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Buying property — as easy as buying a piece of heaven Part 3

for sale

Lot for sale

My husband decided to go and visit Don R and see if there still was a lien on the lots. Don R said that yes, in fact, he was thinking of contacting us to see if we were still interested in buying. Apparently, C’s girlfriend had come to his house to try and renegotiate the repayment schedule but had insulted Don R’s wife and was in danger of defaulting. Only, the thing was, Don R had developed cataracts and been left blind. He had given his son all his current outstanding loans until such time as he had an operation to improve his vision. He sent my husband to the son with the idea that we could purchase the contract.

So my husband went to see the son. The son said that yes, he had the papers transferring ownership from G to C’s girlfriend and that she had until December to repay the loan. To date, she had only paid $3,000 of the $20,000 loan and interest was accumulating. My husband said he would be willing to make good on the loan, $20,000 plus interest, provided the lot that was next to us became ours. The lot behind it, which was also part of the lien, he would give to C’s girlfriend. So basically, C’s girlfriend would be out of debt and still have one lot to sell or do whatever she wanted with.

The son thought it might be a good deal and made arrangements to contact C’s girlfriend and set up a meeting. Meanwhile, I talked to my sister-in-law T about the deal. I explained the drawbacks and benefits to her and asked if she would go with my husband to the meeting. I knew I couldn’t go and not lose my temper and my husband would need someone there to make sure he didn’t just agree to any old deal. I told her that if we could get the lot for $20,000 or thereabouts, to close the deal, but if it was to be higher than that, no deal.

The meeting was set up a few days later and off they went. They were gone more than 2 hours. They came back without the lot. It seems the girlfriend was not interested in selling less than $45,000, which we weren’t interested in paying. She went on and on about how she wanted to sell in La Yacata because of the mala fama (bad reputation) it had and lack of water, sewer, and electricity. (You can lead a horse to water.) She talked about this as if this would convince my husband to buy the property at the price she wanted. Never mind that he was fully aware of the problems, and enumerated several others with the lot. For instance, not only was there no water, sewer, or electricity, the lot had an outstanding debt of $250 for lawyer’s fees. That lot also had never made a payment for sidewalks, road paving or the pozo (never mind that the pozo was a fraud perpetrated by Chuchi—See Demanda 3). Therefore, the lot did not have a value of the $45,000 she was asking.

C’s girlfriend concluded the meeting by saying that she already had a buyer that was willing to pay $45,000 in payments and that we should take her offer immediately so as not to lose out. That is the type of pressure my husband caves under, but T took hold of his elbow and walked him out.

C’s girlfriend then turned her attention to Don R’s son. My sister-in-law said there were some sparks flying between the two when they took their leave. Perhaps she offered the son some incentive to renegotiate the repayment schedule with her, for whatever it was worth. The lien can not be canceled, nor the lots sold, without the written permission of Don R, blind or not. The son even said as much during the meeting.

And as for this supposed buyer….no shit, Sherlock!  That would be our aborted negotiation with C. The girlfriend didn’t know my husband personally and I had sent T instead of going myself since I am all too readily identifiable. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the conversation between C and his girlfriend after the meeting!

So, disappointed, we have decided to wait it out. There is still a possibility that in December, the girlfriend will default and the lot will come up for sale. It seems a lame ending to this saga, but whoever said buying a piece of heaven was easy?

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Buying property — as easy as buying a piece of heaven Part 2

lot next door

This is the lot under discussion. Doesn’t look like much I know, but oh, the possibilities!

About a month ago, C was cussing and sweating his way through clearing off the lot in order to put it up for sale. My husband mentioned to him that we might be interested in buying it. He said the price would be $45,000 pesos ($5,000 pesos more than the year previously) but that he would allow us to make payments. Oh, how I wanted that lot!

Hold on a minute, though. A few months earlier, an older man came to our house and said that the lot was empeñado (had a lien). Don R said that a young woman gave him the two lots next door to us as a guarantee for a personal loan of $20,000. She offered some hoochie-coo as well, but he said he was too old for that sort of deal and just took the property documents. So what was going on here?

It so happens, that the day this lien was made, I had seen part of the negotiations. I had given my keys to my son and he had taken them with him when the whole crew went to Cerano for an impromptu visit. I arrived home from work and found myself locked out. While I sat and stewed, a jeep pulled up and around, then went over to the other street and parked. In the jeep were C’s girlfriend and an older man that I thought might have been her father. Turns out, it was Don R and this was the point she offered to sweeten the deal.

So Don R loaned C’s girlfriend $20,000 in order to open a pharmacy in Moroleón, or so she said, and in return, she gave him the property certificates to the two lots next to us. When Don R came to our door, it was because she had yet to make any repayment and he wanted to know information about the girlfriend in order to collect. He and my husband hit it off. My husband made mention, that if the property next door came up for sale, we would be interested in buying it. He promised to keep that in mind.

We heard nothing more about the loan, repayment or pharmacy plans until that day C was huffing and puffing his way through the brush and my husband asked about the property. Since C had never registered the lots in his name, and I should know since I have all the records of La Yacata in my backroom, my husband asked if he had proof that he was the owner before any money changed hands. C assured him that he did. He hurried home and brought back a certificate and a copy of an IFE (voter registration card).

He presented a certificate in the name of J.A., which I had to admit was a real certificate, one of the ones Chuchi printed out back in the day. However, since I knew that J.A had sold the lot to G and, in fact, had a certificate in G’s name that she never bothered to pick up, this J.A certificate was not valid. And I told him so. Then C angrily waved the copy of G’s IFE in my face.

I told him that I had a copy of that particular document too, in fact, I even had a copy of the transfer of ownership from J.A to G, which I dug out of the file and showed him. Having a copy of an IFE did not prove that C was the current owner of the lot. What I wanted to see from C, was some document that said G had transferred ownership to him. He said he had those papers in his house.

By this time I was pretty heated up, so my husband told me to leave the talking to the menfolk. I retired to the kitchen. My husband and C continued talking. My husband suggested that C contact G and have her pick up the certificate made in her name then sign over rights to the property to C. If he did that, then we would hand over some money. Of course, I knew that G, having already sold the lot, would not be interested in picking up and paying for an invalid certificate. I was also sure that there was some sort of documentation that spelled out the change in ownership and that C didn’t have it. At this point, C started whining that he needed $20,000 down and the rest we could make in payments. I hollered from the other room that since the certificate that he had in his possession was in the name of J.A I would rather give J.A the $20,000 than C. Negotiation ceased at that point.

What it seemed that C wanted to do was get someone to give him $20,000 pesos so the debt could be paid and the documents would be returned. However, besides not being the registered owner, he can not legally sell the lots until the lien is paid.  So…

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Buying property — as easy as buying a piece of heaven Part 1

Se Vende La Case donde vive Toñita. Inf. aqui. The house where Tonita lives is for sale. You can get information about that house at the house where this sign is posted. No idea where Toñita lives.

Se Vende La Case donde vive Toñita. Inf. aqui. The house where Tonita lives is for sale. You can get information about that house at the house where this sign is posted. No idea where Toñita lives.

When we came to México, it was only a matter of course that we look for a place to call our own. I should mention that until recently, foreigners could not buy land in Mexico at all.  The current president, Pena Nieto, however, is all about changing the constitution and allowing foreign investors in, so those laws have been changed dramatically.  We really didn’t have a major issue with this prohibition, however, since my husband is bona fide Mexican and therefore allowed to own land.

It wasn’t as easy as you might think. In our area, there are no realty offices. There are inmobiliaries, (property sellers) however the majority of property owners here who are looking to sell do not use them because there is a fee. Those that do have an agent through an inmobilario office were out of our price range. So, with no easy to look at list of properties for sale, all the legwork falls on the hopeful buyer.

For us, this process entailed months of exploration. We drove everywhere we thought we might like to live, from Los Amoles to Cerano and back, up side roads and by-roads, through fields and over ditches. If we happened to come across a $ painted either on the front of a house or on a stone wall, we stopped and looked it over.

SEVEN DE should read Se vende and indicates this building is for sale.

SEVEN DE should read Se vende and indicates this building is for sale.

Having located a prospective property, we then set out to locate the person who currently owned it. Asking the neighbors was seldom helpful. Small town distrust placed us at a severe disadvantage. Sometimes the neighbors claimed they didn’t know or just did not want to give us information. Sometimes they would send us to the son or daughter of the current owner, or maybe a cousin or uncle that lived pa’ya (over there). So we would trudge over to try and ask for the supposed responsible party, only to find out it had already been sold, or they had changed their mind about selling.

terreno for sale

Lot for sale with a non-valid contact phone number.

Sometimes there was a telephone number listed and we tried to call. It very seldom was a working number. And even if someone answered, he or she knew nothing about a property for sale.

lot for sale

There is no way to tell if this lot is still for sale or not. How long has this sign been hanging on this post?

We became despondent and took to ending our searches in La Yacata, where my husband’s sister had a lot. We would sit on the sidewalk and build castles in the air. If only this were our lot….

lot in La Yacata

Building castles in the air in La Yacata

After about 6 months of fruitless searching, we stopped at our imaginary home in La Yacata and saw to our delight that two lots across the street had a posted for sale sign. We called the number and met with the owners that very day. After a few days of negotiation, we agreed to buy both lots for a total measurement of 14 x 20 meters for $95,000 pesos. We had cash in hand from the sale of our house in the U.S. and trato hecho (it was a done deal). Within a week, my husband had the machine come to dig the foundation holes and within 3 months, we were living in our own home, unfinished as it was. Our house and animal area have been in a constant state of remodeling ever since. La Yacata also came with its share of problems. (See The Beginning of the Revolution) But how were we to know?

lot for sale sign

This sign at the carniceria butchers) says that there is a lot for sale with all of the servicios paid.

It is important for me to caution that it really is “Let the buyer beware” when buying property.  It is in the buyer’s best interest to have the seller give him or her all the receipts (originals not copies) for los servicios pagados (water, sewage, electric, pavement, and sidewalks).  However, as we found out, even having those documents does not guarantee that the utilities in place are in working order or up to code.  Talking to the encargado (person in charge) of a development may or may not be helpful.  After all, he or she is in charge of obtaining these utilities and will assure you until blue in the face that everything is hunky dory.  One way that can eliminate some of the doubt is to buy property that already has escrituras (deed) because that means that all the urbanization required has already been done.  However, it does cost more.

But, in our case, having put down roots regardless of the problems, when the lot next door came up for sale last year, we dreamed of adding just a little bit more to our property. We even made an offer, but since it would have taken 10 months to pay off the lot, and the owner didn’t want to wait and she sold it instead to someone else. This someone else, C, took out a bank loan in order to buy it and then told us he planned on putting in a pig farm. I, for one, was terribly downhearted at the news.

But when month after month came and went and no little piggies came to stay, I thought I had made peace with the loss.  Then again….

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Trying to bow out of La Yacata revolution

community board

The La Yacata community board, or as I like to call, Vitrina de verguenza, wall of shame!

Unfortunately, the scheduled date for the junta (community meeting) was the Sunday Mexico determined should be daylight savings time. This, of course, meant attendance problems. Additionally, in order to save money, the date of the junta (community meeting) had been included on the aviso (announcement) to go to the office and fill out the survey. Since it was obvious that very few bothered to read the flyer, we weren’t expecting a great multitude.

It was surprising then to see about 70 colonos, representing about 200 lots, at the meeting. SuperPrez read the results of the survey and was greeted with silence. These die-hard junta attendees were those who most want to see some progress and were naturally disheartened.

SuperPrez made the comment that really the members of the mesa directiva (meaning he and I) were very busy in other things and that perhaps what the colonia needed was someone who had nothing else to do than take care of these community obligations. Additionally, he commented that we apparently weren’t motivating enough if people wouldn’t even come and fill out a form expressing their opinions, not to mention pick up certificates or pay the $250 pesos each lot that we still owe the lawyer for the demandas (law suits). Perhaps the role as president of the association should be held by someone like Chuchi. After all, he did manage to swindle the majority of the property owners $4000 per lot for the imaginary pozo (well). (See Demanda 1, Demanda 2 & Demanda 3)

We opened the floor up to discussion. An elderly, well-educated colona, then asked how it was possible that Chuchi has not been held accountable for all the things that he has done when everyone knows he’s a ratero (thief). She went on to say that on Saturday, Chuchi had come to see her and brought some papers that showed the second and the third etapa (section) did not have public escrituras (deeds). Chuchi accused SuperPrez of illicit activities in that he had the government officials destroy or redo the papers that listed the escrituras. She said she didn’t believe it, but she wanted to present the information that Chuchi gave her. She handed the “proof” over to SuperPrez.

Oh, the nerve of that Chuchi! Even now, after losing 3 demandas against the community, he continues with his smear campaign. But as my husband said, “El perro que come gallinas no se compone.” (A dog that begins eating chickens never changes).

Here’s the true story. Only the first etapa (section) has public escritorias (deed). This was done way back in the day when Chuchi was given the reins in 1997 or thereabouts by SuperPrez’s father. The other sections were owned by SuperPrez’s mother and in fact are still in her name. In seems she had the intention of getting the escrituras, however, was killed in an accident 8 months or so before I went to plead on behalf of the colonos for SuperPrez to become involved. (See Phase 4) Therefore, there were no escrituras issued.

This was to our advantage in all three demandas. Chuchi sued La Yacata, but as you can only sue a community that has escrituras, this only involved the first section. However, the hole in the ground that pretended to be a pozo (well) was located in the second section and had no escrituras. Therefore, our argument was that neither he nor the pozo guy, could sue a community over a pozo that was outside its defined boundries. Case closed. (See Demanda 1, Demanda 2, Demanda 3)

The M the horse guy (See Good Neighbors make good fences and No honor among thieves) began to go on about how we needed to go and put a demanda (lawsuit) against Chuchi. He was looking really to point fingers because J. the previous president of La Yacata (See Phase 2) was in attendance and we had been unable to proceed with a community lawsuit because J. failed to show at the Ministero Publico (Public Ministry) when we went en masse. Well, I tried to shut M down by commenting that Chuchi has several pending lawsuits that were brought against him by individual members of La Yacata and that M was more than welcome to take his proof of fraud documents and make a similar case. After all, the ministero Publico is a free service available to all citizens. He said he did not feel supported by the community in such action. SuperPrez then quietly asked me if M had paid his lawyer fees. He had not. So SuperPrez told M that he should understand how we, the mesa directiva, feel when colonos (community members) such as himself have not paid their dues so that La Yacata could pay the lawyers for their legal defense of the entire community. M had nothing further to say on that matter.

However, M brought up another point. He had this idea of organizing by street or block in order to get the services needed in the community. He happened to be standing next to his neighbor and patted him on the shoulder saying that between the two of them they would put in the sewer lines for their properties. Hate to break it to you M, but your neighbor has shown himself to be non-participant just like yourself. Good luck trying to get him to commit to installing the sewer.

Another colono (community member) asked about the feasibility of going service by service rather in one lump sum. He commented that perhaps the lump estimate of $50,000 pesos for water, electricity, sewer and pavement scared the colonos (community members). If it were broken down into segments and presented to the colonos, perhaps they would respond more favorably. So supposing the estimate for the sewer system was between $6,000 and $8,000 pesos it seemed much easier to handle as compared to $50,000. He even suggested that the amount be even further broken down by square meter per lot. M chimed up again and said he was only going to pay for one sewer system (or one payment of $6,000) although he has 4 lots because he was only going to have one house on the property. Super Prez said amounts could not be figured like that since each property was, in fact, paying for the central system and the line to Moroleon, which would be about $6,000 pesos per lot, no matter if the lot were 6 x 20 m or 20 x 50 m. In addition to the central line, each property owner would pay for the connection to the central line. For example, we have 2 lots, however, we only need 1 connection, so our price would be $12,000 plus the connection fee. A bit steep, but given time, could be done.

The conversation became more positive at this point. The colonos present said they recognize our efforts and realize the costs for making things right would be high. They did not wish us to step down. In fact, they offered to assist us in things like getting the rest of the colonos to fill out the encuestas (surveys) by going to their family and neighbors. That was nice to hear, however, entre trato y hecho hay un gran stretcho (there is a great distance between word and deed). So it remains to be seen whether this promised help will materialize. They also said they would be interested in proceeding with the sewer project and that we should present the project at the next junta (community meeting).

So I guess I haven’t been allowed to resign yet. The next meeting will be in about 2 months. In the meantime, I am working on making a list of shame to post in the vitrina (display case) that names those who have yet to register, those who have yet to pick up their certificates, those that have not paid for the lawyer, those that have not filled out the survey, and those who have issues with their lots. But as we have seen, La Yacata is full of sin verguenzas (shameless ones) and I doubt it will cause much of a stir.

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