Under Belize’s “British Common Law System”, buying property In Belize is similar to the USA.
FIRST – When seeking to purchase Belize real estate, one should contact a “reputable” realtor. You should seek one who has been in the business for many years and who is known well in his or her community. Many try and sell properties on their own without the assistance of a realtor. This could end up costly!
This is legal in Belize but not recommended for a buyer. There are many things that a buyer should know before investing. Proper procedures should be taken when making a purchase to insure that there are no past and future problems concerning the property or title of interest.
Most agents who sell Belize real estate will have a “Listing Authorization Agreement” with the seller(s). It is your right to request a reading of the agreement. This agreement will confirm to you that the property is authorized for sale and by whom, measurements, lot or parcel number, true asking price, terms..if any, location of the property to insure that you are looking at the “correct property”, and length of agreement.
SECOND – Once one has found the correct property through the agent and is interested in Purchase” Agreement. This agreement is between the seller and buyer and will state the buyers terms if any, deposits, escrow agent and agent’s instructions, closing date, what happens to the deposit if buyer or seller defaults, possession date etc. This document needs to be witnessed in the presence of a Belizean “J.P.” – Justice Of The Peace. Two originals should be signed with buyer and seller holding each. Realtor should maintain a third ”copy”.
Forms of Titles In Belize: Belize real estate has several forms of titles “for now”; 1) Deed Of Conveyance – Can be obscured and should be handled by a reputable attorney within a law firm for research ….abstract. 2) Certificate Of Title – Old format, comes in duplicate forms and should also be handled by a lawyer in Belize. 3) Government Grant – One of the best forms of ownership but still needs to be handled by a lawyer. 4) Land Certificate – Most commonly used and is “guaranteed” by the Government Of Belize. Government’s plan is to implement this form of title throughout the entire country. Under this system, the lot is assigned a “Parcel Number” not lot number, from the Government’s RIM Sheet. One form document with parcel number, location, and size of property in Sq.Meters. It will also state if there are any bank liens i.e., mortgage(s) or encumbrances on title.
Closing Fees: For purchasing Belize real estate is 5% of selling price – Government Stamp Duty. The first $10,000 US is Exempt. Registration and Filling fees are usually around $50.00 US.
Land Tax: Very minimal. Some beach parcels are only in the $75.00 US/Yr. range.
Moving forward towards the purchase, the agent will construct and “Offer To Purchase” Agreement with will outline all details for closing.
Construction Cost: in the Placencia Area, range from $50 – 80US per Sq.ft. & $85 – $140 US per Sq. ft. for Higher End construction i.e., Condominiums and fine beach homes. This naturally depends on the quality of “Trim Work”…interior involved. Yearwood Construction Ltd. based in Placencia does good quality construction and has built many homes from medium to High-End. They also handle heavy dredging and Marina Development. One can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their work can also be viewed on their Facebook Page – Yearwood Construction Ltd.
One property sale has closed, the new owner and General Contractor (GC) works on a “sketch” plan and estimate for construction. Once all is agreed upon, a detailed construction contract is executed. A request for a “letter of support” an rough plans are presented to the local government (Village Council) for approval. Fees will be paid at that point to the council. They are usually a few hundred dollars depending on sq.ft. of structure type i.e., residential or commercial. This letter is along with copy of new title (usually 3-4 weeks), full Architect construction plans are then taken by the GC to the “Central Building Authority (CBA) in Belize City for their review. Fees will need to be paid according to square footage over 1,000 sq.ft. Once approved (1-mth), construction may start.
When you are interested in selling your property, Please contact Yearwood Properties. When selling, you should make sure that a “Listing Agreement” is signed and witnessed by both seller and Broker. This is an agreement only with the seller and Broker. “Offer To Purchase” Agreements are between seller and buyer with normally (not necessary) broker as witness.
Exclusive Listings: Is when “only” the listing agent has authority to market and sell the property. Obviously, this encourages the agent to work harder to sell this particular listing. Some sellers don’t want to deal with more than one Broker. Normally the commission is split 50-50 with the buyers agent. Normal commission for Yearwood Properties is 8% – 10%. 6% to 7% on properties over $1M US.
Non-Exclusive Listing: Is when the seller still signs a listing agreement with agent but also does the same with other agents. It is basically a “first sell gets the commission”. The downside to this is only that the seller must deal with a few to several agents concerning the property.
Usually in Belize real estate, an interested buyer must deposit 10% into an escrow account and close within 30 days or less.