By Cheryl Miller
If scientists made a list of the top 10 most common desires of Western Cultural peoples, among them would be a home on the beach!
How many times have you visited a beautiful beach area and dreamed of a place on the sand? Or thought how tranquil life would be to live next to the sea? It is a common dream. But, there is an old saying that “They just are not making beachfront anymore!” And how true it is! Which, as a result, beachfront property in most western cultures, is higher in price than the property behind it. Whether you are looking in the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, you name it. It is a fact of life! The days of a $20,000 USD beachfront lot are way over.
You may be able to find some remote spot where prices are lower, but relatively speaking, that lower price there is offset by the price of access; hot, desert, dirt, kidney-rattling roads, and a an isolation from comforts and services that may be too much for most modern men to justify or get their wives to agree to! For the most part, just be aware that beachfront is beachfront and it is more expensive than back row beach properties. They simply are not making beachfront anymore; it is a finite commodity.
So how does Baja California Sur: Los Cabos and La Paz Counties beachfront properties fare in the world markets? Very well, indeed. Of course, the closer you are to the action the higher the price, just like anywhere in the world. Certainly a riverside lot in Manhattan will be much higher in price than a river side property in western remote Idaho. Same is true with beachfront here in Mexico.
Beachfront in the tourist zones of Los Cabos starts at around $1000 US/m2 (or about $90/sf) and goes up from there, IF YOU CAN FIND ANY LEFT. But areas such as Cerritos, Elias Calles, the East Cape offer beachfront ownership starting on average of about $172/m2 (ABOUT $12/sf) and up. There are occasionally some bargains out there. Compare that to prices in San Diego, Malibu, Costa del Sol in Spain, or Costa Rica. We still have some of the lowest prices around with spectacular views, easy regulations and permitting processes, close to paved roads and emergency services and just a 2 hour plane ride from most of the southwest and Midwest southern states! So your dreams can come true.
What you need to know about buying beachfront property in Mexico:
1) All coastal properties in Mexico are protected by the Constitution of the United States of Mexico as being in the “Restricted Zone”. If you are a foreigner, you will need to hold title in a fideicomiso, or bank trust good for 50 years and that is renewable.
2) Any beachfront property in all of Mexico, whether owned by a Mexican National or a Foreigner MUST obtain an approved Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to being allowed to build. If you have no plans to build a permanent structure, and just want to hold land, this does not apply. You can own land and sell it without an EIR. BUT, contrary to popular impressions, Mexico does indeed have a sophisticated process and set of laws to protect its natural areas and beaches. The EIR will establish if there are any endangered or protected species of plants / animals on your property. If there are, you may have restrictions or procedures to follow to further protect them, or to replace them. It also establishes the stability of the coastline, and specifically geographically and structurally of your property. It establishes the rules and regulations for construction, for protection of migrating species such as turtles, and the building envelope limits on the site, height and allowed building areas. Personally, all of the EIR reports I have read here in Mexico, they are logical, easy to maintain in compliance, and reasonable in all facets. As an architect formerly from Southern California who has designed homes on the beach in Malibu and other coastline areas, the requirements in Mexico are a “walk-in-the-park” in comparison. But it is the responsibility of the person wanting to build to obtain this report and to pay for all of its approvals. Not the Seller of raw land. Do not expect that a Seller of raw land on the beach will have done this for you or will be willing to do this for you as a contingency of the sale. It will not happen. Cost? Depends on the area, but prices start at $8,000 USD and go up to $30,000 for a home site, and the process takes about 6 months to accomplish. If you are looking to do a large project, prices are higher and the process longer. But it is still a heck of a lot cheaper and faster than the same process in the United States.
3) As a foreigner, you are restricted to ownership 2000m2 or less without having to comply with the Foreign Investment Clause. Anything 2000.00001m2 and greater kicks in a requirement to commit to invest a specified dollar amount within 2 years of purchase. Most times, this amount starts at $250,000 US Dollars and goes up based on the size of the property. The Notarios are now checking to see that this clause has been complied with when you sell. If you have not complied and the time period expired, you will be required to either invest this money into the property or donate the specified amount to a Mexican social account serving the Mexican people in general before the sale can be ratified. This clause MAY be removed or modified in the future, but for now, it is in place and the law of the land. So, consider personal purchases of any land 2000m2 and under only, if you are a foreign purchaser.
4) Building on the beach, also carries with it many times specific structural challenges. If you are building on sand, your construction costs may be higher. Mat foundations which act like a boat in the sand, or pile footings may be required and cost
more than slab on grade construction.
5) Building on a dune type structure is restricted to 20 meters behind the official “crest” of the dune as designated by Semarnat and an official survey approved by them. No permanent structures are allowed in the front of the dune. See http://www.semarnat.gob.mx/english/Pages/whatissemarnat.aspx for more info regarding Mexico’s Envrionmental Agencies.
All in all, if you want beachfront, there are additional costs and requirements, but nothing beats the accomplishment of a dream to walk out your back door and watch the sun set with toes in the sand on your back porch. And in Baja California Sur, Mexico, although regulated, their regulations follow logic and are easy to do.
Cheryl Miller, Broker of Baja Realty and Investments, 624-122-2690, www.forsaleinbaja.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. So if you are seeking this dream, contact us! We can help you fulfill your dream and guide you through the steps!