Americans face uphill battle for Mexican real estate

Unsuspecting buyers may be throwing money down the drain

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

It was fishing that led me to real estate – and I don't mean dangling a bottom-feeder offer in front of a desperate seller's nose. My genuine interest in property came from the constant wondering of "who is the lucky person to own that place," while bobbing in a boat on a wondrous mountain lake or sparkling section of ocean. Many years ago, while searching for yellowtail tuna with a group of older fishermen off the warm waters of Ensenada, Mexico, I was drawn to the tiny cottages that dotted the dry hills above the sea. What a place, I thought then. Who owned those spots? Sometimes, nobody really knew – including the folks who had houses there. For Mexican families, it often did not seem to matter. For U.S. citizens seeking an affordable option to outlandish waterfront prices – especially second-home buyers and retirees – the property ownership question became a moving target. Jack Smith, the late Los Angeles Times columnist, for years described his experience o...