Navigating Mexico: Can a Foreigner Own Real Estate in Mexico?
By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
The simple answer is to the above question is: Yes.
Honestly, I am actually getting tired of answering this question now that digital nomads have discovered Mexico.
So many of these international work-from-homers have moved here, that some have decided to stay, becoming themselves owners, no longer wanting to pay rent.
In any inland city — Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are Mexico’s “Big Three,” including all of the medium-sized satellite cities — foreigners do not have to be a temporary or permanent resident to acquire a piece of property in their name. Even with a tourist visa, they can own real estate.
The only restrictions are in border towns and areas that touch a sea coast.
The reason is simple. If you were to read Mexico’s Constitution — especially the original articles before the last five or so presidents wanted to leave their mark with several erratic and wordy constitutional reforms, turning the document into a kind of disjointed free-for-all — you would see that the original magna carta reeks over and over of two themes: first, the fear of foreign governments, individuals and influences, and, second, fear of the Catholic Church. The Mexican Constitution was written as a protection mechanism against these two groups.
So as far as owning land, Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution specifically speaks of “restricted zones” should a foreign power, aka, the United States, want to invade the country. It states that the ports and borders will not have foreign land owners, waiting to assist the foreign invaders.
Take that a step forward to today, and not even a naturalized Mexican can be a police officer, airline crew member or soldier, all in the name of national protection. Mexico continues to have many citizens-by-birth protected positions as remnants of the Mexican Revolution.
The original labor laws did not even allow foreign bartenders or street sweepers. The current laws say that not more than 10 percent of a company’s workers can be foreign.
To get around this for real estate purposes in these restricted areas, a system of trusts has been developed to allow foreign ownership by paying a yearly fee of the equivalent of about $500 to a bank, which technically owns the property, yet allows exclusive use by the foreign trustee, as well as the right to sell and heir the property.
Upon possession, if the property is in a border or coastal territory, the foreign owner has the legal title, with the bank trust in a custodial role.
In other areas of the country, the foreigner has a free and clear title.
So yes, if you are looking to buy a new or vacation home in Mexico, you can easily do so.