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Mexico May Ease Restrictions On Foreign Ownership Of Property

Mexico May Ease Restrictions On Foreign Ownership Of Property
Supporters say a Mexican constitutional amendment allow non-U.S. citizens to more easily buy coastal property would spur tourism.

People who are not Mexican citizens have long been restricted from buying beachfront property in Mexico, but a bill working its way through Mexico's congress may change that.

After the U.S.-Mexican War ended in 1848, Mexico lost about half of its territory to the U.S. Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which was written to prevent further erosion of the country's borders. It prohibited foreigners from owning property within 60 miles of an international border or within 30 miles of the coast.

That rule was amended in the 70s, allowing foreigners to buy property held in trust by a Mexican bank. The process is complicated, however, and there is a risk — the government can revoke ownership.

In April the lower house of Mexico's Congress has approved a constitutional amendment that would allow foreigners to buy residential property outright, though commercial property would still be off limits.

Supporters say the change is needed to promote coastal development that attracts tourism as the economy rebounds. Large condominium developments on the Pacific Coast of Baja California have remained largely empty or unfinished since the real estate bust, and easing property ownership laws could help fill them. However, opponents of the bill say it is a sellout to foreign interests and would likely be detrimental to the coastal environment.

The amendment will soon be taken up by the Senate, where supporters think they have the votes to pass it. It then needs to be ratified by a majority of Mexico's state legislatures.