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My opening round of questions concerning moving to the area

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Post by LMarkoya on Tue May 08, 2012 7:26 pm

First I'd like to say hello and I've enjoyed reading your many posts and topics here. WHile I've spent several hours on your site, I know I have many more to absorb all I can. I appreciate the group here and all you have to offer, so to start, thank you already.
Within the next few months my wife and I will be taking our first gathering info trip to the Chapala/Ajijic region.
I've been reading just about every book and website I can get to and from that info we're more and more convinced your little piece of heaven just may be for us too.
Several questions have arisen looking mostly at the many real estate web sites and others extolling the wonders of the area. I'd appreciate any of your views on these topics.
I've found it difficult to impossible to find any historical real estate pricing info and trends...as we are already considering purchasing a home, we'd like to know more about the market.
As for the market, what makes up the used home market...americans and canadians who move out or back?
While it would seem logical to rent for some period before you buy into the area, is that what you did, or would advise?
Seems to me one gets down there, falls in love, and is off on a home purchase immediately.
There seem to be hundreds of real estate agents, some offer free tours of the area, which seem like a great thing for a newcomer...but are there contracts or exclusivity expected? While I find it normal for an agency to push their properties, I find differences even in the MLS listings between sites.
How about gated versus non gated properties? While the area seems relatively safe, does one have to be more concerned in a non gated community? Do you live in a gated community?
More than enough to open with
Again thank you in advance, and thanks for making this such a great site

Hoping to be there soon and meet many of you

Louis
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Post by gringal on Tue May 08, 2012 7:55 pm

Welcome, Louis and family.
First: Falling in love is fine, but have a reasonable engagement before you buy. RENT. There are many nice rentals.
Believe me..........you could find yourself in a situation you'd want out of, but it takes time to sell and it's not a hot, rising market.

Reason for houses for sale? People moving back north for health or family reasons. Older people dying. Wanting to move to another location.

Beware of real estate transactions in Mexico. There are NO disclosure laws as there are in the states. None. Let them give you a free tour, but resist the pitch.

Gated or non-gated is a matter of preference. I prefer non-gated, right in town within walking distance to everything. No HOA hassles either.
However, there are noisy streets and quiet ones. Parking nightmares if you live on the side where parking is allowed. That's one good reason to rent. You discover where the good places are.

Keep up the research, and good luck.
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Post by fastrak on Tue May 08, 2012 9:36 pm

Hola Louis,

It sounds like you have not been to this area yet.

They best advice that I could offer is for you to make the trip down here and rent for one to two years. It also depends if you are coming down for 2 weeks, 2 months, or 6 months or permenant. The first house you stay in will definetly not be the house you want as your home.

There are lots of good deals down here and they will always be there. Once you have purchased a home here, it is very hard to sell.

And anybody who is advising you to buy on your first trip down is either a Realtor or want you to buy their place. LOL.

Good luck
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Post by David on Tue May 08, 2012 10:16 pm

The list of good realtors here can be counted on your fingers. Do your research with folks you meet on this and other webboards. Then choose a realtor from those they recommend.
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Post by gringal on Wed May 09, 2012 9:45 am

David wrote:The list of good realtors here can be counted on your fingers. Do your research with folks you meet on this and other webboards. Then choose a realtor from those they recommend.

Gee, David.................are you suggesting that there ARE ten good realtors here???
lol!

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Post by Hensley on Wed May 09, 2012 10:16 am

Been here 5 years and still renting, would never buy, too many problems with homes and repairs and you never know if a situation will come up and you will want to move, if you own you are stuck.

Nice to be able to call landlord and say this needs fixed and it gets done. No charge to us.
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Post by juanrey on Wed May 09, 2012 10:24 am

Luis, as you may have guessed the real estate market is down and has been for over a year or two. There are some good deals and there will be more, but there are reasons that the market is down, economy NOB, it was getting too high a few years back, old gringos want & expect a profit when they move out. The list goes on. I've met people who came here and bought the first week they were here, and others who have been renting for many years with no intention of buying. It's all personal decisions.
Come down, visit, go on the realtor tours, explore on your own, talk to some of the people who you meet, make friends with people on the forums before you come down and answer the questions for yourself. You'll get many opinions here and on the other forums, but it all boils down to your own personal research. It's a great place with plenty of pluses but it isn't for everyone. Continue your research and book two trips, one in the dry hot season like now, and another for the rainy season, you need to see both.

Good luck
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Post by David on Wed May 09, 2012 4:07 pm

gringal wrote:
David wrote:The list of good realtors here can be counted on your fingers. Do your research with folks you meet on this and other webboards. Then choose a realtor from those they recommend.

Gee, David.................are you suggesting that there ARE ten good realtors here???
lol!

Not at all. I simply forgot to say "the fingers of one hand!"
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Post by hockables on Wed May 09, 2012 4:20 pm

David wrote:
gringal wrote:
David wrote:The list of good realtors here can be counted on your fingers. Do your research with folks you meet on this and other webboards. Then choose a realtor from those they recommend.

Gee, David.................are you suggesting that there ARE ten good realtors here???
lol!

Not at all. I simply forgot to say "the fingers of one hand!"

And U are the expert because???

How many houses have U bought here?

How many individual Realtors have U dealt with?

I would expect many could have a valid opinion of A Realtor...

Interesting...

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Post by David on Wed May 09, 2012 4:35 pm

I'm not an expert. However, I have an opinion. After 7 years of seeing people coming and going, listening and talking at dinners and parties. This is a small town. There are no secrets here. The only folks that don't know the good realtors are the new arrivals. Remember there are only a few real estate companies. Everyone's opinion is valid. BTW, don't ask me for a realtor recommendation.
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Post by hockables on Wed May 09, 2012 5:26 pm

David wrote:I'm not an expert. However, I have an opinion. After 7 years of seeing people coming and going, listening and talking at dinners and parties. This is a small town. There are no secrets here. The only folks that don't know the good realtors are the new arrivals. Remember there are only a few real estate companies. Everyone's opinion is valid. BTW, don't ask me for a realtor recommendation.

Sorry... Not Good Enough...

You've made a statement that their are 5 or fewer? did I get that right?

Good Realtors in the community.... that leaves an awefull lot of Bad Ones....

How many have you had personal dealings with and what went wrong in all of your

bad dealings...

Inquiring Minds Want To Know!!

I'm not sure I would ask you for a recommendation....

I'm guessing there are a few more than 5...

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Post by David on Wed May 09, 2012 5:32 pm

I'm not talking about agents. I'm talking about firms, e.g. brokers. How many do you think there are? Sheesh, give it a break. I know some good ones. That does not imply that the others are "bad." If I don't know they're good they're simply "unknown" to me.
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Post by LMarkoya on Wed May 09, 2012 7:49 pm

Thank you all for the help and opinions.
Yes this will be our first trip and we are already looking forward to it.
We did not want to rent a car and hoped to get the "lay of the land" by taking a few of the "free tours" offered by a few of the real estate offices
I personally think the "Focus on Mexico" 8 day tour for almost $1700 is way out of line
Seems Ajijic REal Estate offers a free home tour and a free newcomers seminar
Mexico Insights Seminars Presents Living at Lake Chapala …we tell it like it is
And I know at least one other free home tour
Anyone have comments on these programs?
We are admittedly new to the area and MExico, but want to take in all we can on this first impression trip

Thank you again for all your help and comments
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Post by CanuckBob on Wed May 09, 2012 7:55 pm

I would be happy to show you around all the villages along the Lake. Send me a PM when you arrive.
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Post by David on Wed May 09, 2012 8:03 pm

The Mexico Insights seminar by Judy King is superb. She's not selling anything, she's has a wealth of knowledge, and she's a delightful lady. The real estate companies are all selling real estate and will give you rose colored glasses so that you don't see the problems and issues. Judy will give you good info and straight answers to your questions.
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Post by fastrak on Wed May 09, 2012 8:04 pm

LMarkoya wrote:Thank you all for the help and opinions.
Yes this will be our first trip and we are already looking forward to it.
We did not want to rent a car and hoped to get the "lay of the land" by taking a few of the "free tours" offered by a few of the real estate offices
I personally think the "Focus on Mexico" 8 day tour for almost $1700 is way out of line
Seems Ajijic REal Estate offers a free home tour and a free newcomers seminar
Mexico Insights Seminars Presents Living at Lake Chapala …we tell it like it is
And I know at least one other free home tour
Anyone have comments on these programs?
We are admittedly new to the area and MExico, but want to take in all we can on this first impression trip

Thank you again for all your help and comments

I think you might be missing what some people including me are trying to tell you. Stay away from the open house tours and the realtors for at least one year. Get to know the area first and get a tour from locals. Not the realtors and their homes that won't sell.

If you have never been here before, i have heard from people who have taken the focus on mexico tour that it is worth every penny. They enjoyed it and met some friends for life who are also moving down.

Good Luck Surte

Mexico insight is great too.

Cbob would also be your best tour guide.
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Post by CanuckBob on Wed May 09, 2012 8:09 pm

Jaja.....yeah I work for rum.
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Post by CheenaGringo on Wed May 09, 2012 8:27 pm

Louis:

In your initial post, you mention that you are new to Mexico and the Lake Chapala area.

Assuming that you do follow the advice to rent, I might make a suggestion that some local residents may consider to be heresy. Mexico is a large country with many other areas which might be of interest as possible places to live. I would encourage you to research other areas and then take the opportunity to visit some of them while renting at the Lake. Not only would you have the opportunity to learn more about the Country but you will then have knowledge of other areas for comparison purposes. If nothing else, these travels may solidify that your initial inclinations were correct.

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Post by hockables on Wed May 09, 2012 10:19 pm

The Local Market is in a Slump.... mainly US Real Estate Collapse....

Some Very Capable Real Estate Agents... Some Horror Stories

Real Estate Laws, Rules & Regulations are very different here... a good Realtor will spend mucho time explaining...

And then ask questions!

If you find something that fits you and the price is right... time to decide.

Remember: Opinions are like assholes... everybodys got one

And I spent 6 days with a wonderful woman who showed me dozens of properties... all the while.... showing me things about local culture... rules of the road... etc...

I wonder if she is on David's list?


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Post by juanrey on Wed May 09, 2012 11:27 pm

I disagree with the notion that you should stay away from the real estate offices & agents. If you want to see the types & prices of different areas (gated & not) then they are a great vehicle to show you around. Just keep in mind that it's like you being new fish thrown into the tank full of seals. They have a particular focus and so should you - to see the various areas. If you find others that will show you around, then do it, but the realtors will be able to show you the insides of many houses and quite possibly regular folks who live here would only be able to show you a few. There's a great diversity of price and product so get as much exploring done as you can, then once you get back home you can use the MLS and have familiarity with the various areas. But, my advice remains, rent for at least 6 mos before falling in love with a house.
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Post by Rolly on Thu May 10, 2012 12:01 am

The focus of this threat has been on housing, and you have gotten some very good advice. But there is a lot more to moving to México. You'll find a lot of useful information about visas, cars, internet, health care and scads of other things on my website.
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Post by gringal on Thu May 10, 2012 10:39 am

Agreed, Rolly.

There are many considerations in selecting a place to live other than finding a house that suits.
For older people, some of those would be:
Availability of good medical care - good doctors and hospitals
Proximity to international airports
Recreational facilities suitable for the age group. (i.e. golf as opposed to sky diving)
Availability of similar interest groups: bridge clubs, churches, art associations, book clubs, etc

After all, once you are there........you'll need something to do!
Basketball

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Post by Sideways on Thu May 10, 2012 4:30 pm

Agree as to living in a town that suits you and being near stores, restaurants and your local malecon (boardwalk). We live in central Ajijic and enjoy the amenities being close by. Walking to get groceries and to restaurants, and to hardware stores, bank, etc. is a big plus.

You can live in either Ajijic or Chapala centros without a car, and the inherent costs associated with driving. We take cabs when we need to go for large amounts of items at Walmart or heavy items once or twice a month (we actually walk to Walmart and take a cab back to Ajijic with our purchases). We fly out of GDL for vacations, though we've taken buses to PV for beach time.

We said we'd rent for a year before buying, but after 6 months of short term rentals and horror stories from other renters, we bought and have not regretted it. Some people are renters and some people are homeowners, and we didn't like being renters, even for a short term. Many rentals here are underequipped in comfortable furniture and kitchen appliances. Many long term renters here will buy better appliances and furniture for their rentals, even make substantial repars to their rentals, but I don't like the idea of improving someone else's real estate. To each our own.

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Post by LMarkoya on Fri May 11, 2012 7:24 am

Again wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their insight and opinions. We sincerely look forward to our visit and hopefully meeting some of you. The Ajijic area sounds great and I will continue to do as much research as possible.
While I'd like to live outside of town, being able to walk to town is important and very desireable. I am certain we will find more than enough things to do. This site is really a great find and I am thankful not only for its existance, but for all the participants that make it so valuable
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Post by ferret on Fri May 11, 2012 9:53 pm

Questions...someone said ask questions. What questions? There are many things that you take for granted when you live NOB. The questions are very important because most realtors (even the good ones) and/or rentors will NOT divulge information unless it is asked directly and specifically...and, even then, I would want it in writing before I went a step further.
Water...from where, how often, storage facility, gravity fed, pressure fed, if pressure fed is the pump submersible or above ground, purified???????
That's just a few aspects of ONE subject.
Please ask questions about what questions to ask...it's important.
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