Whether you are a first-time prospective property owner or a seasoned one, purchasing property in Belize can be an exciting but equally daunting and overwhelming process. It is important to note that there are resources and people available to assist you! Here are 7 crucial tips to consider before making that first step when purchasing your property in the beautiful country of Belize.
1. KNOW what you are looking for!
Purchasing property, whether a parcel of land or a home, is a big decision and you should know exactly what your preferences are in order to have a guided search.
(a.) Location and proximity: Think about the location that is right for you and/or your family- whether you prefer the beautiful coastline of Belize, an inland area, the northern sugar cane flats or the southern highlands of the scenic Maya Mountains. Are there existing roads to the property and if so, what is the condition of the road throughout the year? What is the proximity from your prospective property to basic facilities such as grocery stores, hospitals, schools and garbage disposal services? Think about things that will add value or devalue your land over the long term.
(b) Terrain & condition of the property: The country of Belize has varying terrains which differ in general environment and climate. This factor is heavily attributed to location as there are some areas of Belize prone to floods and/or erosion. Get consultation on whether your prospective property will need to be filled or reclaimed, and if so, how often. In any case, one should seriously consider what long-term expenses may be incurred due to location and terrain.
(c) Potential for appreciation in making an investment for future turn-over: Will this property be the location of your forever home or are you considering starting a business? Even if you are not sure, seek out your property with pride and receive consultation for a realistic valuation of your property from a professional!
2. Understand Belize’s climate
Belize has a moist tropical climate with two seasons – dry and wet. The dry season is from late February to May and the wet season occurs during the months of June to November which is interrupted by another dry season between August and September. The mean annual temperature ranges from 23-29℃ (74-84℉) with some variation throughout the country. The coast generally experiences warmer temperatures – making Belize the perfect winter escape or location for your retirement home. Belize’s wet season coincides with the June to November Atlantic Hurricane Season and with Belize being in the hurricane belt, it is also important to consider the potential impact of storms and flooding when purchasing property.
3. Belize’s Property Law
Belize is a Commonwealth country and so property laws and regulations are based on English Common Law, as such, the process of buying and owning property can be complex and time-consuming. Under Belize’s property laws, individuals (locals and foreigners) and organizations are able to purchase and own property under the “Freehold Title” for use in their own way. All property is registered under the Lands and Surveys Department with mortgages and other encumbrances normally recorded against registered properties. While you may be able to understand the legalese yourself, especially if you are an experienced investor, it is important to consult an attorney or Real Estate Agent before making purchases to prevent scams or acquiring property without the right paperwork. For more information on Belize Property Laws, check out our Real Estate Guide.
4. Work with a reputable real estate agent
A proven track record, excellent listening skills and transparency will make your property search and purchase a seamless process. A reputable agent should be able to provide comprehensive local knowledge to meet your specific need and provide reliable information for an adequate understanding of the financial aspects of purchasing a property. Your real estate agent should fully brief you about market trends and initial as well as sustained expenses such as property taxes and insurance. You will want to ensure that the property of interest is legally acquired with all the necessary paperwork and strict adherence to building codes or zoning restrictions. RealFin Consultants take pride in customer empowerment because we understand the importance of informed decision making before venturing into property purchase.
5. Restrictions when buying land in Belize
Belize is one of the countries that has very few restrictions with regard to land purchases but on the short list of restrictions there are three specific types of land that are off-limits.
NATURE RESERVES. Belize’s new environmental protection laws are highly restrictive. While purchase and construction is not directly prohibited, initial expenses for environmental impact assessments can be very high, coupled with very strict building codes and prohibitions on various uses and activities, even if permission is approved. These factors alone can make it next to impossible to acquire and/or use the land as desired. Be sure to ask your real estate agent about the location of your property and if there will be potential hindrances to development.
CROWN RESERVES. Belize’s Maritime Law prohibits the purchase of property within 66 feet of any major body of water, inclusive of the sea, rivers and streams. This is referred to as Crown Reserve and it is public land that can be used but cannot be owned even if it is indicated as a part of your property. Additionally, there is a prohibition on building permanent structures on Crown Reserves.
ROAD RESERVES. Roads are also considered public property in Belize. It is common for the roads to be narrow but please always consider that the actual width designated can be much wider than what is observed. This restriction has been highlighted often as property owners have been losing parts of what was initially thought of as their property to road expansions. In most cases, loss of land is due to the lack of a survey and/or using old property lines as official demarcation. Your real estate agent should always ensure the property of interest is properly surveyed to prevent this from happening.
6. Purchase cost
Local currency is referred to as the Belize Dollar which has a pegged exchange rate of $2 BZD to $1 USD. Compared to real estate elsewhere, the purchase cost of property in Belize is quite modest. While Title Insurance is not a necessity and there are no Capital Gains Tax attached to purchase price, you can expect to pay at least a 10% down payment on your property, a Government Stamp Duty of 5% of the declared purchase price and a $15 BZD registration fee for the Title Document. Other services that may bear additional charges based on request include title search, validation report, surveys and registration of new mortgage. New residential properties come with a 12.5% service tax unless you choose property in a high-end area such as Belize City, San Pedro or Placencia,
7. Laws for private foreign investment
Belize is a country of opportunities if you are a foreign business owner looking to purchase property for private investment or expansion of your business! There are many government taxation incentives and as long as your business is incorporated into Belize, you are the sole owner. There are several business opportunities for development and with Belize having a stable economy, fixed exchange rate and a non-volatile political climate, it makes for the perfect place for your foreign investment.
Real Estate Agents are your best source of information for all aspects of your investment journey from search to purchase. RealFin takes pride in being a reputable real estate agency with comprehensive knowledge of the property market across Belize to help you find your dream property. Ask for a free consultation at any time!
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