Buying property in Mexico is not an easy task, but if you are buying property in Puerto Vallarta you can make this task more feasible by surrounding yourself with the right professionals. These professionals should have the knowledge, experience and reputation to guide you smoothly through the process of purchasing new property here in Mexico. To start with, having a qualified Real Estate Agent on your team is of the outmost importance, especially if you want to secure your investment. However, you should be aware that here in Puerto Vallarta, Real Estate Agents are not subject to any regulation or legal requirements, like they are in the U.S. and Canada, and this makes it more easy for you to fall into the wrong hands when looking for a property.
So what are the differences between a Real Estate Agent in the U.S. and Canada, and a Real Estate Agent in Mexico?
Real Estate Agents in the U.S. and Canada must take certain training to get a license granted by the state government. Here in Mexico very few states have the same regulation and Jalisco and Nayarit are not among them. In the U.S. and Canada, the state governments hold a record for each agent, and this makes it easier to do a background check on the agent you want to hire. Also in those countries, if the Agent is dishonest or violates any rules, he can lose his license and can’t practice. In Puerto Vallarta, we have none of that, and this makes it easier for dishonest people to misrepresent themselves as Real Estate Agents, even if they have done bad deals in the past.
So how can I know if a Real Estate Agent in Puerto Vallarta has the required qualifications?
Since there is no regulation for Real Estate Agents here, there is practically no way to verify with certainty the qualifications of an agent. Asking for references would be a good start. Ask the agent directly what are his or her qualifications (Were they real estate agents in their country of origin? Do they work here in PV with an international company? How long have they been working here?). But you should know that in the end there is no legal way to verify this information. Something that might be useful would be to verify if they are members in good standing of association of real estate agents called “Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals” also known as AMPI. This association provides training and courses to their members and tries to harmonize the working practices of the agents.
And can I take legal action against a Real Estate Agent who provided false information or didn’t disclose relevant information on the property?
Yes, however Mexico is a country where what is signed in paper prevails. Whether you are buying or selling a property, so you should always try to have a contract signed where the liabilities of your agent are listed. This document will also help you in case you decide to press criminal charges for fraud against the agent, even if this agent works for a developer.
As the real estate market in Puerto Vallarta is experiencing some growth, the number of people who are acting as agents is also growing. Many of them are experienced, qualified and honest, and some of them are not. You should avoid dealing with the latter at all cost.
I want to thank my friend Harriet Murray, President of AMPI Puerto Vallarta, for her collaboration in writing this article.
Roberto Ortiz de Montellano is a Mexican-Licensed Attorney at Law with over twenty years of professional legal experience. He started his own practice in Puerto Vallarta two years ago. His areas of expertise focuses primarily on Real Estate Law, Business Law and Estate Planning. www.ortizdemontellano.com