In my last entry, I talked about how we came to realize that there was more to life than working for corporate America until we were 65, hoping to squeeze in a few fun years somewhere before heading off into the far blue yonder. Here is the beginning of the tale of how we purchased our little slice of paradise.
Once we decided that the area surrounding Playa del Carmen was our choice, we then did what everyone does – explore the internet looking at properties for sale! After chatting with a few realtors online, Mark headed to Playa alone to do some looking around. (He always has more vacation time than me). He met with a young realtor and, armed with our checklist of things we knew we wanted, found a lovely condo in the nearby community of Puerto Aventuras. He brought home plenty of pictures and before we knew it we were wiring $5,000 earnest money to a foreign country! But that property was not to be.
After searching around online, I found an attorney located in the Austin area who was well versed in real estate transactions in Mexico. After a few emails and a phone conversation, we hired him to represent us in this transaction and forwarded him the sales contract that we had signed. I immediately got a tense email from him stating that he would like to talk to Mark and I on the phone together. This can’t be good.
He explained to us that we were purchasing a condo in a complex that had 3 phases, and our unit was in phase 2. No big surprise here, we knew that. However, the contract stated that the seller would not even START the process of transferring ownership/title to the purchasers until the completion of phase 3. So we could be waiting years for ownership of our unit – not to mention the risk that the builder may or may not even complete the project! Really? I don’t think so! He recommended that we terminate the contract and request a refund of our earnest money. Uh huh, I am sure you see where this is going, right?
As you might imagine, this was a drama in and of itself – lots of phone calls and emails trying to talk us out of it, then full of promises that the refund had been wired, check was in the mail, today is a bank holiday – yada, yada, yada. But – big surprise coming – NO money! We were pretty sure at this point that we would never see that 5 grand, but we never gave up while we moved on to find another property. Our passion for this project was not diminished. If anything, we were more determined than ever.
Fast forward a few months. On a normal Thursday night at the end of May, 2008, Mark received an email from another realtor, one that would eventually become our good friend, announcing that he was representing a seller who wished to move to a larger home in Playa. This condo he was selling had everything we were looking for and much more – we got really excited while viewing the pictures and especially when we realized how awesome the location was. I think you could say it was love at first sight! Long story short, I pulled my mother into the adventure, and she and I were on a plane to Mexico two days later. This time, it was Mark who couldn’t take off work on such short notice.
Before I tell you about seeing the condo for the first time, I have to tell you about getting our other earnest money back from our first fiasco. After several months of almost daily calls and/or emails, I am now in Playa so I decided that I will just “pop in” and pay an unexpected visit to Veronica (our contact for the builder). My mom and I are walking down 5th Avenue and we see the office of the builder, and a young woman is sitting on a chair out front talking on a cell phone. She sees us as potential customers and sees an opportunity for a sale, and we get her most charming “Hello, how are you?” complete with a huge smile and sparkly eyes. I say to her “I am looking for Veronica” and she tells me that she IS Veronica, still all sparkly. Then I tell her my name and all I can tell you is NO MORE SPARKLY! After about an hour and a half of “I can sit here all day – I’m not going anywhere until I get my money”, the funds were wired and received back home. (Moral of the story – don’t ever give up, just get on a plane).
Stay tuned to my next post with more of the “adventure” that is buying property in Mexico!