BUYING PROPERTY IN BELIZE WITH RE/MAX
Buying property in Belize is very easy and we will assist you throughout the process.
Neither the Buyer nor the seller need to be in Belize for the closing and the whole process can be carried out by email and Fed-Ex.
Buyers will receive a “fee simple” title to their property giving them full and complete ownership, unlike some Central and South American countries where the title is held in trust by a bank, or similar institution.
There are different types of title still in use in Belize but they are all good and all legal. All freehold parcels of land in Belize are slowly being converted to a Land Certificate Title under the Registered Land Act but this will take many years to complete as it is being carried out area by area, and only when a property is transferred. Until this system is complete, the other titles will remain in force and, as mentioned earlier, are perfectly good and legal.
When a property is sold, the Buyer and Seller sign a Sale Agreement (emailed to you if necessary) agreeing on price and any particular terms or conditions and the Buyer is asked to place a deposit into our company’s escrow account – in N. America or Belize.
A title search is carried out to ensure that the Seller is still the legal owner and that the title is clean with no liens or encumbrances.
The final transfer documents have to be signed in front of a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public so can be sent to the Seller and Buyer for signatures by Fed-Ex if necessary. When the forms have been returned to the agent, the transaction is ready for closing. The Buyer wires the balance of the purchase price to our escrow account and the Seller hands over the original title.
The documents are then registered with the Land’s Department and the Seller receives his/her payment. It can take up to 6 weeks for the Buyer to receive the new title in his/her name.
All buyers and sellers will need to produce a copy of a valid passport.
There is no full MLS covering the country of Belize but the agents do work together. If you see a property that is of interest on a non-RE/MAX website, just send the link to that property to your RE/MAX agent and he will be able to confirm that it is still available and will probably be able to give you some additional information and professional advice on the property.
The Buyer is responsible for the closing procedures and the agent can advise on the options open to him/her on who to employ for this.
BUYER’S COSTS –
DEPOSIT / EARNEST MONEY – normally 10% of purchase price – can be less on higher value properties. This is part of the purchase price.
CENTRAL BANK APPROVAL – US$100 – for the Central Bank of Belize to approve the property sale for a non-resident buyer.
STAMP DUTY – 8% of purchase price, payable by the Buyer to the Government of Belize. The first US$10,000 of purchase price is exempt. Belizeans and CARICOM citizens only pay 5%.
Note – after closing, the property may be assessed by a government valuation officer who may decide that the property is actually worth more than the declared purchase price and this could incur an additional Stamp Duty fee.
RECEIVING WIRE – A US$40 fee charged by our escrow account bank for receiving wire transfers of money.
FED – EX – A US$55 charge for the cost of sending important documents by Fed-Ex from Belize.
CLOSING COSTS* – An attorney will normally charge 2% of the purchase price, with a minimum charge fee. In some circumstances depending on the type of title, the buyer may choose to use an experienced property broker to do the transfer quicker, and at a cheaper rate.
* Closing costs refers to the associated fees for:-
carrying out a title search.
preparing the transfer documents.
following the signed documents through the transfer process.
ensuring the correct amount of government “stamp duty” is assessed and paid.
payment of the government registration fee.
issuing of the title in the new owner’s name.
transferring the new owner’s name on the property tax register
paying the government stamp duty which is levied on all land transfers.
American property laws are significantly different from Belizean laws so there is no need to employ an American or Canadian attorney. Your agent will probably prepare the Sale and Purchase Agreement but, if you feel happier with an attorney, there are many attorneys available in Belize and they are very familiar with Belize Property Laws. The seller does not need legal representation.
PROPERTY FINANCING IN BELIZE
Few of the owners selling properties offer self-financing so it should not be taken for granted that this option is available.
Getting financing to buy property is Belize can be difficult and expensive and you are strongly advised to borrow money in your home country, if possible.
The Belize high street banks cannot normally give loans to non-residents. For information on getting a loan with one international bank you can contact Mr. Ellis Sanchez at – 001-501-824-2634 or [email protected] for more information.
Few of the real estate companies in Belize are going to tell you this, but it may be important that you are aware of the fact that there is no governmental control attaining to the behaviour of those selling real estate in Belize. Nobody is trying to scare you away from buying property in Belize, of course, but you need to know that there is no licencing of agents, no mandatory training, no rules or regulations. Any man and his dog can call themselves a real estate agent and sell property in Belize. And, there are those who will take advantage of this.
Common sense prevails.
If you wish to buy property privately, without the expertise of an established agent, do not assume that what the person is telling you is actually true. Make sure that the person who says he is the owner, is in fact the actual owner and that his/her name is on the title and is registered in the Land’s Department as the current owner, and that there are no liens or encumbrances against the title which would prevent legal transfer.
Make sure that the land that they are showing you is the actual property identified on the title by checking a location map in the Land’s Department.
Don’t give money to somebody you meet who says his land is leased and he needs money to buy out the lease and make it titled property so that it can be sold to you, without carrying out the precautions mentioned above.
If you do decide to buy privately, make sure that you see some photo identification of the person you are giving money to, and get a receipt in his/her name in case there is legal action later.
The above are not just speculations. They unfortunately do happen and give the real estate industry in Belize, and the genuine agents, a bad name.
Our association, the Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize is currently engaged in talks with the government to introduce legislation to licence real estate agents and to initiate training sessions and standards of behaviour, etc. But this is not going to happen for some time and until it does, just keep the above in mind and, if in doubt, engage an agent from a well-known company with high standards to advise and assist you.
Is it safe to buy property in Belize? Of course it is but just bear in mind the points mentioned above if you decide to buy privately without the safety of using a recognised agent.