If you are looking to invest in Mérida Real Estate, this property might meet your expectations; it was posted on the New York Times “House Hunting in…” under their “Great Homes & Destinations” Real Estate Section on Wednesday August 13th, 2014.
RESTORED FIVE-BEDROOM HOUSE IN THE CENTER OF MÉRIDA
This historic house in Mérida was restored between 2006 and 2008 by the current owner. Its exact age is unknown, but the owner believes it was built in the 17th century, based on its position in the city and its construction. The house has a stucco exterior, painted sea-green, that faces the street. Called Casa del Unicornio — the entrance is flanked by unicorn statues — it is arranged in a traditional quadrangle configuration, with a lush garden of palm trees and bougainvillea in the center. The rooms are connected by an outdoor gallery that runs around the inside of the quadrangle. Visitors step into the central garden through an elaborate ironwork grill that guards the entrance to the house. The living room is beside the entrance, followed by the dining room, which is painted a vivid red. The kitchen has pale-green walls and a center island with a sink.
The master suite has a 1,000-volume library, where a wheeled ladder provides access to the top shelves. The library is included in the price of the house, as is the furniture. The two guest bedrooms have doors to the interior garden and the swimming pool at the back of the house. The maid’s quarters include a large bedroom that would also be suitable for a guest or a family member, and the fifth bedroom is currently used as a study. All five bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms.
All the rooms are on one level. The ceilings throughout are more than 20 feet high, with exposed beams made of zapote wood. The floors are local limestone, and the walls are two feet thick. The house is equipped with new wiring and plumbing.
Inside the quadrangle, an old cistern, called an aljibe in Spanish, has been converted into a fishpond. The quarter-acre property is unusually large for the area, with space behind the house for a two-car garage and a large swimming pool. There is also an aviary suitable for tropical birds.
The price: $1,399,000 USD.
Mérida is the largest city in the state of Yucatán. The Centro Historico area, where this house is, has restaurants, historic houses and a cathedral built on the site of Mayan ruins. The Plaza Grande is a 10-minute walk from the house, with street vendors selling food and local arts and crafts. The nearest beach, called Progreso, is on the Gulf of Mexico and about a 40-minute drive from Mérida. The airport is about 20 minutes’ drive from the house.
“The Mérida market is hot,” said Jennifer Lytle, owner of the real estate company Tierra Yucatán. “Normally at this time of year we wouldn’t have much activity, but I have 10 agents and everybody is working hard.”
Since 2010, the local market has been climbing out of the trough caused by the recession, with things picking up even more in 2012, Ms. Lytle said. Much of the activity is caused by bargain hunters, though, and prices have not returned to pre-recession levels. Ms. Lytle said. Mérida is still a buyer’s market, but she expects prices to start going up next year.
It is possible to buy a renovated 19th- or early 20th-century house in Mérida’s downtown for as little as $275,000, Ms. Lytle said, but “prices go up to the millions.” Extremely old houses cost more, as do homes in central locations with larger gardens, such as this one.
Inventory is low for high-end historic houses. Ms. Lytle said more and newer inventory can be found in gated communities like the Yucatán Country Club.
WHO BUYS IN YUCATÁN
Americans are the largest group of foreign buyers in Mérida, followed by Canadians, said Graciela Zamudio Conde, a broker with Sotheby’s International Realty, who has the listing. An increasing number of European buyers have arrived over the past few years, primarily French and Italians and lately, Germans. “One person comes, they find it very cheap and attractive to retire here,” Ms. Zamudio Conde said. “They start to tell their friends, and a new community grows.”
Wealthy Mexican buyers are also drawn to Mérida because of its relative safety compared with other parts of Mexico. However, Ms. Lytle said, Mexican buyers are more likely to buy a newer home in a high-security gated community in northern Mérida, rather than a historic house in the Centro.
Mexico restricts foreign property ownership near the coast and the border, Ms. Lytle said. Because Mérida is near the coast, foreign buyers are required to hold property through a bank trust. The trusts cost about $3,500 for the initial setup, and $600 to $700 a year to operate. “It’s totally legal,” Ms. Lytle said. “The government wants foreigners to buy here.” In fact, she said, some Mexican nationals choose to buy homes through trusts as well because it simplifies the inheritance process.
Transaction costs include a 2 percent transfer tax in Mérida, compared with 3 percent for homes closer to the coast. Legal fees for a property like this run about $5,000, which includes the recording of the deed, a title search and other incidentals.
Interested in this property? Contact: Graciela Zamudio Conde, Sotheby’s International Realty, (011) 52-33-3627-6437
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