Purchasing Belize Real Estate
Whether you are looking for a retirement home to settle down or want to reap the benefits of thriving property market, Belize Real Estate market is the ideal choice when it comes to the property transactions. Belize is a charming little Central-American nation, filled with natural beauty, lots of opportunities, and lovely English-speaking people. The Belize Real Estate market is growing at a rapid pace, and property values have been steadily going up in the recent years, making Belize a top investment choice. Read on for details on why Purchasing Belize Real Estate is a solid investment.
Why is Ambergris Caye Belize an ideal choice for international real estate investment?
The Latin America, particularly Belize, has always been a popular retirement destination for many Americans, Europeans, and other foreign nationals looking to enjoy a quality life like what they are already accustomed to, an amazing lifestyle, great weather, and excellent government regulations as compared to the other parts of the region.
Belize is a beautiful country full of natural & scenic wonders in the form of amazing beaches and steamy rainforests. It is also a popular tourist destination due to the beautiful scenery, awesome activities, and slow pace of life the country offers. One of the big factors that make Belize Real Estate an ideal property destination is it’s no taxes on income or property condition, for those who want to either live in or just invest in Belize, especially in present times of uncertain economic environment, poor taxation policies, and unstable government scenarios.
Belize is one of the few countries in the world where the foreign nationals enjoy the same right as nationals in:
- Land ownership
- Land rights on beaches
All land purchases in Belize are subject to a Government Stamp Transfer Tax which is a little under 5% of the purchase price. However, property investors enjoy the benefit of no Capital Gains Tax in the Belize Real Estate Market. So if you purchase land in Belize and decide to sell it later at a good profit, you do not have to pay any Capital Gains Tax. This allows you to enjoy the benefit of all profits remaining with you as an investor.
What About Foreigners Buying Property in Belize?
The Belize Real Estate market is quite flexible and unlike other countries in the region, Belize doesn’t have any purchasing restrictions for non-nationals. The Belize property market grants full land titles to both the local citizens and the non-Belize nationals as well.
Land Title and Land Registry in Belize
If you are considering buying property in Belize, below are some of the important things to keep in mind:
- The Government of Belize is constantly incorporating more areas of the country into the Registered Lands system which provides for a clearer form of title called a Land Certificate. The main goal of this process is to create a uniform system of nationwide property ownership in Belize.
- Owing to the reduction in the taxes and updated rules for land registration, the real estate transactions in Belize are simple and less expensive as compared to other places.
Process of buying property in Belize
If you’ve been looking to invest in the Belize real estate market, here is your guide and steps to follow during the process-
- Searching and short-listing of the property: The golden rule of any investment is thorough market research. Begin by checking current real estate listings, or contact one of our Belize real estate specialists, and then exploring and further researching the various parcels/properties that you’ve shortlisted for investing.
- Finalize the property: The Belize real estate market offers multiple options to investors. To make the choice easier, consider the essentials such as budget, culture assimilation, or any other specific preferences you have. The top places to look for before finalizing includes Ambergris Caye, the Cayo District (including San Ignacio, Santa Elena, Belmopan, and surrounding towns), and Caye Caulker.
- Make the offer and negotiate: After deciding on the ideal property, make the offer and try to negotiate the price to come to a mutually agreeable price to both the parties.
- Read and sign the purchase agreement: All transactions processed through our office are reviewed and processed by a lawyer that has been certified for handling real estate transactions in Belize. This is important – there are several pitfalls to purchasing real estate in any foreign country that are best avoided by being sure that the purchase agreement is drawn up and reviewed by a lawyer that is familiar with the local real estate market. Working with a licensed real estate professional AND a real estate lawyer will save you time and money – period. Once both you are seller accept the conditions of the purchase agreement, sign the agreement and seal the deal.
- Make the stamp duty payment: Generally, a stamp duty of 5% is to be paid to the Government of Belize to transfer the property’s title in your name. It is important to note here that the Government of Belize is entitled to value the property and charge the buyer based on the evaluation and not purchase price. However, the first $10,000 USD of the purchase price is completely tax-free!
- Transfer of title and deal completion: Once the stamp duty is paid to the government, all you need to wait for the title to be transferred in your name, which generally happens between 30-60 days. This will seal the deal – congratulations! You now own little slice Caribbean paradise and you are a part of the up-and-coming Belize Real Estate Market!
Property Tax and Fees in Belize
The important tax considerations while looking to buy property in Belize as follows:
- The real estate market of Belize is very structured, and properties are assessed by the Department of Natural Resources
- In normal circumstances, the amount paid for property tax in Belize depends entirely on the type of property and is in between 1 and 1.5% of the assessed value
- The property transfer taxes in the Belize real estate market are set at 5% while attorney fees are somewhere between 1% and 2%
- All the taxes and fees in the Belize property market are based on the total purchase price of the property with buyers need to pay around 6-7% for closing costs
- The property taxes in the Belize real estate market are due on the April 1st of each year.
- The property tax in Belize is considered to be one of the lowest of all of the Commonwealth countries
Government Programs for Retirees and Expats Moving to Belize: The Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program (QRP)
In recent years, Belize has been one of the hot picks for American and Canadian citizens looking for a new place to live abroad. Among the top reasons Belize is so popular with expats are the easy accessibility, low cost of living, high quality of life, and a predominantly English-speaking population to mingle with.
Retirees and expats moving to Belize enjoy special benefits under Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program (QRP).The goal of the program is to offer and incentivize retirees and expats in Belize by offering several benefits – many of which are related to the Belize real estate market. In addition to the many benefits of living in Belize (including the fantastic climate, diverse culture, great people and, and amazing lifestyle), the QRP program offers clearly defined incentives and benefits to the qualifiers such as:
- A retiree or an expat under QRP program can bring all of their personal effects into Belize 100% free and duty free.
- A retiree or an expat under QRP program is 100% exempted from paying any tax in Belize on income or investments which accrue from a source outside of Belize. The program allows the qualifying person to live 100% tax-free in Belize if they qualify for the QRP.
- Under QRP, the retirees and the expats are allowed to bring in, duty-free, a vehicle less than 3 years old, and/or a light aircraft or boat.
Eligibility Criteria for Moving to Belize on the QRP (Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program)
Below are some of the conditions that govern the move to Belize under the QRP:
- Anyone who is age 45+ can apply for the program
- The applications for QRP are processed by the Belize Tourism Board in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security and the Department of Immigration and Nationality
- The applicants must include proof of income to prove to the authorities that they can afford to live and support themselves in Belize without needing to work locally
- Proof of income could include either a bank statement or letter from the applicant’s bank manager certifying that they are in receipt of a pension or annuity income amounting to at least US $2,000 per month.
- A general background check on all applicants is done by the Ministry of Securities
Tax Incentives for People Buying Property in Belize
As mentioned before, this is the first and foremost reason that makes the Belize Real Estate Market a perfect destination for the prospective property buyers. Some of the incentives that the buyers enjoy are:
- The taxes for buying a property in Belize are much lower compared to other countries in the region. Furthermore, the Transfer or Stamp Tax charged for purchasing land in Belize is due only on properties valued at more than US$10,000, and at a rate of just 5% above this level.
- The overall cost of buying property in Belize is much lower when compared to other real estate destinations. The legal fees fall somewhere around 2% of the purchase cost, with a nominal fee of up to US$700 for the drafting of the Agreement of Sale.
- Another tax incentive that investors in the Belize Real Estate market enjoy is the low running costs of property in Belize, with property tax charged at somewhere around 1.5 percent of the property value.
A Word of Caution: Beware of Belize Real Estate Scams
To avoid the trap of any real estate scam in Belize (or anywhere for that matter), it is recommended to do all Belize real estate land transactions through a licensed real estate agency – and that’s where Sandy Point Real Estate’s team of real estate professionals comes in. Consider some of the benefits of hiring licensed and experienced Belize real estate professionals (like Sandy Point Real Estate):
- We will ensure that a thorough “Title Search” is conducted at the Government Land Registry for a fair deal.
- Sandy Point Real Estate’s team of real estate experts will make sure that your purchasing is free and clear of all the liens, judgments, and encumbrances, whatsoever.
- It’s our job to safeguard your interests as a buyer by ensuring that you are aware of all the terms & conditions beforehand.
Helpful and Informative Links:
- Belize ranked #2 on Forbes list of “Nine International Areas Real Estate Investors Should Give A Look” (Forbes.com, retrieved August 26, 2017)
- Belize: Your Tax Haven for Privacy and Profits (International Living Online)
- Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Belize Trade and Investment Zone – Land Tenure
- Immigration Department recommends BTB’s QRP program for retirees