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 Mexico Real Estate - News Articles & Stories

-Lone Star baby boomers thinking of Mexico for retirement home (3/1/2009) - Dallas Morning News
By Alfredo Corchado

NUEVO VALLARTA, Mexico – They might not seem like revolutionary types, with their Hawaiian shirts and cellphones, but real estate experts Don Hearn and Maurice M. Glazer are plotting to transform Mexico – at least in the eyes of their American customers.

They polish their strategy at gatherings of real estate agents in tourist-friendly states like Nayarit and Jalisco, assigning them a mission to entice Americans, young and old, rich and middle class, to buy a piece of paradise in Mexico.

"Look around you," said Glazer, 68, an international tax expert with Dallas-based Glazer Financial Network. "This is a beautiful country, with friendly, warm people. The potential is enormous. You're looking at the remaking of Mexico."

To be sure, the U.S. mortgage crisis is slowing property sales to Americans in Mexico, too. Some construction projects have come to a halt. And the ongoing drug violence – more than 6,200 people killed last year – is making many Americans think twice about Mexico's stability.

But long term, Hearns insists, "Texans and Americans will head south."

With 78 million American baby boomers racing toward retirement, Mexican and American investors are betting that in the coming years tens of thousands of them will look at Mexico as a potential home.

In the coming months, Glazer plans to conduct at least eight seminars with physicians in Texas, including two in Dallas, on how to make the move and live in Mexico.

Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan, expects the trend to continue.

"You'll see that more and more of these baby boomers will see Mexico as an attractive place to retire simply because their dollars will go further," he said during a talk at Harvard last week.

Already, more than 2 million Americans own property in Mexico, with an estimated 1 million of them living there permanently, said Suzan Haskins, Latin American editorial director of International Living magazine. And many are Texans.

"Texans have such an affinity for Mexico because of history and geography," she said. They feel very comfortable."

One concern is the safety of investments, acknowledged Mexican Tourism Minister Rodolfo Elizondo.

Elizondo and his supporters favor amending Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which would allow foreigners to own any Mexican property outright. Currently, foreigners must use a renewable bank trust fund, or fideocomiso, which limits ownership to 50 years for property within 60 miles of the border or 30 miles of a coastline. Elizondo believes direct ownership would lead to more foreign investment in Mexico.

Most Americans comply with the law and buy their properties under these renewable bank trusts. But in some cases Americans have been scammed by sellers with fake property documents. In Baja California, a group of Americans lost their properties after the previous title to the land became the subject of a court dispute.

To help foreign homebuyers, several American companies now sell title insurance in Mexico, thanks to the help of experts such as Chris Snell in San José del Cabo.

"Some Americans tend to leave their common sense behind once they cross the border," Snell said. "Investing in Mexico, buying real estate in Mexico, can be a safe investment if and when they do due diligence."

Despite the risks, the run for the border is on. The American presence is increasingly felt along the Pacific Coast, Caribbean beaches, the Sea of Cortez and old standbys like San Miguel de Allende.

"There was a time when you didn't see that many cars here," said Fred .L. Feibel, a real estate agent in the resort town of San Francisco, known as San Pancho, in Nayarit state. "Now, look around, just about everyone is driving a truck or car. What happened? Americans are moving to Mexico, and the economic trickle effect is evident. More jobs, more opportunities for everyone."

San Antonio native Leslie Kale makes a living as a movie set decorator in Hollywood, but she is extending her business reach by decorating chic hotels in Baja California. The Spanish she grew up with in Texas and her knowledge of Mexican culture have been a plus, she said.

"Mexico is definitely hip, and I just love the endless possibilities here," she said.

Dallas native Sean Moore, a former bar owner and hotel manager, came to Mexico in 1997 looking for a change in pace. Today, at age 48, Moore said has no regrets. He writes mortgages and plays guitar at bars in Puerto Vallarta.

His mother, Jan Moore, 82, also moved and saw the buying power of her retirement check increase by 35 percent because of the ongoing peso devaluation. While the economic slowdown in the United States has also slowed the economy in Mexico, Sean Moore is hopeful the effects won't last long.

"In the end it's still cheaper for Americans to move and live in Mexico than it will be in Arizona or Florida. Mexico is still considered a bargain."

Homes may range from $50,000 in places like Xalapa and Merida to $200,000 and beyond in San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala. Coastal villas can carry a $5 million to $10 million price tag.

More than a decade ago, Nancy Edwards of Dallas decided to retire young in Cozumel. She soon grew restless and eventually created her own real estate company, Cozumel Living Real Estate.

"Sometimes I look outside and I say to myself, 'I'm a long ways from Dallas.' " said Edwards, 59. "I had come here to retire, but I found that Mexico is full of promise."

In Cabo San Lucas, a popular destination for Texans because of direct flights from D/FW, homebuilder Juan Mucino Labastida is experiencing the fallout of the U.S. economic slowdown. Condo and home projects are on hold.

But Mucino expects the influx of Americans to continue.

"I envision two societies working side by side," he said, "working out their differences as time goes by."

Mexico Bureau chief Alfredo Corchado is currently a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

© 2009 - Mexico Real Estate Directory