So, if I buy a property in Mexico, do I own it?
In short you will either own the property or the rights to the property as the beneficiary of a trust held by the Mexican government. Let's dig into each of the two main scenarios below.
Scenario 1: Purchasing property in the restricted zone
If you are purchasing real estate within 100 kms of an internation border OR within 50 kms of the ocean coast line this is designated as the "restricted zone" and thus you must use what is known as a fideicomiso. The use of a fideicomiso was proposed by the Mexican government in 1971 as part of a new foreign investment policy that became law in 1973 and is a long term bank trust that is irrevocable. Fidelcomiso are issued by Mexican fiduciary banks that then hold the title to the property and give the rights to own, occupy, renovate, sell, gift or leave to your beneficiaries as part of your legal will. Now it's important to note that the fideicomiso is not a lease, but rather a renewable trust that is held in 50 year increments by the Mexican government. In order to navigate this process, it’s best to use a well established and experienced legal office in Mexico that is able to provide documentation in both Spanish and English to avoid any confusion.
Scenario 2: Purchasing property outside of the restricted zone
If you are purchasing property that is not in the restricted zone, you can own the deed/title of the property directly. You still need to work with a Mexican notary and legal representative to work through the purchase process however much the same as in many other countries.