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Mexican Real Estate / Not what you think it will be!

1 Mexico Review updated:

There are many programs, articles, advertisements that promote buying real estate i Mexico, especially Baja. I watched one of these on CBS, because it was a reputable network, I believed it. They presented happy people who found their dream homes in Baja. I went down there and found a nightmare. I bought a home in 2004 and here it is, 2007, and it has not been started yet. This was with a large developer. My real estate company, Coldwell Banker, just south of Rosarito Beach, helped put the deal together. They tried to keep my refundable deposit after I put down the down payment with the developer. Coldwell Banker said the developer said I could to pay commissions. There was nothing in the contract about that. Then I was told one lie after another about when the house would be built. I have met others with the same problem with my developer, Frisas Group. I have met others with similar issues with other developers. Americans need to know, there are no requirements to be a real estate agent in Baja Mexico. They are not subject to building codes and inspections. And, research the meaning and history of the word manana. It does not really mean tomorrow in the same way tomorrow is used in the United States. It has a loose meaning. Unless they say punto manana, it can be anytime. Thus, the attitude about deadlines. Mexicans don't think they are breaking their word when the don't deliver something when they say they will. Just be careful. The United States State Department has a warning about buying real estate in Mexico. Go to their site and read it. They suggest taking a lot of time before entering into a contract, using a Mexican attorney, and making sure titles are secure. The Mexicans have just begun using title insurance companies. They don't in all cases. Don't do this unless you can afford to lose the money you spend. I wish this warning had been online when I researched. I hope this helps save others the heartache I am in.

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  • Ja
      9th of Jul, 2007
    0 Votes

    I agree unfortunately wiht he above statements. I have been living in Baja Sur for close to 20 years and have seen many irrefutable property deals made. I fact as a business consultant I had been asked so much to help repair problems I decided to be pro active and help people purchase properties by helping take the "surprise" out of the deal.

    It is true that there are no licenses to sell real estate at this time. I will say that with my experiences down here that many of the agents are not crooks they just don't speak the language and worse don't know the laws of Mexico. Even with the larger International realtor's there is no guarantee that you will not have problems. I have a few recommendations that I believe can help people avoid some of the more common problems.

    First work whit a Realtor or agent that has some experience of living and doing business in Baja. It takes some years and deals to even to begin to know all the ins and outs of real estate transactions. Ask for references!

    Secondly check to be sure the developments you are looking at are being developed wiht some one with experience actually in Baja. I say this because the laws and enforcement of these laws is different in the Frontera ( Baja Norte and Baja Sur) than in other parts of the country. Ask for a history, qualifications and references from any developers and or contractors that will building for you.

    Thirdly make use of the American Title insurance and escrow companies in almost all cases. Make sure that if there is construction to be down that your money remains in escrow until certain steps are completed. For example after the foundation is done the contractor should receive the next payment for walls for example and then for the roof. Do not allow them access to all of your funds until completed and you approve of the product.

    These are just a few of many ways to help protect yourself in a very fast moving market with great opportunities but unfortunately a lot of pitfalls to avoid. Please read my webzine at for articles concerning real estate all over Baja as well as vist my site for more information and a few professionals that may be able to assist you in making a safe investment in Baja California Mexico.

  • Ke
      19th of Jul, 2007
    0 Votes

    Well, it is avoiding the pitfalls that I am worried about. To me it is not worth it. I read in complaints about Baja real estate that the crime is scary and the police are the criminals. Low property taxes get you no services, and without good police protection what do you have? It sounds like the politics are anarchy too. I don't want to spend my retirement years looking over my shoulder. I have decided not to think about Mexico anymore.

  • Ke
      22nd of Jul, 2007
    0 Votes
    Mexican Real Estate - Realtors don't tell about warnings

    The United States State Department warnings on how to go about buying property or timeshares in Mexico are not disclosed by realtors and sales personell. It is kept a secret. Don't listen to anyone who tells you they can do it any other way. The only safe way is to hire a reputable Mexican Attorney. If you can't do that it is important to only risk money you can live without, because it is like putting it on a craps table in Vegas.

  • La
      20th of Jan, 2008
    0 Votes

    Here is something from an article about Mexican Real estate in the Sonora area. Do you really want this kind of problem?:

    In fact, many Americans who invested near here in a nearly 12-square-mile area called North Beach adhered to expert advice. Yet after paying millions of dollars, their homes and condos were not built, most title papers were denied and refunds were refused. The investors, mostly Arizonans, have complained to the Arizona Department of Real Estate, Arizona's governor and the state's U.S. senators, but the issues are still unresolved. O'Farrill is legal counsel for several of the biggest buyers.

    Amid years of litigation, the lawyer's role in North Beach is ubiquitous: O'Farrill and Associates, with law offices in Phoenix and Puerto Peñasco, has an interest in one North Beach project and is legal counsel for two others, having negotiated land purchases from the master developer. O'Farrill acted as attorney for one group of Americans, as mediator for another and as escrow agent for others.

    Some Arizonans credit him with obtaining land title for seaside homes in the face of possible eviction.

    "He saved our properties," said Al Schwartz of Payson, who headed a U.S. homeowner group in one dispute.

    "We got our bank trusts through Raul O'Farrill," said Tim Gump of Mesa, who headed legal efforts for another group of American investors.

    In three Arizona Bar complaints, however, other state residents allege that O'Farrill concealed his multiple roles in North Beach to gain a financial advantage, a violation of legal ethics. "It is perfectly clear that Mr. O'Farrill was acting in a double role, which is unethical . . . due to the conflict of interest," says a statement filed with the Bar by investor Jeffery Allen of Tucson.

    Maret Vessella, deputy chief Bar counsel, said all three complaints were reviewed and dismissed because there was "insufficient evidence to prove that this lawyer violated any of the (ethical) rules."

    O'Farrill denied any conflicts and said he was accused unfairly after trying to resolve legal nightmares for American consumers. "I will tell you what is going on. I'm a dreamer," he explained. "I'm proud of what I did . . . I have been helping a lot of people to get their (property) titles.

    "The only thing I want is a clean practice of the real-estate business in Mexico, an honest development in this town."

    O'Farrill set up his Rocky Point office during the late 1990s with ambitions to build a law practice in a growth area. The fishing village had become a boomtown thanks to U.S. buyers.

    O'Farrill also established offices in Arizona and California as a specialist in helping U.S. clients acquire property in Mexico. He authored an Arizona Department of Real Estate guide to safe investing in Mexico. He became the first non-U.S. citizen designated by the Arizona Supreme Court as a "foreign legal consultant," authorized to practice Mexican law in the state.

    In addition to those credentials, O'Farrill is:

    • A member of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, appointed by Govs. Jane Hull and Janet Napolitano. (O'Farrill has served on the agency's Real Estate Ad Hoc Committee and was recommended by the commission to American investors as a mediator in one North Beach land dispute.)

    • President of OPT Trust, the first U.S.-based company to offer title processing for Mexican real estate.

    • Legal counsel for the Mexican consulate in Phoenix and the Arizona Department of Tourism in Mexico.

    • Co-founder of a professional organization for real-estate agents in Sonora.

    The positions have placed O'Farrill in a network of top officials on both sides of the border. The Valley resident said his services reflect "the loyalty and love I have for the Arizona people."

    The Bar complaints focus on his dealings south of the border.

    One example involves a subsection of oceanfront at North Beach known as Playa Dorada, where scores of Americans acquired land and built homes. When legal title to the property came under question several years ago, the Americans hired a Mexican lawyer and sued. O'Farrill entered the dispute as a designated mediator between U.S. lot owners and Juan Luis Martin Sr., head of Playa Norte Development, the company building a master-planned community.

    The Americans eventually received bank trust papers, although some lots were reduced in size. One Arizonan in the group, Douglas Adams, worked out a side deal to acquire additional land from Playa Norte, which he would develop. O'Farrill became a part owner of Adams' company, and his law firm represented the company.

    O'Farrill is counsel for two other American North Beach condominium projects known as Playa Azul and Riviera Real. His firm helped negotiate land purchases on their behalf from Martin.

    Finally, O'Farrill became involved in a dispute involving U.S. investors in North Beach residential projects, identified as Las Gardenias, Kasitas and Peñasco Country Club. The projects were being developed by Martin's firm, Playa Norte. Maddy Israel of Phoenix, who formed the buyers' group, wrote in a Bar complaint that O'Farrill acted as mediator even though he had represented Martin and was involved in Adams' project, which had business ties to Martin.

    She provided to the Bar a 2005 e-mail from Martin declaring that Peñasco Country Club appointed O'Farrill and Associates as legal counsel. She also obtained later correspondence from a Playa Norte representative declaring that the company "will no longer be represented by the O'Farrill and Associates law firm."

    In interviews, correspondence and through his Bar complaint lawyer, O'Farrill denied ever representing Martin in any capacity.

    He also said he merely looked into the possibility of mediating between Israel's group and Playa Norte but backed away after realizing the dispute was hopeless due to litigation in Mexican courts.

    O'Farrill and his attorney said misunderstandings arose from translation problems as well as nuances in Mexican law and real-estate practices.

    Bar investigators found no grounds to initiate formal proceedings but advised O'Farrill to avoid confusion when acting as a mediator.

    O'Farrill said Mexican lawsuits that have blocked development at North Beach are full of "mysteries," adding, "I think everybody is a victim there. Who will win in that litigation? I can tell you no one."

    Reach the reporter at or 602-444-8874.

  • Ja
      14th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Not only are time shares a scam in Mexico, so is buying property there. The real estate agents do not require any training, skills or certificate; nor do they belong to a board to make them accountable. The buyer (especially if Mexican) can do, change his mind on anything even after the papers are signed.
    I would strongly advise Americans, Canadians, and Europeans to spend their money where there are no deals with the devil.

  • Ho
      18th of Feb, 2012
    0 Votes

    Who will win, O'farrill and his band of banditos. They have the North Beach investors money, so they won, RIGHT! O'farrill has just made off with another, more that $1, 000, 000 of American homeowners money in a development called Miramar. O'farrill is also connected with a number of other companies, including Coldwell Banker in Cancun, so watch out ... do your homework and be VERY SKEPTICAL. If it not rock solid, its not worth the risk, you will be O'farrill's and all of his ilk's next pigeon.

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