Lending American capital to Mexicans

Seeking to tap into the billions of dollars that Mexicans working in the United States send home each year, a Mexican mortgage finance company is opening a New York branch on Thursday to offer loans to Mexicans who want to buy a house in their country.

Last year, Mexicans sent home $13.27 billion, more than the country earned from foreign tourism. The money lifts many families out of poverty and in some regions is the only source of income.

Many Mexicans working in the United States hope to save enough to buy a house in Mexico and return. But the money they send home is often consumed by daily needs.

Under the lending plan created by Hipotecaria Nacional, Mexico’s largest mortgage finance company, a Mexican working in the United States – legally or illegally – will be able to apply for a loan and pay the monthly installment in dollars through an American bank.

Relatives in Mexico must also sign the loan, which is issued in Mexico in pesos and backed by Mexico’s national mortgage bank, Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal.

And what do the stats look like?

…a worker would need to pay $400 a month for a 15-year mortgage at 15 percent interest on a house valued at about $36,000 with a 20 percent down payment. That interest rate, which would be quite high in the United States, is reasonable by Mexican standards, given higher base interest rates, inflation and the greater risk of default.

I’ll add that a house in rural Mexico costs only a few thousand dollars to buy or construct.

Nor are real estate-based capital movements restricted to mortgages proper:

…it has been Mexican companies that have come up with the most innovative ideas. Since 2001, Cemex, the cement giant, has allowed Mexicans to pay for bags of cement in the United States that relatives pick up in Mexico to build houses. The company, which has five offices in California and one in Chicago, even offers free engineering advice.

Here is the full story.


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