Building techniques are very different in Mexico. Whether buying, renting or building here are some considerations based on our experience renovating and building. If seeking an excellent, bilingual team consisting of architects, engineer, contractor for renovations and building anything from casitas, modest homes, apartments, offices and luxury properties please contact me. We have had excellent experience with this team and they are available throughout central Mexico. Paying well over $100 per square foot for a home to be built is not required. That home above with central vacuum, 10 solar electric panels, double pane windows, quartz counter tops, solar hot water, porcelain tiles, roof, with rubber membrane, fireplace, concrete block walls, wiring and plumbing to Canadian standards, cantilever stairs, and numerous other upgrades was under $100 sq ft.
First lesson is buyer beware for issues such as: expats are all considered wealthy and the cost of labor and materials can be the Mexican price or the expat price; plumbing often lacks traps meaning an odor emanates from drains. Water supply lines are usually 1/2" whereas 3/4" for main lines is better; limited vents on plumbing systems means showers etc drain slowly; electrical wiring is not what is the code in Canada and the US, eg receptacles may be cheap and pull apart, color of wire does not mean black is hot, white is neutral and green is ground; wiring is #12 and breakers 20 amp but appliances and receptacles are only rated for 15 amps. The proper receptacle for a home with 20 amp breakers is the one shown with a "T". You may never see these in Mexico. Fifteen amp rated receptacles are the proper ones.
Wiring should be #14, breakers 15 amps and lots of circuits with ground fault receptacles in wet areas. Normally electrical connections consist of twisted wires and electrical tape where as proper connectors called marettes is what should be used.
Spend a little extra and purchase vinyl or aluminum windows and doors with proper screens. Double pane widows are rare and rather common are windows with glass held in with silicone. With proper windows and doors your house will have less dust, require less heat or air conditioning and your home will be more comfortable.
Leaking roofs are not uncommon including on new homes. Sometimes mold may be found. The proper way to seal a nearly flat roof or a boveda roof is called "torch down" method. In this application a type of rubber is rolled out and applied with a torch to bond this membrane to your roof.
A common construction material is small red bricks manufactured with no standards and often containing manure. Beams made from concrete vs steel are used over large window openings. Re-bar in concrete is often too small to provide the required strength. Consider 10' ceilings vs 8'.
In many parts of Mexico nights are very cool and this can last for 3 months. Often homes are adjoining other homes meaning few windows to let in the heat from the sun. If your heat source is a fireplace or open flame propane heaters they lack efficiency and create a safety issue with carbon monoxide. Consider an efficient, vented, propane wall furnace such as those made by Rinnai and Empire.
If a major project or building whole home, rent or buy a cement mixer as you will obtain a more even and stronger mix vs workers mixing on the ground and you save workers' backs. Workers never wear hard hats, safety glasses or back braces, etc.
Please obtain a building permit!
When looking at existing homes do not be impressed by granite or marble but look beyond as those materials are relatively inexpensive. If you wish to tile an existing concrete floor very likely it requires levelling and therefor a jack hammer to "etch" existing concrete, creating a major mess. Concrete is not a good bonding agent for floor tiles. "Pega Piso" is the proper material. Be sure steel beams are used above patio doors and large window openings. It is more common to see a concrete beam with under sized rebar made in location and later cracks appear with the home's structural integrity seriously at risk.
Labor while much cheaper than one pays outside of Mexico is not as cheap as it appears as they lack "productivity" tools and often do everything by hand including mixing concrete. And, due to amazing weather a smaller house will suffice. A very nice home may be built for $50 to $60 a sq foot plus land.
These issues are common even in more expensive homes. There are no apprenticeships, no formal training and no and 93% of Mexican municipalities have no construction regulations.
Architects and engineers should both be retained when designing and building. To prove their credentials ask for their cedula number which is a designation for all professionals including doctors, lawyers, notario's etc.
Pesos Payment and Rental Receipts
Pesos are the only legal currency in Mexico. If your rent contract is in USD, your landlord must accept payment in pesos at the exchange rate posted daily in the Official Journal of the Federation (Diario Oficial de la Federación) found by clicking the green button. It is illegal not to accept pesos in payment anywhere in Mexico.
Taxation For Landlords / Tenants
Your landlord must give you a fiscal receipt or invoice in exchange for the rental payment. A fiscal receipt must show the landlord's full name, fiscal domicile, RFC, the rental property address, your RFC (if you have one, otherwise the generic RFC for "Sales to the General Foreign Public" XEXX010101000 must be used), the rent amount, the period covered by that payment and, if a furnished dwelling, the IVA tax must be disclosed, and the receipt must be duly authorized by the SAT; otherwise it is not a valid fiscal receipt and may mean that the landlord is committing tax fraud, money laundering and other crimes. A tourist can not legally be a landlord.
Many landlords would tell you that, if they give you a receipt meeting all fiscal requirements, they will charge you IVA tax above and beyond the rent; of course. They are mistaken. For furnished rentals, IVA tax MUST be included in the agreed upon rent, by law. Any landlord attempting to add a second IVA tax to the rent may be subject to fiscal and criminal penalties, if reported or otherwise discovered, above and beyond the criminal penalties applicable for the fraud committed against the tenant.When a tenant pays rent to a foreigner not residing in Mexico.
HOW DO FOREIGN RESIDENTS PAY TAXES?
Foreign residents (not residing in Mexico) who are landlords etc. subject to tax payment in Mexico generally fulfilll this obligation when the person (tenant, etc) who pays them withholds the tax and pays it to the Tax Administration Service (Servicio de Administración Tributaria).
Residents in Mexico, or foreign residents with a permanent establishment in Mexico, and who pay foreign residents, are compelled to withhold the tax. When the rent is paid to a trust company / property manager, the fiduciary institution must issue the receipts, withhold and pay the corresponding tax. The tax is 25% that tenant must withhold by law.
The person who withholds the tax must pay monthly, at the latest on the 17th day of the following month to that in which withholding was carried out. If a fiduciary they must pay by 15th of the following month. Payment shall be made through the Internet or at a banking window, according to the person's obligation.
It is required to terminate employees, be they full or part-time, when selling a home. Otherwise, the buyer has obligations to any employee who is later terminated back to originate date of employment. A good real estate agent and notario should always raise this issue. The same may be true when renting if the employee/s continue from last tenant.
Capital Gain is the term expats use when selling a house. In Mexico it is not really capital gains as the tax is not based simply on purchase vs. selling price. There are several variables. The only legal representative who may process selling and buying property and "capital gain" is a Notario. Talk to a Notario prior to buying or selling. If you only have a tourist card you will pay approx. 30% tax in selling a property. You must be either a Temporary or Permanent Resident (TR / PR) to reduce your selling tax. You must also be selling a principal residence and it must have been so for at least 3 years. The tax exemption for a TR or PR is approximately 4,200,000 pesos. If two people are on title and both are a temporary or permanent resident or citizen the exemption is double; if 3 people on title, other than a tourist, the exemption is triple. This rises slightly each year. The buyer selects the notario but the seller may also have their own or have the buyer's notario represent you. Previously, some buyers recorded a lower purchase price to reduce property tax. If you are buying a home that was recorded to have been bought in say 2007 for considerably less than the true purchase price this may significantly affect what may be the taxes when you sell. Again, make sure your notario checks this aspect. In Mexico, it is all buyer beware. Real estate agents and brokers usually have minimal training and I personally would not rely on them to protect your interests from legal, construction issues, zoning or any other aspect.
RFC number refers to Registro Federal de Contribuyentes (RFC). In Mexico, a legal entity, such as a company or a person, is assigned a tax identification number according to two types.This tax identification type can be applied to companies and to people. An RFC number for a company is 12 characters, while an RFC number for a person is 13 characters.
The RFC number for natural persons is 13 characters long. The first four letters are taken from the person' s name, followed by their date of birth (YYMMDD), then three letters chosen at random. An example would be Monique Maldonado Lemarque, MALM620202GQ1.
As of December 1, 2015, an RFC is now required for all real estate sellers and in addition that number must be on their utility bill. That means obtaining the number from SAT and then having it registered with CFE and / or TelMex so it appears on their bill to have the proper evidence for Capital Gains Tax exclusion.
Anyone who is thinking of listing a property for sale should as soon as possible obtain an RFC and have it on TelMex and CFE bills. CFE is normally billed every 2 months. TelMex is billed monthly. Once obtained and reported to utility company an RFC may appear on next bill or one after depending on timing. In other words it does not happen quickly. Therefor, timing is important.
I may quickly obtain your RFC for anyone, anywhere in Mexico who is a Temporary or Permanent Resident.
Mortgages are available with a typical rate of 8 to 12 per cent interest. More and more Mexican banks and financial institutions will lend to expats. Commission plus life and property insurance are usually a must. Mortgages may have to be paid off by the time you are in early 70's but some financial institutions have raised the age to when you are in your 80's. So one of your first questions will be at what age must my mortgage be paid off. To qualify for a mortgage, Mexican banks usually only consider your Mexican credit score and the amount you deposit into a Mexican financial institution. However, some other mortgages sources will consider your US or Canadian credit score. If a bank will not consider your foreign credit score my suggestion should you think you may want a mortgage, car loan, extra money for a medical bills etc. is to open a Mexican bank account. I cover how to open a bank account under the heading ETC. Once you have done so, obtain a charge card. Initially, the limit on your card will be low and 5000 pesos limit is not uncommon. You can have your bank automatically pay each months charges in full avoiding high interest which are typically 40 to 65% with the upper range being more common. Each month buy something on credit or buy an item with 12 payments with zero interest. When allowed, which is usually annually, increase your card's limit.
A mortgage takes many weeks to approve. There will be pages and pages of forms, all in Spanish. Typically, plan to start an application 3 months in advance.
Rentals and at times homes for sale may be found on these two web sites: Mitula and Locanto. Usually prices are "Mexican" vs sites such as VRBO or through property managers and other expats. Rentals may be found in many parts of Mexico.
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Renting / Buying
It is usually better to rent first prior to buying. If you need a referral to a trustworthy Realtor please email me and I’ll be happy to share an excellent resource. There are few building codes and restrictions. Hence, you may be in an area with a carpenter shop, metal worker, event center, retail outlet very nearby or one that can appear at any time. That little store selling soda, bread, junk food and beer may seem handy but quite possibly on a Saturday night it is a local hangout for beer drinking, crude language, loud music, etc. for which complaining may mean they will make sure you move. Children play on the street as many homes have no yard. Your front and / or garage door becomes the stop for their soccer balls and this may go on until late. Complaining may result in retaliation and your being forced to move. Fireworks may initially be a novelty as may be church bells but after some time a distraction. As noted below you are likely not familiar with Mexican building techniques and the lack of codes so while the granite may impress you the wiring, plumbing, unstable ground, poor quality of windows and doors, lack of screens and improperly mixed concrete will become a major negative. If the company representing you as a purchaser does not provide a real estate disclosure form then insist on the seller completing it before proceeding with a purchase. Sample disclosure form via the link.
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