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Bank Trust and Notary Services

Foreign ownership of Mexican property is now secure. In recent years, the laws regarding property ownership in Mexico have changed dramatically for non-Mexican citizens. The advent of NAFTA, improved world-wide technology and sweeping changes in Mexican politics have made purchasing property in Mexico a much easier and more secure process, especially for residents of Canada and the United States.

The “fideicomiso” is set up through a Mexican bank for a period of up to 50 years and can be renewed for 50 years. To acquire the land the purchaser must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The buyer can lease, sell or transfer the property to another family member, and if he dies, his property can be passed to an heir. At the end of the 100 years the property can be sold.

In the trust there are three elements: The trust Settlor (Fideicomitente) which may be a physical or legal Mexican person, who is the owner of the property which is to be placed in trust; the Trustee (Fiduciario) which, by law may be only a credit institution and which holds the raw real estate; and the Beneficiaries (Fideicomisarios) the legal or physical foreign persons who are the beneficiaries of the trust who obtain the use and benefit of the property.

The bank (known as the trustee) holds the trust deed (known as the escritura) for the person or persons purchasing the property (known as the beneficiaries). This property is not part of the bank’s assets and cannot be subject to any lien or attachment for any bank obligations. The beneficiary has all ownership rights to the property and may sell, lease, mortgage or pass on to their heirs as desired under law. A bank trust is not a lease.

The Mexican government established the trust agreement as a way of protecting foreigners interested in owning property in Mexico. The reasoning was that by making ownership pass through the trust process, there would be an automatic review of the transaction to ensure it was legal and unencumbered. The bank is required to check ownership, insurance and indebtedness of the property, providing further protection to the foreign owner.

Trusts are renewable at any time by filling out a simple application with the bank. It was never the intent that these properties pass back to the government at the end of the trust period. This is a common misconception and fear of most buyers. It may help in understanding the Bank Trust to compare it with the Deed of Trust, a type of financing instrument used in the U.S. People who buy homes, paying the full amount upfront, receive their titles right away. However, this rarely happens.

Under a deed of trust the buyer of a house has only “equitable title,” or an equity interest, with the right to use but only a restricted right to sell, until the loan is paid off, after which the owner receives the actual fee simple title. Until then it is held by a trustee, usually a bank or title company. In Mexico the Bank Trust is also held by a trustee, but the buyer never receives the actual title. Realistically many homeowners in the U.S. never receive title to their properties either, because they sell or refinance their homes before the 30-year term of their loan is complete.

Title Insurance

Purchasers of Mexican real property can now receive Owner’s Policies of Title Insurance that can be issued on both sides of the border from various companies to both U.S. and Mexican buyers. Most title insurance policies today are U.S. contracts of indemnity guaranteeing ownership rights as vested in a fideicomiso (bank trust) for residential property acquired by foreign buyers in the prohibited zone, or for properties held in a Mexican corporation for non-residential purposes (i.e. industrial and commercial).

Mexico is not unlike the U.S. in that there is a definitive legal framework for ownership of land by foreigners known as the New Foreign Investment Law (Dec. 28, 1993) and as mandated under Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution. In addition, there is formality and compliance in the development of real property. Regulatory statutes and procedures are mandated on a state-by-state basis and require a series of official approvals, permits, and authorizations, coupled with public disclosure and written notification by the governing public agency.

American Title Insurance is available for Mexican real estate whether acquired directly or through a trust. The cost of the insurance depends on whether the property you are purchasing is covered by a master title commitment.

The best way to protect yourself is to get title insurance. Most Mexican companies don’t sell it, but Houston based Stewart title Guaranty, Lawyer’s Title, and Fidelity National Financial does. The insurance runs about $4 to $7 for every $1,000 of property value, versus $3 to $4 in most of the U.S. In addition to title insurance, property insurance is also available in Mexico and the rates are relatively low.

Notary

The Notary Public is the most important person you will deal with when you make a property investment in Mexico. Do not confuse the role of the Notary Public in the US or UK with its counterpart in Mexico: they are quite different. In Mexico the role is appointed directly by the State Governor (the highest seat in State Public Office).

The Notary Public has the power to witness and certify important business documents which require absolute authenticity. The appointment also holds responsibility for the management and secure storage of original records. Notary Publics must be Mexicans of at least 35 years old, they must have a degree in Law, have 3 year’s work experience at a Notary Public office and they must pass a stringent exam. Those who pass, in time, are appointed as Notary Public by the State Governor.

Under Mexican Law, the deed to the property must be prepared by a Notary Public. As a buyer, it is your right to choose the Notary Public, and it should be your first port of call – or second after your lawyer.

The Notary Public will ensure that all documentation and permits are in order so that the transaction can proceed.

http://www.seaofcortezproperty.com/Foreign_Ownership/page_2024079.html

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