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If you’re thinking of buying a condo, there are lots of reasons why it might be a smart move right now. Condos have never been more popular, particularly with the aging Baby Boomer population, which is starting to downsize and move into homes that are easier to care for. As a result, condos are in high demand and appreciating faster than single-family homes in the US Market.

Key Advantages of Buying A Condo
Key Advantages of Buying A Condo

Here in Rosarito Beach Mexico, buying a condo has become a great option for the people looking to retire or planning the next phase of life. Many retirees look forward to traveling without the worries of maintaining a home, so the Condo lifestyle is a great option. Also, most Condos in the Rosarito beach area offer a variety of Amenities, from Movies theaters, indoor pools, Tennis courts, Walking areas and for the Dog lovers many condos have Dog Parks.

Families looking for a second home at the beach has also become a great option. Many call it their personal “Baja Getaway”. And what could be better than after a fun few days at the beach, to have the ability to lock up your home and go with no worries.

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Most people realize that moving to Baja will immediately help their finances and provide a unique opportunity to own oceanfront property. But you may not realize the many “challenges” you’ll face when moving to Baja, most of which will make your friends back in the States jealous.

Garden Unit in Club Marena
Garden Unit in Club Marena

Here are the “challenges” of moving to Baja:

Too much fun and travel. A round-trip from Baja to Puerta Vallarta costs around $200 and will get you there in about 90 minutes. The opportunity to visit fascinating destinations in Mexico, enjoy top-notch service and delicious food at affordable prices will make you forget about expensive U.S. travel. Other hot spots in Mexico include small old historic towns such as San Miguel Allende -voted No. 1 City in the “World’s Top Cities of 2017” Travel + Leisure List.- Mexican discount airlines such as Volaris and Interjet offer great rates year round, while Aeromexico is renowned for their unparalleled service.

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Practice some tricks of the trade: You wish to sell your home in Baja, and you´ve settled for an asking price. But, have you given any thought on how the house will look to strangers? The right look is as important as the right price when trying to sell a property.

Staging Your Home For Sale in Baja
Staging Your Home For Sale in Baja

That´s the reason professional staging services exist in the States. But we don’t have them here in Rosarito. So if you want to get top dollar for your house, you´ll have to go D.I.Y. Staging helps buyers visualize a property as their future home and increases the chances of them wanting to walk through a property they had seen online.

Studies have shown that a house decorated to a buyer’s tastes has a positive impact on it´s perceived value, while when the decoration displeases their taste, the perceived value of the house drops.

Since it´s impossible to guess the prospective client´s tastes, follow the golden rule: keep it simple.

Picture yourself as the buyer: you walk into this beautiful home with a nice ocean view and… your eye meets a knickknack… then a diploma… then photos scattered around.

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Being open minded, but aware of your needs and wants, is key to finding the right property at the right price in Baja

Many of us have a Champagne taste on a beer budget, which makes Rosarito Beach the place to buy when looking for Real estate in Mexico. But buying real estate in a foreign country can be tricky.

Las Gaviotas in Rosarito Beach
Las Gaviotas in Rosarito Beach

It may be straightforward at first: Figuring out your budget, searching online. As you go through several websites, you may find a property that catches your eye. So you take the trip down to Rosarito… And it turns out that “gorgeous house by the ocean” is on a remote dirt road, the rooms much smaller than what they seemed in pictures, the ocean only visible if you squint really hard.

You come to find out the property has been sitting there for two years without maintenance, and the price is not the same as advertised.

Needless to say, it is fundamental to get your information from a reputable agent and website.
“How much house…?”
Usually, our clients have a fairly good idea of their spending budget for real-estate. What they are not sure of, is how far their dollar will take them in Mexico.

Though the answer usually comes as a pleasant surprise, it is important to be aware of all the costs involved.

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The process in Mexico is different – in a great way

The Home ownership Process In Baja
The Home ownership Process In Baja

Your offer was accepted! Owning a home in Baja was not only a dream of yours, but a well-researched retirement strategy too. But even with all the information you have gathered about ownership in Mexico, you might have been unprepared for how different –and convenient, the process is here. From property taxes to the way the Bank Trust is set, everything works favorably for the homeowner and makes for an easy inheritance process too.

Heirs and beneficiaries

While filling out paperwork for a Bank Trust, one question probably struck you as odd: Beneficiary? Why do I need a beneficiary? It comes as a pleasant surprise to many Americans to know that in Mexico there is no Inheritance Tax (or “Death Tax”, as it´s known in the U.S.). Here, your beneficiaries are written into the Trust. In the event of your passing away, the Trust is transferred straight to these beneficiaries. Your U.S. Last Will and Testament does not have jurisdiction on properties located in Mexico.

In the case of a married couple with both on title, there is a right of survivor-ship, where the property will go to the surviving spouse. If both of you passed away, the property goes to your second beneficiary. The process is very simple for the heirs. A Mexican Notary can help through the paperwork (remember, these Mexican “Notarios” are government appointed attorneys, and all legal transactions must be signed in front of them.) Be aware that the Notary is also responsible for transferring title from one person to another.

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Heading down the Rosarito-Ensenada toll-free road, the Calafia towers are hard to miss. They have become a landmark of the coastal scenery, a sign of delightful surprises awaiting us: Pacific Ocean Views, mouthwatering lobster tacos, surf breaking at your toes, sea breeze.

Aerial View Of Calafia Condos
Aerial View Of Calafia Condos

While newer communities have come and gone amidst turmoil and scandal, Calafia Condos Resort & Villas stand tall, having become one of the most respected and stable private residential neighborhoods in Rosarito.

If you´ve never been to Calafia, there are many things you may not know about them.

The complex is almost 30 years old

  • It was the brainchild of a visionary group of architects and builders, who are still involved in the operation of the compound. Some considered it to be ahead of its time.
  • It started with a single tower, built in 1987. Tower 2 was built in 2006 and after an incredible boom, Tower 3 was built in 2012
  • It now holds 197 Number of units, and 36, single story villas
  • Whereas in the U.S. some people equate newer with better, in Mexico, structures built around the 1980´s are very coveted for their solid construction and comfortable layout
  • The lush gardens at Calafia are 30 years in the making

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The idea of a custom-built house in Rosarito can be very attractive. It means that you can dictate the layout and create a space that meets your specific needs.

Lots In Puerta Del Mar
Lots In Puerta Del Mar

Some of our clients have the erroneous idea that building a house in Baja may be more inexpensive than buying it. However, that is not necessarily true. One thing is certain: building in Mexico is far more affordable than building in the U.S. It may also be easier on your wallet since you can add rooms and upgrades as you go.

However, there is a lot to know before taking on a construction project in Mexico, so here are some tips which have helped our clients:

FINDING THE LOT
The importance of hiring a knowledgeable agent to find your piece of land can´t be stressed enough. The worst scenario for an aspiring homeowner in Baja is to find himself with a piece of ejido (land ceded to farmer groups by the government), pending liens and/or the wrong land-use.

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Moving to Mexico and looking for your dream house can be one of the most exciting times in your life. However, the task lies in finding the perfect home, and sometimes, the best way to do it is by building it to your own specifications.

Aerial View of Punta Piedra
Aerial View of Punta Piedra

If you have recently been driving around in the Rosarito-Ensenada area, you may have noticed a great deal of construction activity, especially for private residences. This shows that many people are choosing to build homes.

The good news is that oceanfront and ocean views lots are still available in the Rosarito Coast. Some are located within well-established communities, which is ideal in terms of safety, service availability and infrastructure.

Building costs start at $55 a square foot, which will get you a great home with granite counters, dual pane windows, and of course, a floor plan customized to your wants and needs. Some cool features I´ve seen in custom-built homes in Rosarito include wine cellars, oversized walk-in closets and extra light switches around the house. Now would be the time to add an elevator for your later years. Even if you leave the open shaft, you can add the elevator when you need it.

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Baja HOA: What does it cover? …and will you make use of it? When looking at ownership in Baja, buyers must take into consideration what their monthly expenses are going to be.

HOA Fees
HOA Fees

Property taxes and bank trust fees, and insurance at set fees. But the fee that could make a difference is your monthly HOA. This could work to your advantage. Meaning, you can choose your community wisely, so you only pay for the amenities you want and will enjoy.

So the question is: are the added amenities worth the cost?
Older developments in Baja usually offer more green areas, ocean front boardwalks, and beach access. For many of our clients, these are well worth any added cost.

Other places, such as the Condos at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, provide extra discounts on amenities. They also have a built-in property management, which is nice for investors looking for lifestyle and value. While gated communities and oceanfront spas and pools are the norm in Baja, buyers should always be aware of what they are paying for. Generally speaking, more pools, Jacuzzis and tennis courts mean higher fees.

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Am I paying too much for my Baja Real Estate? Is it the right choice? The decision might be daunting, especially if you are paying cash. But it shouldn´t be.

Am I paying too much for my Baja Real Estate
Am I paying too much for my Baja Real Estate

When buying real-estate in Baja, most foreigners choose to pay cash. And while it is nice not to have a mortgage, writing a check can be a bit nerve wrecking. Am I overpaying? Am I buying in the right location? Should I buy a smaller property –just in case I change my mind?

Well, I´m here to tell you that after living and working in Baja for over 20 years, I have never heard anyone say: “The worst thing I did was move to Mexico”. What we hear more often is: “I should have moved sooner”.

It is perfectly natural, though, to feel some hesitancy. So this is my advice on how to solve this conundrum:

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As the Baja real estate market is on an upswing, so are prices, especially in the under $200,000 price range. While medium priced homes in Rosarito are not seeing a big increase in price, they are selling. In the under $200k price range, inventory has slowly been increasing in price, many buyers looking for properties are having to increase their housing budget to $250,000 and up.

Calafia Condos & Villas
Calafia Condos & Villas

An example of what´s happening in this price range is Calafia Resort and Condo where prices have gone up a little. The condos are still fair priced, and are not feeling the crunch of the market crash in the last few years.

The marked improvement in the market has brought on a sense of urgency. People that at one time would have taken a more relaxed attitude towards buying a home in Rosarito are now getting serious -some even looking at multiple purchases. In other words, the smart buyer is recognizing Mexican real-estate as an investment and is nesting in the area. As a result, many homeowners are taking their homes off the market, looking for a long term investment as well.

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Choosing the right location makes adjustment much easier for expats. Owning a home in Mexico is very different from owning home in the US. Contrary to what many people think, many daily tasks are actually easier South of the Border. And of course, the cost of living in Mexico is much lower than in the U.S.

Pool in the gated community of Las Ventanas
Pool in the gated community of Las Ventanas

People interested in retiring or buying a vacation home in Mexico frequently ask our agents at BREG how “things work” here. Here are some these questions, and their answers:

How much will I pay in property taxes in Rosarito?
The median annual Property Tax for our clients´ homes is around $250 dollars –roughly the cost of a night-out in L.A.

How do I go about paying my Property Tax?
These taxes are paid yearly at the local City Hall building (called Palacio Municipal). And while at it, remember to ask if you are eligible for the senior discount. You should not rely on getting a payment notice in your mailbox. Mexican mail service is notoriously slow, so you are better of marking your calendar.

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You´ve owned your home in BAJA for a year… And life is just getting better and better. You took a chance. You decided to retire abroad… to reinvent your life. And now that you´ve owned a home in Baja for year there is no doubt: moving to Rosarito was one of the best decisions in your life.

Settling In Baja
The Pier at The Rosarito Beach Hotel

At first, naturally, there were some jitters. Where would you go for groceries, or medical care? How would you navigate the language barrier? Would you often need –or want, to go across to the U.S.? Would you feel homesick or alone?

But as time´s gone by, every one of these concerns has been eroded, and replaced by one pleasant surprise after another.
Your social life is active and rewarding. You´ve found many like minded expats who are now enjoying a full life here –and very willing to share their friendship with you.

And those friends and family members that used to come for dinner back in the States, now visit you in Baja, and stay the week. You all joke about how owning an oceanfront property in Baja has boosted your popularity index…. But the truth is, it´s a lovely way to reconnect, and enjoy and share this wonderful place.

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Make sure to ask the right questions when buying real-estate in Rosarito. “Home is where the heart is” dictates conventional wisdom. But in reality, it takes a lot to make a heart feel at home: Friends, a sense of belonging, of spending time in a meaningful way.

Buying a Home In Baja
Aerial View of Las Gaviotas

Granted, a home by the ocean for less than $300,000 is a good way to start. But, buying a home in Rosarito is so much more than acquiring a beautiful property with phenomenal ocean views.

Since the majority of American retirees and vacation homeowners opt for gated communities and condos, it is important to ask the right questions in order to make sure you will be able to thrive and enjoy your new environment:

  • What is the monthly HOA fee, and what does it cover?
  • Are pets allowed in the community?
  • Is there a limit to the number of pets?
  • Are there any rules about children / grandchildren?
  • Are you allowed to rent out your house? (This is a nice way to generate income during those times of the year you are not using your place)
  • Does the community have a system to help you handle rental activity?
  • How is title held in the community and the home? In other words: Is it lease-land, or full ownership? (This is an all important question when buying real-estate in Baja).

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Northern Baja Real-Estate market is expected to heat up, Santa Barbara in Bajamar adds amenities to keep up with demand.

  • Media attention luring visitors back to Rosarito and Ensenada, number of visitors still strong as summer dies
  • Santa Barbara in Bajamar hits the 50 percent mark on amenities, construction going on at full speed to keep up with potential buyer´s interest
Call it the Baja Effect
Call it the Baja Effect

Call it the Baja- is-Back Effect. A string of recent features in such diverse media outlets as the San Diego Reader, Forbes Travel Guide and Anthony Bourdain´s No Reservations, have been showcasing the charms of Northern Baja.

The positive media attention has lured Americans back to the region. After these visitors get back home, their upbeat reports make it back to the media, thus feeding a virtuous circle that is expected to bring still more tourism and real estate buyers to the Rosarito-Ensenada area.

At Santa Barbara in Bajamar, developers are working hard to get ahead of the curve, and are not sparing any expense on the construction of new outdoor attractions to attract the new wave of buyers expected to hit the Northern Baja Coast. The construction of a new oceanfront pool complex, with shaded cabanas and changing rooms, outdoor kitchens with barbecues, sitting and tanning areas has hit the 50 percent mark, and is not slowing down, much as the number of visitors and tourists has not dwindled even as the summer dies down.

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