The Belize real estate market is currently hot and I’m here to answer a few of your concerns. You probably Googled this how-to guide because you either saw a Buy Belize commercial or personally visited Belize, dipped your toes in our turquoise waters, climbed the ancient Mayan ruins and ate rice and beans with our locals. Now you want to invest here and buying property is a great way. Initially it might seem like a daunting process but purchasing a land or home in Belize is not as hard as it may seem.
Before we start, here are a few tidbits you should know:
- The buying process is similar – There are many similarities between buying real estate in Belize and other foreign countries, including Canada and the US.
- Real Estate transactions are never routine – Every sale has its own unique challenges.
- There are few restrictions – Like any Belizean, foreigners can own almost any piece of our paradise, including beachfront land.
- There is No Capital Gain Tax – If you resell your property at a greater cost there is no additional tax on the money gained.
- Retiring in Belize has it’s perks – Qualified Retirees can enjoy an exemption from all import duties when they first move to Belize.
How to buy property in Belize
STEP 1: Begin the Search
As with any good investment and even more so with this one, research is key. The best resources available to view current property listings in Belize include:
Local realtor’s websites – Find a list of registered Realtors at the Association of Real Estate Brokers in Belize Website.
Bank foreclosure listings – This is a great resource for Belize real estate deals.
Speak to a local, or a dozen locals – Chances are, not every property is listed with a realtor. Rent a vehicle; explore different parts of our country and get to know what’s available, our people and our lifestyles.
STEP 2: Choose a Property to Suit Your Needs
Belize has diverse options when buying real estate. Define what it is you’re looking for and your budget.
If your ideal property is one that is tucked away in the hills with a stream flowing a few feet away, consider the Cayo District.
For a map and current (2014) land and construction prices throughout Belize download this.
Step 4: Make an offer to purchase
After you’ve decided on your ideal property your realtor will draft an “Offer to Purchase” letter which includes buyer and seller details, the legal description of the property, the purchase price and your signature.
STEP 4: Negotiate with Seller and Provide a Deposit
If you’re lucky, your offer will immediately be accepted but often, the seller responds with a counter-offer. Once the price of the property is mutually agreed upon, both parties sign the offer. At this point, you will have to provide a deposit of good will.
STEP 5: Hire a Lawyer and do a Title Search Service
Hiring a Real Estate Lawyer is not mandatory but will save you a lot of time and money. Your lawyer will conduct a “Title Search” to find out whether the property has any mortgages, liens, unpaid taxes, etc., and also request a “Survey Plan” for the exact location and dimensions of the property. The lawyer’s fee usually ranges between 1-3% of the sale price.
STEP 6: Sign Purchase Agreement and Pay
After the necessary research is done, your lawyer then writes a Purchase Agreement, which is a very detailed version of the “offer to purchase.” Once both the seller and buyer accept all the terms of the sale and sign the document, your next step is to pay the purchase price in full. If you do not have the cash on hand to pay for the property there are several local and offshore banks that can offer you a loan at a very reasonable rate to fund your purchase.
STEP 7: Pay Stamp Duty
We’re almost there. A 5% Stamp Duty must be paid to the Government of Belize in order to transfer the property’s title to your name. While your lawyer will take care of paying this fee, it’s important to know that The Government of Belize has the right to value your property and charge you based on their evaluation and not the purchase price. Also, the first $10,000 USD of the purchase price is completely tax-free.
STEP 8: Transfer the Title
After Stamp Duty is paid, it’s now time to wait for the title to be transferred into your name. This can take at minimum 30 days to 60 days or more. Don’t worry, the wait will be worth it.
STEP 9: Completion
Once you’re given your title, congrats! After all that hard work you now own a little piece of Caribbean paradise! You own real estate in Belize! 🙂
If you’ve ever bought Real Estate in Belize we’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to add to our suggestions or offer any additional advice!