When you’ve chosen a location in Mexico to live, there’s the matter of choosing the locality and the neighborhood, the type of home you want or need to live in, as well as working out matters like finances and the logistics of the physical move itself.
Finding and working with a well-established realty agent in the locality you intend to move to in Mexico can bridge important gaps in most people’s capabilities by providing local knowledge, logistics and project management through the transaction of a house ownership transfer.
Practical support through the transaction
Realty agents in Mexico are marketers and salespeople, and they’re also interpreters and project managers. Most realty agents serving foreign buyers are bilingual, and some are polylingual, enabling them to interface between buyers who don’t speak Spanish and helping them through the throes and legal procedures of renting, buying, or selling a property in Mexico.
Some sellers recoil at the fees agencies charge, and try to market and sell their property privately. However, the value for money realty agents provide to foreign buyers especially is substantial when you consider that:
- marketing costs are expensive;
- the project management required to manage through a property transfer transaction to completion is substantial;
- agents earn their fees only when a house is sold and there are many hours spent supporting potential buyers that never come to fruition;
- the agents are acting as representatives, interpreters, liaison, and project managers—all within a context that is oftentimes alien and confusing to most foreign buyers.
Thus, taking the time and effort to find and ally with a realty agent as an integral part of your lifestyle plans Mexico is a shrewd investment in its own right.
Realty agencies: how they’re organized and work
Unlike in the US, realty agents do not have to be licensed to operate as agents or set up an agency in in most states in Mexico.
This means that in most places anyone can set themselves up to work as a real estate representative (or “agent”) – and there are plenty of people who do, with varying levels of expertise, experience, and professionalism.
A national realty organization known as AMPI offers a code of practice and courses for realty agents and is the closest thing there is to professional certification here. Although it’s not required by law, agents who are committed to their trade and established are usually members of AMPI, and agencies will usually insist that any agents who want to associate with them are AMPI members.
While some agents work entirely independently, most are associated with at least one established agency (or brokerage) and the hierarchy of structure and responsibilities is organized more or less as follows:
An agency office (or brokerage) is a hub around which agents work, usually independently, although some might be on the agency’s payroll in addition to earning a commission on sales.
The agency provides a formal infrastructure for agents to work with including office space, as well as marketing, commercial, clerical, and legal support services—all furnished within a ‘brand’ or trading name that is advertised to homeowners and potential buyers (or renters) seeking a new home in Mexico.
Global franchise agencies
Centrury21, Coldwell Banker, and ReMax are among the ‘global’ names you will see trading in Mexico when you begin looking for agents.
Although these agencies have a global brand recognition, they are in practice a network of independently run-and-managed franchisee agency offices. The people who work at these agencies make use of the branding and marketing systems provided by the franchisor, and these agencies can also benefit by being able to market their clients’ homes across the global networks they are affiliated with—but they remain locally-owned and managed businesses.
Some franchise agencies exist in Mexico, for example Tecnocasa, but these are usually focused on a specific area or region and don’t have national reach.
Independent local agencies
Most agencies that are not part of one of the big-name global (or regional) networks are independently run—sometimes by foreign residents who were licensed brokers or agents in their home country and came to Mexico and set-up a brokerage here.
The agencies that service potential foreign buyers tend to hire a mix of Mexican and foreign nationals as agents, so as to offer a cross-cultural team that can help foreign buyers to find a home and settle into a new lifestyle in Mexico.
Services that realty agencies provide in Mexico
Agency offices provide a central focus point and hub for their agents and their clients. The work and support services agencies provide include:
Local presence and point of contact: providing the brand name and central point of contact for existing homeowners in Mexico wishing to sell their home as well for buyers seeking to buy a home (or rent) in Mexico.
Physical location to trade: providing a physical ‘store front’ with customer reception area, meeting rooms and marketing suites that enable agents, buyers, and sellers to meet and interact together. Agencies thus provide their agents with office space, a central point of contact, as well as a range of marketing support services including an online presence and email address.
Legal and commercial structure: acting as the legal entity with which agents and clients interact, providing contracts and other technical support, and manage the agency’s website and its property listings, including property profiles on ‘MLS’ (Multiple Listing Service) systems which many agencies use to promote and track properties for sale.
Marketing services: agencies invest in marketing to attract existing homeowners wanting to sell their home as well people seeking a property purchase. Some, but not all, agencies also manage property rentals.
Local networking and contacts: agencies are often a network hub that connect relationships between local Notary Publics as well as other realty-related professionals including property developers, lawyers, accountants, architects, and property surveyors.
National and international affiliations: some agencies are affiliated with national or international networks that they use to market and sell their client’s properties to potential buyers outside of their immediate locale or region.
Agencies & Agents usually represent both sides of the transaction
Unlike in many states in the US, the same agency (or its agent) may represent both the buyer and the seller in a property sales transaction in Mexico. In theory, agents are supposed to represent both parties equitably in these situations, although it’s worth keeping in mind that the agent selling you the house might also be representing the seller’s interests.
Realty agents: how they’re organized and work
There is no legal requirement to be licensed or certified to be a real estate agent in most states in Mexico, although the better agents tend to be a member of AMPI, an acronym for Asociacion Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios. This is a Mexican trade body for realty agents that offers courses and examinations, and also sets out a Code of Practice for its members.
Most agents work in association with an established local agency (brokerage), although some might work entirely freelance, using their networks of contacts to connect buyers and sellers while interfacing with several agencies in the locality where they operate.
Agents are not usually on the agency’s payroll. Some might earn a small salary from the agency, but most all rely on the commissions they earn from completed house sales.
Although buyers’ and sellers’ initial contact tends to happen through the agency’s switchboard, the relationship is developed with an agent—and this is the key relationship that you need to concern yourself with when you want to buy a home in Mexico, or sell an existing home.
What realty agents in Mexico do for you
Within the legal structure provided by the agency they are associated with, agents will undertake a range of services and duties on behalf of buyers and sellers. These include:
Point of contact for buyers and sellers: agents provide a single point of contact for a seller wanting to sell their home in Mexico, or a buyer wanting to buy a home.
Sales coordination work: for sellers, agents visit the home the owner wants to sell, arrange for photographs to be taken and video footage to be captured, and coordinate the creation of the sales information pack/brochure using details provided by the seller. Agents will negotiate and use the agency’s contracts to agree terms with the seller, and lead the work to actively market the property on behalf of the seller.
Scout and advisor for buyers: local realty agents serve as a local contact point and advisor. Good agents seek to understand the lifestyle needs of the buyers and then draw-up a short list of suitable properties for the buyers to review. The agent will liaise with owners to set-up viewings of properties the buyers are keen to see after browsing the online brochures and information packs that present the home.
Liaison between the parties: agents act as a go-between the seller and buyer and also triangulate liaison where another agency or third-party agent is involved. They will work with sellers and buyers to agree on a sales price and terms of the sale, including details about what is included and excluded as part of any transaction;
Project management and liaison with realty professionals: when an offer has been tabled and accepted, the role of the agent changes from marketing and sales to project management and liaison between the buyer, seller, agency, developer (if there is one), Notary Public and any other realty professionals who may become involved, for example, a surveyor.
Significant amount of of project management work required
When a seller and buyer have agreed a price to sell a property, a significant body of ‘project management’ and coordination work must undertaken to bring the transaction toa close.
This is includes a lot of paperwork, liaison between different parties, dealing with issues and problems, and ensuring that buyers and sellers are aware of regulations (like anti-money laundering) so that they provide the necessary documents to progress the transaction.
Agents often work bi-lingually as not all buyers speak Spanish, but all the legal aspects of the transaction are performed in Spanish. People who decide not to use a realty agent discover at this stage the enormity of the task required to bring a property transaction to a successful conclusion.
National realty associations in Mexico
Various professional associations exist which many of the established agencies and agents are members of even if the state they are in does not demand they are licensed.
AMPI is the acronym for Asociacion Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios: the Mexican trade body for realty agents which also sets out a Code of Practice for its members.
It’s the most well-known of all the trade bodies, and is organized into separate, autonomous, regional bodies (or chapters) and also has a National Counsel.
Agents pay an annual membership fee plus local dues set by the regional chapter. Regulations and procedures vary by chapter, but the code of practice is always based upon the national code.
Asociación de Agentes Inmobiliarios de México
AAIMAC Online: aaimac.org
Consejo de Profesionales Inmobiliarios de México
COPIM Online: www.copim.org.mx
La Unión de Profesionales Inmobiliarios de México
UPIM Online: upim.org
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Mexperience offers detailed insights about property in Mexico for buyers, owners, renters, and sellers.
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