In late June Milton Ernesto Felix Reyes, owner/broker of Desert Sky Real Estate & Investments, and President-Elect and Treasurer of Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios, A.C. (AMPI), the Mexican professional real estate organization, met with Puerto Peñasco city officials to discuss pending changes that will affect every single property transfer taking place after January 1, 2012.

Closing costs associated with the transfer of the property from owner to owner consist of a number of components which must be paid at the time of the property transfer, one of which is the transfer tax. Historically, the transfer tax has been 2% of the transferred tax value as assessed by the city, or the sale price, whichever is higher, and that 2% goes to the city of Puerto Peñasco. The state of Sonora has now jumped into the act, and beginning in January, will levy a 1% transfer tax of its own, effectively increasing the transfer tax by a whopping 50%! Practically speaking, if a home is sold for $300,000, among the many other costs above and beyond the purchase price, a $9,000 transfer tax, up from $6,000 will be incurred. Ouch!

As if the aforementioned were not painful enough, city property tax values have increased, and, unless successfully protested, the new higher values will become effective on January 1, 2012, thereby increasing the amount upon which the city and state transfer taxes will be applied. A chart which shows values for each colonia, or area of the city, tells the city assessor how much per square meter to charge for lots in each community. A new chart with higher values has been created, and will be presented for public review and comment on 1 September. Individuals and community groups, including homeowner associations, will have until October 10 to comment on the increased values before they are formally adopted, and become effective on in January 2012. The proposed increase in city property tax values would not immediately affect annual property taxes, since a unique formula will be used to calculate assessments without increases.

Comments on the proposed increases in city property tax values can be made by email to Register on the first page of the website, then click on “voz ciudadana” to leave your comments. Be sure to include your name and telephone number in your comments. You can also meet with city officials in person at the mayor’s weekly community meeting, held every Wednesday at City Hall from 9 a.m. until noon.