Real-estate broker and owner – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Resident in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico David Pullen’s real-estate company PV Realty has been voted the leading real estate firm within the area for the last 20 years.

The business is dedicated to real estate sales, investment advice and construction of high-end properties within Puerto Vallarta as well as the general Bay of Banderas area, which includes the state of Nayarit.

They provide legal and tax advice as well as consulting for project feasibility to foreign investors and Mexican nationals.

We spoke to David about his journey from South Africa to Mexico, the learnings along the way, and asked him to share a few tips with us on investing in Mexico real-estate.

Where are you from in SA?  Port Elizabeth

Schools attended?  Grey Junior and Grey High School

Is there a South African phrase, word, expression you use?  “Lekker”, “shame” and some other choice South African words at times…

How did you end up in this line of business and in Mexico?  As a young man recently out of school in South Africa I departed for Canada and took my corresponding real estate license in Toronto. A few years later I returned to study Marketing and Management at the Port Elizabeth Technikon and during my college days I worked as an estate agent for one of the top Estate agencies in Port Elizabeth.

I returned to Canada and worked in the film industry and then as a Market Analyst for Coldwell Banker in their corporate head office in Toronto.

After a number of years of I decided to do the unthinkable in corporate life which was to resign and travel. During my travels I arrived in Mexico, met my wife Silvia who is originally from Spain, and decided to stay awhile. I entered into the real estate business and I am still here 21 years later!

What aspect of your approach, attitude, character do you feel has been instrumental in causing your own success?  I think persistence, honesty, empathy and above all a very strong work ethic that was instilled in me by generations of my family in South Africa.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in reaching success as you have and how did you overcome them?  As with all businesses there are always a myriad of challenges in the beginning but in my case I would say initially the biggest challenge was the Spanish language. As a young man I mainly grew up speaking English, the required Afrikaans and some Xhosa, so Spanish was a challenge.

What tips do you have for others looking to build their own business—especially in a foreign country?

  • Do your homework. Speak to others that are foreigners and are doing business in the foreign country that you wish to enter into. They are quite often a source of knowledge that can help you overcome many inconveniences.
  • Make sure you find an honest bi-lingual attorney and accountant that will help guide you through the myriad of regulations and paperwork that are often required in many foreign countries.
  • It is very important to remember that you are a guest in the foreign country. Treat everyone with respect regardless if they do things differently to what you are used to in your country of origin. Remember you are dealing with a different culture and often times a different legal system therefore you have to be open-minded and embrace these changes or you will have a very difficult time adapting.
  • Most of all have patience and take your time in planning and doing things right the first time.

What’s your perspective of being a South African in business in a foreign country?  First of all people are surprised to hear that I am South African. They automatically think that I am an American or Canadian as there are very few South Africans in this part of the world.

I was very fortunate to grow up and attend one of the very best schools in South Africa which I believe gave me such a tremendous base, discipline and grounding which I strongly believe has helped me excel in business today regardless of the country I happen to be in.

In general I think South Africans are very well received around the world. If anything, being a South African has benefited me a lot more than affected me.

I am fortunate to have lived in three different countries—South Africa, Canada and Mexico—for the last 21 years. This has given me the unique ability of understanding and adapting to different cultures and outlooks.

What is the current climate and opportunity in your business today?  The coastal or touristic real estate market in Mexico has slowed down quite considerably within the last two year due to two main issues: the negative press about Mexico as well as the tough financial situation in the United States.

It is important to note that Mexico is having some security issues mostly along the border areas however the coastal areas of Mexico in many cases are far safer than most cities in Canada or the United States.

Unfortunately the press tends to inaccurately paint Mexico as a whole with the same brush of insecurity in these few border areas, which is far from the truth. The reality is that pricing in the coastal areas of Mexico has never been lower therefore there are huge opportunities for the astute foreign investor.

For those South Africans that have not been to Mexico you should most definitely come and see for yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised but more than likely delighted with this exceptional country and its people.

What are your top 3 tips for investing in real estate in Mexico? 

  1. Make sure that you are dealing with a real estate agent or broker that belongs to AMPI (Asociacion Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios—Mexican Real Estate Board Member) as they follow a strict code of ethics and are answerable to their corresponding chapters throughout Mexico.
  2. Do not believe everything you hear. Check it out as you would do anywhere and make sure that your questions are answered to your satisfaction. Sometimes you have to trust your gut feeling, if it does not feel right it normally isn’t.
  3. It is imperative that the property that you are acquiring in Mexico has a legitimate Title or Trust. If you have any doubts check with a qualified AMPI agent or a Notary Public. If you are interested in purchasing a property and the owner is reluctant to provide you with a copy of the legal title this often is a sign that the paperwork is most probably not in order. If that is the case then it may be a good idea to stay away from that property.


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Category: Success Stories

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