Sunday, November 3, 2019

Selling a House, Mexican Style, Part 2

I feel as if I’ve been on a roller coaster since I last wrote. I wanted an adventure....

The buyers were a bit slow in coming up with the Contrato de Compra-Venta that laid out the terms of the sale, and when it came, I was surprised that I understood so little of it. I’ve signed three of these since I’ve been down here, usually a form from a realtor, but one was private, and they were pretty clear. This one was very confusing, so it is a good thing that the notario had offered to check it out for me before I signed.

He told me that the reason I couldn’t understand it was that it was written with very archaic language that would even confuse a Mexican who wasn’t a lawyer. Who knows where they got it from, but it was crazy!

It said they would deposit 10% in my bank account and then bring me a receipt to prove it had been paid. Then I would sign the contract. That part was pretty standard. But then it went on to say that the buyers would take possession of the house at that point. It allowed either the buyer or the seller to back out for a mere $20,000 peso penalty. That’s about $1,000US. The way the notario explained it, the buyers got to move in upon payment of the 10%, but then they could back out of the deal and we would never close. Eviction laws protect the person in the house, so it was likely to take years of court battles to get them out. Eventually, they would lose and would have to leave and then would have to pay me the $20,000 penalty - and nothing more, even though I’d spent years fighting the case in court.

I sent the buyers a message stating that their contract was totally unacceptable and carefully explained why. Up to that point, I had been communicating with the nephew because he understood some English. That night the señora called me to say that all communication was to be directly with her from then on.  I guess the nephew was responsible for that contract. Although the buyers are responsible for all the closing costs, I offered to have the notario draw up a contract and I said I would pay for it. I wanted to be sure that I was protected in this deal.

I was worried that they would change their minds in the week it took to get the new contract, but, no, they deposited the 10% in my bank account before I even had a contract for us to sign. I sent them a copy but I still didn’t have it signed quite a few days later. I finally explained to the señora that without that contract signed by both of us, if I was less than honest or if something happened to me, they had no proof of any agreement and I had both the house and the money. They got the signatures and got it back to me the next morning and I got my signature witnessed and back to them right away.

I don’t think there was any bad intention with the crazy contract. My guess is that someone copied it from a very old document which required 10% down and then the rest on payments over time. A $20,000 peso penalty would have been very substantial in those days.

So this is where things stand right now. The current contract has a penalty of 20% if  either party decides to back out. I know I won’t change my mind, and I have to admit that I wouldn’t even be too upset if they backed out and I ended up with the house and 20% for my trouble. But that’s not going to happen. The closing date is December 16, five days after I get back from my trip to Chiapas.

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