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How Culture Affects Mexico Real Estate Purchase Negotiations

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Harriet Murray Blogs for Expats In Mexico on Real Estate
Harriet Murray

The three countries that make up North America are physically close, but each has a different history and culture that affects Mexico real estate purchase negotiations. Which cultural aspects do you associate with Canada, the United States or Mexico?

Here are some examples of cultural differences:

 

Family

  • Family is the first priority
  • Children are celebrated and sheltered
  • Wife fulfills domestic role
  • Mobility is limited

Or

  • Family is usually second to work
  • Children often minimally parented and independent
  • Wife often fulfills dual roles
  • Mobility quite common

Religion

  • Long Roman Catholic tradition
  • Fatalistic outlook: “As God wills”

Or

  • Mixed religions
  • “Master of own life” outlook

Education

  • Memorization
  • Emphasis on theoretical
  • Rigid, broad curriculum

Or

  • Analytical approach
  • Emphasis on the practical
  • Narrow, in-depth specialization

Nationalism

  • Very nationalistic
  • Proud of long history and traditions

Or

  • Very patriotic
  • Proud of “Way of life”
  • Assumes everyone shares his/her materialistic values
  • Other country has a more “World” view

Personal Appearance

  • Dress and grooming are status symbols

Or

  • Appearance is secondary to performance

Status

  • Title and position more important than money in eyes of society

Or

  • Money is main status measure and is reward for achievement

Aesthetics

  • Aesthetic side of life is important even at work

Or

  • No time for “useless frills”

Ethics

  • Truth is tempered by need for diplomacy
  • Truth is a relative concept

Or

  • Direct Yes/No answers given and expected
  • Truth seen as absolute value

Buyers from different cultures may try to renegotiate a purchase agreement after it has been signed, but this is not a matter of ethics. The U.S. is a “low context” country where everything is spelled out between people either verbally or in contracts. Other countries are “high context” where much more information is derived from the context of the communication and less is spelled out.

In high context countries it is understood that contracts are only the beginning of a relationship, which can change as the parties get to know each other. The parties are expected to help each other “adjust” the contract to their needs until it is completed.

Countries tend in real estate purchases to be either negotiating or non-negotiating. In the majority of countries around the world, people haggle on everything from groceries to clothing to homes.

Experienced negotiators know that when they first make an offer on a home it is the lowest they will ever be able to go. They can only go in one direction from there – up. This is why they will start embarrassingly low with their initial offer even if they may be willing to pay full price.

Veteran hagglers know they have the most bargaining power just before close of escrow. This is when they will usually ask for one extra concession to show their skill. If the seller was willing to concede a refrigerator or clothes washer or dryer, it’s best not to include it in a purchase. At close of escrow it can be added in the sale in order to close further negotiating.

This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review.

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