A large for sale sign sits on top of a dune. A dune that is not supposed to be built upon based on current law.

Should it be illegal to list such a property? Not if there is truth in advertising—as in this is a non-buildable lot.

A for sale sign on a dune property in Todos Santos, Mexico, that is not supposed to be built on. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Should the real estate agent and company who the person works for be fined or held accountable in some other way for describing a non-buildable lot as buildable? Yes.

Todos Santos, and other parts of Baja California Sur, are struggling to keep the dunes free of development. This is all about the environment. It’s the law, today, that these dunes are to be protected.

The Program for Urban Development (PDU) for Todos Santos, El Pescadero, and Las Playitas was published in 2012. It covers more than 30 miles from Elias Calles on the south to Agua Blanca north of Todos Santos. The PDU prohibits any development on primary and secondary dunes.

With the powers that be in the state government of Baja California Sur, the state which Todos Santos is part of, working to rewrite the laws when it comes to development, it’s possible in the future this lot in question will be allowed to be built on.

This particular lot has a sign with a QR code that goes to Mijares Advisors/aMiGo Realtor. An iPhone translation of the listing from Spanish to English says, “Welcome to this impressive paradisiacal corner of Baja California Sur, where it offers you an unparalleled life experience on the beach. Located a few steps from the gentle but enveloping wave of the Pacific Ocean to enjoy. The space is an invitation to creativity: 5,700 m2 that gives you the opportunity to design your dream place.”

So, obviously the lot is being sold as though it can be built upon.

Mexico has plenty of laws pertaining to real estate deals. And each state within the country has another layer. The problem is enforcement and corruption.

A vigilant group of Mexicans and expats is fighting to keep the current PDU in place. A sign across the road coming into town from La Paz, where the state government officials work, says, “No al nuevo PDU” meaning “No to the New PDU”.

Everyone who is part of breaking the law ought to be held accountable—including everyone involved in the real estate transaction—agents, brokers, bankers—everyone. Maybe laws need to be in place for contractors willing to work on an illegal build as well.

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