Original Message from RipplePlace on July 17, 2009
“Yes, everything you wrote was true. However, as a Canadian owning a single home in the village of Ajijic, it has been a nightmare. My grandmother owned the home as a Snowbird. A woman named MARLENE DUNHAM attempted to purchase it in 1989 and agreed to rent it for $800.00 until the deal closed. She never closed on the contract, stopped paying rent in 1990 and continues to live there, free. The realtor, takes no responsibility for the mistakes made in the contract and wont communicate with the family. We have spent thousands of $$ on legal fees to try to get MARLENE DUNHAM out of the house but the legal system protects the tenant. DO NOT BUY REAL ESTATE IN THIS AREA!!!!!!!!!”
Response from Kevin Collins Collins Real Estate
We received this e-mail a few days ago and because it is so negative, we considered not posting it. That would be less than honest and it’s an opoptunity to talk about some issues that are important for new comers to the area. Truth is, I have been selling real in this area for 14 years now and I have seen similar situations to the one described here about 6 times. I haven’t been directly involved in any but, unfortunatly, they do happen. There are almost always two sides to these situations but I am going to go on the premise that the Marlene Dunham ( the renter) is simply a scam artist. I obviously don’t have access to the paper work so I also have to make some other assumtions.
There are three main factors working against the victim here. 1. People “fresh off the boat” sign contracts here, in an area they are unfamiliar with, that they wouldn’t sign back home. Realtors will tell you “Don’t worry, that’s just the way it is here in Mexico”. That’s rubbish. If you are not comfortable signing something DON”T until you clearly understand it and the ramifications.
2. You can set up a contract to protect yourself but you need a good notary to handle the closing. Not all notaries are created equal. There are some that will do what ever they are instructed to do and they have the autonomy to do that. If someone doesn’t live up to their end of the bargain you do have to go to court. If your documentation isn’t done correctly you are going to have a problem. Of course you want to avoid going to court at all because it is a slow process, even if you have an “open and shut case” it can take at least 3 but more likely 5 or 6 months to evict someone. These cases are rare but the paper work is critical. Again, the initial burden of the transaction falls on the realtor to make sure the process is done corectly from the get go.
3. I know this all sounds like selfserving realtor promotion but the real issue here is you got hooked up with an unscrupous agent. Not all realtors are bad or intend to screw you but they don’t have the experience to handle these situations. The internet has changed our business and in some ways improved it but the truth is there are far too many who are in it for the fast buck and don’t really understand the ramifications of unethical behavior. If you blithly send an enquiry to an office you will be responded to by the person on duty that day. You just pulled a name out of a hat. They may seem like good folk but what do you really know about them? Not all bad situations are unavoidable but having someone you trust has your best interest at heart is just common sense. Get refferences. There are some pitfalls that you aren’t aware of.
The bottom line is 98% of deals are straight forward and to say “don’t buy real estate in this area” is just ludicrous ( however considering the situation I can see why they would say that). I am not saying I’m the only realtor to deal with. There are a number of very good professional people here but certainly not everyone enjoys my reputation.
I hope “Ripple Place ” reads this and sends me some more details. There is a chance (slim) that I could help. The situation they outline is reduculous for here or anywhere else and damages the area as a whole.