Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) has brought on its first network member in Mexico located in the expat and retiree destination of San Miguel de Allende, the firm has announced. The new brokerage will operate as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel.
Local real estate professional Alma Cecilia Ramírez and American expat Gregory Gunter, previously named the No. 2-ranked sales agent by volume nationwide in Mexico among the nation’s largest franchise, will co-own the new 7-agent brokerage.
Gunter is also a certified Guild member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and was previously named a certified Global Luxury specialist. Ramirez had owned and operated her own local real estate office since 1995, prior to Gunter’s approaching her to partner to form the new BHHS brokerage.
“We’ve been eyeing Mexico for some time as part of our global expansion,” Gino Blefari, chairman of BHHS, said in a press statement. “With its strong American and Canadian population, San Miguel de Allende seemed a natural fit for our brand and the name recognition we command.”
San Miguel de Allende, located in central Mexico, is an UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. The picturesque historic center teeming with towering churches, quaint shop fronts and street vendors has long attracted American retirees looking for an affordable, tourist-friendly international experience. The city of about 100,000 permanent residents has been named “No. 1 City in the World” twice each by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines.
Although Gunter expressed optimism about gaining the recognition of the BHHS brand, he did note that San Miguel’s market has taken a palpable hit during the pandemic.
“We’re a fly-in only market, we’re in the very heart of the country, and even though Mexico has been open all the time during the pandemic — you’ve always been able to fly back and forth — of course, people are not quite so keen on doing that,” Gunter told Inman. “We’re a retiree expat destination and a very specific fly-in destination. So other retiree markets, maybe like Scottsdale or even the Hawaiian islands, you can take a puddle jumper, take a ferry from one island to the other… but we’re literally a Mexican community that has a pretty substantial expat community of about 12,000 expats, but for new buyers to come in … It’s really decimated the market here … Our sales are down about 50 percent from what they were last year.”
However, Gunter also noted that COVID-19 rates have stayed low in the area throughout the pandemic because the local municipality has enacted strict measures on face masks in public and temperature checks for individuals going into stores and restaurants. And, just within the past few weeks, he said business has started to pick up again.
“On the flip side … we’ve seen an uptick in visitors finally coming back since about the first of August,” Gunter told Inman. “We’ve finally seen people coming back into town, and more sales, more homes going under contract and more activity.”
The city’s high season usually hits around mid-December, so Gunter said he anticipates traffic to pick up even more as the U.S. approaches winter, and Americans seek out more temperate climates during cooler months.
“We’re excited to have a bi-national and bi-cultural ownership of our first franchise in Mexico,” Blefari said in a statement. “We expect their crossover outreach to both Mexican and American/Canadian clients to be unparalleled in the market.”