As the Belize real estate market continues to grow, more and more people are realizing the possible investment opportunities becoming available. When compared to other countries, Belize offers some better incentives for home and property buying. For example, there is no capital gains tax in Belize – so if you purchase a property and sell it later, you won’t have to pay a tax on your profit. Another great reason to buy property in Belize is that there aren’t any restrictions on foreigners owning land, which is not usually the case in other countries. So let’s go over how to buy property in Belize…
Before You Buy Property in Belize
There are a few things the experts feel you should know when setting out to buy property in Belize. First, although there aren’t any restrictions for foreigners owning land, there is a Government Stamp Transfer Tax that will run you about 5 percent of the property’s value.
Next, you’ll want to be extra careful when choosing your Belize real estate agent and attorney. Belize doesn’t have any certifications or educational requirements to become a real estate agent. Some say the best way to get around any mix-ups here is to try and work directly with the owner of the property. If that’s not a solution, you can also hire a local land facilitator.
Local land facilitators are retired government employees who know the inner workings of the system. With a local land facilitator, you can expect to pay only about half of what you’d pay an attorney or real estate agent. When it comes to finalizing your deal, however, make sure to do that with an attorney.
As with anywhere else, it’s necessary to have a proper title for your property, so that’s why it’s so important to hire an attorney. Make sure to have the title history searched, so that you know you’re getting the proper title from the actual homeowner.
Another quick piece of advice to note is if you’re buying a condo in Belize, make sure it is managed by a privately-owned condo association, rather than a third party management company. Those who’ve had experience with such companies claim that it is a hassle to get anything done.
Property Taxes in Belize Property
Property taxes are known to be low in Belize. Ambergris Caye is quickly becoming more expensive than the surrounding areas, mostly because the barrier reef draws a lot of tourist attraction, but these taxes there are still low compared to surrounding countries.
If you choose to buy a house or condo on Ambergris Caye, for example, you could pay $375 USD per year on your $250,000 property. However, if you would rather stray away from the busy areas, and go more rural, you could pay as little as $6 for your property tax. The amount paid usually runs between 1–1.5 percent of the property’s value. Closing costs run between 6-7 percent of the property’s value. Belize’s property tax is considered to be one of the lowest of any of the Commonwealth countries. What you’ll pay just depends on where you choose to settle!
The Process to Buy Property in Belize
Altogether, the process of purchasing property can be boiled down to a few easy steps. Begin your search by exploring the country and deciding what you really like. Check local realtors’ websites, check foreclosure listings, and ask around. You could find something good that’s not even listed! Once you’ve chosen your ideal spot and the home you want, your agent will draft an “Offer to Purchase” letter for the owner. Negotiate, provide a deposit, hire an attorney for the title search, sign your purchase agreement, and pay! You’ll pay stamp duty for 5 percent, and the title will be transferred in a 30-60 day period. It’s really that simple.
With such a simple process for buying real estate in this Caribbean paradise, it’s no wonder so many expats and retirees are headed that way. Belize is also known for having one of the best retirement programs in the region, due to the Retired Persons Incentive Program of 1999. This program sponsors terms in which any foreign citizens over the age of 45 can import their possessions, duty free, into the country. They can also gain special residence under a few basic requirements.
These requirements include a proof of pension income and you must not get a job while in Belize. You can open your own business if you choose to work, but you can’t work as an employee for anyone else. Those seem like some pretty easy requirements to meet if you truly want to retire and buy property in Belize! If you are interested in buying property in Belize – a good place to start is to see our Belize real estate listings.
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