Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Should you buy or build your new home in Mexico?

What are the experiences of expats and Mexicans who buy or construct their dream homes in Mexico?

The creativity and skill of Mexican craftsmen are highly valued and considered a major advantage of purchasing or constructing in Mexico. Brigham Golden, a designer, builder and real estate professional at San Miguel Sotheby’s International Real Estate, explained why you should choose Mexico if you are considering building. “There are highly skilled craftsmen in Mexico,” he said. “Building is incredibly fulfilling here because you have the freedom to bring your vision to life more easily than in the U.S.”

Building a home in Mexico makes it possible to design the home of your dreams and combine modern comfort with traditional character. (San Miguel Sotheby’s International)

There are also several cost advantages to purchasing or constructing a property in Mexico compared to the U.S., including lower property taxes and reduced maintenance expenses, notes interior designer Jeffry Weisman, who owns five homes in Mexico.

If you are considering purchasing or constructing a property in Mexico, the pros and cons shared by real buyers and builders can offer valuable insights to help you make informed decisions. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of building or buying a home, with insights from industry experts and the personal experiences of buyers and builders in cities across Mexico.

 We hope these considerations will assist you in making well-informed choices!

Pros of building a home in Mexico 

To get an idea of the experiences of buyers and builders, we polled expats across Mexico. Based on the feedback from our respondents, building a home stands out as the preferred option. “If your builder is reliable, constructing can be more cost-effective than buying,” said architect Nicolás Orozco, a Guadalajara real estate expert with 25 years of construction experience and director of DIO Architecture.

“You can have the assurance of receiving the quality you are paying for, along with a personalized design that caters to your specific needs. Furthermore, the experience can be quite enjoyable as it feels like acquiring something new: You can actively participate and relish the process from design to construction, with the ability to select the finer details.”

Building a property gives you the freedom to design the house you want to live in, rather than adapting someone else’s vision. (Esrawe Studio)

Filmmaker Helena Kutter constructed a house in Tepoztlán, Morelos, and has also acquired an existing property in Mexico City. “The significant benefit of building is the freedom to design the house according to your preferences, and creating a home that reflects your personal style is truly inspiring,” she explained.

Golden: “Building smart is best in terms of cost: You get the most value, you get what you want.”

Zoë Siegel, an artist and architect, has constructed 19 houses in San Miguel de Allende.  “Building is a fantastic process as it allows you to create and customize the house of your dreams,” she said. “Additionally, you can integrate ecological systems and features such as optimizing the natural light within the house.”

Cons of home-building Mexico 

Though our sources preferred building from scratch, construction also has its drawbacks. The disadvantages are primarily linked to the time investment required and the need to secure a reputable agency to support your project.

Siegel: “If you lack a trusted individual to oversee the construction, you may encounter significant issues with permits, for instance.”

Constructing a home can be immensely rewarding, but it involves a greater level of effort. It is a more challenging process compared to purchasing a property, as there is a possibility of making design errors or altering your preferences midway through the project.

Golden: “If you do not meticulously select your vendors and materials, there is a risk involved.” 

Orozco: “I have constructed homes for expats residing in Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta, who divide their time between Mexico and another location. In such cases, overseeing the construction can be quite challenging. Another drawback is the significant time and energy investment required to manage the project effectively.”

Advantages of buying real estate in Mexico

There are plenty of avant-garde modern homes available in Mexico if you wish to buy directly. (DIO).

One of the most thrilling aspects of purchasing your dream property is the speed with which you can take ownership. Our interviewees confirmed that for them, this immediacy was a key benefit of buying a house rather than building one.

Orozco: “It can be simpler to arrive, fall in love with an already built property, and make the purchase, especially if you do not reside in Mexico throughout the year. This approach can also save you time.”

Weisman: “For Americans, the cost is notably lower compared to the U.S. Another advantage of buying a property is the clarity in knowing the exact amount of money you are investing.”

Siegel highlights the advantage of having certainty about new installations such as plumbing and electricity.

Kutter believes that buying is more energy-efficient and provides a clear understanding of the house’s cost, which is a positive aspect.

Cons of buying real estate in Mexico

For the detail oriented, buying real estate also has its drawbacks.

Golden: “Your home reflects someone else’s vision.”

Orozco: “Developers and builders have higher profit margins, leading to increased purchase costs. Additionally, there is uncertainty regarding the quality of the properties as many aspects are hidden. You must rely on the information provided about the installations and the structural integrity. Moreover, you may need to adjust to the space, as it may not align perfectly with your preferences.”

Final tips when it comes to buying or building a property in Mexico 

Weisman: It is important to verify the total cost of the property (including taxes) with your agency. Create a Mexican will, as an American wills hold no legal value in Mexico. “The absence of a Mexican will could result in the property being claimed by the Mexican government in the event of your passing.” 

Golden: Spend time studying and comprehending the market, even when presented with a favorable opportunity. Prior to commencing the project, it is advisable to explore various options and make informed decisions. Conduct thorough research on the neighborhood, engage in conversations with residents and seek recommendations from previous clients of your agency.

Siegel: There is a fundamental responsibility to incorporate a rainwater collection system and promote self-sustainability in construction.

If you are going to build, know that it will probably take longer than planned. A point upon which everyone agrees is the importance of choosing a professional and experienced agency. Following the recommendations of experienced professionals and reading reviews can also help you to make the right choice.

Ana Paula de la Torre is a Mexican journalist and contributor for Milenio, Animal Político, Vice, Newsweek en Español, Televisa and Mexico News Daily. 


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