Title Insurance in Mexico: Double-Checking

As U.S. commercial real estate investors continue their global outreach, they desire the same sense of security across borders that title insurance companies provide for United States-based transactions. The field of conflicting and varying regulations and legalities on different countries’ and municipalities books prevent the enactment of simple, standard practices. From lack of surveying experience in parts of Asia-Pacific to village-green laws in the United Kingdom, title insurance firms must help their clients wade through crossborder transactions on a case-by-case basis.In Mexico, for example, state governors appoint notarios publicos—a different role than the United States’ notary public—to confirm titles. But Mitch Creekmore, senior vice president of multinational business development for Stewart Title Guaranty Co.’s multinational title services group, said title searches in the United States and Mexico differ markedly. “While Mexico’s notarios publicos are obligated to do title searches for a particular transaction, they are not obligated to examine an extended line of title in the public registry.” Instead, they typically rely on the prior title work, as well as a copy of the current recorded deed and a property lien certificate that is issued by the public registry. Additionally, they are not financially liable for any errors, he noted.Some Mexican laws also complicate title searches. The Agrarian Reform Act of 1915 and the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917 created communal farms for poor farmers using land that the government expropriated. Stewart is working to secure title insurance for a resort developer in Mexico’s Baja California. While searches of Mexico’s public registry usually suffice, in this case the national agrarian registry also had to be examined, Creekmore noted, must search two databases.