Mexican Law provides for private ownership of land by foreigners, and its law is very specific about the way in which land rights should be transferred from seller to buyer, and also what type of lands are not eligible for public ownership. A Notary Public (see below) will guide you through the details of these, but generally:
• Property may be purchased and owned outright for residential use by foreign nationals outside of the 100km restricted land border zone, or outside of the 50km coastal zone;
• Inside of the restricted border/coastal zones, foreign nationals may own land through a fidecomiso (a trust) which is set up through a bank and provides for ownership of the land and property in all but name.
The Mexican Constitution previously banned foreign nationals from owning property that was within the restricted border zones. This old law was intended to protect Mexican soil from foreign invasion.
Fideicomiso: Land Trusts
Because the Constitution cannot be altered in this respect, the Government introduced a system of land trusts, so that foreign nationals could invest in property inside of the ‘restricted’ zones. So now, if you as a foreigner want to buy a dream home with a Pacific beach view, you can, except that it will be by means of a trust, set up through one of the main banks in Mexico.
The trust holds the deeds to the property, and you and/or other named persons which you specify are sole beneficiaries to the trust (and therefore, the property). You have full rights to do whatever you like with your property: it can be developed (in accordance with local planning regulations), rented, leased, sold, or given away. In other words, you own the property in all but name.
The trust enables you to name a beneficiary upon your death, and you do not need to have a Mexican Will in order for your wishes in regard to the trust to be executed. You do not have to be resident in Mexico to own property here, so there is no need to qualify for resident status under immigration laws in order to have a property investment in Mexico.
Mexican Law on property ownership is comprehensive and provides protection for the seller and the buyer in all property transactions, provided that the law is followed, and you ensure that all necessary documentation is present and that the procedures are adhered to. Your Notary Public is an important person in this process, and he/she will guide you.