Cozumel Real Estate and Property

If you visit Cozumel frequently, it makes sense to invest in property there rather than paying hotel rates or self-catering rents. But many people buy Cozumel real estate purely for financial reasons. Cozumel is a very popular tourist destination, attracting more than two million visitors per year. The people who come for the diving, the sandy beaches and the ancient ruins all need somewhere to stay, so property owners can make good money from rental.

Am I allowed to buy property?

Foreigners, including US citizens, are allowed to buy property in Mexico. However, some Cozumel real estate can be found in "restricted zones". These zones, also known as zona federal and prohibited zones, include the coastline - and that means the coastline of Cozumel, too. Foreigners are not allowed directly to buy property in these zones. However, you can buy property indirectly in these zones, through the fidei comiso (bank trust) method set up for this purpose. The trusts last 50 years and are automatically renewable at the end of this period. You are the primary beneficiary of the trust, and in practice these means almost all the benefits of ownership, including the right to name an heir. However, if you buy a property in the restricted area, you will not be able to use it for commercial purposes.

Are there any risks?

Yes, there are risks, as there are with buying property anywhere. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks. It's a good idea to be very careful about developer-financed property; some developers give you contracts which aren't acceptable under Mexican law before going bust and leaving you with nothing. Get a notario publico (government-appointed attorney) to read through your contract before signing anything. You should also avoid ejido (non-deeded) property. It isn't legal for overseas buyers to purchase this kind of property, although many sellers offer deals nonetheless. Because it isn't legal for you to buy it in the first place, you won't have any legal redress if things go wrong.

How much does Cozumel real estate cost?

Prices vary depending on the area, the quality of the house and how buoyant the market is. A beachfront home usually costs somewhere in the region of $500,000, while houses in town cost between $75,000 and $125,000. At the lower end of the market, expect an unfurnished place requiring a lot of maintenance work. Compare as many prices as possible to make sure you're paying a reasonable price.

What else do I need to know about Cozumel real estate?

Property taxes are very low in Cozumel - around 0.05 per cent, or half of a thousandth, of the property's purchase price. However, if you have coastal property bought through the fidei cosimo method, you will also have to pay the bank a fee for maintenance of your trust. This is a few hundred dollars a year.

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