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The skyrocketing value of colonial homes in downtown Mérida

Foreigners' role in driving up prices said to be overstated

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Even outside of Mérida’s core Centro, inexpensive deals are getting harder to find and are priced in US dollars. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

During the last decade, the value of colonial homes in Mérida’s historic center has risen by as much as 300%, say market analysts.

Contrary to popular belief, this rise in prices is not fueled primarily by foreigners from the United States, Canada, or Europe, but rather domestic buyers.

“People think the market is being driven by foreigners, but this is not really the case,” said INAH delegate Eduardo López Calzada. “There are more domestic buyers coming in from places like Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara that are buying up these colonial homes.”

Yucatán’s capital has long been a draw for people from across the country, but over the past decade migration to the city has grown considerably.

Mérida’s reputation for safety and high quality of life, as well as proximity to the coast, are commonly cited among the factors contributing to this trend. 

Earlier: Yucatán ranks again as Mexico’s safest state, and investors follow

The influx of new capital and a high degree of speculation is starting to frustrate locals, who complain that they are no longer able to afford to live in their own city. 

“Property values, rents, and cost of living just keep going up. I make more than most in Mérida, but even I am starting to find it impossible to keep living here,” said a Mérida local, living in Santiago, who preferred to remain anonymous. 

Despite the emphasis often placed on the sale of colonial homes downtown and luxury apartments in the cities north, most new arrivals to the city move into more affordable homes in Mérida’s periphery.

That being said, the cost of homes in residential areas beyond Periférico now averages well over one million pesos. The outlook for would-be buyers becomes even more complicated when we take into account Yucatán’s notoriously low wages and unfavorable interests rates, which at  8% are almost three times as high as in the United States or Canada. 

Another factor contributing to the rise in real-estate prices, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, is the ever-increasing cost of building materials, including cement and iron.

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