Everything you need to know about buying and selling real estate in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, and the Banderas Bay region

How Mexico Compares to US & Canada

Buying Pre-Construction: Cash vs Mortgage

Thinking of buying a pre-construction condo in Puerto Vallarta or Riviera Nayarit? As Mexico real estate is largely a cash market, here’s what you should know about the financing of new development projects in Mexico as compared to the US and Canada.

USA and Canada: Mortgage Characteristics

A developer borrows money based on conditions of the lender. Feasibility or viability of the project is based on data: sales prices, sizes, number of bedrooms, features. Lenders can also require other data such as absorptions of similar properties, what amount of inventory is for sale.  Will the project come on stream at the time it can be sold and absorbed?  Will the projections of sales pay for the mortgage and interest? Will there be profit for the seller after he pays all costs?


The permits and requirements will determine within a range what can be built and if it matches the project goals of the developer and his team.

The foundation, construction, finish-out and use of the land will be under the approval and jurisdiction of health, safety, lender underwriting, as well as construction requirements and in some cases many other state and federal laws. For example, making properties handicapped accessible may be required.


The plan “as approved” and “as defined legally” will create a binding and legal entity. This entity cannot be changed easily and must be in compliance with city codes or face the risk of being shut down.


The project will also be affected by forces out of its control. This includes natural disasters, monetary problems of the country where it is being built, financial stability of the buyers’ income, as well as the financial and security climate of the area and the reputation of the country.


Is a process to take over a project which is in trouble and to finish it if needed (from insurance pay-out and more financing). The Canadian and USA business system for foreclosure involves many private and public entities who together work to finish the project and determine a course of action to sell the property, with low interest mortgages if necessary, in order to take the property “off the books”.


The lender and the government have the ability to hold inventory off the market and release properties for sale over a period of time, so not as to flood the market and forced prices lower. This gradual release brings some stability to the market. 

Mexico: Cash and Mortgage Market 

Recent sources of money in this market have included private investment funds and bank loans for a percentage of new projects.  At this moment, the majority of new construction of condos are bought for cash (from the buyers) and the developer is building with these funds.  If there is no lender involved, there will be fewer professionals who have used due diligence to determine the viability of the project and the experience as well as financial strength of the developer builder. This leaves the buyer the responsibility to conduct due diligence on his own. A good agent and attorney as your team, is highly recommended.


The project will be permitted by the city or municipality. Developers may request deviation from building requirements, if there are other examples of what they want to do in that neighborhood. The developer may appeal to the municipality for a permit to be bigger or taller if the site even if If affects the views of persons above the project.


In Jalisco, the condo regime which establishes the legal entity, is done after construction is completed and an occupancy permit is granted. In Nayarit, the condo regime or legal entity has to be established in order to obtain the building permit.


The project will also be affected by forces out of its control. It will be affected by the ability and decision of the developer to provide funds sufficient to finish the project for the buyers, who have become investors. Natural disasters, security, world economics can affect the demand for the development. During this Pandemic, developers have for the most part continued or have start new projects. Caution is advised.

Vet the builder and the real estate agent you choose. The listing office or agent represents the seller, and in this case, you should have a buyer agent, if you establish that they have the experience to know how to protect your interests. And your local bilingual attorney here, should be able to evaluate the developer’s purchase contract, and make sure you have rights stated in the developer contract.

Differences in the Mexican pesos versus the US dollar or Canadian dollar historically have given the developer many pesos to pay for construction (and to have a cushion against cost overruns or delays).

Currently, in order to offer more people the chance to buy, prices may be in pesos, typically at a fixed rate designed to give the buyer a discount, And there is another incentive for the buyer to cash foreign currency and have a surplus of pesos to help pay for closing costs. Some developers are offering 20-21-22 pesos to the USD. If the exchange rate gives you 23-24 pesos, you have a surplus to use for buyer closing costs. Or resales of homes or condos may be fixed in pesos.


If there is no loan on the property, there will be no foreclosure. The project will need funds of the developer or additional funds from some source in order to be completed. This will be the problem. If a project is shut down by authorities for irregularities, it may be delayed or never finished.  There is no precedent for the city or state to become involved in the condition of an unfinished property, even if it is unsafe or deteriorating. This will be a case of lawyers and working to represent their clients. If you have paid directly to the developer, and he will not return your money, does your contract give you recourse?

It is interesting to note that we have current products because of Mexican developers. They have come into the market and built without using the American and Canadian process to establish there is a need for new product. This may also be the case, if no third-party lender is involved.





Puerto Vallarta Real Estate Blog published every week
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This article is based upon Flex MLS reporting, legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller of Mexican real estate conduct his own due diligence and review. If you have any other questions, contact me through my website.

Harriet Murray



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