Do not confuse the role of the Notary Public in the US with its counterpart in Mexico: they are quite different.
In the US for example, almost anyone can become a Notary Public, where the primary duty of a notary is to help prevent fraud by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying their authenticity.
In Mexico, the Notario Público is the KEY person in completing the sale of a property. They will have a law degree, and have gone on to special studies in Real Estate. Mexican Notarios hold a highly respected position in Mexico and are the final word in the transfer of title.
Here, the incorporation of every company, the buying and selling of all types of real estate, the establishment of deeds and wills, the creation of mortgages, among other transactions, must be protocolized by a Notario Público. Additionally, in certain cases, failure by a Notario Público to properly calculate and withhold taxes can result in personal liability to the Notario.
Important: Everything official to do with your transaction should be done via the Notario: Do not take anyone’s word about documentation (like property deeds) being valid – take copies to the Notario for official verification. A reputable real estate agent and good lawyer will be able to advise you on such matters.
The Notario is an attorney but will not function as your attorney.
If you need legal advice you will need to hire an attorney to represent you. The Notarios’ job is to be neutral and fair to all parties involved and to make sure all documents and permits are in order and that all taxes are paid on the property.
Fees for the services of a Notario:
Mexico’s Notarios are personally responsible and liable for each transaction they handle and because of this increased responsibility it is reflected in their fees. The fees charged can be different from Notario to Notario, which will be reflected in the closing costs from one closing company to another.
In a real estate transaction in Mexico, a Notarios’ services are usually selected and paid for by the buyer, though sometimes the seller will specify which Notario they would prefer. This is not uncommon, and there are good reasons why one Notario may be preferred over another. Your Realtor will be able to explain the process.
You may expect to pay approximately 3½ % of your purchase price in closing costs, which include all legal and government fee.
There are several very good Notarios in the Lake Chapala area
Your Real Estate Agent should be able to recommend a good Notario, who will ensure that you have a clean title to your property, with no liens or encumbrances. They will prepare and register your deed, and be your guide to a clean transaction.
A candidate to be a Notario Público in Mexico must:
- Be appointed by the governor
- Be Mexican by birth
- Be between 25 and 60 years old
- Be in good health
- Have a good reputation
- Not be the leader of a church
- Not have a criminal record
- Have practiced in a notary’s office for at least 3 years
- Pass a written exam
- Be a legal professional with the title of lawyer (abogado)