water tight, windows and doors that don't open or close properly, tile that is poorly installed, paint that is falling off before you move it and worst of all is cement that wasn't properly mixed with high quality materials and poured for the location and weather.

It's an expensive process that requires cash on hand daily, weekly etc. It's more expensive to have architects, plans, engineers, inspections, permits, building managers and skilled craftsmen, but it's worth it, cheap is never cheap.

If you can find a home that is built and of good quality you will save a ton of stress, unless you enjoy the stress of building in an extremely difficult environment, where you must be on site 24 hours a day and be hands on never turning an eye for more than 10 seconds, or it will go wrong.

Best plan is to choose a location where you would like to live and go there and rent, begin the process to meet and interview architects, builders, take time to visit their work, see examples, if work examples don't exist they don't have local experience.

Expect 99 out of 100 that you initially meet and interview to be less than able to do the work and likely to waste tons of materials, time and money with error prone faulty work. But, there are excellent builders, you just need to find one with excellent references and then work with them to schedule a time when they are available, could be 1-2 years away, followed by 1-2 years to build, overall 4 years is typical process.

Buy a home that is already built exactly as you would like with all the problems worked out if possible unless you enjoy the challenge and stress of building, and have the temperament and patience, with thick skin and are able to be on site.

Start with an outline plan of the type of home you want, size, materials, even a basic sketch and begin to get a sense for costs of materials and labor, then add on management fees and extras, in order to have reasonable budget. You can do search on estimated costs to build in various parts of mexico.


[Edited on 11-5-2023 by gnukid]


Thanks Gnu. I'm leaning toward purchasing something that's already built for these exact reasons. I'm gonna read your entire email to my wife tonight out loud so she can hear it as well. Thanks of taking the time to post this.
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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:26 PM


Quote: Originally posted by AKgringo  
Two thirds of my construction career was in residential construction. I'm done now, and if I get ready to buy in Baja it will be a completed structure with more than a couple of years of occupation to weed out the flaws.

I'm still kicking myself in the rear for not committing to Udo's Bahia Conception residence before someone else did!


Thanks AK. The more comments I read the more I remember that I would prefer to buy a home that's already built and been lived in for this exact reason. Gracias!

Although, we may just buy the land and sit on it for a few years before building.....
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Ateo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:30 PM


Quote: Originally posted by surabi  
While there were definitely challenges to building in Mexico, this gringa did not "expect that things will done as they are where I come from", nor did I "have money to lose".

No one defrauded me, no workers stole my materials, none of them had addictions, none of them took advantage of me.

I did not have an architect, nor a contractor, I designed the house myself and just had to get an engineer's drawing to get the building permit. I ran the crew myself, I hired local masons and workers and hired a qualified plumber and electrician to do those things.
I bought the materials myself, so avoided a contractor's markup.

And while yes, it was important to attend the job site daily, it wasn't necessary for me to "never turn an eye for more than 10 seconds".
And it didn't take 4 years, it took one year.

There are a few things I would have done differently in retrospect, but I ended up with the house I wanted, and nothing has fallen apart. Of course, some cracks developed as the house settled, or after earthquakes, and the climate can be hard on things, but any house anywhere requires maintainance and repairs after a number of years.

I did know quite a bit about construction, and had done a lot of cement and tile work myself previously, so I wouldn't advise someone who is clueless about construction to attempt to do it like I did, but if you are somewhat experienced in building, there's no reason not to. Also, I rented and lived in various houses in my town for 6 years before building, so I was aware of what I did and didn't want, aware of shoddy workmanship, etc.





Thanks Surabi. Your post gave me a good perspective and showed me that it can be done! Hope is appreciated. I defintely want to rent in the area before committing, unless it's by the border zone because I've spent at least a couple years time there already. I know that's not LIVING there but it's kinda in the same ballpark. Stoked to hear you're only took a year!
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surabi
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 07:52 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Ateo  
I'll have to ask what an RFC number is.


Mexican tax number.
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Cancamo
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[*] posted on 11-5-2023 at 08:59 PM



Surabi's experience and mine are pretty much spot on.

I built what I wanted, no architect/contractor. Had the plans done from my ideas, got the permit, opened an account at the material place, hired a crew, made sure the materials were there, and the crew was paid, as well as their seguro. I wasn't there all the time, and any material missing was minor, and insignificant. Completed the obra negra, (foundation up till emplastada, stucco), for a fraction of what a builder wanted. I did the all wiring and finish plumbing, painting, and some of the tile work. The windows and doors and bulk of the tile were done by a sub. No issues at all with the house after close to 20 years, still very happy. If you have the time and skills, very doable, and rewarding.

It is very common for new construction done by builders to be inferior with ongoing repair and replacement in the following years. Lots of fly by night operators and no way to be made whole. I believe there is a huge advantage in being an owner/builder.

Non of it could have been done without being competent in communicating and comprehending spanish. As with everything here, as most places, there is a premium paid for those whom don't acknowledge where they are. Do not trust someone simply because they speak english, they are often the most dishonest.

In addition, live in the area a while before you commit.




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surabi
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[*] posted on 11-6-2023 at 08:22 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Cancamo  

Surabi's experience and mine are pretty much spot on.

I did the all wiring and finish plumbing, painting, and some of the tile work. The windows and doors and bulk of the tile were done by a sub.

None of it could have been done without being competent in communicating and comprehending spanish.




I did all the tile work myself- floors, counters, showers. And all the painting. I wasn't qualified to do the plumbing or wiring, so subbed that, as well as the metalwork, and had a carpenter install the interior wooden doors.

My Spanish was actually pretty basic when I started, but I looked up what I needed to get across, the crew was great about making sure they understood what I was trying to convey, and correcting my Spanish- in fact, my Spanish improved by leaps and bounds during the course of the construction project.

And while none of the crew spoke English, at least one of them understood a lot of English, but as is often the case, didn't let on. I only realized it one day when my American plumber/electrician were joking around and one of the workers nearby started chuckling. I pointed at him and said, "You understand English!" He admitted, "Un poco".
(Never assume a Mexican doesn't understand English- don't say anything in English around them you wouldn't want them to overhear.)

Another thing- a large crew doesn't necessarily mean the work will go faster. It's easier to manage a smaller crew- efficiency isn't a Mexican strong point. I found that a lot of what I did was instruct them in how to be more efficent, therefore more gets done and less materials get wasted. For instance, every time the masons needed half a block, they'd cut one in half- there were half blocks laying around everywhere. Rather than the joeboy leaning on his shovel while the cement mix slaked, I told him to gather up all the halfblocks and stack them next to where the masons were working, so they could just grab one that was already cut.

They would sometimes end the day with whatever they were working on partially finished, then forget to finish that off the next morning, instead starting some new thing. I'd say, "Why did you start in on another window frame when you haven't finished the one you started yesterday?" "Oh, I forgot about that."
One day I made a list of about 7 things that were partially done and had them finish off all those things before starting in on a new phase.






[Edited on 11-6-2023 by surabi]

[Edited on 11-6-2023 by surabi]
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[*] posted on 11-6-2023 at 02:41 PM


Design tips:
High quality anodized widows and frames.
Glass Blocks for exterior wall windows for security.
Giant Showers mean you are going to get cold.
Hydronic floor heating is heavenly.
Front gate with foyer to front door.
We had to bring in a new contractor to the development cuz the others established there became crooks.
He was eager to get his foot into the development and worked out well.
We also paid him with new tools and $$$




Es Todo Bueno
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pacificobob
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[*] posted on 11-6-2023 at 04:55 PM


I've had 2 houses built and several other projects built. Never had any problems worth mentioning. A good builder will have good references. If you have some construction Spanish and are present for the build it should go well.
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