Real Estate Advice

David Simmonds 

One thing I know for sure, whenever there is a lot of cash floating around, the scammers will be angling for a piece of your money. This is true in New York, Bejing and, yes, Mexico. The most notorious and well-publicized example was in the 1980’s at Punta Banda, on the beach a few miles south of Ensenada, in northern Baja. Naturally, the American press jumped all over the fact that Americans were being evicted from their homes, implying that buying in “lawless” Mexico is not wise. The facts proved to be much different than the hype.

As is often the case, many people jumped on something that looked too good to be true…without doing their homework. Most of the “victims” were aware that the property was in litigation when they purchased. They hadn’t done a proper title search. The ejido (farming cooperative), who claimed ownership, teamed with the developers, who hired Americans to market the property (Americans were selling to Americans…no Mexicans were on the sales team). The problem is that the ejido was not the legal owner. Eventually, the Mexican Supreme Court decided the case in favor of the true owners. The rule of law was followed. None of this would have happened had a title search been performed at the beginning. Stewart Title, Chicago Title and First American are just three of the legitimate companies that are now servicing Mexico.

There is another case unfolding today involving an alleged scheme centered in Cancun and an American who has been arrested in Florida. Some, it would seem, very savvy investors were hosed on their investment. The key, anywhere, is to do your homework and use all of the tools available when you are laying your money on the line. There are some excellent values in Mexico, but you need to follow the same precautions that you would anywhere.

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