CLOSING ON YOUR NEW LOS CABOS PROPERTY
The closing process of a property acquisition in Mexico is easier than one may imagine and in most cases comparable to a procedure back home.
Any type of property whether a villa, condo, commercial or land advertised on the LOS CABOS MLS has specific stringent requirements in order to be listed for sale within this multi-listing system. The members of the LOS CABOS MLS ensure that the title/deed of the property is guaranteed to be clean and free of any lien(s) or encumbrances and the property is able to start moving forward with the transfer of title/beneficial rights to the buyer(s). This means that all pertinent documents are required to be available and in possession by the listing agent and/or listing office at all times throughout the listing period.
If a property is advertised on the LOS CABOS MLS by any member or brokerage office without adhering to all the required documentation to be on file AND without suggesting/listing any certain concerns related to the property and/or issues that may delay the closing, there can be severe penalties, fines and ultimately expulsion (depending on the exact issues) which are the consequences to the listing agent and/or listing brokerage office. There is, in fact some human error and some details that may arise, but most are simple fixable items throughout the closing process. These items are typically addressed in specific detail as the buyers tour and/or share interest through the buyer’s agent. It normally ends up being smooth sailing from start to finish!
The buyer submits an Offer to Purchase to the seller normally indicating that once a price and any potential contingencies are agreed upon and fully executed a non-refundable deposit be wire-transferred into a (3rd party) US Escrow Account (i.e.: Fidelity National Escrow Services (Armour)/Stewart Title Latin America or current providers) normally equaling @ 10% of the purchase price but this amount can vary. There’s generally a fee paid by the buyer to set up this account which can be up to $750 USD, but this fee can be less or nothing depending on the closing company/attorney agents utilized. The escrow account is used to protect both buyer and seller and ultimately puts the buyer in the driver’s seat of the funds to be applied to the purchase price of the property at closing. If for whatever reason a buyer has non-refundable funds in this Escrow account and the seller defaults in their obligation to close, the buyer can grant an extension for the seller to resolve any specific issues related to the closing or the funds will be returned to the buyer less any fee for opening the Escrow account. Please note, an optional US title insurance policy is available through Fidelity Title now known as Armour Secure.
CLOSING AND FEES
All buyers receive a “Good Faith Closing Costs Estimate” (before or during the transaction) outlining all fees related to the closing, from the closing attorney being paid to complete the closing of the property. Whether you are a foreigner or a Mexican National there is a 2% acquisition tax based on the sales price which is the most expensive part of the closing followed by Notario fees. Please understand, a Notario is not to be confused with a US Notary Public. A Notario in Mexico is a very high level legal position and are the only ones that can legally perform the transfer of the title to the property.
Once a Notario has finished signing off on the deed to a property they have assumed all legal responsibilities related to any form of tax liability, removing any such responsibility from both buyer and seller. A copy of the deed is then given to the buyer and then usually takes about 2-3 months for the Public Registry office to record and stamp each page of the deed for the closing Agent/Attorney’s Office to provide to the buyer.
LEGAL AND CLOSING
The buyer has a Closing Agent/Attorney they have elected to represent him/her/them through the completion of the closing process which is normally a referral from the buyer’s real estate agent/broker. Do not worry we have “our” favorites that we enjoy working with and based on their availability, we can introduce you to them directly for the better sake of additional comfort so a face goes with the name. They basically, all speak English and/or other languages to ensure the communication is clear across the board and throughout the closing process. Their fees are normally in the neighborhood of $2,000 USD which includes reviewing all documents related to the property to ensure no delays or any problematic scenarios related to the closing. They handle the complete process of verifying that the property was properly recorded, without liens, verification that all bills/fees related to the property are all current and proceed to obtain all legal certificates from the various government offices which are required for the closing. The closing of a property takes approximately 45 days but it is based on the ease of the transaction, persons involved, etc. This does not mean that early possession can’t be granted based on the agreement and ethics involved.
If the Offer to Purchase is clean and strong enough for both buyer and seller then the Closing Agents/Attorneys can suggest moving forward with the closing process referencing the previously agreed upon Offer to Purchase. In the case where it makes more sense to move from an Offer to Purchase to a Purchase Agreement then the closing Agents/Attorneys will draft the Agreement at a fee to the buyer which normally can be near $500 USD or more based on the intricacies and details of the transaction.
Congratulations, you are now a new owner of an acquisition in paradise. Property tax is very low and if you pay in January of each year you receive an additional 20% discount. Time to head to the beach!