Shopping for a home with your eyes wide open

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Melissa Adler
Melissa Adler
Melissa Adler is a New York native who lives in Mérida. She is also a buyer’s agent for Mérida Living Real Estate. Contact her at melissa.meridaliving@gmail.com.
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Most buyers fall into three categories. 

There are buyers who’ve been to Yucatán before and have decided to purchase a home here. They’ve spent hours researching the process and are ready to rock n’ roll. 

Then there are folks who’ve visited once or twice, like what they see and love the vibe, and want to explore and learn more. 

And finally, there are those who’ve decided to check out homes on a whim a day before their return flight or because it’s raining and they can’t go to the beach.

If you fall into the first two categories, finding the right people to guide you along is first and foremost. You need to align yourself with reputable and knowledgeable professionals. 

You’ll need a good real estate agent, attorney, and if you’re renovating, an architect and builder.

Real estate agents

Choosing one agent who you’re comfortable with will make your search so much easier. You’ll want someone who listens to your wants and needs and respects your budget. Assuming you like him or her, stick with one agent. We don’t get paid until you have keys in hand and truly appreciate your loyalty. Flitting from flower to flower seems to only work well with bees. 

A reputable agent will show you properties that meet your criteria, not just the ones listed by their office. You’ll want to see as many good options as possible.

Start by making a list of your non-negotiables and preferences and include on your list the things that are deal-breakers. Have a firm price point in mind. It’s alright to be unsure of location. That’s something your agent can help you determine, and so can an honest taxi driver. 

Communication and trust is the key here. You’re not buying a used car. You’re investing hard-earned money into a home. The more you share, the better we can serve.

Attorneys

Find a great attorney and make an appointment to meet (or your agent can help find one). Someone who is willing to sit down with you and explain the entire process. There usually isn’t a fee for a consultation so take advantage of the opportunity while you’re house hunting.

If you are not a Mexican citizen, you will most likely need a bank trust called a fideicomiso. Your agent will explain that. There is residency status to consider and capital gains liabilities. Those are other topics to broach with professionals. 

There is a lot that differs from your home country and having a clear picture of what to expect is in your best interest.

Renovation projects

Do yourself a favor and forget everything you know about construction where you come from. The sooner you realize that the advice you’ll receive from architects and construction professionals should be heeded, the happier you’ll be. 

You won’t see drywall or studs or basements here. Your roof will be flat and needs to be maintained regularly. You’ll understand the importance of roof maintenance during the rainy season. 

If you are renovating a home in the historic district, you will need to obtain permits — and don’t let anyone tell you differently. These take time and should be factored into your time frame.

Humidity is an issue almost all homeowners deal with in Yucatán. The peninsula is primarily limestone and with a system of thousands of underground rivers and cenotes. You will occasionally have to cope with peeling paint and moisture in your new home. This is why the rooms in many old homes are painted two colors. When moisture builds up, you only have to repaint the lower section of your walls. There are some great solutions to minimize the problem and your builder can help.

Home inspections are becoming more popular and something to consider. If nothing else, you’ll want someone to inspect the roof and mechanicals.

Living in Yucatán is a dream for many and, for me, a delight. There’s so much to learn and great people here to help you navigate your new life here. In the meantime, do your due diligence, make your wish list, contact a reputable agent and get ready for a great ride!

Melissa Adler is a buyer’s agent for Mérida Living Real Estate. Contact her at
melissa.meridaliving@gmail.com
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A version of this story appeared in Issue 2 of Yucatán at Home.

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