We bought Sleeping Beauty's Castle yesterday -- forked over a total of $160,000 at the notario's office. Part of the procedure is that a translator is required, and the translator read us in English the entire purchase contract, written in Spanish. Then I spent an hour and a half in the bank waiting for the paperwork to wire the money (less the real estate commission) to the seller in Austin, TX -- paperwork they had been informed of several days earlier. It's best not to expect efficiency. In the meantime, I and the two real estate agents had a very pleasant conversation. I discovered that the seller's agent is quite a musician and is on the Board of Pro Musica here in town, an organization that imports first-class chamber musicians for a series of 10 to 15 concerts a year. He was delighted to know I had contributed money to Pro Musica and performed choral music in Carnegie Hall in New York, and I was delighted to know that he's not only on the Board but also writes all their very impressive program notes. A good new friend!
We have realized we are sort of sorry we saved $650 by getting a permiso from the Mexican government to buy the house in only one name and not two. It's now in my name only, with Rick officially included in the deed as life tenant and beneficiary, but it feels worse than we both though not to have both names on the deed. We might change that: the hell with the $650.
Part II of buying a house here is to receive confirmation that the wired money has been received, only after which could we return to to the notario's office (I was so pleased that this was a young woman) to get the deed with her signature. We did that this morning and then went to the electricity office and the water office to change the name on the accounts. At each place they required a copy of the deed (!) and of my visa. At the electricity office they told us we'd be charged the change fee on the next bill, but the clerk couldn't give us any kind of receipt. Instead he turned his computer screen toward us and showed us where my name was on the screen. Then at the water office, they charged us 42 pesos to make the change, about $4, but were unable to deliver the bills to where we are living now until we move: the bills are delivered to each house by hand, and the two addresses are not in the same route. Complete impossibility. Isn't this fascinating?!
Another thing we did today was to see the work of one of the two contractors at the top of our list, and it was lovely. This contractor, Gerardo Peralta, has been our friend since we moved here and we were determined that if he turned out to do our work it would be because he earned it, not because he is our friend. It has made for some uncomfortable moments, for sure. But Gerardo submitted the lowest and the most thoroughly planned bid (the lowest was not in itself the clincher, not by a long shot), and we have full faith and trust in his honesty and determination to do a wonderful job. He very definitely earned it. We will have the first meeting with him and Pedro, the maestro, on Thursday, and hope the work can start Friday or Monday.
So: we bought the property for $160,000 and Gerardo's bid is for $56,750 including the pool (and its solar heaters) but not including things we'll choose such as tiles or light fixtures. Plus furniture, etc., and we will have two houses and a guest suite, fully furnished, for well under $300,000. Isn't that amazing? I am sure that when the work is done, if we were to put it on the market the price would easily be above $400,000, something we could never have afforded. So far, so good!
Tomorrow, think of us between 4:00 and 6:00 Central Daylight Time: we will be drinking champagne with friends at the new place!