You may not know that selling real estate in Mexico, unlike the U.S., Canada and most other developed countries, does not require licensing and relies more on voluntary compliance with industry standards. But is real estate licensing in Mexico needed?
The Association of Mexican Real Estate Professionals (AMPI) is the primary real estate association in the country and an important goal for AMPI is to bring an increased level of professionalism to property sales in the country. The organization has established a voluntary code of laws and ethics for member agents to follow and is moving towards certification of all members.
Here are some of the existing rules and regulations you should be aware of if you are considering purchasing or selling property in Mexico:
A number of federal laws currently oversee real estate agents in Mexico. These include real estate services per state, consumer protection, seller protection and anti-money laundering.
Some states have developed licensing or registration requirements for those working in real estate-related activities: Sonora, Coahuila, Tabasco, Baja California, San Luis Potosi, Colima, Campeche, Morelos, Veracruz, Mexico, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Guanajuato, Nuevo Leon. Mexico City is also included. Jalisco and Nayarit are working on licensing.
State or Federal Licensing
Natural resources of the land, also referred to as mineral rights and water, cannot be transferred to a buyer. Mexico retains all rights to these and can exercise them at any time without compensation to the property owner. In the restricted zones, foreigners must have a trust to own a residential property.
All real estate sales must be approved by a notary public before they are valid and can be processed by a lending institution or governmental office. After the notary reviews the title deed, it is filed at the Public Registrar for Property, and the deal is closed. Due to the lack of professional licensing and governance of the sale of real property, fraud is a major concern for both the AMPI and buyers alike.
Federal Public Registry
The sale of both residential and commercial property must be recorded with the Federal Public Property Registry office. Clear title and ownership is not legally recognized until all paperwork is filed with this governmental agency. All information becomes public record after filing. Certificates of encumbrances or liens are also filed at the Federal Public Property Register office, and are public record as well.
No errors and omissions insurance and no recovery fund for real estate transactions that go bad exist in Mexico. At this time, anyone can call himself or herself a real estate agent or real estate broker.
Listing agreements are created by the broker, or in the case of Bay of Banderas AMPI chapters, specific concepts or paragraphs are required to be included in any exclusive listing agreements. They are not reviewed by any government agency. The sales contracts are developed in the same manner.
This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller conduct his/her own due diligence and review.