How to Buy Real Estate in Mexico

Posted by Olympia CGP on 8/30/21 8:00 AM

beachfront in Cancun, Mexico

Mexico has long been regarded as one of the best places in the world to vacation, thanks to its vibrant, welcoming culture, spectacular geography and stunning beach views.  

For many people in Canada, buying property in Mexico is a long held dream for retirement, or simply as a spot to enjoy family vacations. But few people realize that Mexican property can also provide an outstanding source of value as a real estate investment, and also as an alternative financial vehicle during periods of volatility in the stock market.

So why aren’t more Canadians taking advantage of the opportunities to buy real estate in Mexico? Many people wrongly believe that Mexican real estate is beyond their reach, due to either financial or legal constraints. Thankfully, the truth is that buying property in Mexico is no more complex than a real estate transaction anywhere else. 

All it takes is a bit of knowledge about the local real estate market, the right support from a qualified real estate agent, and the assistance of a global payment partner to ensure a simple, secure and cost-effective real estate buying experience. 

Read on below to learn more about the actual process of buying (or selling) Mexican real estate, and how Olympia Trust can help you facilitate the transaction by providing cross-border payment solutions for foreign real estate investments

Dispelling Myths About Mexico Real Estate

Mexico real estate within the restricted zone

The reason why many people believe that purchasing a home in Mexico is beyond their reach stems from the longstanding (false) impression that foreigners cannot purchase highly desirable property in Mexico. 

This belief stems from historical legacy because, from the early 1970s until the 1990s, foreigners were only allowed to purchase property in Mexico as long as it was not in a so-called “restricted zone.” 

Restricted zones are defined as anywhere within 100 km of an international border or 50 km from the coast, so this legal situation made it impossible for foreigners to acquire real estate near top vacation destinations, such as Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tijuana. 

Following the liberalization of Mexican real estate ownership laws in 1993, foreign nationals were permitted to buy property in Mexico within the restricted zone, as long as the real estate transaction was carried out through a bank trust, known as a fideicomiso. 

For Canadians, the buying process for real estate in Mexico might seem complex, but it is not much more complicated than a local real estate purchase. The purchase process can be easily navigated with the help of your real estate agent, lawyer and global payment partner like Olympia Trust, which has provided cross-border payment solutions for individual clients all over the world.

Buying Property in Mexico

beachfront property in Tulum, Mexico

While some of the terminology surrounding the purchase process in Mexico might sound foreign, the process is quite similar to buying a house or land in Canada or the United States, and it involves similar stakeholders, including buyers, sellers, the attorney of each party, as well as a public notary and a trustee bank. 

Mexican real estate sales, whether for investment properties, for retirement or for vacation homes, involve the following steps. 

Property Selection & Initial Offer

prospective buyer ad attorney reviewing real estate contract

After identifying a particularly desirable property, the initial offer (which is just like a “promise to purchase” agreement) is made, with the help of a real estate agent, to record all of the pertinent details of the proposed transaction in writing to avoid misunderstandings between parties. 

The initial offer usually includes information such as the sale price, payment plans, deposit requirements, as well as all related timeframes and deadlines. 

Promissory Agreement & Government Documents

person signing land sale contract

Once the initial offer has been accepted, the next step in the process is the establishment of a promissory sales agreement (known as the “the contrato de promesa de compraventa”). Essentially, it is an extension of the initial offer, outlining the time frame agreed to by the buyer and seller and listing any conditions of the sale that were negotiated during the initial phase.

With the help of a notario publico (i.e. notary), real estate agent and attorney, prospective buyers need to make sure that the property is properly registered and free of debts, liens or encumbrances to ensure a smooth transaction and that the tax implications can be properly calculated.

Also, this is when buyers should obtain a permit from the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and register with the Public Registry of Property and the National Registry of Foreign Investment in order to set up their fideicomiso, which allows them to purchase property in restricted zones. 

At this time, it is also wise to set up a Mexican will, so that property heirs can be listed, as enforcing Canadian wills in Mexico can sometimes pose significant legal challenges and be very time consuming to settle. 

The Fideicomiso

Mexican cash of various denominations

A fideicomiso is a bank trust agreement that provides foreign nationals all the same property rights as Mexican citizens, allowing them to purchase property in restricted zones. 

The fideicomiso is a legal arrangement whereby the trustee bank is technically the owner of the property, but the title holder of the fideicomiso retains all ownership and property rights. 

These trust agreements, operating on 50-year terms, are both renewable and transferable, meaning that foreigners do not have to worry about losing control of their real estate acquisitions. 

Mexican properties can be rented, leased, sold or transferred to heirs, and it can never be sold or modified without the written permission of the title holder. 

Delivery & Closing: Where Olympia Trust Comes In

two people shaking hands, following the conclusion of a real estate sale in Mexico

Once all the legal and payment infrastructure has been put in place, it is finally time to close the sale. During the delivery phase, buyers perform a final inspection to make sure that everything meets expectations. If everything is in order, this is when buyers will sign the delivery statement to confirm the official delivery date of your Mexican real estate so that the title can be transferred to your fideicomiso.

Following this closing paperwork, new owners receive a notice for the final closing costs, Mexico’s acquisition taxes and all other related fees. Once these payments have been sorted out, the local public registry issues the deed to the property. 

Who Can I Trust to Sort Out the Payment Details?

Olympia Trust has assisted hundreds of individuals buying and selling property - and not just in Mexico, but all over the world. 

Because their Account Managers offer quick, secure and cost-effective payment solutions for buying property overseas, you can breathe easy knowing you have an experienced partner to handle the final elements of your real estate transaction. 

That way, you can focus your energies on the important things, like enjoying the sun and sand south of the border!


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