The 10 Commandments of Buying Real Estate

Better to listen to this sooner rather than later

1. Seek advice from a notary or a reliable real estate attorney. Before signing any contract, or committing to the purchase of a property, contact a notary public or real estate attorney to confirm certain basic aspects of the property before the sale; for example:

Verify the seller of the property is the owner of record, and if it is a single owner, or there is a wife and it is held in common property.

If there is current, pending litigation or an ongoing probate.

If its mortgaged (liens).

If there is a procedure pending by an ejido to take over the property proposed for sale.

And by all means, no private contract is completely binding. The only true evidence of property ownership is a public deed under your name with no liens. This has to be a matter of public record or this property you thought you owned can be legally sold right out from under you.

2. Due Diligence. Due diligence is absolutely critical, the property must be free of any encumbrances and current in the payment of property taxes and utilities, also make sure there are no liens placed by the company or people who built the property .

3. Make sure that real estate agents are authentic and reliable. Real estate agencies often are responsible for conflict of interest, thus make sure you keep them legit and the contract you sign with them includes a clause for that purpose.

4. Run a background check on the developer and real estate agent. Check references with current and past clients. If you are going to buy an unit in a housing development investigate whether there have been complaints placed before the Consumer Board (Profeco) either for delays in delivery and in compliance with contracts or for construction defects. Also review all permits and licenses needed for construction of the unit or house.

5. Confirm the true identity of the seller. Ask for help from your notary or attorney to verify the identity of the seller or buyer. It is critical to spare no precautions, there have been cases in which people steal an identity of an owner and, through forged documents may deceive even notaries and agencies. It is therefore important to obtain the most references possible.

6. Be careful with the acquisition of vacant plots. Investigate how, when and under what circumstances did seller purchase the property, also, make all payments with checks, and make sure the parties have a verifiable place of business where to be contacted.

7. Check the current status of the property. Review the status of plumbing, electrical wiring and gas installations to prevent hidden defects.

8. Complete all paperwork required as soon as due diligence has proven the property to be clean and free from any encumbrances. Get the notary to deliver the property writ and also complete the registration before the Public Register of Property and Commerce.

9. Use secure payment. Transfers or certified checks are the safest ways.

After the sale

10. Occupy and develop the property as soon as possible. Leaving a property unoccupied and or undeveloped for a long time substantially increases the risk of being subject to fraud and or squatters. Squatting is the national past time in Mexico, so this is important to avoid.

The notary and your reliable real estate attorney are your best ally to protect your investment.

Good luck!

About the author: Rafael Solorzano is a corporate attorney/business developer with practice located in Tijuana, Mexico, a former trustee (Fiduciario) and foreign legal consultant in San Diego, with over 32 years of professional experience in cross border-business advising U.S. and Asian companies and with a strong background in real estate law and fideicomisos.

You may reach the author at or call 664-188-7001. ,