I recently had an opportunity to represent a client who was selling a condo in Cancun, Mexico. I got quite an education as to how real estate transactions are handled in other countries, and became very thankful that I practice in the U.S.
Such transactions become tricky because the Seller wants to be sure to get his/her money, while the buyer wants to be sure to get clear title and be fully protected as the owner, before giving up the payment price.
In Mexico, real estate transactions occur before a Notary Public, a government appointed official who does much more than certify the correctness of signatures on a page. I found it indispensible to obtain co-counsel who practiced in Mexico and was familiar with such closings. Co-counsel actually traveled to Mexico to do the closing, as well as establish an escrow with a U.S. based title company to assure the funds would be available when the clear title was transferred and the transaction was completed by and before the Notary Public.
That leads me to the Apostille. In order for my client’s signatures to be recognized on documents for this Mexican closing, I had to notarize my client’s signatures, then the documents had to be forwarded to the Secretary of State for Wisconsin, who attached his seal to the documents certifying that I am a current Wisconsin Notary and that my notarization was valid. That was the “Apostille,” and it is therefore basically a notarization of a notarization. Plan on adding a couple of weeks to the time it takes to close to move the documents from your client, to you, to your Secretary of State, and finally to the attorney who will hand carry them to the closing in Mexico.
If you have any questions in this area or any other area within which we practice, please feel free to contact us by phone at 262-785-1820 or 262-569-8300 or visit us on our website!