Saturday, May 18, 2024

Q. Buy or rent first?


Many residents here advise that newcomers rent before they buy, so that they have a chance to get acquainted with the Lakeside area and its diverse subdivisions and towns. With a slowdown in real estate sales in recent years, an abundance of rental properties are available, providing newcomers ample opportunity to explore the area before buying.

Housing costs rose significantly in the past decade, but due to the worldwide economic climate, costs have begun to decline somewhat in the past couple of years. Buyers should plan on spending the same or slightly less than back home. Comfortable and adequate housing prices begin at around $100,000 USD. Prime locations, views, pools and deluxe amenities, of course, drive the price higher.

Both sales prices and rents vary greatly. Depending on which Lakeside village you reside in, rent for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath home will average in $650 USD and up.  A modest one-bedroom apartment in Chapala may rent for $350-$450 USD per month, while upscale executive homes with a pool in elite areas of Ajijic rent for $1,000 USD and up.  Water and trash pickup are usually included in the rent, and sometimes a part-time gardener and/or maid will be included. Be sure to ask and everything spelled out clearly.

While most rental property managers require first and last month’s rent plus a deposit, homes can sometimes be found requiring nothing more than the first month’s rent. Most commonly, if dealing directoy with the owner, first and last month’s rent are required, and the last month’s rent serves as the deposit.  It all depends on what you want, how long you want it for, and who you talk to in making the deal. Once again, lake views, pools and other deluxe amenities mean higher rent. Typically, the closer one is to Ajijic the higher the price.

Foreigners may own property in Mexico and receive valid deeds, either “direct” or “in trust”. Direct deeds are similar to the standard Quit Claim Deed and may be written to include any immediate family member as heir. Trust deeds put title to your property in the name of a banking institution naming the owner as beneficiary. The advantage of a trust deed is that you may name non-family members as heirs; the down side is the substantial annual fee charged by the bank for their services.

Title Insurance in Mexico is either limited or nonexistent, but the Notary Public who closes the transaction is required by Mexican law to do a thorough title search for the benefit of the purchaser; and any reputable Realtor or legal representative will research potential liens such as unpaid homeowner’s fees, water bills, real estate taxes and the like. This is an important service since no “warranty” deeds are issued as there are in North America.

Numerous real estate and property management sites exist for those who wish to browse listings and get a feeling for what is available for rent or for sale, at what price.