Buying in Belize Real Estate
People explore the option of buying in Belize real estate for a variety of reasons.
The two most common inquiries we receive at our office are: 1) from retirees moving to Belize who are looking for a home surrounded by tropical land; and 2) investors looking to cash in on inexpensive land and properties in the country (some of whom live in Belize and some of whom do not).
Whether one of the reasons above is yours or you have other ideas (looking for a prime spot for a monkey sanctuary? … we can help!), real estate here is cheap, plentiful, and easily acquired by non-citizens. Belize is one of the few countries in the world where foreigners enjoy the same rights as citizens with regards to property ownership in land ownership and tenure. All land purchases are subject to a Government Stamp Transfer Tax, which currently is a little under 8% of the purchase price.
If you are interested in buying a home or real estate in Belize as an investment opportunity, an important incentive in this case is the absence of any capital gains tax in Belize. This, of course, means if you buy property in Belize and then sell it later for a profit, your profits will not be taxed. Also a good thing to keep in mind if you buy a home in Belize as a retiree and then for some mind-boggling reason you change your mind about retirement in Belize.
Buying in Belize ~ Real Estate Overview
The real estate industry showed steady growth over the years with a slight fall in sales during 2008 financial crisis. The market trends of the United States largely affect Belize as a significant percentage of investors are from the United States. The real estate market of the country showcases double-digit growth in the recent years from investors buying in Belize. The coastal regions of Belize generate nearly 30 percent growth per annum. When it comes to inland properties, an increase of 15 percent is most common.
If you plan to invest in the Belizean real estate market, you will get an excellent range of properties based on your requirement and affordability. It also leaves you the option to make thoughtful investments by considering various factors of future appraising. The administration of the country understands the growth potential of its real estate sector. Belize has not put any restrictions on the foreigners who plan to own properties in the country. However, there is a trend that foreign buyers hire an attorney to represent them in the real estate transactions.
Did you know Belize allows people to make real estate transactions using US Dollar? You can open a savings account in the country even before beginning the real estate transaction process. It will help you to pay the associated expenses with the transaction.
What Makes the Real Estate Investments in Belize Attractive?
Apart from the abundant natural landscape and the status of English as the official language, the inexpensive living costs also attract people to Belize. You can expect the real estate prices of the country significantly lower than in Mexico and the eastern Caribbean. The landscape diversity in the country is another contributing factor people find Belize as their destination. Additionally, the property tax rate in the country is extremely low. Also, there is no estate tax, capital gain tax, and you can complete real estate transactions hassle-free. Belize offers same legal rights to both nationals and non-nationals. This is considerably different from many other countries in the region.
The country offers established medical care system to its people. It has both private sector providers as well as public hospitals. However, you should note that the North American medical standards can’t be expected in Belize. Interestingly, both public and private sectors provide highly affordable healthcare option to the people. Now, you know the reason why people choose Belize for their retirement life. However, Americans return to their home country if they need any advanced treatments. Since Belize has excellent connectivity with all the major American cities by air, people can quickly fly in the case of any medical emergency.
The Growth of Belize
Belize is also a quickly growing international tourist destination. The numbers from Belize Tourism Board show that 2016 received 16.9% more international tourists compared to the previous year. You should note that Belize is the fastest-growing tourist destination in the Caribbean region. Additionally, the travel and tourism sector contribution to the GDP of the country touched 38.1 percent in 2016. Do you suddenly see a business or investment opportunity in the form of a vacation rental?If yes, you should also note that the consistent climate of Belize is making it as a year-round tourist destination. However, you can expect more rush from Thanksgiving Day to July due to the holidays during the period.
The influx of foreigners to the country is expected to improve the infrastructure and healthcare of the country in the coming years. You should note that such changes would further increase the inflow of people to the Central American country. Belize is a country with stable real estate laws that are highly investor-friendly. It means that you would not experience the issues of frequent or random changes of laws in the sector. Foreigners get numerous financing options in the country for purchasing real estate. Both international and local banks offer finance options to the aspiring buyers. The banks offer you 60-80 percent of the purchase price of the property. You will also find the financing process simple and convenient to your needs.
It means that the country has all the aspects to become the hottest real estate destination in the region in future. Therefore, this is the appropriate time to invest in the real estate of the yet-to-explore market.
Who Is Buying In Belize?
As hinted, people choose the country for their retirement living. Two other major categories of people are expatriates and investors. People who want more privacy also find the country suiting to their needs. In the recent years, a large number of foreigners began choosing the country as their vacation home destination. While coming to the country-wise statistics, American and Canadian buyers dominate the market. Since Belize was a British colony, you can expect a sizable number of British buyers as well. In the recent years, Spanish, Russian, and Italian buyers also began acquiring properties in the country.
How to Invest in the Country
Buying a property in Belize is quite similar to procedures in the United States. If you are thinking to invest in the country, you should consider some factors apart from a retiree or vacation home buyer. Proper investigation and analysis of the location, lifestyle, financial institutions, market parameters, and more will help you to make wise decisions. As Belize is yet to be fully explored as a real estate investment destination, here is a strategy you can adopt. Start with internet research and understand the peculiarities of the market. Then, speak with experts more on your requirements. It helps you to filter and prioritize your preferences based on the market conditions.
Two important actors of your Belize property purchase mission are your buyer’s agent and real estate attorney in the country. By onboarding them, you ensure that you get good deals, and everything is legal. Your attorney can make a title search and ensure that no legal issues are associated with the property. It is a highly recommended process, and you can ask your attorney to do it for you. The title search process is comparatively cheap and would charge you around $250 per process. Your real estate agent will help you to identify the right locality based on your preferences. If you have any locality or town in your mind, you can communicate it to the agent. You can also let him know other preferences like property type, amenities, surroundings, and more.
Your presence in Belize is not mandatory to make an offer or to complete the transaction. The relaxed rule helps a large majority of foreigners to complete real estate transactions comfortably. The real estate industry of the country also put minimal time commitment. You will see a majority of real estate transactions completed in 30-90 days. The initiatives of the government to encourage foreign investors and simplified procedures are playing a larger role in the minimal transaction period.
The Real Estate Costs and Legal Information
Before planning to invest in Belize, you should have an idea about the associated expenses. You should pay the government a 8% stamp transfer tax for each transaction. The tax is approximately five percent of the purchase price of your property. We have already discussed appointing a real estate attorney to deal with legal issues. Your attorney would charge you 1-2 percent of the purchase price as his or her fees. For new residential properties, you are required to pay general sales tax, which developers typically already include in the initial sales price. It normally comes ten percent of the purchase price. While a sales contract is signed after the negotiations, the buyers generally pay 10 percent of the sales price to the seller.
Since the official language of the country is English, all contracts are in English. It gives you the option to personally review all the documents while entering the contract and closing the transaction. The properties in Belize are listed in U.S. Dollars to help the North American buyers.
Some properties come with “deed restrictions.” It means that the property zoning may put some restrictions on how you can use your land, the building specification, and more. You should thoroughly review any deed restriction on your property before purchase and ensure that it is agreeable to you. You should note that the country has no independent escrow services made available. It means that you would not get the option to take escrow granted. However, you can seek the service of a bank, attorney, or real estate agent for escrow. They can provide both documentary and monetary escrow for real estate deals. The charges for the escrow services may vary, and you should confirm it before using the service.
Buying in Belize
Buying ran Belize is not a complicated process, if guided correctly. If you are a non-citizen buying in Belize, you want to make sure you have a Belize real estate lawyer to protect your interests and avoid a problem during the closing.
Our office has a great deal of experience with Belize land transactions both large and small. We assist our clients with all aspects of buying in Belize, including the provision of a detailed and comprehensive title search necessary to determine good title. Our office is well versed with all forms of land title present in Belize, including Deeds of Conveyance, Transfer Certificates of Title, and Land Certificates. The use of our office’s escrow account can be another significant advantage to you when contemplating a land purchase or sale in Belize. Our preferred Belize real estate attorneys also assist land owners with First Registrations for those who obtain a title by means of a Deed.
Our Belize firm offers the following real estate services:
Strata (Condominium) Titles
The Strata Titles Registration Act, Chapter 196, Laws of Belize provides for the issuance of titles to condominiums (a.k.a. flying freeholds). Under this Act, a purchaser acquires title to their unit and also automatically becomes a member of the Homeowner’s Corporation. The Homeowner’s Corporation, by law, becomes the proprietor of all common area in the strata plan and is responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. However, strata titles introduce a new set of technical concerns for anyone buying in Belize, which we can assist with.
Our firm can also represent property developers seeking to register a strata plan. A strata plan must be prepared in the prescribed forms and must consist of the required floor plan and the elevation drawings. The proper preparation of the purchase agreements, bylaws and rental management agreements are also crucial, before buying in Belize.
Buying in Belize ~ Escrow Services
Escrow services have become an integral component in property buying in Belize. The purpose of escrow services is for a party to serve as custodian of the purchase proceeds pending closing and on terms agreed by the vendor and purchaser. All escrowed funds are deposited in a segregated trust account and as such are protected against any contingency. US currency escrow services is also available.
Our preferred Belize real estate attorneys have extensive experience with landlord and tenant relationships, including preparation of residential, commercial and strata lease agreements. The Landlord and Tenant Act, Chapter 189, Laws of Belize, stipulates that all leases for a period in excess of three years shall be created by deed. The Registered Land Act, Chapter 194, Laws of Belize states that any lease for a period of two years or more must be in the prescribed form and must be registered. It is highly recommended, in the interest of certainty and for the protection of both the landlord and tenant, that a written lease be prepared for all tenancies of any duration.
- Referral of certified architects and contractors
- Referral of realtors
- Advice on Timeshares
- Assistance with building approvals
- Assistance with hotel licenses
- Legal Mortgages/Charges
- Assistance with subdivisions