House Hunting in Mexico: A Balinese-Style Compound for $595,000

Two Rustic Cottages Outside Los Cabos


This one-acre property with two Balinese-style cottages is in the art-centric town of Todos Santos, Mexico, on the southwestern coast of the Baja California Peninsula, near the Pacific Ocean.

Shaded by royal palms and fruit trees in a bucolic pocket of a residential neighborhood, the estate, called Casa Huerta, “exudes calmness and serenity,” said Alec Quevedo, an agent with Ricardo Amigo Real Estate, which has the listing.

The two one-bedroom concrete houses, built in 2004, stand about 80 feet apart at the center of the rectangular lot, each with an outdoor parking area. The 900-square-foot main house, painted reddish ocher, has an A-frame veranda with a dining table and lounge furniture. Inside is an open-plan living room with concrete floors, built-in concrete bookshelves and sofas, and double-height palm-thatch ceilings. The kitchen, which looks out on the veranda, has poured-concrete counters and shelves.

Between the living room and the kitchen, double doors open to the bedroom, which has an en suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers.

ImageThe living room in the main house has built-in sofas and palm-thatch ceilings. 
Credit…Ricardo Amigo Real Estate

The houses are connected by a stone walkway. Four sliding hardwood pocket doors open to the 700-square-foot guesthouse, which has a living room with an open kitchen, vaulted ceilings, built-in sofas and Mexican parota-wood cabinets. The bedroom, up two steps, has a half bathroom. A Balinese-style free-standing bathhouse with a full bathroom is across a private courtyard. A second sleeping area, in a loft above the kitchen, can be reached by an exterior staircase. The property is being sold partially furnished.

The coastal town of Todos Santos, with about 6,500 residents, has long attracted artists with its artisanal shops and galleries. It is also popular with surfers, who ride the breaks at Playa Cerritos, about 20 minutes south of town. The Playa La Cachora beach is an eight-minute drive. Los Cabos, a world-renowned vacation destination with its 20-mile Resort Corridor, is 50 miles south. Los Cabos International Airport is about 75 minutes away.

Market Overview

While Todos Santos is less than an hour from Los Cabos, but it can feel a world away, agents said.

Los Cabos, a region that includes the beach cities of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, tends toward volume — in resorts, cruise ships, entertainment, golf — while Todos Santos, designated a Pueblo Magico, or magical town, by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism, gets a trickle of day trippers.

“Todos Santos is more of a quaint village, with more of an authentic Mexican flavor to it,” said Bernardo Muciño Koenig, the managing director of the Agency Los Cabos. But he and other agents said the vibe has been shifting in recent years, with new hotels and residential developments setting the local housing market on a new course.

“The last years have been really busy,” Mr. Quevedo said. “We’ve kind of had a little bit of an explosion — it’s a small town, so I use the word ‘explosion’ lightly, of course.”

Condos are under construction, he said, but most of the offerings are “quirky, artistic homes.”

Nick Fong, the broker at Los Cabos Agent, compared Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas 30 years ago, when the Mexican government began promoting the once-rural area as a global hot spot. “Lot prices are going up; things are doubling in price,” he said, noting that in Todos Santos and “fringe” areas east of Los Cabos, prices for vacant lots have increased from $20,000 for an ocean-view quarter-acre in 2018 to $40,000 or $50,000 in early 2020.

But the market has stalled since the Covid-19 pandemic led to the closure of the U.S.-Mexico border for nonessential travel, Mr. Fong said. In late March, his agency was getting two offers a week, down from the usual five or six, and he expects that number to keep falling. “We’ll be lucky to see even one” a week, he said.

Properties in the area usually sell for about 10 percent below their asking price, he said, “mainly due to the fact that we are a second-home market.” But that discount will likely deepen given the recent drop in tourism, which drives home sales, he added: “Any sales that will happen in the next few months will probably have a 10 to 20 percent less sale price than it would do in a — let’s call it a normal market, a pre-corona market.”

The average sale price for a condominium over the previous year, before the pandemic, was $386,000, and the average sale price for a house was $621,000, Mr. Fong said, citing figures from the Baja California Sur state multiple listing service.

In Todos Santos, the most common residence is a “middle-income, single-standing home” that sells for $300,000 to $500,000, Mr. Koenig said, adding that more expensive hacienda-style properties with olive groves and farms are available, but are not the norm.

In Los Cabos, high-end options abound. Luxury condos sell for $1 million to $3.5 million, he said. Ultraluxury communities like El Dorado Golf & Beach Club and Maravilla Los Cabos offer condos and lots for custom homes; a beachfront property there could top $15 million, he said.

Blake Harrington, the managing partner of REmexico Real Estate, a Cabo San Lucas-based agency, said Los Cabos also has more affordable properties, including ocean-view condos for around $400,000, as well as “some great options at or around $250,000 that give you the right location to enjoy Cabo, or San Jose del Cabo, without breaking the bank.”


Credit…Ricardo Amigo Real Estate

Credit…Ricardo Amigo Real Estate

Who Buys in Los Cabos

Mr. Fong said three-quarters of his buyers are from the United States, and many of the rest are from Canada. Other agencies, he said, have had a few buyers from China, England and Spain. Recently, more foreigners have been moving to the region full-time rather than buying second homes there, he said.

Mr. Koenig said about 70 to 80 percent of his agency’s clients are from the United States, and the rest are from Canada.

Three-quarters of the buyers at Mr. Harrington’s agency are from the United States, he said, and many of the others are from Canada and Mexico. With the increase in short-term rentals in the region, he added, the share of buyers who rent out their properties has grown.

Buying Basics

Foreigners can buy real estate in Mexico, but there are restrictions on residential purchases in some areas.

Foreigners who want to buy residential property within about 31 miles of the coast or about 62 miles from the country’s border must use a government-authorized Mexican banking institution to act as trustee, said Jonathan A. Pikoff, the founding partner of Pikoff y Asociados, a Mexico City-based law firm.

Eduardo Rosales, the founding partner of Baja Legal Solutions, in Tijuana, said transactions can be done in pesos or dollars. (This property is listed in American dollars.)

The permit to buy real estate, which costs around $1,200, is granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The permits are valid for 50 years, and a new permit can be obtained for an additional 50 years,” Mr. Pikoff said.

In most jurisdictions, including Baja California Sur state, the buyer pays a 2 percent real estate transfer tax, plus other smaller fees and charges. Land transfers are handled by a Mexican notary public.


Languages and Currency

Spanish; Mexican peso (1 peso = $0.04)

Taxes and Fees

The annual tax on this property is $380 a year.

“The gardener is the only staff member,” Mr. Quevedo said, adding that the annual cost for that service is $800.


Alec Quevedo, Ricardo Amigo Real Estate, 011-52-612-151-8892;

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