The "Gunslinger Days" of buying property in Mexico are over, having given way to U.S. Title Insurance and bonded escrow accounts. During the last ten years, property in Mexico has become a lucrative and viable investment strategy, bringing with it a new breed of sophisticated investors. U.S. title insurance, bonded escrow accounts and comprehensive title searches are the norm, making owning property in Mexico easier and safer than ever. US-based mortgage conduits are entering the marketplace allowing Americans to leverage the substantial equity found in their primary US residence to collateralize the purchase of a second home in Mexico. Today, there are established and well defined rules regarding non-Mexicans owning land in Mexico, put in place to protect foreign ownership rights and to promote the sale of real estate to foreign investors.

The key is a safe, established and perpetually renewable Mexican Property Trust called a "Fideicomiso". With the advent of the North American Treaty Agreement, the Mexican government recognized that it was critical to make foreign investment in Mexico safer and easier than ever. Because the Mexican constitution prohibits foreigners from purchasing or owning real estate within 60 miles of an international border or within 30 miles of the Mexican Coast, a new, safe method of holding title was created. This new instrument, modeled after the one in Monaco, allows ownership through a Mexican Property Trust, called a "Fideicomiso".

This is a trust agreement, much like an estate trust, giving the buyer all the rights of ownership. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City issues a permit to a Mexican Bank of your choice, allowing the bank to act as purchaser for the property. This is not an asset of the bank. The bank acts as the "Trustee" for the Trust. A Fideicomiso is not to be confused with a "land lease”. The property you buy is placed in a trust with you named as the Beneficiary of the Trust - you are not a lessee. If the property you purchase is already held in a Trust, you have the option of assuming that Trust, or having the property vested in a new Trust. Much like Living Wills or Estate Trusts in the U.S., the Mexican Bank, or Trustee, takes instructions only from the Beneficiary of the Trust (you). The Beneficiary has all the rights of a property owner in the U.S. or Canada, which include the following:

• To use, occupy and possess the property.
• To build on the property or otherwise improve it.
• To rent the property.
• To sell the property (by instructing the Trustee to transfer the rights to another qualified owner).
• To bequeath the property to an inheritor.
The initial term of the trust is 50 years, and it can be renewed for additional periods of 50 years indefinitely, providing for long-term control of the asset.

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