Wednesday, February 25, 2015

VISITING THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IN NUEVO VALLARTA: Closing a Real Estate Transaction in the U.S. While Living in Mexico

GREAT SEAL OF THE U.S. ABOVE THE CONSULATE DOOR

Documents Notarized at the United States Consulate



     In 2014 we decided to sell our home, our cars, and most of our belongings and move into our motorhome. We were going to become full-time RVers. We held several garage sales and posted many Craig's List ads to whittle down our stuff. We crammed every important item we thought we would need in the next year into our 32 foot motorhome and loaded our bicycles on the back. We decided not to tow a car which we had always used
Our Motorhome at Puerto Vallarta Trailer Park
as a "trailer" to hold our boogie boards, beach chairs, and other toys. We decided to get serious about this "minimalist lifestyle". We packed our few remaining precious treasures, photo albums, and favorite furniture that we couldn't bear to get rid of into a storage unit. By Fall our home had not yet sold, but we were itching to leave the cold weather and head south.        
     We left the United States, crossing the border into Mexico in December 2014, hoping our home in Oregon would sell soon, but still not sure of the logistics of closing a home sale in the U.S. while we were living in Mexico for the winter. We thought that if our home sold while we were in Mexico, we would have to fly
Not Where I Would Expect the U.S. Consulate to Be
back to the United States to sign the closing documents.  We budgeted the $2000 we thought it would cost for airline tickets, lodging, and transportation to and from a Title Company in the U.S. We dreaded having to spend the money and time away from Mexico if we had to fly back to the U.S., but knew it would be worth it to free ourselves from the last tie to our "stuff" in Oregon.
     The more we talked to Canadians and Americans about this while living in Mexico, the more we heard that we should be able to sign the documents before a Notary Public at the United States Consulate and ship the notarized
Entrance -- Not Very Impressive
documents to the Title Company in the U.S.
So we began the research to see if this was possible. The whole process seemed like it would be a real challenge to accomplish in the timely manner that the closing process requires. After lots of homework, we found out that it was not only possible, but we were successful. The Notarial Service at U.S. Consular Agencies is just one of the many services provided to U.S. citizens while in foreign countries. Shipping something home from Mexico seemed like the riskiest step since we had not had the best luck with shipping companies in Mexico in the past.


     Here are the steps we took to close the sale of our home in Oregon while living in Mexico:
(Between Sight-Seeing in Puerto Vallarta)
  1. When we were told by the Title Company in Oregon that the closing papers would be e-mailed to us soon, we "moved" our motorhome to the Puerto Vallarta Trailer Park to live there for a week. This was conveniently located for riding the bus
    to Nuevo Vallarta, and turned out to be a very pleasant RV Park.
  2. We checked the website for the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Vallarta at http://guadalajara.usconsulate.gov/puerto_vallarta.html . The hours that the Notarial Service was available only 11:00AM to 12:30PM Monday through Thursday, a very limited time-frame. 
  3. Since we don't own a car, we took a trial run on the bus to Nuevo Vallarta to find the US Consular Agency at Paradise Mall, a cost of 120 peso (about $8.25 U.S.D.) round-trip. Because the Notarial hours were so limited and time was crucial once we
    Very Limited Hours of Operation!
    received the documents, we wanted to know exactly where the Consulate was located. If we missed the 1 1/2 hour window of time for the Notary, we would have to return the next day. We found Paradise Mall, we found the U.S. Consulate, and we had an ice cream cone at the Mall to celebrate! (Then we went sight-seeing in P.V.)
  4. The title company emailed the closing documents to us and informed us they should be printed on legal-size paper. We had our printer with us but no legal-size paper! We walked the three blocks to Office Depot in Puerto Vallarta and purchased a ream of the proper paper. We didn't want a single glitch in this plan. 
  5. We printed the documents using our printer at our motorhome, signed and initialed every place that didn't require a notary. Just to be certain we did everything correctly, we scanned these pages into the computer and emailed them to the Title Company Officer to check our accuracy.
  6. The Day of Signing: We caught the bus in Puerto Vallarta at 8:30 AM, leaving several hours early in case of any delays in the typically one hour bus ride (cost of another $8.25 U.S.D. round-trip). We had the documents, our passports, and plenty of cash in U.S. Dollars to pay the Notary. We arrived at 9:30 AM and decided to check in at the Consulate even though the Notary service starts at 11:00AM. We were in luck!
    Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta
    The Notary was there and took care of us right away. The cost was $50 U.S.D. for each of the three signatures that she notarized plus $2 U.S.D. for copies of our passports. 
  7. We decided to ship the documents FedEx from a major shipping center we had spotted when the bus turned from Hwy 200 toward Nuevo Vallarta. The agent was very professional and we felt confident that our documents would really make to the Title Company in Oregon. He collected 550 pesos (about $38 U.S.D.) from us, gave us a Tracking Number, and assured us that the package would arrive in Medford, Oregon in three days. (Then we did some more sight-seeing in P.V.)
  8. The documents arrived at the Title Company in Medford, Oregon three days later!
  9. The sale of our home in Oregon has closed! We are full-time RVers and
    Sunset From the Puerto Vallarta Malecon 
    free of encumbrances!
  10. The cost to close the sale of our home in the United States from Mexico was about $206.50 U.S.D.($16.50 for buses, $152 for the Notary, plus $38 for FedEx), well worth it to avoid flying to the United States. We not only saved almost $2000 U.S.D., we avoided the culture shock we would have experienced by flying to the U.S. and back to Mexico in a period of a few days. It had taken us two months to transition to the Mexican way of life, mellow and laid-back, and we preferred to remain that way for the entire six months that our Tourist Permit allows us to stay in Mexico.  (We went sight-seeing to celebrate the closing of our real estate transaction while in Mexico--another beautiful sunset)
Another Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Sunset
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