Real Escapes: Mexico Dreaming
By Taylor Antrim
April 7, 2005
article on Forbes.com
For real estate fantasists,
nothing beats an empty stretch of beachfront. Just add house.
Back in 1996, Huey Rodeheaver of St. Louis, Missouri, bumped north
from the Mexican resort town of Ixtapa in a rented jeep, searching
for "pretty beachfront." He was preparing to sell his
telecommunications company for a tidy sum, and wanted a second home
to retire to. Puerto Vallarta was too big; Cancún, too young.
About 15 miles north of Ixtapa, he came across Troncones, a village
with a few rooms for rent and a little seafood restaurant right
on the beach. For $52,500 he bought two side-by-side lots, a total
of 10,000 square feet. Then he hired a Mexican architect to build
the house of his dreams. Nine years later, at age 58, he has to
be dragged up from the beach to speak to us by phone. "It's
been an excellent investment," he says.
Property values have risen steadily in Troncones-though not yet
into the stratosphere. Quarter-acre beachfront lots currently go
for $190,000 to $250,000. Local contractors charge about $80 per
square foot to build. One businessman from Santa Barbara recently
put up a 10,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom home with triple-decker
pool and lighted tennis court on little more than an acre of empty
beachfront here for $1.6 million, all in. No chance of pulling that
off in Malibu.
Troncones isn't the only small town on Mexico's Pacific coast with
beachfront property for sale, says California-born, Zihuatanejo-based
lawyer David Connell, but it's attracting the most affluent clientele.
Why? The tranquil atmosphere, the proximity to the international
airport in Ixtapa and the fact that you won't hear horror stories
of nefarious developers or sudden, unexplained government evictions.
"There have been lots of changes over the last ten years that
have made foreigners more willing to buy down here," says Connell,
the go-to lawyer for real estate transactions in the area. He points
out that all coastal property titles must still be held through
a bank-administered trust or Mexican corporation, but since NAFTA's
inception, Mexico's financial markets have opened up, and Citigroup
is now the largest bank in the country. Plus, a handful of U.S.
firms are now willing to insure titles in Troncones. "Mexico
is very pro-foreign investment right now," says Connell.
Americans have long sought out unspoiled beachfront property in
Mexico. But due to a recent Mexican land rush, formerly sleepy coastal
villages are no longer all that sleepy. Which is why Troncones,
with more than a dozen beachfront lots still unsold, is such a find.
Rodeheaver knows this as well as anyone. "My kids always tell
me I either have foresight and no money, or money and no foresight,"
he says, sighing. "I should have bought the whole damn beach."
For legal consulting, contact Connell & Associates, 011-52-755-554-7957,