09/13/2018 – Forbes
When Dave Harmon recently finalized the purchase of a home in Mexico, what had previously seemed like an impossible dream became his life-changing reality — but it took a year to get there.
It all started with a summer spent studying Spanish in the small colonial city of Guanajuato, Mexico. Harmon was instantly smitten with Guanajuato and found himself going back regularly, imagining what it would be like to live there. In his mind, the ideal spot would be in the historic center, close to the central plaza and the city’s main university with a view of the mountains. At first, that seemed like an impossibility, but after dabbling in real estate in his home town of Austin, Texas, the intimidation factor dissolved away. As soon as Harmon found a house in that perfect spot that would one day become his, things really became interesting.
Harmon says that purchasing a house in another country requires a steep learning curve and is not at all like buying a home in the U.S., where escrow, insurance and backout provisions are taken for granted. Instead, as is common in many parts of the world, Mexican home property purchases are typically all cash. For a non-citizen, that’s often because it is difficult to get financing from a local bank. In the end, it seemed the easiest part was finding the property in the desired location. The hardest part was negotiating a real-estate deal with the 29 family members who owned a piece of the property. With help from a local notary (in Mexico, notaries are licensed attorneys who also perform the functions of U.S. title companies), Harmon navigated the twists and turns of what became a very complex process.