Haven Homes wasn't getting much interest from local buyers in The Haven, its 46-unit condo complex in Mission, Texas. So Haven's president, Leo Salazar, decided recently to refocus his marketing on investors and recent transplants, primarily Mexican nationals.

The Haven is located near a school district where Mexican nationals like to send their kids. Salazar’s other ace card is Norma Hinojosa, who co-owns RE/MAX Elite in Mission. Salazar has worked with her for the past seven years, mostly to draw buyers to the more than 50 fourplexes his company has built. Hinojosa’s office has a joint agreement with a real-estate broker in Monterrey, Mexico, which sends clients her way. And her business with Mexican nationals has been the one thing that’s held up during the recession. “They still see the U.S. as a great place to invest,” she says.

Salazar likes dealing with Mexican nationals, too, because they pay cash or make “huge” down payments. “They also want three- to five-year financing, tops, and are looking for maintenance-free living.” The Haven offers 1,200- to 1,400-square-foot units with a lot of upscale amenities—granite countertops, 10-foot ceilings, porcelain floors—for dwellings that start in the low $100s.

As of early May, Haven had completed 24 of the 46 units and had sold 16, half of those to nationals. Salazar expects to sell out the complex by the end of this year and wouldn’t mind building another aimed at these prospects if he could find the right piece of land. Building condos here isn’t that great a risk, he explains, because “they can always be converted to rental apartments.” His company has over 60 rental units that are currently 80 percent to 90 percent occupied.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: McAllen, TX.