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San Crisanto: The House That Wasn’t

As some of our readers may remember, last September we officially put an offer on a lovely little beach house in San Crisanto. Some of you have also noticed that we seem to still be living in the Suites del Sol. I have been holding off a long time before writing this entry, but it’s time to talk about what went wrong, so that others may avoid our mistakes.

So here’s the deal. After selling off our possessions and moving here, sight unseen, with nothing but two suitcases full of clothes to our name, we moved incredibly quickly. We spent two nights at the Hyatt, then moved down the street to a long-term rental at the Suites del Sol. We were sure this was going to be a temporary move, because everything was moving so fast, and falling into place amazingly neatly. We met with a realtor, who showed us two properties a week after we arrived. We fell in love with the third, and immediately wanted to make an offer on it. The realtor said that was great, and that she would pull the offer contract together.

Oh, there was just one little detail before we put pen to paper. The house was currently in ejido status. Our blood ran cold. Now, we aren’t just winging it down here. We had a year’s worth of research backing us up, and we knew that houses that were still in ejido status should be avoided at all costs. Properties that are ejido are not owned by one person; they are owned by a community, making sale to a private party a process that can take ten years. However, our realtor assured us that the privatization process had already been completed, and the seller was just waiting for the final okay from the Office of Ejido. We were told that that would be, at most, a three month wait.

In a place where everything is so foreign to you, you have no choice but to choose some people to trust. And in this case, we chose to trust our realtor. We signed the offer, and transferred 10k in earnest money into the real estate company’s bank account. Then, we waited.

And waited. I emailed at least weekly, looking for updates. Had the paperwork arrived? Did anyone have any kind of better timeline? Could anyone tell me anything about the status of this property? The answers were no, sorry, and no. Months went by, and finally, we were approaching the expiration of our offer. I made one final call to the real estate company. Our original agent had left, and our new agent knew very little about the deal. I asked for some assurance that this deal would go through. I received none…and further, my new real estate agent didn’t seem very interested in helping to get this deal closed.

I asked about our options. Could we renew our offer? We certainly wouldn’t do so without some kind of firmer timeline with regard to the mysterious Ejido paperwork. Our new broker said that he couldn’t give me one, and that the seller may not want to renew the offer, anyway.

I went mildly insane at this news. How could this be? We were the ones that had taken all the risk here, letting our ten grand sit in a non-interest bearing account for three months, with no explanation, and only some vague promises. And now, the SELLER didn’t want to renew the offer? Something was wrong.

And indeed, something was. I finally made contact with the owner of the real estate company. By this point, I noticed that our house was no longer listed on the website as “under contract.” It was listed “for sale…” for 15k more than our original offer. My brain spun out of control again. What happened? Why had our real estate company let this offer die for 15 grand? We certainly would’ve come up with that…what gives?

The owner of the real estate company explained that during all of this wait, the seller had gotten the property re-appraised, and wanted more money. Dirty pool, but okay, fine. We would be happy to get a new offer in at the higher price, provided the ejido paperwork was IN HAND and the property was ready to actually be sold to us. As of today, it still isn’t. But the seller is expecting it sometime in…you guessed it…the next three months.

So we faced a tough decision. Did we really want to sign on for another three months of half-truths and empty promises? Did we want to continue living in the Suites del Sol, begging our real estate agent for information? At some point, you have to cut your losses and move on. And we have. Our earnest money was returned to us last week.

We have lost all momentum. What started as a crazy, whirlwind move, with new things happening every day, and us squarely nailing down a new life in a new country in a matter of weeks, has turned into a lot of moping around and daily trips to Wal-Mart. Of course, now that we’ve lived here almost five months, we have learned some things that we didn’t know in week one. First, San Crisanto is simply to far out there for us. The availability of phone service is questionable, not to mention being able to find the basic things we need. We also probably would’ve had to rebuild the septic system out there, put in a new well, etc. And what if something happened? What if there was an accident? We have no car, and San Crisanto is at least a half an hour from any kind of civilization. It was a beautiful property, but we have talked ourselves out of it.

You may notice that the San Crisanto house is re-listed on the real estate company’s website. I would advise all non-Mexican citizens to steer clear. The status of the property is not noted or disclosed on the listing, a detail I find pretty disingenuous on the part of the real estate company.

So this week, everything changes. We are getting our momentum back, starting with a move. We are bidding a fond farewell to the Suites del Sol, and renting a house out on the beach in Progreso, starting this coming Sunday. This is going to be a total shift in lifestyle, away from the somewhat urban mode we are in here in Merida, into a lazy, sun-drenched, beach life. We will buy a car next weekend. We will start looking for a new, even better house. We will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and drop back in.

There Are 7 Responses So Far. »

  1. It sounds very frustrating, but probably for the better in the end. We learn so much from your great blog, and we can’t wait to hear about life in Progreso. Good luck.


  2. You’re a great guy Malcolm, and surely your mother’s child…it will all turn out for the best, and you’ll end up with an awesome tan. It’s the adventure you’re after, not nesting into the same lifestyle you’ve always had. I’m so proud of you.

  3. You do not know me but I have also been following your adventures in the Yucatan. I too believe this to be not such a bad thing after all for you two…My husband, young son and I drove along the coast between Progreso and Dzilam just last week. When in San Crisanto, I almost wanted to go look for your house, but my husband thought that was too weird (sorry,but you are like “stars” now!)
    Anyway, we also thought that San Crisanto was way too far from Progreso and Merida. I have seen one absolutely beautiful colonial home listed on internet at $135000 located in Chicxulub. Not beachfront, but 40 meters from the beach, with pool, and all the charm of real colonial homes…I wanted it for ourselves, but it is a bit too expensive for us unfortunately and we could not maintain it properly, so we are looking for a condo for that reason…Let me know if you want to know the site and company that has the listing (it is not the same one you were dealing with for the San Crisanto home). And thank you for the warnings, now I know more about the risks of real estate dealings in Mexico!

  4. Hi Julie,

    Thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement. We loved that house, but agree…San Crisanto is probably just a little TOO far flung for us right now. These are the things you learn in week 20, as opposed to week one. We are resuming our search in Chelem and Chuburna, but are already starting to get priced out. I have no doubt we will find a place, but the renovations will have to be HEAVY. Awe well, just more food for the blog.

    Are you still in the Yucatan? If so, we should get together for lunch one day…we are always happy to meet new friends and swap a little English. :)


  5. It was regretable that Malcolm did not contact me earlier to check on the his transaction. We never intentionally mislead anyone, and this property description will be updated as soon as our office opens on Monday to reflect its true status. The inexperienced agent who took the listing and initiated the sale to Malcolm was fired soon after, and I regret not personally having taken over her files.

    Malcolm, my sincere apologies for all you went through.

    Jen Lytle

  6. Thanks for weighing in,Jen. To clarify…this post was not meant as a slight on your company, whatsoever, which is why it is never mentioned by name. You have a stellar reputation, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do business with you in the future. I hope you will agree that my description was simply a factual account of what happened, and does not lay the blame at anyone’s feet or needlessly cast accusations. But I do owe it to my readers to provide an explanation of why I had a house, and now, well, don’t.

  7. Thanks, Malcolm. I hope we can find you something which makes you glad you waited!


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