Lake Chapala Home Buying Tips
Updated: Apr 14
When making the decision to buy a home in Lake Chapala there are many things you should consider and there are ways to go about doing it that will make your buying process a happy and successful experience.
So what is some great advice to follow when shopping for a home Lakeside? Here is some common sense tips.
First off, start researching online. Although watching YouTube videos and following Facebook Pages is not the same as being here with feet on the ground and experiencing Lake Chapala “in person”, you can still learn a lot. So join Channels and Groups and start getting involved. Remember, the more you know, the less you don't know!
Take the time during your “research” stage, to reach out to several different Realtors and made a choice as to who to start working with. Realtors are happy to meet with you “on line” and you can start interviewing Realtors by Skype/WhatsApp, etc. Find one you like and who you trust, set up an appointment to do a communities tour and learn about the different areas and types of housing Lakeside. If you don't hit it off with them during the tour you can always change to your second choice. Keep in mind, Lakeside realtors are not licensed, therefore do your do diligence and choose a Realtor beforehand by interviewing them via video calls and Google researching their names.
Then hop a plane and take an exploratory visit to Lake Chapala. Think of it as a vacation but ask yourself, “Can I see myself living here?”
Consider renting a car and driving around yourself after the Realtor's tour to explore on your own the areas covered in the tour and/or expand your search to outer lying areas.
Check out roads in the different neighborhoods. Are they paved, bricked or cobbled? Can you walk on them ? How big are the potholes ? What's the nighttime lighting like?
And of course, After all that work, don't forget to take some time out and enjoy the ambiance of Lake Chapala by strolling on the different malecons, eating out at a few restaurants, and doing some shopping in the many boutique shops in Ajijic. Soak up the vibe and engage people in conversation. You'll learn lots by talking to the locals!
Once you find you like an area that you think you might want to live in then take some time to sit and chill in the area, or go on foot. You'll be amazed at how much more you'll discover by walking through a neighborhood.
If you see people out and about, then talk to the neighbors. They live there and they know the neighborhood best.
While looking at the different neighborhoods, Think about some of your special needs, such a good vet for your dogs, or perhaps a doctor, Pilates instructor, pickle ball courts, favorite markets or grocery stores and other professional services. Where will you be going to most often? Are they near the neighborhoods you like? Or on the other side of town?
If possible, make return visits and try to see the neighborhoods in all seasons- What’s great in February may be a giant mud hole in August during rainy season.
After all this, you should have a good idea of where you want to rent. Renting first is always a good policy even if it's only for a short period of time. Sometimes this is not possible because you are planning on bringing big dogs or cats to Mexico. Finding rentals for these pets might be close to impossible.
When you get serious about purchasing a home Lakeside, begin scouring chapalamls.net (it's the only site you need to check) and contains up to date information on the status of all the properties. Forget about looking at individual Realty websites, they're infrequently updated and more often than not the information is out of date.
When looking at houses, keep in mind that Owners tend to maintain their homes better than landlords and custom built homes are better built then spec homes. As long as the home is not too old, most of the problems and issues with well maintained older homes have usually been discovered and repaired and you likely won’t have too many surprises!
Use Google maps and it's satellite view to help you determine what's around homes that interest you.
Also be careful when purchasing a home under probate. Probate invariably takes much longer than expected and your closing date can be seriously held up.
IF you are contemplating buying a lot and building, give serious consideration to the fact that construction in a foreign country where you know nothing about construction methods, etc, can be very difficult. Michaela and I built a home here and unless you are willing to spend more money and more time than you ever thought possible, don't do it. Nothing happens here on time, and nothing works the way you think it will and you MUST be on site every day, all day, and know what to watch for. Quite frankly, it's an impossible task. It often takes 2 years to complete a home, and unless you enjoy that sort of stress level, do yourself a favor and buy an existing home.
When back at home in the U.S or Canada, made every possible preparation for a permanent move. This will include cleaning out all the clutter back home and deciding on what (if any) items you want to bring down to Mexico with you.
Once you have found a home and you and the vendor have an agreed upon price....
Be sure to have the home inspected. Major structural, electrical, and plumbing issues can be cause for re-negotiation of the contract.
10% down will be required to put the home “under contract” and a Notary Public will direct and oversee the general legal aspects of the buy. Mexican Notaries are appointed by the government to handle land ownership transactions and the collection of appropriate taxes. A lawyer is not needed or even recommended for these transactions.
If purchasing as couple, be prepared to put both of your names on the deed . This is important when it comes time to sell as both you and your spouse can claim a capital gains exemption, reducing or eliminating tax. Note that Exemptions can only be claimed with a temporary or permanent visa.
Proof of residence via utility bills is of major importance in Mexico, so after the sale put the electricity in one name and the landline or Internet provider in the other persons name.
These are just a few of the many tips I can give you about searching for and purchasing a home in Lake Chapala. If you have questions then let us know by contacting us through our website or take our Private or Group Retirement Seminars where you will learn all you need to know to make the move to Lake Chapala.
Michaela & Ricardo are your FULL SERVICE Real Estate Agents. Along with our Retirement Seminars, our over 20 years of combined experience Lakeside, and our network of area Professionals, we help guide you to from beginning to forever in your Retirement Journey to Lake Chapala, Mexico.