Belize was once one of the best-kept secrets in Central America. It is home to ancient Maya cities, jungles, gorgeous beaches, and the second largest barrier reef in the world—but it’s now getting more attention than ever before. Belize is increasingly becoming known as a tropical paradise worthy as a vacation spot or as a place to retire. And the Belize government does a great job of making relocation seem even more appealing to people from abroad. Numerous incentive programs exist to help tourists become residents, and the real estate regulations here are significantly less complicated than in other parts of the world. But you shouldn’t jump into a real estate trade without being prepared. Here’s everything you need to know before you put your money down on a property in Belize.
The Requirements For Buying Real Estate in Belize
Belize is one of the most amenable countries for foreigners looking to buy real estate, as the rights of non-nationals are exactly the same as nationals. Unlike in many other countries, non-nationals can buy a property outright rather than have to settle for a long-term lease with the national government. Just as important, Belize’s history as a British colony means that the particulars of real estate law aren’t that different than they are in the United States or the United Kingdom.
If you’re an experienced investor, that means that you can know what to expect when purchasing real estate in Belize. Anyone else should enlist the services of a certified real estate agent in Belize and possibly a real estate lawyer. While you may be able to understand the legalese yourself, they can leverage their understanding of the market and the law to help you avoid getting taken advantage of. The rising popularity of Belize’s real estate market means that there are a decent number of real estate scams out there.
Financing is the big consideration you need to take into consideration. While Belize banks do offer loans for foreigners looking to invest in local real estate, it’s often more sensible to get your financing through your local bank. Fortunately, Belize doesn’t have many restrictions on how land is bought, and you can even go through the entire closing process without having to set foot in your new home. But that’s why it’s doubly important to have a trusted representative here.
The costs are modest, at least when compared to real estate elsewhere. A 10% down payment on residential real estate is the standard. You can expect to pay a little under 5% of the purchase price in taxes. New residential properties come with an additional service tax of 12.5%, and there are also the services of a lawyer to consider. All told, a thorough buyer can expect to pay anywhere between 7% and 20% of their home’s value in taxes.
The Advantages of Buying Real Estate in Belize
There’s no need to make a tourism pitch for Belize. The beauty and diversity of the landscape speaks for itself, as do the glowing testimonials of Americans and Europeans who have moved to Belize to retire. But there are some serious economic benefits as well. The first is price. While Belize is rapidly gaining the attention of major investors, real estate is still cheaper than average here. You can get a large, beautiful home for a fraction of the price in the United States, and that applies both to planned developments and investments in undeveloped land.
Additionally, you shouldn’t expect to pay much in terms of recurring costs either. Apart from the actual cost of your home, taxes tend to be very low in Belize. Property taxes for a quarter million dollar house will often amount to less than a thousand dollars a year, and you could end up paying just a few bucks on a house somewhere more rural. Moreover, there’s no capital gains tax whatsoever. But if you want to make the most of the advantages offered in Belize, you’ll want to pay attention to what the Belize Tourism Board is doing. Belize’s government has been enthusiastic about finding new residents, and they’ve put in place a number of incentives for new residents. These include the Qualified Retired Persons incentive program. QRP offers a smoother path to residency for people over the age of 45, and it provides exemption from duty costs and from a number of taxes. That can significantly lower your overhead costs.
If you want to buy real estate as a foreigner in Belize, there isn’t a better time than now. And if you want a resource on the country that you can trust, be sure to check out Caribbean Culture + Lifestyle. You’ll find all the help you need to truly explore Belize and figure out if you want to make it your new home.