The Complete 2021 Guide To Buying Real Estate in Belize
The Belize real estate market continues to be hot. Prices have trended up in the past 10 years, and properties close to the waterfront or the inland tourist centers continue to be excellent investments.
Belize is a great place to live. If you want income-producing properties, Belize properties rent out quickly. Whether you are planning for a long-term investment or a short-term source of income, you can’t go wrong with Belize.
What’s Attractive About Belize
Belize offers an outstanding quality of life. Whether you’re a young family looking for a life off the beaten path, a business owner who wants to get in on Belize’s growing tourism industry, or a retiree who’s looking for a warm, affordable place to call home, Belize is an ideal place to live.
The weather is warm all year, and you can enjoy sunny skies on most days. If you enjoy outdoor activities and water-based recreation, Belize will be perfect for you. Belize has the slow, simple charm of the Caribbean. People live a relaxed, stress-free life here. There are no chain restaurants, skyscrapers, or fast-food places. There are also no traffic jams and no blizzards.
Why the Real Estate Market Is Hot in Belize
Living in Belize allows you to stay close to home. Belize is only a two- or three-hour flight from major cities in the US or Canada. Daily flights depart from all major airports. If you need to go home for an emergency or to visit family, it’s easy to do from Belize.
Where To Look for Property
Certain areas continue to attract tourists, expatriates, and retirees to Belize. They include the following.
Ambergris Caye. This island on the western coast of Belize is the country’s primary tourist destination. San Pedro, the capital of Ambergris Caye, is a well-developed town with many amenities. San Pedro boasts high-end, luxurious resorts and condominiums along with midrange properties. With its scenic surroundings and lively nightlife, it is a major draw for visitors and residents.
Caye Caulker. As sleepy as Ambergris Caye is bustling, Caye Caulker is a tiny, self-sufficient island that is popular with backpackers and divers. The island has its own airstrip, hotels, and businesses.
Placencia. On the tip of Belize’s southernmost point, Placencia boasts white sand beaches and stunning scenery. It’s slower in pace than Ambergris Caye, and it includes hostels, lodges, and resorts at all price levels.
Corozal. This town is close to Belize’s northern border with Mexico, and residents frequently travel to Chetumal, Mexico, for shopping, medical care, movies, and American-style food. Corozal is somewhat off the beaten path, but some expatriates enjoy living there for that reason.
Cayo District. Many expatriates call this the “hidden gem” of Belize. Although it’s not on any beaches, it’s the eco-tourism center of Belize. The capital town of San Ignacio is a bustling, well-developed town that’s only an hour from Belize’s capital city of Belmopan. The Cayo District is scenic and affordable.
Is Belize a Good Choice for Foreigners Who Want To Buy Real Estate?
Belize is one of the few countries in the world where foreigners have the same property and land ownership rights as citizens. Compare this to countries like Costa Rica or Mexico, where buying real estate requires a few extra steps if you’re a foreigner. You can do it, but it involves some extra work. Other countries in Central and South America make it even more difficult to buy property.
In Belize, you can buy property as easily as you buy property in your home country. You can purchase a residence to live in, apartments to rent out, business properties, industrial buildings, and raw land.
Keep two things in mind. One, if you buy and run a business here, you must hire Belizean workers. Two, every land purchase is subject to a Government Stamp Transfer Tax, which is about 5% of the purchase price.
Special Tax Concessions
One amazing benefit of buying a property in Belize is there’s no capital gains tax. If you purchase land, develop it, and then sell it for a hefty profit, you keep every penny. If you buy a condo and resell it, you keep all the profits.
Belize also has very low property taxes. A property worth $250,000 US might have property taxes as low as $500 to $1000 a year. Less developed areas may have even lower tax rates.
Speaking of condominiums, Belize has recently developed new laws specifically for dealing with condo ownership. This is in response to the growing market for this type of property. The government regulations are like those of the US and other first world countries where condominiums are common.
Language and Legal Issues
You’ll find it easy to do business in Belize for several reasons. First, the official language is English. This is a holdover from Belize’s former history as a British colony, and it makes dealing with contracts and other legal matters easy.
Second, Belize’s property contracts are like those of the US, UK, and Canada. You won’t have trouble understanding the process or the documentation. You should, however, still work with a local realtor and a local attorney who can steer you clear of the scammers.
Like any business that promises big profits and large dollar purchases, the Belize real estate market has attracted its share of people who won’t have your best interests in mind. Working with reputable local experts is a good way to protect yourself.
Affordability is a major reason people keep flocking to Belize. Prices have gone up all over the country, but it is still affordable compared to Costa Rica, Mexico, or the coastal areas of Florida and California. You can find affordable homes to live in or to rent out.
The land is a good deal here. You can find undeveloped land for very low prices. It’s wise to be careful who you make land purchases from. Belize has strict environmental regulations, and there may be restrictions on what you can do with that land.
Stable, Democratic Country
Belize is a stable country with a democratic government. The growing tourism industry has alerted the government to a need for more amenities and stronger safety measures. Belize has a low crime rate and is not subject to riots or terrorism.
Easy Currency Exchange
The currency exchange in Belize is easy. The Belize dollar is permanently pegged to the US dollar at a rate of $2BZ to $1US.
You can use US dollars to make purchases almost anywhere here. Only the most rural areas will only take Belizean currency.
What You Need To Buy Real Estate in Belize
If you’re interested in purchasing real estate in Belize, here’s what you need.
Help from Local Experts
Hiring a realtor to act as your buyer’s agent is critically important. You need someone who can steer you to the best areas and the most promising properties. You need a realtor who’s looking out for your interests.
It’s also a good idea to hire a local attorney. Although the documentation is in English and looks familiar, it is still a big-ticket transaction. Be sure your documentation is legally sound.
An attorney and a real estate agent will ensure that your paperwork is properly prepared. Your attorney should conduct a title search on any property including land, a subdivided lot, a home, or a condo. A title search is a simple process that will cost around $250 US. It will let you know if the property has a “clear title,” which means it doesn’t have liens or legal disputes attached to it.
Some properties are “deed-restricted,” which means the government limits what you can do with them. If you still want the property, be sure you follow those restrictions carefully.
Rely on your realtor to find the type of property you want. Your realtor can explain the process to you and expedite the purchase.
How Long Does It Take To Complete a Property Transaction?
It doesn’t take long, especially if you have a realtor and an attorney who can expedite your paperwork. Typically, it takes about 90 days to go from deposit to closing.
You don’t need to be in Belize for the closing. Your realtor or attorney can attend the settlement on your behalf. While that makes home buying easy, we don’t recommend buying a property you haven’t seen. Make at least one trip to see the actual property before you turn over your hard-earned cash for a home or building.
Fees, Taxes, and Other Costs of Buying Real Estate in Belize
You must pay the following fees and taxes with every real estate transaction.
- Government Stamp Transfer Tax: About 5% of the purchase price.
- Attorney’s fees: About 2% of the purchase price.
- Title search: $250.
- General Sales Tax (for new residential properties): 12.5% of the purchase price.
- Deposit: You will typically pay a 10% deposit once you agree to purchase a property.
Ways To Own Real Estate
You can own real estate as a person, a corporation, or a Belize trust. Belize is an excellent choice if you want asset protection.
You can get financing for your purchase from an international bank or a local Belizean bank. Typically, you can borrow 50% of the purchase price with a 10% down payment.
Strata Titling Principles
Belize uses strata titling principles for the purchase of apartments, condominiums, or townhouses. These are the same principles used in Europe, the US, and the UK for these property purchases. Real estate laws in Belize are like those in first-world jurisdictions.
Belize Is a Great Investment for Foreigners
Belize offers affordable prices and low taxes. The ease of purchasing, similarity to first world contracts, and use of English as an official language make Belize an attractive real estate option.