A Sprawling Villa in Central Mexico
This six-bedroom, colonial-style home is in the center of San Miguel de Allende, a city in the hills of central Mexico, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City.
A two-story, four-bedroom main house and two one-bedroom casitas are enclosed on a quarter-acre lot, which is unusually large for the tightly packed city of 140,000 residents, said Rebecca Crosby, an agent with Agave Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing. The courtyard-style property has professionally landscaped gardens, two stone fountains and a swimming pool.
There has been a house on the site since the 1940s, but the property was completely renovated in the early 2000s, Ms. Crosby said. The design features stone arches, exposed wood beams and Saltillo-tile floors, reflecting the traditional style of the region. “The past owners scoured the countryside for original old doors and old wood to include in the building and renovation,” she said.
The front of the house features the original stone walls, and there is a large fountain in the center of the courtyard. Visitors enter the house through a covered stone archway with painted ceilings, leading to tall antique wood doors. Inside, there are nine fireplaces, most made of carved Cantera stone, Ms. Crosby said. Hand-painted walls, extensive stenciling, seeded-glass lanterns and a variety of other authentic details can be found throughout the home. The furniture and art are included in the asking price.
A colonnade runs along the ground floor, connecting several rooms, including a bedroom currently used as a library. Beneath its wood-beamed ceiling is a large lounge area with a stone fireplace.
In traditional Spanish style, the kitchen is a separate room, with a wooden island, thick wooden ceiling beams and a small dining area. Off the kitchen, the formal dining room has a rounded brick boveda ceiling and glass doors that open to the courtyard area.
Three bedrooms are upstairs, each with tall windows and its own bathroom. The master suite has antique columns and doors, a walk-in closet and a balcony. A veranda runs across the length of the second floor, leading to stairs and an open-air terrace above the dining room. (There is no central air-conditioning or heat in the house, which is typical of homes in the area.)
From the yard behind the main house, twin stone stairways lead down to the pool area and the stone casitas, which are separated by a lounge area. Stairs from the large garage lead to the servants’ quarters, a laundry room and a room that could be used as a game room or wine cellar, Ms. Crosby said.
San Miguel de Allende is a Unesco World Heritage site, attracting tourists from around the world. Silver was discovered in the surrounding mountains in the 16th century, making San Miguel one of the region’s wealthiest cities. Later, it developed as a center for art and music, which has helped make the narrow cobblestone streets a popular destination for North Americans.
This property is close to one of the city’s largest parks, the Parque Juarez, and a 10-minute walk from its main church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the social and cultural center of the area. It is within walking distance of many of San Miguel’s best restaurants, as well as art galleries, coffee shops and the Rosewood, a popular hotel. Guanajuato International Airport, just outside the city of Leon, is about two hours west. Many people fly into Mexico City International Airport, about three and a half hours southeast.
In the state of Guanajuato, where San Miguel is, home prices were up 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared with a year earlier, and 39 percent since 2015, according to an index compiled by the Federal Mortgage Society, a government agency.
Tourism is the main driver of the housing market in the area, agents said. San Miguel is routinely named one of the top cities in the world to visit by travel magazines, and many buyers are North Americans looking to retire or buy a second home at prices well below what they might pay in their home countries.
Sales have been steadily increasing in San Miguel for the last five years, said Nancy Howze, the principal broker for CDR Christie’s International Real Estate, in San Miguel. A recent spike in drug cartel-related violence in the region has had little effect on home sales, she said.
But while prices in Guanajuato have generally increased, those in San Miguel have declined following a recent surge in new home construction, she said: “Construction starts were at a 10-year high during the past two years.”
Many of those projects are in the hills outside the city, where developers are using vineyards, spas, golf and equestrian facilities to lure buyers, said Alma Cecilia Ramirez, the owner of Colonial Real Estate, a brokerage in San Miguel.
“San Miguel de Allende is becoming a playground for the wealthy and the well-off retiree,” said Anne Nicolai, who has lived in San Miguel for 11 years and has a blog called Move to Mexico!.
Despite the influx of wealthy buyers, sales are slower at the top of the market, agents said. This property, for example, has been on the market for more than 250 days, which is not unusual, Ms. Crosby said: “There isn’t a huge market for the really high-priced houses.”
The most popular homes are priced between $250,000 and $500,000, Ms. Ramirez said, and “we’re seeing more interest in secondary markets like gated communities, where homes are a little bit more affordable in all price ranges.”
Who Buys in San Miguel de Allende
Ms. Howze said her clients are evenly divided between American and Mexican citizens, including buyers from Mexico City and Leon looking for weekend homes. “The U.S. citizens are looking for second homes, vacation rental investments or preparing for retirement,” she said.
But other agents said they see a higher ratio of foreign buyers. About 90 percent of Ms. Crosby’s clients are from the United States. Ms. Ramirez, of Colonial Real Estate, said about 80 percent of her agency’s buyers are from the United States or Canada.
The buying process for foreigners in San Miguel is “simple and straightforward,” Ms. Ramirez said. (There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in inland Mexico, only along the coast and at the borders.) A licensed public notary handles the transaction, tracks the title history and ensures that there are no liens on the property.
Transactions are almost always in American dollars, although the sale price is usually listed in Mexican pesos on the deed, Ms. Crosby said.
Professional engineers perform home inspections before the closing, Ms. Howze said, noting that most buyers pay in cash and escrow companies are used for money transfers. Transactions can take as little as two weeks, she said, but most take about two months.
Languages and Currency
Spanish; Mexican peso (1 peso = $0.05)
Taxes and Fees
Buyers pay a transfer tax, the notary fee and registration fees, which usually amounts to about 6 percent of the sale price, agents said. The seller pays the capital gains tax and broker’s commission, which is typically around 5 percent.
The annual property tax on this home is about $1,000 a year, Ms. Crosby said.
Rebecca Crosby, Agave Sotheby’s International Realty, 303-282-9991; agavesanmiguel.com