Protective of its sovereignty after centuries of Spanish colonialism, Mexico long resisted foreign ownership of land within its borders. By 1972, however, Mexican law was loosening up to encourage foreign investment. A legal instrument called the fideicomiso facilitated property purchases by Americans. Mexicanophiles in the United States quickly took to the concept, which uses bank trusts as title holders. The pioneering phase is probably over, but you can still feel like a trendsetter by buying a home south of the border. You'll find tax rates to be reasonable and title insurance available from U.S. firms. And due to its emerging status, Mexico seems less influenced by the factors that have cooled our domestic real estate market.
Paraiso del Mar
Two veteran Cabo San Lucas developers took their act north to Baja California Sur's capital city to build Paraiso del Mar, the pearl of a protected bay along the Sea of Cortez. They hired Arthur Hills as their course designer, offering him a parcel that could legitimately be called linksland and should play low and bouncy in the Scots style. Of the seventeen hundred acres here, more than a thousand are set aside as sanctuary. Paraiso del Mar's appeal will lie partly in the pueblito vibe of La Paz, a quieter alternative to Cabo. Home choices include oceanfront condos and freestanding casas with preserve views. Shown is a drawing of the Casa del Sol. Visit paradiseofthesea.com.
Square Feet: 2,080
El Dorado Golf & Beach Club
The concierge-style service lavished on homeowners by this community's developer, Discovery Land Company, comes in handy in Cabo. The challenges of a foreign language and legal system make the developer's hyper-attentiveness (guided excursions, party planning, on-demand dry-cleaning) seem a necessity. The private Nicklaus course at El Dorado yielded some of its seafront holes to homesites during a recent renovation, but the new holes, inland on higher ground, offer fine ocean views. The home shown had its interior done by a Discovery Land Company subsidiary that allows a homeowner to shop, select and install all decor and furnishings through one contact person. Visit discoverylandco.com.
Baths: 5 full, 1 half
Square Feet: 5,945
Price: $11.5 million
A second Jack Nicklaus golf course is nearly finished inside the gates of this high-profile seaside community. In very recent times, Punta Mita has become a showcase of luxury spas, plunge pools, beach clubs and gourmet-dining venues. The destination will rise another notch on the global pecking order when the new Nicklaus course and the St. Regis Resort & Residences open this spring. Already in place is a Four Seasons and an array of luxury residence options. The home depicted features an oversize garage with space for two golf carts, as well as a second-story infinity-edge pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Banderas Bay. Visit puntamita.com.
Baths: 5 full, 3 half
Square Feet: 10,500
Price: $3.975 million
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