By Les Christie, staff writerApril 28, 2010: 10:48 AM ET

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The years-long trend of Americans buying homes and expatriating to Mexico has collapsed, done in by a trifecta of the recession, swine flu and an epic crime wave.

Sales volume plunged nearly 70% last year for Coldwell Banker, according Phillip Hendrix, director of the firm’s Mexican operations. And at Costa Baja, a residential resort development a few miles north of La Paz, sales have slowed by about 40% in the past 12 months.

“Sales are off like crazy. The recession is really hurting and the headlines have been driving people away. The narco-wars especially have bit into the housing market in Mexico,” said Tom Kelly, a follower of Mexican real estate trends and author of Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico.

But that’s good news for Americans who have always dreamed of retiring to Mexico but could never afford it: The bust has made homebuying a bargain. Prices can be less than half of what an equivalent home would run in the U.S.

Although the crime wave is confined to a fairly limited area, the perception of it has hurt markets all over the nation, said Alejandro Yberri, CEO of Costa Baja.

Information on prices of homes being sold to expatriate Americans is sketchy, but Kelly estimates overall declines of between 20% and 30% since the peak. In the high-crime communities close to the U.S. border, the drop has been even steeper, perhaps 40% or more. Read the rest of this entry »

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