Buyer confidence is also at an all-time high. "In the last 12 months, I've sold two homes to US owners who live here full time, own their home here and are now buying a second house as an investment property," said Ivy del Pozzo. "They know SMA and they're feeling confident enough in the market to invest in it. Current ROI on these investments is running at about 10%."
© Realty San Miguel
Wesley Gleason echoed that. "These are usually not the high-end places," he said, "but lower or mid-range houses in the $200-400K range."
Gabriel Rubiera confirmed the investment trend as well. "Many buyers are now looking for income-building property. They want a house that is rentable when they are not here, or one that has rentable sections attached. Or they want to open a B&B. Many US buyers are pulling money from their 401K plans to invest it here. And they are getting a higher return on that money."
Who's buying real estate in San Miguel de Allende today? According to Gabriel Rubiera, the nationality demographics are currently about 60% US buyers, 20% Canadian and 20% Mexican. "During the economic crash and recession after 2009, it was Canadian buyers who kept the market alive," he added. Now the tide is shifting. Ivy del Pozzo noted, "When the US dollar is especially strong, it becomes a very challenging market for Canadian buyers. We have to be more creative." Ruibiera explained that the overall average price of properties selling in SMA now is $300K. However the average Mexican buyer will spend $500K. “The current selling prices range about 8% below asking price in this very strong market.”
© Coldwell Banker SMART
High-End Amenities Help Sell
What can you expect to find with a high-end budget? First, your house will have all the modern amenities—a whole-house water purification system, expert plumbing to assure good water pressure, high-quality appliances and fixtures, and gas fireplaces in several rooms. There will likely be an alarm system, perhaps a built-in sound system or even a home theater.
You can usually expect an extensive, beautifully planted and cared-for mature garden, designed for both beauty and comfortable living. Often, there will be a pool. The house will be laid out to accommodate the casual indoor-outdoor lifestyle that is so much a part of San Miguel, thanks to the reliably fine weather most of the year.
In this community of artists, many homes feature light-filled studio spaces as well, perfect for setting up an easel, a potter's wheel, or a jewelry-making workshop.
© Coldwell Banker SMART
In a town known for its long history of exquisite traditional Mexican arts and crafts, you’ll also find fine detailing that you just can't get back home anymore. Hand-worked wood and stone, hand-punched tin fixtures, creative use of local materials, polished concrete, talavera tilework, made-to-order furniture. And often, you get that furniture, too. "About half of the homes we handle are sold furnished," Wesley Gleason told me. "You can literally arrive with just a suitcase and move right in"
What You Can Get for a Million and Change
There is a wide range of price points in the San Miguel real estate market. I was shown properties selling for upwards of $6 million and others for less than $250,000. But solidly within the top tier are many beautiful properties in the million dollar ballpark.
Ivy del Pozzo showed me a stunner of a property where you can not only buy a home but you can also own a piece of Mexican history. The property of 25,000+ square feet sits directly in front of the Santuario de Atotonilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site seven miles from San Miguel. This small, heavily frescoed jewel of a church, built by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro in the mid-eighteenth century, is called "The Sistine Chapel of Mexico." The property on offer includes what was Padre Alfaro's personal home.
© Coldwell Banker SMART
$1.2 million will get you its 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths plus staff quarters. It gets you multiple courtyards, terraces and sprawling mature gardens, a thermal hot water pool, hot tub, sauna, and a meditation room. It also buys you ample room to expand the property into a B&B, retreat center or spa should you wish.
The house comes with the artisan touches for which San Miguel is so well known: high wood-beamed brick ceilings, hand-carved doors, colonial brick archways, and hand-detailed cantera stone fireplaces, all the result of the long tradition of skillful craft and great artistry in these trades. There are also chef's-quality kitchen appliances. The main bathroom is flooded with light and filled with plants, with a flagstone path directly into the gardens. Lounging in the tub, you'll think you've been transported to a rainforest. In the garden, a thatch-roofed palapa with a matched pair of hammocks invites you to laze away a warm afternoon after a long comida (lunch). A typical San Miguel day.
Gabriel Rubiera, of Realty San Miguel, showed me a home just a half block from the Jardin, owned by the same couple for 39 years. Such homes so close to the main square rarely come on the market, and at $1.375 million, this one is a considerable bargain.
Its multiple patios, carved shell-shaped nichos, brick arches, and high beamed ceilings speak to its age and give it its classical Spanish colonial feel. The thick stone outer walls are covered with vining plants, and multiple courtyards are connected by a solarium.
In true colonial style, the kitchen and baths are tiled with classic talavera tiles from nearby Dolores Hidalgo. The master bath features a large heated Jacuzzi.
The main part of this house offers single-floor living, with three bedrooms on the ground floor. The house also includes two completely self-contained two-story casitas that can provide space for guests or be used as income-producing rental properties.
The icing on the cake? There's a small, top-floor artist's studio with glass walls to let the light flood in and another high roof terrace to provide sweeping views of the city.