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San Diego firm links buyers with Mexican real estate

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While the local news has focused on Mexicans crossing the border into the United States, there is also a silent, growing southern migration going on.

Much of it is due to Mexican politicians -- and the inflated cost of living north of the border. Americans are finding that they can, in effect, own Mexican real estate protected by U.S.-type title insurance and purchased using U.S.-type financing. For some time now, Mexican politicians have been crafting and approving legislation specifically designed to attract foreign investment. By any measure, the strategy is working.

The Baja California peninsula is a good example. Actually two states -- Baja California and Baja California Sur -- the north is famous for rowdy Tijuana nightclubs and the south for spectacular Cabo sport fishing. But in the middle, Mexicans are managing a sophisticated tourism industry around eco-friendly whale watching. Tourists from all over the work flock every year like the swallows to Capistrano to see Greys, Blues, Humpbacks, Finbacks, Orcas and Sperm whales from rented pangas, dive boats, kayaks and airplanes. Predictably, many learn that they can relinquish their title as "tourist" and instead watch the whales from their own front porch. Finding both a fantastic lifestyle and also a safe and inexpensive investment, they buy. It's no wonder that in this interconnected world of ours, family, friends, friends' friends and co-workers' friends and so on hear firsthand that Mexico is where an increasing number of Americans love to call home.

Places like Cabo San Lucas, San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta have long been bursting at the seams with expatriates who embrace living a Hemmingway-like lifestyle where you can fish for your own dinner, hear the mission bell toll from your bedroom window or see stars fall out of the sky nearly every night of the year just by tilting your head up. Now, lesser-known places like Todos Santos, Valle de Bravo and Chetumal are being noticed, not as tourist destinations so much as sound locations to invest in a second home, or as ideal places to retire. Still, critical components of the real estate purchase process that U.S. consumers have come to expect are missing in Mexico.

In the United States, if you want to buy a home 1,000 miles away, you can easily do your homework using the Internet. Learning about local events, schools and weather patterns while browsing for a home to buy is easy. Then, when you've narrowed the decision of where to buy, the agent selling your home can work with other agents to find the best home to move to and cooperate in the closing of escrow. Not so if you're moving to Mexico. Typically, agents don't know each other's laws, customs or languages. Moreover, the Internet is all but useless in doing meaningful research about Mexican residential properties, commercial real estate or businesses.

One company is changing this. Mexicana Properties (www.mexicanaproperties.com) is forging dynamic partnerships between Mexican real estate developers and U.S. brokers to provide homebuyers a reliable and smooth buying experience. To simplify shopping, it is creating a sophisticated Internet portal showcasing Mexican real estate for sale and linking qualified Mexican agents with U.S. agents and buyers. By unlocking the Mexican real estate resell market, buyers see that, just like in the United States, if they choose to move again, they aren't locked in to their purchase forever. In fact, many hit upon the fact that their Mexican real estate investment is as enjoyable to own as it is profitable to sell.

As the barriers to real estate ownership crumble, more Americans find the opportunity for owning their own Mexican home and living in Mexico a wise and rewarding decision.

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