Differences in buying real estate in Mexico

It was a culture shock for me at first when I moved from BC Canada as a licensed real estate agent to Playa del Carmen in 2003 to see the differences in how business is done between BC and Quintana Roo.


Now that I have so many years of experience as an owner/broker of a real estate company in Playa del Carmen, the practices are second nature.

However, I understand how foreigners feel when they cross the border and venture into the real estate market in Mexico.
It is our role to give you the education and information needed for you to make your own best decision when purchasing a property in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, Mexico.

What are some of the differences between buying real estate in Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya Mexico vs buying real estate in Canada and USA?

First, it’s important to know who you are working with and how they do business in Riviera Maya.
How experienced is the agent? Do they work with a reputable firm? References? Are they licensed to sell real estate in Riviera Maya?
Many “agents” are independent, with no real estate education or training, no experience, and no understanding of the fiduciary duty to you the customer.
They are acting in their own interests, not yours. Be aware of this.
The laws, the culture, and the language are different.
Here are LivingRivieraMaya.com  we work in a Canadian model of real estate.
I am the broker of my company and I have 5-7 buyer agents working at the agency. They meet with me and I am responsible for their actions. They work for you the buyer with your interests at heart.
Since late 2014, there is a law in Quintana Roo that requires anyone selling real estate in any capacity should be licensed.
Since early 2016 I have license number 83.
In all Quintana Roo,  there are only about 285 licensees,  where there are about 2500 “agents”.
Most “agents”  have no training,  no education,  and little experience, yet many foreigners trust them with a big investment.
For an agent to acquire a license to sell real estate, there is an educational component of the license that takes several months to complete. Then there are steps of the government agency to become licensed. An agent must renew the license every year with 30 hours of continuing education!
This is one of the biggest differences in real estate in Quintana Roo and Quebec – the lack of regulatory enforcement of licensing.
Know who you are dealing with.
Next, the big difference is that there is NO central MLS where all properties are listed for all agents/ clients to search and see.
There are a million different agent websites, and it’s very confusing because you can see the same property listed 5 times at 5 different prices.
Keep in mind that just because you see it online does not mean its an accurate price or even that it is really for sale.
We have access to all the properties and can show you any listing by anyone.
We verify the true status of the property for you that saves you time money and energy.
There is a definite need to find and work with an experienced professional real estate agent when buying a home or a condo IN Playa del Carmen or Tulum or anywhere in Riviera Maya.
Another major difference is here in Mexico we are primarily a cash-based market.
Meaning the price you see is the price you pay in cash (wire transfer), from your own resources. No bank financing in Mexico for foreigners.
A very important consideration for owning real estate in Mexico is that the roles of notarios and lawyers are somewhat different.
Lawyers legally represent you at the purchase contract level and liase with the notarios throughout the closing process to ensure you receive a clear title.
Notarios, by comparison, are lawyers with many years of experience. Then there are specialized courses and exams for notarios. Once all that is passed, a notario may be appointed by the governor of the state. It is a lifetime appointment.  There is one notario for 30,000 in each location.
What makes the notario so special in any real estate transaction?
Notarios are the only authority that can create a new deed,  or convey deeds between parties. They are also the person to assess and collect and pay any capital gains tax for the seller. The onus is on the notario to pay capital gains tax, not the owner.
If I were an investor like you reading this,  I might be daunted by this information.
Rest assured,  that when you want to own real estate in Mexico, at LivingRivieraMaya.com, we have served customers like you to ensure you have a smooth enjoyable process. You will make a safe and secure real estate investment in Riviera Maya.
Judi Shaw
1 604 628 7247 direct
1 760 994 1716
+(52) 984 116 3251 Mex cell

Why You Should Consider Buying a property in a Pre-Construction Project


When buying property in the Riviera Maya, you’ll need to take several considerations into account. One of the most important decisions you’ll want to make is whether to purchase an already existing property or a unit in a pre-construction project. While the risk involved may scare many buyers off, buying pre-construction is worth considering if you want to save a good amount of money.

Below you’ll find some reasons why pre-construction projects make for great investments.


  • Pricing: The earlier you buy in the pre-construction project, the higher your gains. The prices for pre-construction are usually lower than those for an existing condo. In the preliminary stages developers are eager to advertise how many units have been sold since it makes for good publicity and attracts more buyers. Because of this, they often start selling units for an even lower rate early on. As an added bonus, the seller might give you a free upgrade to your unit to thank you for your bold move, e.g. a condo with an extra bedroom, a free Jacuzzi…


  • Automatic Appreciation: As more units get sold, the discounts become less and less available, eventually disappearing altogether, giving an automatic appreciation to the value of your property. For example, the unit you bought for $200,000 very early on will be worth $250,000 at the end of the project. And this gain doesn’t factor in any subsequent rise in market value. Think of the substantial profit you’ll make if you decide to sell it one day in the future!


  • Financing options: One of the big advantages of buying pre-construction is the ability to customize a financing plan. Once you have chosen your condo, you will have to put down a deposit- but the amount won’t need to be as large as a typical mortgage down payment. You will then pay the remainder according to construction progress (no interest is charged on these amounts). You can even transfer over to long-term financing, either through the developer or through a bank. This option will have to be discussed early on in the negotiation, however.  


  • No renovation costs: Buying early into a development offers more choices and will save you more money. When you purchase a pre-existing property, any changes you make to suit your taste will result in added costs. But not with pre-construction! The color of the walls, the lighting fixtures, the countertop materials won’t cost you one cent more, resulting in direct savings to you!!!


In the Riviera Maya, particularly the Playa del Carmen area, there are so many pre-construction projects that finding one that best suits your needs and budget is easy. Whether you choose a gated Community, villa, condo, development near a commercial center or golf course… you don’t have to compromise. So just pick your project, invest and start making a profit!

LRM’s pick: To help you find the best pre-construction project for you, the Living Riviera Maya’s team has pulled together a short list of remarkable properties.

  • ZULIM by GMB: Great prices in an up and coming neighborhood. They offer eco-friendly architecture, from studios to 2 bedrooms units.

More info:


  • MIRANDA by SIMCA: A solid developer offering great design concepts. You can get beach views and on 38th St., the best area of Playa del Carmen!

More info:



  • MAREA 34: Downtown living, very close to Playa’s best beaches. One and two bedrooms condos. Reliable developer. Only 22 units!

More info:


  • HACIENDA ESCONDIDA: Very spacious condos in a gated community. This development will include a park with a freshwater cenote, green spaces, pedestrian areas, benches as well as an area for kids.

More info:



  • THE GALLERY: A concept art residential project in Playa del Carmen with avant-garde architecture and unique design. Each space will be brought to life by a different national and international artist. Only 4 blocks to the beaches!

More info:



Living Riviera Maya Real Estate: Why buy with me?

Photo of Judi Shaw Realtor

Are you a Canadian or a foreigner and you are thinking about buying a property in Mexico, more specifically in the Riviera Maya or around Playa del Carmen…?

You would like to use the services of a real estate agent but don’t know which company to trust or where to start…

You want to have all the information possible and all the services related to an overseas transaction at hand in order to make a trouble free investment. It’s totally understandable and you shouldn’t settle for less.

Look no further, Judi Shaw and her team at Living Riviera Maya Real Estate is the answer! She’s an experienced real estate agent based in Playa del Carmen,  Riviera Maya. They will certainly be a major asset in every aspect of the buying process.

In order to learn more about her, we have asked Judi a few questions (that you may also have)… Her answers will definitely consolidate your decision to deal with her.

1) You are Canadian, Sauder School of Business UBC,licensed in Real estate,…how can do business in Mexico and really help me find the property of my dreams?

Well, first of all, you have the guarantee that I have a degree in business, I have a previous license in real estate in BC with all the training and education and licensing involved.

Not all real estate agents in Mexico have such background. I know how to do my job professionally with the higher standards. Secondly, it means that I understand Canadian (North American) needs and wants better than anyone. Thirdly, I have been living and working here for more than 13 years, I know the market and I keep my knowledge up to date…and NOW I am one of the very few truly licensed to practice real estate in the state of Quintana Roo. According to the new law in 2014, anyone selling renting or administering properties  has to be licensed and only about 20 of the 2000 or so agents are currently licensed. I received my license on Feb 20 2016.

2) What kind of experience do you have in Mexico, is it really worth something?

I was recruited in 2003 from Whistler, BC to the Riviera Maya to take part in the largest launch of pre-construction luxury real estate in the Riviera Maya Mexico, called Rosewood Mayakoba. To date, it is still viewed as a turning point in real estate here in the Riviera Maya. I have experienced, first hand, the boom of Playa del Carmen as a major international destination and real estate market. I have seen its development, I know every aspect of it.  All of my contacts are assets for you.

That was 13 years ago and since that time, I have never stopped being part all major real estate development.

3) How do Mexican competitors see you? And Mexican property developers?

But I am Mexican! I was naturalized as a Mexican in early 2016.   I am well respected by my peers and other professionals involved in the real estate business. I speak Spanish more or less fluently which is a great asset when it comes to negotiation, people don’t see me as a foreigner anymore. No bad surprises due to misunderstanding! In addition, I have a deep knowledge of the Mexican real estate legislation, I can’t be fooled!

4) Do you work alone? Do you have enough time to take care of all your clients?

I have a fantastic team, very dedicated to our clients. We take pride in being there for our clients at every stage of the buying process. My team has very high standards and we offer a very high-quality service. We listen, we understand and…we care about all our clients!

In addition to that, I have built an extensive network of contacts in the industry, including legal support, tax advice, mortgage consulting, immigration assistance, rental and property management connections, and more…

5) What kind of protection do I have if I decide to use your services?

I am affiliated with various professional associations:

  • Member of NAR (National association of Realtors)
  • Member of Luxury Home Marketing Institute
  • Resort and second home property specialist with NAR
  • Transnational referral certificate (TRC)
    Licensed real estate professional in Quintana Roo with SEDUVI, the governing body.

6) Is your expertise only in condos transaction? What if I am interested in investing in a lot or a hotel?

Good question! I have an extensive experience in all different kinds of transactions. Condos, houses, villas, commercial properties such as hotels and investment properties, lots and land to build your dream home. We have access to all properties and more importantly, we know how to handle each type of transaction!

7) What if at some point, I want to sell my property?

I can certainly take care of that. My role is to find the best buyer for all the properties in my portfolio and the best property for each of my client. My website enjoys the first place on google, organically. We list and market homes condos hotels and lots with great success due to our proprietary marketing methods

8) You are obviously well established in Playa del Carmen and know the real estate market there very well, now, what if I am interested in another place?

My company covers all these areas: Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Playacar, Puerto Aventuras, Playa Paradise, Playa Paraiso, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum, Yucatan, Cozumel, or Bacalar…

We can certainly help you find your dream home in your dream spot!

I live here love it and own here. Let me show you the same.

About Living Riviera Maya Real Estate


Thinking of moving to the Riviera Maya for your retirement? Looking to invest in real estate in Playa del Carmen? Look no further! With more than 18 years in the Riviera Maya, Living Riviera Maya Real Estate is there for you.  Looking for resort real estate, your dream home, a vacation rental condo, land for building, an investment property such as a hotel, restaurant, that’s what we do !

With one foot in Canada (British Columbia) and the other one in Mexico (since 2003), our agency has a deep understanding of North American clients’ (American and Canadian) needs and has helped countless of them find their own piece of paradise in the Riviera Maya.

How do we do that? By giving our clients the best advice on all levels and at each stage. We have relationships with many professionals in the Mayan Riviera, for:

– legal support,

– tax advice,

– mortgage consulting,

– immigration assistance,

– rental and property management connections,

– and so much more…

Playa del Carmen’s real estate market is booming. Whether you’re looking for a small getaway condo, or hotel to purchase, it is a land of opportunity for people who properly navigate the complicated matrix of foreign investment here. But beware! Due to a lack of Realtor licensing, real estate investments can sometimes become tricky or risky which is why it is highly recommended to deal with an experienced real estate professional.

Living Riviera Maya prides itself in having the best possible credentials to guarantee and secure any transaction:

  • Licensed with CREA (Canadian Real Estate association)
  • Member of NAR (National association of Realtors)
  • Member of Luxury Home Marketing Institute
  • Resort and second home property specialist with NAR
  • Transnational referral certificate (TRC)

You can count on our passion for Playa del Carmen’s exciting real-estate market, our extensive knowledge in international transactions and our unique customer service to make the whole process easy, safe and hassle free, every step of the way!

Living Riviera Maya Real Estate on HGTV’s Caribbean Life

Living the dream!

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Did you see Meredith Chambers and Brad Van Ess, a couple from Denver, Colorado looking to relocate to Playa del Carmen ?  Well here is a synopsis of their adventure in the Mayan Riviera, and Living Riviera Maya Real Estate helped them find their dream property. Watch the full episode here !

They met on the internet 8 years ago and recently got engaged. Meredith is a busy real estate broker looking for a more relaxed lifestyle, the «flip flop lifestyle» as she calls it! Brad is an investor, fed up of the bad weather in Denver. He can work from anywhere in the world as long as there’s an internet connection. They have decided to move to Playa del Carmen, a place they both love, to change their lives completely!

Playa del Carmen, formerly a small fishing village is now a vibrant touristic place thanks to its beautiful beaches, incredible diving, great shops, restaurants and numerous amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, bike paths and promenades.

Judi Shaw, head of “Living Riviera Maya Real Estate” is helping them find their new dream home. Here’s what they are looking for:

  • 2-3 bedrooms as Charlie (Brad’s son) will join them quite often
  • 2+ bathrooms
  • Close to the beach and city center
  • A lot of outdoor space: Terrace/Balcony/Patio
  • Ideally an ocean view
  • Budget of 250k-375k

Judi, who cannot resist a challenge, has 3 superb properties to show them; Brad and Meredith can’t wait to visit them!

Hacienda del Rio is the first property, a very spacious house located in a brand new neighborhood about 3 miles outside of town with a club house and a private access to the beach.

It’s a traditional style looking home with wood beams and an open plan concept. It’s got an amazingly huge rooftop deck, great for parties! It’s absolutely gorgeous and certainly has an appealing price but it’s a bit far from the beach and city center. Meredith also feels that there might be a lack of privacy and too much traffic noise.

Judi then takes them to Condo Alegre (condo of happiness), located in a private golf course community. Meredith and Brad immediately fall in love with the resort style living and all the amenities it offers. There’s a beach club, beautiful pool, tennis club and even a golf membership included in the price (high end of their budget). The look is completely different from the hacienda. Here everything is sleek and modern. There is also a nice balcony overlooking the pool. Despite all that, Brad and Meredith feel that it’s a bit too tight and don’t like the fact there’s only two bedrooms.

After a bit of sightseeing in Tulum, visiting the ruins of an old Mayan city, Brad and Meredith are ready to visit the third property. Judi is very excited about that one. She’s kept the best for the end. It’s a little over their budget but it meets absolutely all their criteria, including…An ocean view!!!

Condo Mimosa, located on 5th av. Downtown Playa del Carmen is on 3 levels and has 3 bedrooms/bathrooms. It’s right in the city center, one block away from the beach. The icing on the cake is a private rooftop solarium with an ocean view! It’s also got an open floor plan, en suite-bathrooms and a swimming pool. Brad and Meredith immediately fall in love with the condo. It’s their dream home!

It’s decided, that’s where they are going to live! Their offer is accepted (within their budget) and now,  they are ready to start planning their wedding!!

Another mission accomplished for Judi Shaw head of “Living Riviera Maya Real Estate”!

Stay tuned for our next episode which will be aired on HGTV in January 2016.

If you are looking to buy your piece of paradise, call Living Riviera Maya Real Estate.  We can help you find that perfect place.  We have access to all properties along the Riviera Maya and offer 1st class service.  With over 10 years in the area, Judi, a Canadian Real Estate Broker, can help and assist you through the whole process of acquiring Mexico Real Estate.

Contact Judi to talk about buying or selling a home or condo in Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Playacar, Puerto Aventuras, Playa Paradise, Playa Paraiso, Akumal, Tulum, Yucatan, Cozumel, or Bacalar.

Canada/US: 1-604-628-7247 • Toll-Free: 1-800-441-3275
Mexico cel: 521-984-116-3251 • Email Judi playarealestate2012@gmail.com