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Buying Real Estate 
on Cozumel Island, Mexico

Some Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are foreigners permitted to acquire property in Mexico? 

Yes, foreigners may acquire property in Mexico. However, if the property lies within a "restricted zone" such as along borders or in coastal areas, it must be purchased via a legal instrument called a "fidei comiso" or, bank trust. This trust gives you, the beneficiary of the trust, the same rights and obligations as full ownership would provide. 

  • How do I establish a fidei comiso? 

A fidei comiso must be established and recorded by a "notario" or, notary public. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a notario to establish the trust as well as a bank to administer it. Notarios and banks charge competitive fees for their services and the fees depend partly upon the stated value of the property. Most real estate agents work with one notario who works with one bank but are, in fact, able to work with those that you choose. Check out your options and get estimates on fees from a few different notarios and banks. 

  • What information must I provide in order to establish a fidei comiso? 

You'll need to provide basic information such as name, address and phone number in the US (or other country of origin), occupation and nationality. If married, the same information will be required of your spouse. You'll need to provide a copy of your passport and tourist visa. The name, nationality, address and phone number of any secondary beneficiary to the trust will also be required. 

  • How much does a fidei comiso cost to establish? 

Again, costs vary from notario to notario and from bank to bank. Your real estate agent should help you obtain estimates from notarios and banks regarding the fees for the establishment and yearly maintenance of the fidei comiso. 

  • How do I find a reliable real estate agent who will protect my interests? 

Ask lots of questions and interview several different agents and/or brokers. Business operates at a slower pace in Mexico so try not to be in too much of a hurry but you can insist that your agent communicate with you regularly and keep you posted during every step of acquiring a property. 

Real estate agents will tell you that you don't need a lawyer involved in real estate transactions. This is technically true and your real estate agent should be able to translate negotiations for you. However, if you feel more comfortable that your interests, not the interests of the seller, will be protected by hiring your own lawyer then do so. There are English-speaking lawyers on the island knowledgeable in real estate transactions. 

  • How much does an average home on Cozumel cost? 

There really is no "average" home on the island. Since there is not an accurate property appraisal system or formula, property is priced based on what the seller and real estate agent feel the property will sell for. There are homes in town priced from around $75,000 US Dollars but be prepared for lots of repairs and renovations at this price. Though bargains do indeed exist, a more realistic price for a home in town would begin around $125,000 US Dollars or more unfurnished. Beachfront homes, if you can find one for sale, start at around $500,000 US Dollars. The best way to gauge prices on the island is to look at many properties and then look some more. This is the only way to truly get a feel for the types of homes available and what is a reasonable price to pay for one. 

  • Can I obtain a listing of homes currently on the market? 

A reliable agent should make a list available to you. It's best to be specific about a price range when requesting listings but be flexible too as you may find spending a little bit more will get you a lot more in the long run. Be sure and look for properties for sale by owner at http://www.cozumel-vacation-rentals.com/for-sale.htm  

  • What if I want to buy a home now but I don't plan to live in it until I retire? 

There are plenty of property management companies on Cozumel who can care for your property in your absence. Again, ask lots of questions and interview several different companies. Find out exactly how your home will be maintained and all the costs involved. Property managers should also be able to put your home into their vacation rental pool if you so desire. Additional fees will be involved in the rental of your home and you should receive a written contract which clearly states all expenses, fees and commissions that you are expected to pay as well as outlines how your home will be cared for. The property manager should also provide you with detailed monthly statements of your income and expenses along with original receipts. 

  • So where do I start? 

One, don't be in a hurry. Visit the island and conduct your interviews of real estate agents and/or brokers until you feel comfortable with one - or more. Remember, you don't have to depend on just one agent. Most agents have their own listings and some do not share theirs with others so use all the available resources. 

Two, talk to friends and acquaintances living on the island. Make a point to get to know them and let them get to know you. "Locals" often know of properties for sale which are not listed with any Realtor. Later, you can obtain a lawyer to be involved in negotiations and in supervising the purchase transaction. You do not need a real estate agent here to buy or sell property. All transactions can be handled between the buyer, seller, and notario. 

And three, be prepared to make more than one trip to the island to find that perfect home. Try to be prepared to make a "spur of the moment" trip to the island should your Realtor or agent call you with a new listing that fits your needs and price range. 

****Note from author: After receiving countless requests for information on buying real estate and building homes on Cozumel Island, I decided to provide this question and answer list as a free service to those interested. I've written this based on questions which I am most frequently asked as well as my own personal experience as a foreigner  buying property on Cozumel. Though I've based this article upon a great deal of research, I am not a real estate agent and do not represent myself as, or claim to be a real estate agent or any kind of authority on real estate transactions. I hope the information I have presented here is of help to you in your pursuit of your island dream home. If there's something else you'd like to read about in additional articles please let me know. 

Cozumel Vacation Rentals
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