It’s Easy to Buy Belize Real Estate
1. If you contact the Association of Real Estate Brokers in Belize first thing, will not only shorten your search time, but you’ll have a trusted friend to take you through properties that fit your criteria. Looking for a bargain? Research Belize Bank foreclosures to see what’s on this market, too. It’s fun to pick the area in which you want to live, drive around and check out properties. Talk to residents to get the inside scoop on that community.
2. Make an offer. Once you locate a property that has everything you desire, your realtor steps in and composes an “Offer to Purchase” letter that gets the legal process started. Examine this document carefully because it includes preliminary details about the sale, the property’s legal description and your initial financial offer. If you plan to seek a bank loan to finance your purchase, now is the time to get a commitment from a lender.
3. Negotiate with the seller. Knowing the art and science of real estate negotiation is a big advantage if your first offer isn’t accepted. For properties in prime Belize locations, you may have to work through counter-offers and contractual alterations to suit the seller’s demands. Once a mutually-agreed-to price—and other details that may have been in dispute—is set, you and the seller sign off on the offer and you seal the deal by making a goodwill deposit or down payment.
Read also: 50 Reasons to Buy Real Estate in Belize
4. Hire a lawyer. Some ex-pats hire an attorney long before a real estate negotiation has reached this stage, but if you haven’t yet done so, now is the time to retain counsel to undertake the title search that may reveal unpaid taxes, liens or heretofore undisclosed mortgages. The title search includes a request for a detailed survey that pinpoints the property’s exact location and size. You can expect to pay your lawyer a fee equal to between 1- and 3-percent of the purchase price for handling this search.
5. Complete the purchase agreement. This lengthy legal document fleshes out minute details that were included in the Offer to Purchase agreement plus changes added during the negotiation process. Signing this paperwork seals the contractual aspects of the sale and you are expected to pay the purchase price in full or via a commitment from a bank to finance the sale.
6. Pay the stamp duty and transfer the title. The government of Belize requires a property transfer fee of 5-percent to put the title into your name. This payment is usually paid by your attorney as part of his or her obligation to guide your purchase. It’s important to be aware of the fact that this 5-percent stamp duty is based on the government’s valuation estimate rather than the sale price, but you get a gift from the Belize government in return for paying this fee: the first $10,000 USD of your purchase price is tax-free! Like all bureaucratic transactions, it can take between 30 and 60 days—maybe more—to complete the title transfer, so be patient.
While the gorgeous scenery surrounding your new home is likely to be a step up from your former residence, you probably noticed that the process of buying your real estate was no different than it was in the past, so why not continue your tradition of throwing a housewarming to toast your new home? Invite all of your new neighbors and friends to a party that celebrates your decision to own a little piece of paradise–at last!