Originally from Durango, a town in southwestern Colorado, Audrey Royem moved to Sayulita in late 2009, after completing her master’s degree in International Relations at Columbia University. Her family already owned a property in this Riviera Nayarit town, a popular destination for Americans and Canadians. Due to the economic crisis and lack of job opportunities in New York, where she resided at that time, Royem decided to move to Mexico for an indefinite period.whats
Paradoxically, some time later, she found work and begin to take root in the place she had vacationed so many times in the past. “I never thought I would live in Mexico. During my career and master’s program, I studied about Asia and Africa and lived in places like Thailand and The Gambia, where I was involved in community projects and volunteer work. Mexico was not on my radar,” she says.
Within a few months, Royem detected an important need in foreigners who came to Sayulita with plans to invest or change residence: assistance with legal proceedings. So, she decided to begin offering consulting on immigration issues, which led her to open Audrey International, which over the years would evolve into Ai Real Estate + Relocation.
As her customer base grew, so did the need to expand her services. Royem became involved in the real estate industry by partnering with real estate professional Fred Feibel, and also began offering assistance in procedures related to vehicles (such as import, regularization, purchase and sale), as well as providing tax advice to investors, among other services.
To ensure the professionalism of her work and provide confidence to her clients, she joined AMPI’s Riviera Nayarit section and, to date, has been a member of its board for two years.
“One of the most important moments for me was finding AMPI. I believe it is an institution that promotes all the factors I considered when I established my business: work ethic and tools to grow as a real estate professional. Setting standards and rules to follow in the industry not only facilitates processes but also provides security to clients.”
Royem notes that the main challenge with the Sayulita real estate market is the many properties that are not regularized, that are ejidal, that do not have deeds and/or construction documentation, that do not have well defined boundaries, and, therefore, do not qualify for a listing.
“We prefer to work with listings because we know that the legality of the process is guaranteed. We do things as AMPI suggests and try to influence other agencies to adopt this. In places like Puerto Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta, it is a different experience because the properties are mostly regularized. We have to understand that although there is much development in Sayulita, much remains to be done regarding this issue.”
For Royem, it is vital to inform the foreign market about the implications of acquiring unregularized property. Over the years, she and her team have witnessed unfortunate cases where the owners have no certainty about the property they bought.
“Information provides confidence. Working in a way that AMPI promotes primarily benefits the clients.”
Rodolfo Ernesto Fierro, Royem’s husband and a real estate agent with the company, mentions that a common local practice among small property sellers is to leave pamphlets with real estate agencies offering a percentage of the profit. Instead, Fierro recommends listing the property with a real estate agency and following the formal processes, as this allows collaboration among agencies to sell it more quickly.
Royem and Ernesto point out the further complication of public infrastructure problems facing Sayulita, such as lack of parking, unpaved streets and a poor sewer system. These issues need attention so the industry can continue to grow and residents’ needs will be satisfied.
“Having the necessary infrastructure and a well-established partnership with highly qualified professionals is a good step for the industry in Mexico,” says Royem.
A New Phase
Royem celebrated the fifth anniversary of Ai Real Estate + Relocation a few months ago. Currently, she is combining her career with her role as mother, having recently given birth to her second child. Before concluding the interview, she told us that she enjoys life in Mexico and is satisfied with the direction her company is taking, as well as the work team she has formed.