Creative Ways to Finance Belize Real Estate

Financing Belize Real Estate

Belize real estate is a desirable commodity for both expats (people relocating to Belize) and investors. Belize real estate financing is not the same as many are used to in the USA or Canada.

Belize has become increasingly popular for its residency programs. It is a top relocation and retirement destination. Many people look at Belize and Belize real estate for personal use and lifestyle. That said, Belize also appeals to potential property owners and investors. What makes Belize real estate so desirable is more than just the climate. In Belize, foreigners purchasing land or property are afforded the same rights as Belize citizens regarding property ownership. Belize is also a tax haven and low-tax jurisdiction, as property taxes are low, and there are no capital gains or inheritance taxes in Belize.

Even though Belize recognizes full-foreign ownership and grants fee-simple title to foreigners (foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals), it can be challenging for a foreigner to finance a property traditionally in Belize. For offshore owners or investors, Belize does not have standard mortgages or bank financing like you are used to in the US or Canada. Most people buying real estate in Belize have to do a cash sale transaction.

The appeal and advantages of Belize property ownership are undeniable – for lifestyle/personal use or investment. Short of purchasing Belize real estate with cash, what financing options do potential property owners or investors have?

Obtaining local conventional bank financing or a standard mortgage can be challenging for a non-resident in Belize to finance real estate.

However, for non-residents (foreigners), there are creative ways to finance property in Belize. Below, you can see some Belize real estate financing options to consider:

  1. Owner Financing
  2. Offshore Financing
  3. Co-Investing

 

Owner Financing

Owner or Vendor Financing is the easiest way to finance real estate in Belize. Vendor (owner) financing is a convenient and popular form of real estate financing in Belize. Vendor financing or owner financing (aka seller-carried), is when the seller offers owner financing to the buyer of the property offered for sale.

If you are looking for something with vendor financing, you will be happy to know it is an easy process. It is generally a nonrecourse loan with the seller/vendor carrying the note on the property (similar to how a bank carries the note on a home mortgage in the US). You take full control of the property when all parties sign the agreement and the down payment is made.

The terms vary with the seller; typically, the down payment would be a minimum of around 25% down. The seller-finance loan agreement is filed along with transfer and deed forms with the lands department in Belize to protect both buyers and sellers. The title transfer is completed once the final payment has been made and the terms of the financing agreement have been met.

 

Offshore Financing

Some offshore banks or international banks offer mortgage loans or financing to non-residents or foreigners looking to purchase fee-simple property in Belize. These off-shore banks can provide financing options for individuals and International Business Companies (IBCs).

The terms can range from 5-30 years. Down payment requirements are higher than what many are used to in domestic markets, as most offshore banks lend at a maximum of 60% LTV (Loan to Value). The down payment requirement is often at least 50% down. One of the big advantages of offshore lending over domestic lending is that you can choose the currency of your loan. This facilitates transactions conducted in U.S. dollars (since real estate in Belize is typically in USD) and facilitates acquisitions by Americans.

 

Co-Investing

Buying a home with a co-investor means you share your property’s equity with the investor from the start. Put simply: They’ll share in the profits if your home increases in value and the loss if it does the opposite. Also, share the revenue/passive income.

Investing in a private Belize company that acquires investment properties through pooling funds or local or offshore secured financing is another way to acquire real estate in Belize without having to deal with the headaches and paperwork of obtaining financing on your own.

Whether through pooling funds with other investors or providing the capital for the investment, co-investing is an easy and efficient way to acquire real estate in Belize.

 

Options for Belize Real Estate Financing

As mentioned above, financing in Belize is more complex than in domestic markets. We do not have the same standard mortgages and bank financing people are used to in the USA or Canada. Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales.

You can get a mortgage or loan in Belize from the banks. The bank will charge a high interest rate and require a larger down payment. Because of the conservative nature and banking policies in Belize, the banks are still at a stage where the interest rates are higher than off-shore purchasers are used to. Most banks in the US will not loan to an out-of-country real estate purchase. There are, however, real estate opportunities in Belize with seller or vendor financing. Due to the Belize real estate market conditions, most owners and investors go the route of owner/vendor financing.

Seller/vendor financing (if available) is straightforward. It is a non-recourse loan with the seller/vendor carrying the note on the property (similar to how a bank carries the note on a home mortgage in the US). You take complete control of the property when all parties sign the agreement, and the down payment is made.

There are three ways for purchasers to receive financing for Belize real estate:

  1. Local Belize Financing: Local banks in Belize do offer to finance land and/or property, though it is not easy (especially for foreigners). It is also important to note that the interest rates with Belize banks and terms for financing are usually higher than what people are used to at home. Local banks in Belize usually have much higher interest rates in the range of 10-18% interest with fixed terms of only 12 months. When you get financing from a local bank in Belize, the loan is closed every year and renewed at the new rate. When borrowing or lending from a local Belizean bank, it will be in Belize dollars, and most real estate transactions in Belize are in US dollars. Because most of the Belize real estate transactions take place with U.S. dollars, local financing is challenging. Local banks in Belize will also often only lend money to Belize residents or citizens.
  2. Offshore or Domestic Financing: If you are not a resident or citizen of Belize and are looking for financing, you can borrow U.S. dollars through an offshore bank. In Belize, Caye International Bank is one of the only off-shore banks in the country. Interest rates with international banks in Belize are still much higher than people are used to in their domestic markets and are around 12% to 18%, and most offshore banks, when lending to people who are not Belize residents or citizens, require a high degree of collateralization with a high down payment (often 50%). Some people do acquire domestic financing in their home country through a line of credit or refinancing their home/mortgage.
  3. Owner, Seller, or Vendor Financing: This is the most common way foreigners acquire financing for land in Belize. It is also far more common for someone to find land with financing than it is with a home or condo. Belize property owners and/or developers usually agree to property financing at better rates than the local banks. It is also very easy to qualify, as it is a non-recourse loan. The rates through seller or vendor financing are often less than what is available at local banks and financial institutions. Around Secret Beach, you are able to secure property with 20% down. Within Mahogany Bay, you can secure canal-front land with 25% down.

 

 

Using a Self-Directed IRA or 401K

One way to manage costs, minimize the out-of-pocket investment, and ease the burden of taxation is to purchase real estate under a Self-Directed IRA or 401K. These structures are very easy to do in Belize and allow Americans to purchase an off-shore investment property using investment funds. The benefits of ownership under these legal entities include; access to capital for investment, and less taxation on capital gains, thus earning greater profits from the Belize real estate investment.

Real estate investors (from the US) can hold investment real estate in an IRA or 401K to gain access to capital (without paying high taxation) and reduce the tax exposure (as long as the investment capital has not been distributed to the IRA owner).

Under the IRS’s self-directed IRA rules, contributions to Self-Directed IRA accounts can be used to purchase real estate (commercial, residential, or raw land) inside and outside the United States. This allows investors to use Self-Directed IRA funds or a 401K to invest in Belize real estate.

However, contributions to offshore real estate IRAs are subject to additional rules.  For example, while the property in your IRA can be rented to others, you can’t rent it out to your family. The property can also not be used for your own personal use (it has to remain strictly an investment).

Another advantage is that the rental income from an offshore Belize real estate investment through IRA is deferred and can be made tax-free if purchased using a ROTH IRA.  Under this setup, you could, in theory, collect decades’ worth of rental income and not pay US tax.  You only need to worry about taxes when you distribute the income from the property to yourself in the future.

 

Belize Real Estate Financing

Here are some general steps and considerations for financing real estate in Belize:

  1. Local Regulations and Laws:
    • Familiarize yourself with Belize’s real estate regulations and laws. It’s important to understand the legal framework for property ownership and financing in the country.
  2. Currency Exchange:
    • Belize uses the Belize Dollar (BZD) for general transactions, but US Dollars (USD) is commonly used for real estate.
  3. Local Lenders:
    • Research local banks and financial institutions in Belize that offer real estate financing. Some international banks may also have a presence in Belize.
  4. Mortgage Options:
    • Explore the types of mortgages available, including fixed-rate mortgages, variable-rate mortgages, and other financing options. Mortgage terms and interest rates may vary, so compare offerings from different lenders.
  5. Down Payment Requirements:
    • Understand the down payment requirements. In Belize, it’s common for lenders to require a substantial down payment, often ranging from 20% to 30% of the property value.
  6. Loan Eligibility:
    • Lenders will assess your eligibility based on factors such as income, credit history, and the property’s value. Be prepared to provide documentation to support your financial stability.
  7. Interest Rates:
    • Interest rates can vary, so compare rates from different lenders. It’s important to understand whether the interest rate is fixed or variable and how it may change over the life of the loan.
  8. Loan Terms:
    • Review the terms of the loan, including the repayment period. Some loans may have longer or shorter terms, and this can affect your monthly payments.
  9. Insurance Requirements:
    • Lenders may require you to purchase property insurance. Make sure you understand the insurance requirements and factor the cost into your overall budget.
  10. Legal Assistance:
    • Consider hiring a local attorney with experience in real estate transactions in Belize. They can help navigate the legal aspects of property acquisition and financing.
  11. Due Diligence:
    • Conduct thorough due diligence on the property you intend to purchase. This includes title searches, property surveys, and any potential legal or environmental issues.
  12. Closing Costs:
    • Be aware of closing costs, which may include legal fees, stamp duties, and other expenses. Factor these costs into your budget.

 

For more information on financing in Belize and Belize real estate opportunities with financing available, contact us at RE/MAX Belize.

 

 

Ambergris Caye Investment & Vacation Rental Data October 2023

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rentals

Ambergris Caye has been the epicenter of the Belize tourism surge and COVID recovery. This has led to growth in the Ambergris Caye Real Estate and investment in vacation rentals.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics.” When investing in an island, there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Tourism growth, increased awareness, offshore residency, and improved connectivity have all led to higher investment yields on vacation rental properties on Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town (the municipality on the island of Ambergris Caye) are by far the top destinations in Belize. Below, we look at the updated tourism data and vacation rental investment opportunities on Ambergris Caye!

 

Ambergris Caye Tourism

Ambergris Caye has seen tourism hitting all-time highs year-over-year as we become a globally recognized destination. From 2010 to 2023 (13 years), Ambergris Caye overnight tourism (people booking rental units) has grown at an annual compounded rate of 14.8% per year increase, with overnight tourism nearly doubling from 2010 to 2023 (+81.5% increase).

 

Belize Overnight Tourism

 

 

Belize Tourism Board Overnight Arrivals

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Inventory

Even though tourism is growing, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant, with limited new losing inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism is growing, and this usually correlates to added supply; that said, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is at the perfect time for investment as we have unique market conditions that have led to increased demand and a decrease in supply inventory.

Rental Inventory on Ambergris Caye has dropped by -4% from 2022 to 2023. Also dropped -13.9% over the last 3 years. This is largely due to the influx of people moving to Belize and the growing expat community and people who can work remotely.

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Lodging Inventory

 

For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -4% from last year. Lodging inventory for vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye has seen a -13.9% decrease over the last 3 years.

Ambergris Caye has had a compounded annual tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.8% per year.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent, with many quarters witnessing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

 

Increase in Demand + Decrease in Supply = Increase in Price & Rent

 

 

 

 

 

Many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand, but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply does not meet the demand growth.

 

Ambergris Caye Occupancy

 

 

In 2022, Ambergris Caye had an average vacation rental occupancy of 54.8%. In 2023, the average occupancy of vacation rentals has been at 61.3%. This is an increase of +11.9% year-over-year (2022 to 2023).

 

 

Ambergris Caye Nightly Rental Rates

 

In 2023, Ambergris Caye has seen ADR (Nightly Rental Rates) for vacation rentals increase by +15% from 2022. In 2023, the average nightly rental rate on Ambergris Caye has been $284 USD per night, which is up from $262 USD per night in 2022.

 

Ambergris Caye Investment Revenue

The increase in tourism with the lodging and vacation rental supply shrinking has led to higher occupancy and higher nightly rental rates (ADR). The increased occupancy and ADR have resulted in higher revenues. On Ambergris Caye, vacation rental gross revenue is up 30% in 2023 (from 2022).

 

Annual Average Rental Revenue

 

 

What is fascinating is the renal income for detached homes over condos (and the % annual growth).

 

Detached homes on Ambergris Caye have seen an average annual gross revenue of $88,850 US in 2023 (Airbnb income). Compared to condos, which saw an average gross yearly earnings of $44,300 US. Detached homes also saw a higher % growth at 23% annual revenue growth (condos with 14%) from 2022 to 2023.

For more information on investing in Belize and Ambergris Caye rental income investment opportunities, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

 

Belize Residency Information & Programs

Belize Residency

Are you considering offshore Belize residency? Belize makes immigration and residency easy for investors, expats, and retirees looking to obtain Belize residency (for personal or investment).

Belize has been gaining increased popularity among foreigners, retirees, investors, and digital nomads. The Belize residency programs provide enhanced investment and travel opportunities.

In Belize, English is the primary language, and Belize’s legal system is based on British Common Law (a member of the British Commonwealth). Because of the British Common Law and British Parliamentary Democracy, Belize has a stable, democratic government and a stable and dynamic economy (also stable currency pegged 2:1 with USD).

For expats and investors, obtaining Belize residency is not prohibitive like in other countries. Residency in Belize is relatively straightforward, with a few routes available. For expats or retirees, Belize has the Qualified Retired Persons Program and the new Retire & Invest Program. These are great incentives for individuals looking to call Belize home and looking for long-term residency in Belize.

Belize also has investment residency programs that appeal to potential property owners and investors. In Belize, foreigners purchasing land or property are afforded the same rights as Belize citizens regarding property ownership.

Belize has full foreign ownership, and foreign investors can own Belize property outright with a fee-simple title. Belize is also a low-tax jurisdiction, with no capital gains or inheritance taxes (estate tax) in Belize.

The location of Belize (close proximity to the US & Canada), its warm Caribbean climate, low taxes, and welcoming culture make it an attractive place to invest, work, retire, and reside. The Belize residency programs also provide opportunities to travel, start a business, and optimize taxation.

This post provides information on obtaining Belize residency as well as the different residency programs Belize offers and the requirements.

 

Types of Belize Residency

Belize offers two distinct types of Residency status for foreigners:

  1. Permanent Residency: Permanent Residency would be suited for someone looking at being a resident in Belize. Permanent residency in Belize is for a person (or persons) who want to make Belize their home and will be staying in Belize for an extended period of time.
  2. Temporary Residency: Temporary Residency is for a person (or persons) who have made or are in the process of making a substantial investment in Belize (often in Belize real estate) but, due to commitments outside Belize, cannot meet ordinary Permanent Residence requirements.

 

Permanent Residency

For persons applying for Permanent Residency in Belize, you are required to:

  1. Have been legally residing in Belize for at least one year from submitting a residency application.
  2. During the one-year period, you have not left Belize for more than 14 days (2 weeks).
  3. Show proof to the Belize Immigration Office that you have been, and you will be able to continue financial stability and independence.
  4. Have not been convicted by a competent court in any country of a criminal offense for which you may have been liable to a sentence of imprisonment of twelve months or more and have not received a free pardon for the crime.

Documents Required for Permanent Residency

  1. Passport
  2. Medical Certificate and Tests
  3. Police Record
  4. Proof of Financial Stability
  5. Photographs
  6. Spouse and Child’s Documentation

 

Temporary Residency

A Temporary Residence (Temporary Residency) status can be given for one (1) year at a time. The temporary residency must be renewed every year. The temporary residency status becomes renewable at the end of that given period.

For persons applying for Temporary Residency, you are required to:

  1. Apply for temporary residency (temporary investment residency).
  2. Show evidence of investments in Belize valued at not less than Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars – US $250,000 (five hundred thousand Belize Dollar – BZ$500,000).

Learn more from Belize Immigration.

Documents Required for Temporary Residency

  1. Passport
  2. Police Record
  3. Letter to Director
  4. Evidence of Residence in Belize
  5. Evidence of Investment in Belize

 

 

Belize Residency Options

Here is a general overview of residency options in Belize:

  1. Tourist Visa: Most visitors to Belize can enter the country as tourists without a visa and stay for up to 30 days. Extensions for up to 90 days are possible, but they come with associated fees. This is not a long-term residency option.
  2. Permanent Residency: Belize offers several pathways to permanent residency:
    • Retired Persons Program: This program is designed for retirees. To qualify, you must be at least 45 years old, provide proof of a consistent income, and meet certain financial requirements.
    • QRP (Qualified Retirement Program): The QRP is an attractive option for retirees. It provides tax benefits and allows for permanent residency. To qualify, you should be at least 45 years old, have a consistent income, and meet the financial requirements.
    • Self-Employed Program: If you plan to start a business in Belize, you can apply for permanent residency under this program. You’ll need to invest a certain amount of money in your business and meet other requirements.
  3. Naturalization Residency: The typical way people achieve Belizean residency is through the naturalized residency program. To obtain naturalized residency in Belize, you have to show you have been in Belize for a year (48 out of 50 weeks).
  4. Work Permits: If you plan to work in Belize, you will need a work permit. These permits are generally tied to employment, and your employer will often need to sponsor your application.
  5. Investor Residency: Belize offers opportunities for investors to obtain residency by making substantial investments in the country. The specifics of this program can vary, and it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney for details.
  6. Dependent Residency: If you have close family members who are legal residents or citizens of Belize, you may be eligible for dependent residency. This typically applies to spouses, children, or parents of Belizean citizens or residents.

 

Keep in mind that the process for obtaining residency in Belize can vary from person to person. People have different processes, which may involve various documentation, fees, and specific requirements. It’s advisable to work with someone who specializes in Belizean immigration to guide you through the process and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements.

 

Belize Tourist Visa

You do not need to have residency to live or invest in Belize. Residency is not required to own a property (foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals/nationals). Residency is also not needed to be in Belize or visit Belize. If you are visiting Belize (as an American or Canadian), you do not require a travel visa.

When you enter Belize (as a tourist), you are issued a 30-day tourist visa in your passport. Belize is a very easy country to travel to, and US & Canadian travelers do not require any visas when traveling to Belize. The majority of countries and passports can travel to Belize freely and without a visa for 30 days.

Visitors can continue to renew their tourist visa if they want to stay in Belize without restrictions on length (as long as they get their visa renewed).

Americans & Canadians can travel to Belize and remain in Belize without time constraints. When a visitor arrives in Belize, they are issued a 30-day

Belize Tourist Visa

 

Naturalized Residency Belize

Permanent residents in Belize can work without a permit and no longer need to renew their visas every month or year. The naturalized residency (which requires time) is the most common route for Belize residency.

To be eligible for permanent residency in Belize, you need to live continuously in the country for one year without leaving the country for over 14 days. You must apply through the Department of Immigration and Nationality Services.

The typical way people achieve Belizean residency is through the standard residency program. To obtain residency in Belize, you have to show you have resided in Belize for a year, and have been in Belize for 48 weeks of the year. This is a naturalized residency.

 

Belize Investment Residency

The Belize Investment Residency program is designed for investors and entrepreneurs with investments in Belize valued at a minimum of $250,000 US.

The most common Belize investment for residency is through Belize real estate investment or owning Belize land. You can apply for the investment residency through proof of land or real estate in Belize valued above $250,000 US.

The most common sector is real estate investment, but there is also business investment. There are no restrictions on the business or any fixed sector to invest in. You can invest in tourism, agriculture, etc. This allows you to live, work, and conduct investments and business in Belize.

The investment residency can be done remotely. A person applying for the investment residency does not need to be in Belize to file this application.

The Belize Investment Residency is also called the “Temporary Investment Residency” and allows investors in Belize to obtain residency if they show they have invested over $500,000 BZ ($250,000 US) in Belize. This is most commonly done through real estate. The reason it is called “Temporary” is that you have to show every year that the investment continues in Belize.

Investment Residency is for one (1) year at a time. The temporary investment residency must be renewed every year.

Belize Investment Residency

 

Belize Qualified Retired Person Program (QRP)

If you are over the age of 45, have no intention of working in Belize, and can prove you meet the monthly retirement income requirements, you may qualify for the QRP (Qualified Retired Person) Program. The QRP program grants residency to people who hold status. The QRP is renewable each year, with the only requirement being that you spend a minimum of 30 days of the year in Belize.

Learn More About Belize QRP

 

Belize Work Permit

If you plan to work in Belize as a foreigner, you may require a “Work Permit.”

If you are planning to work for a company in Belize, the company hiring you will sponsor the work permit on your behalf. Suppose you are self-employed or planning to start a business in Belize (and work at the business). In that case, you likely need to apply for a self-employed foreigner or business registration.

If you do not apply for a residency status and continue to work and live in Belize, the work permit will be renewed annually.

 

Belize Citizenship

After living in Belize for at least five years as a permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalization. The requirements for naturalization can change, so it’s essential to check the most recent criteria.

Once you’ve been a permanent resident for at least five years, you can apply to become a citizen of Belize. Belize allows dual citizenship, which means you can maintain Belizean and offshore citizenship (and passports). It is attractive for investors as they do not have to relinquish their domestic citizenship when they acquire Belizean Citizenship.

Belize recognizes dual citizenship. The Nationality Department does not require you to renounce citizenship from other countries.

Once you have Belize citizenship, you get the benefits of Belize’s CARICOM membership. With Belizean Citizenship, you can move freely through, live, and work in other Caribbean member countries.

 

 

Belize Residency Process

The process for residency varies depending on the person and the program. That said, generally, the residency process goes as follows;

  1. Step 1: Gather the required documents
  2. Step 2: Submission of application
  3. Step 3: Interview with Immigration
  4. Step 4: Interview with Police Department
  5. Step 5: Notification by the Immigration Office
  6. Step 6: Payment and Submission of Security Bond
  7. Step 7: Delivery of Residence Card

Belize Residency is relatively easy to acquire. You will need to follow the necessary steps. All applications are also subject to a background check or Police Record Check.

 

Residency in Belize

Belize offers a good range of visa and residency options covering just about any reason for being in Belize. Which option is right for you depends on your purpose for being in Belize:

  1. Long-term Scouting Trip: If you’re visiting Belize to test if it might be right for you as a new home, the Belize Tourist Visa (with renewals) will be your best choice.
  2. Snowbird or Wintering in Belize: If you’re escaping the bitter cold of “home” for several months each year or using Belize as a part-time vacation home, the Belize Tourist Visa (with renewals) is also your best option.
  3. Retiring in Belize: If you plan to retire and move to Belize with no intention of working (or running your own business), you should look at the Qualified Retirement Program. If you plan on opening a business or investing, you may want to look at the new Retire & Invest Program (through QRP and BTB).
  4. Moving to Belize: If you want to move to Belize but plan to work (or run your own business), a Work Permit may be the right direction. After a year, you can have naturalized Belizean residency.
  5. Investing in Belize: If you are looking to invest in Belize and have an offshore residency through investment, the Temporary Investment Residency could likely be a great option.

 

If you seek to obtain offshore residency with ease, with a minimal physical presence in the country, Belize residency may appeal to you. There are a few options and routes someone can take to obtain Belize residency. If you are looking at offshore residency or want to learn more about Belize Residency, contact us!

 

 

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market in Belize

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market

Belize tourism and Belize real estate is expanding the luxury market. The luxury travel industry has grown unprecedentedly in recent years due to rising spending power, an expanding middle-class population, emerging luxury trends, and the expansion of luxury hotels.

The definition of luxury travel has evolved dramatically in recent years, and people are now far more adventurous. They are more interested in experiencing local customs and cuisine.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

 

Caribbean & Central America Luxury Tourism

The Belize Region, with the Caribbean & Central America as a whole, outperforms the average recovery trends of the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific in the Luxury Tourism sector. This is shown in the revenue and profit trends.

The Caribbean & Central America Region (including Belize) has a higher ADR and Occupancy than other Western Hemisphere markets like Mexico, Canada & USA for luxury tourism.

The Caribbean & Central America Region is expected to have an annual tourism GDP growth rate of 5.5% to 6.7% between now and 2030.

 

Belize Tourism & Luxury Market

The Caribbean & Latin American (Belize) luxury tourism industry will likely be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

Belize, with the BTB (Belize Tourism Board), has taken steps in advancing and growing the Belize Luxury Tourism Industry.

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences.

The Luxury Tourism program aims to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals. In Belize, some of the recent announcements around luxury tourism include;

 

Regional Data on Luxury Tourism

What we have learned during every economic turn is that luxury tourism is still a driver. At CHRIS & HOLA (Caribbean Investment Summit & Hotel Operators of Latin America Summit), the data on luxury tourism was shared and how it performed in the market.

Even though luxury tourism appeals to a smaller demographic (unlike cruises and all-inclusive), they are more consistent, yield higher returns, is surprisingly not susceptible to market fluctuations, have better occupancy, and better clientele. The most interesting take is that if there are slower periods, the luxury market can lower prices and push out the “non-luxury” market.

Belize as a whole is pushing luxury tourism, making it easier for yachts, allowing FBO and private planes, creating direct flight routes from high net-worth locations, etc. With all this push, Belize is working on becoming a Cayman Islands, Maldives, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, or St Martin, instead of a budget destination like Mexico or the Dominican Republic.

Belize is also seeing far more celebrities and high net-worth travelers visiting Belize and Ambergris Caye. But what is interesting is the fact we do not have many of the luxury villas in our lodging inventory to accommodate these travelers.

 

Luxury Tourism

If you build a luxury house/villa with outdoor space and amenities (even 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms), you will capture the luxury tourism market. The house or unit does not need to be large; just provide fixtures, touches, service, etc.

With luxury tourism and luxury travelers, owners/investors are able to charge any nightly rental rate you want. Example: Rolex does not compromise the price of new watches even during an economic downturn, and every store you visit is always sold out.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

The 2022 Global Travel Trends Report of American Express Travel study found that 58% of respondents opt for solo travel to visit their dream destination, strengthening the demand for luxury travel.

The Caribbean & Latin American luxury tourism industry is likely to be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

 

Regional Luxury Market

The luxury segment in the region (Belize) is ahead of the all-inclusive and full-service properties in profit margin growth and opportunity.

Luxury Tourism has a Higher ADR (Average Daily Rate & Nightly Rental Rate) and Better Occupancy than full-service or all-inclusive.

Luxury Tourism sees year-round bookings with better ADR and occupancy in high and low seasons. Luxury tourism has less volatility and seasonality. There is no low season in the luxury market segment in the region. Luxury has seen heightened off-season months.

Profit margins are higher in luxury tourism, with annual and quarterly revenue and profits rising due to more substantial rate increases. Luxury tourism has a much higher revenue per room or unit.

Belize Luxury Tourism Announcements

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences. The overall aim of the Luxury Tourism program is to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals.

  • Four Seasons on Caye Chapel
  • Six Senses on Ambergris Caye
  • FBO & Private Aviation
  • Yacht & Nautical Tourism
  • Filling Luxury Tourism Market Gaps
  • Fine Dining & Restaurant Facilities

 

Belize Travel & Facilities

Belize has a range of initiatives and infrastructure programs coming in to enhance and increase tourism. With additional flights (including New York JFK), improved transportation, etc. You can see some of the tourism enhancements and initiatives below;

  • 3 million anticipated passenger movements at PGIA (Belize International Airport BZE) in 2045.
  • PGIA (BZE Airport) Facility Extensive Upgrade underway and expected completion in 2040.
  • Enhanced Border Facilities.
  • Increased – Ground Transportation Connections.
  • Domestic Airlines with expanded international routes.
  • Interregional connectivity.
  • Renovations at Municipal Airports to expand Private Aviation.
  • Addition of FBO facilities at national and domestic airports.

Learn more about traveling to Belize internationally.

To learn more about Belize real estate and investing in Belize contact RE/MAX Belize. We look forward to sharing more information on Belize and opportunities in the luxury tourism market!

 

 

Belize Investment Summit 2023

Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Abil Castaneda Belize Investment Summit

Belize Investment Summit

Тhе Веlіzе Іnvеѕtmеnt Ѕummіt 2023, соnсludеd оn Ѕерtеmbеr 1, and wаѕ а lаndmаrk еvеnt thаt ѕhоwсаѕеd Веlіzе’ѕ investment роtеntіаl and opportunities for investment. Ѕреаrhеаdеd bу thе Оffісе оf thе Рrіmе Міnіѕtеr аnd thе Міnіѕtrу оf Fіnаnсе, Іnvеѕtmеnt, аnd Есоnоmіс Dеvеlорmеnt, thе ѕummіt wаѕ сеntеrеd оn thе thеmе, “Еndlеѕѕ Орроrtunіtіеѕ!”. Тhіѕ еvеnt еmрhаѕіzеd Веlіzе’ѕ drіvе tо аttrасt аnd рrоmоtе іnvеѕtmеnt fоr іtѕ есоnоmіс dеvеlорmеnt.

The Belize Investment Summit 2023 focused on attracting and promoting investment for economic development in Belize, identifying opportunities, and showcasing Belize’s readiness to support global investment.

The Prime Minister addressed the Summit, highlighting the government’s vision on enhanced and strategic investments and presentations from other high-profile international experts, policymakers, and enterprise movers and shakers who shape Belize’s investment climate. Dustin Rennie from RE/MAX Belize was included as one of the industry experts for real estate and development.

Тhіѕ ѕummіt showed and presented opportunities in Belize fоr bоth dоmеѕtіс аnd іntеrnаtіоnаl іnvеѕtоrѕ. Іt wаѕ а рlаtfоrm whеrе thе gоvеrnmеnt рrоudlу dіѕрlауеd Веlіzе’ѕ rеаdіnеѕѕ tо ѕuрроrt glоbаl іnvеѕtmеnt. Іn hіѕ аddrеѕѕ, Рrіmе Міnіѕtеr Јоhn Вrісеnо undеrѕсоrеd thе gоvеrnmеnt’ѕ vіѕіоn fоr ѕtrаtеgіс іnvеѕtmеntѕ, ѕеttіng thе tоnе fоr thе rеѕt оf thе еvеnt.

Тhrоughоut thе ѕummіt, аttеndееѕ bеnеfіtеd frоm іnѕіghtѕ ѕhаrеd bу іntеrnаtіоnаl ехреrtѕ, tор-tіеr рublіс оffісіаlѕ, Сhіеf Ехесutіvе Оffісеrѕ, аnd kеу роlісуmаkеrѕ. Тhеѕе ѕtаkеhоldеrѕ, whо соllесtіvеlу ѕhаре the іnvеѕtmеnt future of Belize. The summit featured a number of presentations and panels with а соmрrеhеnѕіvе оvеrvіеw оf thе орроrtunіtіеѕ аvаіlаblе іn Belize.

 

Belize Tourism Board

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), as part of their initiative to drive Tourism Investment in Belize, hosted a series of panel discussions at the Belize Investment Summit. The panels highlighted development success stories in Belize’s current and future opportunities. The panels provided guidance for persons wishing to invest in Belize.

 

Dustin Rennie

Dustin Rennie was a Guest Panelist on the Investment and Real Estate Opportunities in Belize. Dustin contributed valuable insight into Belize’s real estate market, investment opportunities, and future development. On the panel, Dustin Rennie discussed real estate investment and setting up business in Belize and the requisite preparation in terms of a feasibility study to connect brands or investors with projects—review of Hotel Licensing Requirements and Accommodation taxes.

Panel Included:

  • Simone Bell | Investment and Innovation Specialist, Belize Tourism Board
  • Dustin Rennie | Regional Director RE/MAX Belize Belize
  • John Lancet | Senior Managing Director & Practice Leader South & Caribbean, HVS (link)
  • Abil Castaneda | Chief Tourism Officer, Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations (link)

 

Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Abil Castaneda Belize Investment Summit
Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Abil Castaneda Belize Investment Summit

 

Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit
Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit

 

John Lancet & Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit
John Lancet & Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit

 

Simone Bell, Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit
Simone Bell, Dustin Rennie Belize Investment Summit

 

Abil Castaneda with Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Simone Bell at Belize Investment Summit
Abil Castaneda with Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Simone Bell at Belize Investment Summit

 

Abil Castaneda with Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Simone Bell at Belize Investment Summit
Abil Castaneda with Dustin Rennie, John Lancet & Simone Bell at Belize Investment Summit

 

Dustin Rennie with RE/MAX Belize at the Belize Investment Summit 2023. The panel explored real estate investment and setting up business in Belize. Connecting brands and investors with projects. Dustin Rennie contributed valuable insight into Belize’s real estate market, investment opportunities, and development.

Dustin Rennie is the director of RE/MAX Belize. Dustin Rennie is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, earner of Career Achievements & Leadership, and recognized as one of the top real estate experts in the Caribbean & Central America region. Dustin Rennie won top commercial agent for RE/MAX Caribbean & Central America for 2022 and was among the top 100 global agents (residential & commercial).

Dustin has been a Diamond Award winner with RE/MAX in 2021 & 2022 and was recognized as one of the top producers.

 

The Belize Investment Summit 2023 focused on attracting and promoting investment for economic development in Belize, identifying opportunities, and showcasing Belize’s readiness to support global investment. This included Belize real estate investment.

Belize Real Estate Financing

Belize Real Estate Financing

Belize is a beautiful country with a lot to offer, including; tropical beaches, tax incentives, a favorable economy, and financial benefits like low-cost properties and tax-free buying for qualified retirees. When considering property in Belize, understanding your financing options may seem confusing and complicated. Thankfully, a few property financing options exist, even for non-residents.

In Belize, we do not have standard mortgages or bank financing that many investors and owners use in Canada or the US. Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales, but some opportunities with vendor financing are available. Even though Belize is primarily a cash sale market, there are several advantages when investing in an off-shore market that is not overly leveraged.

It is also important to note that Belize is a predominantly cash market; because of this, we don’t have overlending and real estate bubbles (which create more significant drops and volatility).

 

Advantages of Buying in a Cash Market

As mentioned, Belize is primarily a cash-sale transaction market. Even though investors do not have the same opportunities to leverage their investment, there are a number of advantages to investing in a cash sale market. There are many upsides when making a cash market real estate investment (like Belize). Some of the most notable include:

Diversification

  • Investing in an off-shore market, investors have wider access to innovative projects and more unique opportunities than traditionally in the public or domestic marketplace. Investors are able to look at stable cash flow from a vacation market with growing popularity. For example, a private real estate investor will see that the dynamics of buying and selling in a cash market significantly lower an asset’s volatility potential. Cash sale real estate markets are less susceptible to volatility as they do not have the bank foreclosures of more traditional economies.

Lower Volatility

  • Markets are known to be volatile (especially markets that are over-leveraged); it’s just the nature of an economy reliant on “borrowing money.” While cash market investments aren’t completely immune to recessions and economic fluctuations, the cash sale real estate sectors have less volatility and experience a faster recovery/smoothing out. When the global market is challenging, cash sale market investments minimize the volatility of an investment portfolio. Low-volatility, cash sale markets see less drastic declines in value when economies adjust.

Higher Return Potentials

  • In the investment industry, private markets outperform public ones due in part to the illiquidity risk premium, which is the return an investor requires for investing in something that can’t be quickly sold or exchanged for cash. This remains true in cash sale markets (like Belize). Property liquidity is more accessible as there will be less competition amongst a smaller buyer pool of qualified purchasers. In Belize, a property owned outright (cash) can be leveraged and offer seller/vendor financing, creating passive income and a higher ROI over time.

Unique Opportunities

  • In Belize, investors have access to various opportunities, from rental income-producing properties to appreciating locations, Caribbean beaches to lush jungles. Belize real estate (as it is at the early stages of development) opens the door to the lifecycle of an investment – from its inception through its growth. Investors also have access to rental management options and greater visibility and ability to forecast investment growth. Being a cash off-shore opportunity leads to greater influence and control over the investment/market.

Long-Term Focus

  • Public markets and real estate in the US or Canada have recently been focused on the short term. The short-term draw lead to low-interest rates, quick returns, etc. Belize as a cash investment is a long to mid-term investment strategy. The public market and real estate in the US tend to be more reactive, sometimes very dramatically, during an economic downtown. As an investor, say in Belize real estate, you have your eye on the future horizon and aren’t worried about these short-term fluctuations. One of the most important Warren Buffett quotes on investing that you can take in is, “If you aren’t willing to own a stock for 10 years, don’t even think about owning it for 10 minutes.”

Lower Risk

  • There is a certain amount of risk associated with an investment. People often view investing off-shore as high risk when there are far fewer risks in certain markets. Belize is a perfect example. In a cash market, you have less external risk. With any investment, there will be a risk; even though there is a risk, you can also mitigate the exposure. The cash market of Belize, with the string ownership rights and foreign investment incentives, has less risk, and investment is more protected. When economies turn, people no longer look for Return on Investment; they look for Return of Investment.

Associated Costs

  • Compared to more traditional real estate markets or domestic real estate (that has very high costs of ownership), Belize is very low. Property taxes in Belize are very little. You own land outright without the costs of upkeep and carrying costs. Even rental properties have lower operational costs in Belize.

 

Diversification from Interest & Inflation

American and Canadian real estate markets are known to be volatile – it’s just the nature of an economy reliant on “borrowing money.” Interest and inflation are prominent, uncontrollable dictators of property value in these markets – often leaving property owners vulnerable to unmanageable debt and property values decreasing. This makes these markets REACTIVE, which comes with risk.

Meanwhile, in unleveraged, cash markets like Belize – property values are much more simple, driven by supply and demand. There are rarely foreclosures or defaults since most property is owned outright, in cash. Investing in areas with limited land (scarcity), like islands, means that generally, as time passes and land becomes more limited, property values rise in correlation. This makes Belize much more of a PROACTIVE market – favoring savvy investors to secure their land early; at the current price.

No market is entirely immune to risks of recessions and economic fluctuations, but these days, interest and inflation are extremely high in the USA and Canada.

However, cash sale real estate markets have less volatility and experience a faster recovery/smoothing out.

This is why owning land in a stable, less volatile market like Belize is a great way to diversify with more secure, less volatile, and cash-owned property.

 

Stable & Less Volatile Appreciation

Every property that is sold equals one less lot you can buy. The most strategic investors look to own land in areas with high tourism demand and low supply – like Ambergris Caye Real Estate. This way, the growth next door and in your area steadily increases your property value while you hold your land or cash flow.

This is why most investors seek to own multiple properties – giving them the freedom to build on some and increase the equity value of their others, which they can flip in the future, tax strategically.

Mutually, private real estate investors will see that the dynamics of buying and selling in a cash market significantly lower an asset’s volatility potential. Cash sale real estate markets are less susceptible to volatility as they do not have the bank foreclosures of more traditional economies. This favors a long-term investment mentality – buy, hold, grow, cash-flow, flip.

Investing in an off-shore market like Belize allows investors to look at unique short-term cash flow from a booming emerging vacation market with growing popularity – while their property appreciates.

 

Financing Property in Belize

Belize has become a popular location and destination for retiring expats. Belize is a low tax jurisdiction with a warm Caribbean climate, English Speaking, and retirement incentive programs like QRP. For retirees, Belize makes immigration and relocation easy. English is the primary language, and Belize’s legal system is based on British Common Law. As a result, Belize has a stable, democratic government and a stable and dynamic economy with a strong tourism sector.

Belize also has a lot of draws and appeal to property owners and real estate investors. In Belize, foreigners purchasing Belize land or property in Belize are afforded the foreign owners/investors have the same property ownership rights as Belize citizens. Belize is also a low-tax jurisdiction; there are no capital gains or inheritance/estate taxes in Belize.

There are a lot of appeals to Belize real estate – for residency and investment. Even though financing is not as readily accessible in Belize as in other countries, there are financing options owners, and investors have.

Financing real estate for residency/lifestyle or investment in Belize can be challenging through local conventional bank financing (if you are not a Belizean citizen or resident). However, for non-residents, there are creative ways to get financing. Below you can see some creative options to finance real estate in Belize:

  1. Offshore Financing.
  2. Owner Financing.
  3. Co-Investing.

 

Advantages of Buying Property in Belize

Buying property in Belize can offer several advantages:

  1. Affordable Real Estate: Compared to many other Caribbean or Central American destinations, property prices in Belize can be relatively affordable. This makes it an attractive option for individuals looking to invest in a second home, retirement property, or vacation rental.
  2. Tax Benefits: Belize offers favorable tax benefits for property owners. There is no capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or property tax on undeveloped land. Property taxes on developed land are generally low, making it cost-effective to maintain ownership.
  3. English-Speaking Environment: English is the official language in Belize, which eliminates language barriers for those considering purchasing a property. This factor makes it easier to navigate legal processes, communicate with locals, and participate in the local economy.
  4. Political Stability: Belize has a long history of political stability and a democratic government. The country has a legal system based on English common law, providing a familiar framework for property ownership and the protection of individual rights.
  5. Natural Beauty and Ecotourism: Belize is renowned for its natural beauty, including pristine beaches, coral reefs, tropical rainforests, and ancient Mayan ruins. Owning property in Belize allows you to immerse yourself in these stunning landscapes and capitalize on the country’s growing ecotourism industry.
  6. Retirement and Second Home Destination: Belize is a popular retirement and second home destination due to its warm climate, relaxed lifestyle, and affordable cost of living. Owning property in Belize allows you to enjoy a laid-back Caribbean lifestyle, escape harsh winters, or spend quality time during vacations.
  7. Growing Tourism Industry: Belize’s tourism industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, attracting visitors from around the world. This trend can make owning property in popular tourist areas a potentially lucrative investment, especially if you intend to rent your property to vacationers.
  8. Diverse Culture and Expat Community: Belize is known for its cultural diversity and welcoming atmosphere. Its vibrant expatriate community allows you to connect with like-minded individuals from various backgrounds and enjoy a rich cultural experience.
  9. Ease of Property Acquisition: Belize has relatively straightforward property acquisition processes, with a clear legal framework for foreign ownership. Non-citizens can purchase and own property outright, including beachfront and island properties, without the need for local partnerships or complicated legal structures.

It’s important to note that while there are advantages to buying property in Belize, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research, seek professional advice, and understand local regulations before making any purchasing decisions.

 

Options for Belize Real Estate Financing

As mentioned above, financing in Belize is more complex than in domestic markets. We do not have the same standard mortgages and bank financing people are used to in the USA or Canada. Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales.

You can get a mortgage or loan in Belize from the banks. The bank will charge a high-interest rate and require a larger down payment. Because of the conservative nature and banking policies in Belize, the banks are still at a stage where the interest rates are higher than off-shore purchasers are used to. Most banks in the US will not loan to an out-of-country real estate purchase. There are, however, real estate opportunities in Belize with seller or vendor financing. Due to the Belize real estate market conditions, most owners and investors go the route of owner/vendor financing.

Seller/vendor financing (if available) is straightforward. It is a non-recourse loan with the seller/vendor carrying the note on the property (similar to how a bank carries the note on a home mortgage in the US). You take complete control of the property when all parties sign the agreement and the down payment is made.

There are three ways for purchasers to receive financing for Belize real estate:

  1. Local Belize Financing: Local banks in Belize do offer to finance land and/or property, though it is not easy (especially for foreigners). It is also important to note that the interest rates with Belize banks and terms for financing are usually higher than what people are used to at home. Local banks in Belize usually have much higher interest rates in the range of 10-18% interest with fixed terms of only 12 months. When you get financing from a local bank in Belize, the loan is closed every year and renewed at the new rate. When borrowing or lending from a local Belizean bank, it will be in Belize dollars, and most real estate transactions in Belize are in US dollars. Because most of the Belize real estate transactions take place with U.S. dollars, local financing is challenging. Local banks in Belize will also often only lend money to Belize residents or citizens.
  2. Offshore or Domestic Financing: If you are not a resident or citizen of Belize and are looking for financing, you can borrow U.S. dollars through an offshore bank. In Belize, Caye International Bank is one of the only off-shore banks in the country. Interest rates with international banks in Belize are still much higher than people are used to in their domestic markets and are around 12% to 18%, and most offshore banks, when lending to people who are not Belize residents or citizens, require a high degree of collateralization with a high down payment (often 50%). Some people do acquire domestic financing in their home country through a line of credit or refinancing their home/mortgage.
  3. Owner, Seller, or Vendor Financing: This is the most common way foreigners acquire financing for land in Belize. It is also far more common for someone to find land with financing than it is with a home or condo. Belize property owners and/or developers usually agree to property financing at better rates than the local banks. It is also very easy to qualify, as it is a non-recourse loan. The rates through seller or vendor financing are often less than what is available at local banks and financial institutions. Around Secret Beach, you are able to secure property with 20% down. Within Mahogany Bay, you can secure canal-front land with 25% down.

For more information on financing in Belize and Belize real estate opportunities with financing available, contact us at RE/MAX Belize.

 

Using a Self-Directed IRA or 401K

One way to manage costs, minimize the out-of-pocket investment, and ease the burden of taxation is to purchase real estate under a Self-Directed IRA or 401K. These structures are very easy to do in Belize and allow Americans to purchase an off-shore investment property using investment funds. The benefits of ownership under these legal entities include; access to capital for investment, and less taxation on capital gains, thus earning greater profits from the Belize real estate investment.

Real estate investors (from the US) can hold investment real estate in an IRA or 401K to gain access to capital (without paying high taxation) and reduce the tax exposure (as long as the investment capital has not been distributed to the IRA owner).

Under the IRS’s self-directed IRA rules, contributions to Self-Directed IRA accounts can be used to purchase real estate (commercial, residential, or raw land) inside and outside the United States. This allows investors to use Self-Directed IRA funds or a 401K to invest in Belize real estate.

However, contributions to offshore real estate IRAs are subject to additional rules.  For example, while the property in your IRA can be rented to others, you can’t rent it out to your family. The property can also not be used for your own personal use (it has to remain strictly an investment).

Another advantage is that the rental income from an offshore Belize real estate investment through IRA is deferred and can be made tax-free if purchased using a ROTH IRA.  Under this setup, you could, in theory, collect decades’ worth of rental income and not pay US tax.  You only need to worry about taxes when you distribute the income from the property to yourself in the future.

 

Bank Financing in Belize

Bank financing options in Belize can vary depending on the specific bank and the type of property you wish to purchase. Here are some key points regarding bank financing in Belize:

  1. Local and International Banks: Belize has both local and international banks operating within the country. Local banks include Belize Bank, Atlantic Bank, and Heritage Bank, while international banks like Caye International Bank also have a presence in Belize. These banks offer various financial services, including mortgage loans.
  2. Mortgage Loans: Banks in Belize provide mortgage loans for purchasing residential or commercial properties. The terms and conditions, interest rates, and loan-to-value ratios may vary between banks. It’s important to research and compare multiple banks to find the best mortgage options that suit your needs. It is important to note that Belize Bank mortgages are typically in Belize Dollars, while most real estate transactions are in USD.
  3. Eligibility Criteria: To qualify for a mortgage loan, banks in Belize typically require applicants to meet certain criteria. Often a borrower needs to have Belizean citizenship or residency status. International Banks can lend to foreigners, often requiring a minimum of 50% down. The requirements can include proof of income, employment history, creditworthiness, and down payment. The specific requirements may vary between banks, so it’s essential to check with the individual institution for their specific eligibility criteria.
  4. Down Payment: Banks in Belize usually require a down payment for mortgage loans. The percentage required can vary, but it is typically around 50% of the property’s purchase price. It’s important to have the necessary funds available for the down payment when applying for a mortgage.
  5. Interest Rates and Terms: Interest rates with banks in Belize are often higher than what investors are used to in their domestic markets. The interest rates and loan terms for mortgage loans in Belize can vary depending on the bank, the type of property, and the borrower’s financial profile.
  6. Property Appraisal and Legal Process: Before approving a mortgage loan, banks in Belize often require a property appraisal to assess its value. Additionally, they may require a title search and legal, due diligence to ensure there are no liens or encumbrances on the property. These processes help protect both the borrower and the bank.
  7. Currency: The currency used for bank financing in Belize is typically the Belizean dollar (BZD). However, some International Banks may also offer loans in U.S. dollars (USD), particularly for properties that cater to international buyers. It is important to note that most real estate transactions in Belize are in USD. Learn more about Belize currency.

It’s crucial to consult with a Belize real estate professional or financial expert who specializes in Belizean real estate or off-shore investing.

 

Advantages of Not Financing a Property in Belize

There are several advantages to not financing a property:

  1. Avoiding Debt: By purchasing a property outright without financing, you can avoid taking on debt. This can provide peace of mind and financial security, as you won’t have monthly mortgage payments or interest to worry about. Being debt-free can improve your overall financial well-being and provide more flexibility in managing your finances.
  2. Savings on Interest Payments: Financing a property involves paying interest over the loan term, which can significantly increase the total cost of the property. By paying in full upfront, you save on interest expenses, potentially saving you a substantial amount of money in the long run.
  3. Ownership and Equity: Buying a property outright means you immediately become the sole owner with 100% equity. You won’t have a lender with a claim on your property or any restrictions on what you can do with it. You can make improvements, rent it out, or sell it without any restrictions imposed by a mortgage lender.
  4. Simplified Purchase Process: Financing a property involves a complex process, including loan applications, credit checks, property appraisals, and legal documentation. By not financing, you simplify the purchase process. You can negotiate directly with the seller, avoid waiting for loan approvals, and potentially complete the transaction more quickly.
  5. Lower Closing Costs: When financing a property, there are various closing costs involved, including loan origination fees, appraisal fees, and mortgage insurance. By purchasing a property outright, you can eliminate or significantly reduce these closing costs, saving you money during the transaction.
  6. Increased Cash Flow: Without monthly mortgage payments, you have more cash flow available for other purposes. You can use the money for investments, savings, travel, or other personal goals. This increased cash flow can provide financial flexibility and the ability to pursue other opportunities.
  7. Reduced Financial Risk: By not taking on a mortgage, you eliminate the risk of defaulting on loan payments or facing foreclosure. You have full control over your property without the potential stress and consequences associated with loan repayment.

It’s important to note that buying a property outright requires a significant upfront investment and may not be feasible for everyone. Consider your financial situation, long-term goals, and consult with a financial advisor to determine if purchasing a property outright is the right decision for you.

Passport Heavy Buying Property in Belize

Buying Land in Belize for Less Than a Toyota Prius

Passport Heavy is one of the leading travel influencers and media channels on the internet. Passport Heavy is a bespoke travel & lifestyle brand specializing in shifting the paradigm in which people see and experience the world.

Founded in 2010 by Jubril Agoro, the Passport Heavy brand has grown from humble beginnings as a solo travel vlog into a highly recognized media brand and one of the most influential names in the travel content space.

Passport Heavy & Jubril Agoro fell in love with Belize (as many do) when they visited the Central America/Caribbean destination.
After a decade spent journeying globally, Jubril made his first international real estate investment. In BELZE!

 

In the latest Passport Heavy video, learn the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the decision to invest in Belize. From the enchanting allure of Belize to the nitty-gritty of navigating the real estate process in a foreign country, the latest Passport Heavy video (see link below) unpacks it all.

 

If you want to learn more about Belize and investing in Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

We look forward to having you here in paradise.

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Belize has many beautiful areas and destinations. Each with its own uniqueness. With a diverse landscape of islands, beaches, and jungles, there are a lot of great places to own property in Belize. The best place to own depends on what a person is looking for. That said, you have options to choose from when considering buying property in Belize.

Belize has stunning white sand beaches, lush rainforests, and Mayan ruins, with the largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere, Belize has recently emerged as one of the top emerging tourist destinations. Belize allows full foreign ownership, which makes it a popular offshore investment destination and a great place for buying property.

The growth in tourism has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in interest in Belize real estate. Belize has become one of the hottest places to invest, and retire in the region.

Some of the best places to buy property in Belize include:

 

 

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is a popular destination for tourists and expats, with beautiful beaches and a vibrant community. Ambergris Caye (and San Pedro Town) are the top tourist destinations in Belize. With that, it is the most popular location to own and invest in property. Ambergris Caye real estate is by far the most desirable property option.

Ambergris Caye is an island on the northeastern coast of Belize. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in the country and is the most popular tourist destination. Ambergris Caye is loved for its long sandy beaches, laidback island Caribbean lifestyle, and its proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef. A lot of Ambergris Caye has been set aside as a nature preserve, marine reserve, and national park, which adds to its appeal as the most popular destination for international buyers and people looking to own property in Belize.

San Pedro Town is the municipality on Ambergris Caye. San Pedro Town and the popularity of Ambergris Caye has it among the most in-demand and developed real estate investment destination in Belize.

Ambergris Caye is one of the most sought-after locations in Belize. Not only for tourism but also for property ownership. It is the undisputed top location. As the largest island in Belize, it has been ranked as one of the top destinations for retirement and investment by Forbes, International Living, MSNBC, and more. Ambergris Caye is famous for its proximity to the Belize Reef which attracts avid divers and fishers. The reef extends the East Coast of the island, and the West Coast boasts calm waters and beautiful beaches (like the popular Secret Beach).

Ambergris Caye also offers abundant options for different kinds of water-based activities, including scuba diving the Belize Barrier Reef, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, reef fishing, jet skis, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. Ambergris Caye also has great restaurants offering fine dining options as well as an amazing expat community.

Ambergris Caye is commonly referred to as the “Isla Bonita” (which is “the Beautiful Island”). With all it has to offer, there are few who disagree that Ambergris Caye is one of the top choices for expats who were looking to relocate to Belize or investors looking to invest in an emerging island destination.

 

San Pedro Belize Travel Guide (on Ambergris Caye)

 

 

Placencia

Placencia is a town at the very tip of a peninsula located in the southern part of Belize in the Stan Creek District. Placencia is a small, peaceful village on the southern coast of Belize with stunning beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.

Placencia has grown over the years along the peninsula to include; Seine Bight, Cocoplum, Maya Beach, and Plantation. Placencia is an ideal location for buyers looking to enjoy a tranquil lifestyle by the beach.

Placencia is a picturesque village located in the Stann Creek District of Belize, situated on a narrow peninsula along the Caribbean coast. Known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and vibrant local culture, Placencia is a popular destination for travelers seeking a tropical paradise. It is often ranked in the top 3 destinations in Belize (behind Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker).

The Placencia Peninsula (which is made up of multiple municipalities) stretches for approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) and offers stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The village itself is charming, with colorful wooden houses, local shops, restaurants, and beachfront bars.

In addition to water activities, Placencia offers various land-based adventures as well as lush jungles and hiking trails in the area. You can explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to the world’s first jaguar reserve and offers hiking trails, birdwatching, and the chance to spot other wildlife. Nearby Monkey River also provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, including howler monkeys, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species.

To reach Placencia, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight to the Placencia Airport. Alternatively, you can take a scenic drive from Belize City, which takes around three to four hours.

 

Placencia Belize Trip

 

 

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is the smaller island that is just south of Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker also sees a significant volume of tourists. Though the tourism to Caye Caulker is more backpackers with a number of local hostels. While there are many water sports, and activities similar to Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is becoming better known for its nightlife. This makes it a popular location for the younger crowd.

Caye Caulker is also located near the Belize Barrier Reef, which makes it popular for diving and fishing enthusiasts. The southern half of the island is mostly developed and the northern portion is separated from the town by “The Split” which is a narrow waterway that runs through the middle of the island.

Caye Caulker is a smaller island than Ambergris Caye which is known for its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, Caye Caulker attracts tourists seeking a tranquil tropical getaway. The island is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) long and has a narrow width of about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile). It is characterized by sandy streets, colorful wooden houses, and a car-free environment. The main mode of transportation on the island is bicycles and golf carts.

Caye Caulker offers beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, fishing, and other water activities. The Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, is easily accessible from the island, offering incredible opportunities for underwater exploration.

The island has a small but lively village area with restaurants, bars, and shops. The local cuisine often features freshly caught seafood, including lobster, conch, and fish. Caye Caulker is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with various bars offering live music and entertainment.

 

Caye Caulker Island Belize

 

 

Cayo District

Cayo is near the Belize & Guatemala border (on the westward side of Belize’s mainland). Cayo is home to many Mayan ruins as well as lush jungles. Cayo is a rural area with a growing expat community, offering beautiful scenery and a laid-back lifestyle. Cayo’s most popular municipality is San Ignacio but the district is also the location of the Belizean capital of Belmopan.

The Cayo District is located in western Belize near the border with Guatemala. Cayo is a district and is the largest district in the country. Cayo is known for its natural beauty, ancient Maya ruins, and outdoor adventure opportunities. The Cayo District is home to the town of San Ignacio, which serves as a gateway to the various attractions in the area. San Ignacio offers a range of property options around Cayo. There are real estate opportunities in the jungle, farmland, remote resorts, and more.

One of the main attractions of the Cayo District is its proximity to the Maya archaeological sites. The most famous and impressive among them is Xunantunich. Other notable Maya sites in the region include Cahal Pech, Caracol, and Tikal.

Cayo also has numerous rivers and waterways throughout the district. There are also countless waterfalls including; Big Rock Falls, Thousand-Foot Falls, and Butterfly Falls to explore and enjoy.

The Cayo District is also home to several nature reserves and national parks. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve showcases stunning waterfalls, natural pools, and the unique pine forests of Belize. The Belize Botanic Gardens and the Belize Zoo are also worth a visit for nature lovers.

 

Exploring Cayo

 

 

 

Hopkins

Hopkins is a small fishing village on the coast of Belize with a close-knit community and beautiful natural surroundings. Hopkins is just north of Placencia near the town of Dangriga. Hopkins is popular for its small-town vibe.

Hopkins is primarily a fishing village with a laid-back and friendly atmosphere. It is very much a “small town”. The village is known for its strong Garifuna heritage, and visitors have the opportunity to experience the rich traditions and music of the Garifuna people.

The beach in Hopkins stretches for several miles, offering pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters. It is an ideal destination for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The warm Caribbean Sea is also a great spot for water activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and fishing.

One of the nearby attractions is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Jaguar Preserve. It is a vast protected area encompassing lush rainforests, waterfalls, and hiking trails. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including jaguars, howler monkeys, toucans, and many other species.

 

 

Belize City

Belize City is the largest city in Belize and the economic hub of the country, with a range of property options available. Belize City is a coastal city and the location of the Belize International Airport (Philip Goldson International) which is the only international airport in Belize.

Belize City serves as the commercial hub and principal gateway for international travelers arriving in Belize. As the economic and cultural center of Belize, Belize City offers a mix of colonial history, bustling streets, and a vibrant local atmosphere. The city has a rich and varied heritage, with influences from the Maya civilization, European colonization, and the African, Creole, and Garifuna cultures.

Although Belize City is not typically considered a major tourist destination, it does have some points of interest worth exploring.

 

 

Corozal

Corozal is the border town between Belize and Mexico and the northeastern shore of Belize.

Corozal is a town located in northern Belize, near the border with Mexico (close to Quintana Roo & the Yucatan Peninsula). It is a coastal town/region with Chethumal across the border on the Mexico side. Corozal Town is the capital of the Corozal District and is situated on the Bay of Corozal, which connects to the Caribbean Sea. Across the bay/lagoon sea is the island of Ambergris Caye.

Most people who looking at buying property in Corozal are very underwhelmed and often pursue something elsewhere. In Corozal, there are not as many opportunities for foreign investment. Corozal is on the bayside and is more of a border town between Mexico and Belize than anything. With this, you have a lot of logistics and supply chain traffic going through. Think of it as a tropical truck stop rather than an “off-the-beaten-path real estate investment”.

The town of Corozal has a rich history, with influences from both the Maya civilization and later European colonization. It was originally inhabited by the Maya people, and several archaeological sites, such as Santa Rita, can be found in Corozal. The town of Corozal was settled by Mestizo refugees from the Yucatan Peninsula in the 19th century, and today it has a mix of cultural influences from Maya, Mestizo, and other ethnic groups.

Corozal offers a more relaxed and tranquil atmosphere compared to the busier tourist destinations in Belize. It has a small-town charm and a welcoming community. The town has a central park, known as Corozal Town Central Park, where locals gather and socialize. You can find restaurants, shops, and other amenities in the town center.

One of the main attractions in Corozal is the proximity to the beaches. The Bay of Corozal provides access to the Caribbean Sea, and there are several beach areas where you can swim, sunbathe, or enjoy water sports. Some popular nearby beaches include Consejo Shores, Sarteneja, and Corozal Bay.

Corozal is also known for its proximity to Cerros, an ancient Maya site situated on a coastal ridge. If you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty of the region, you can visit the Shipstern Nature Reserve. It is a protected area with diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, and wildlife.

To reach Corozal, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight or a bus to Corozal. The town is also accessible by road from Mexico, as it is located near the Mexican border.

 

 

Best Place to Own Belize Property

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also scarcity of land. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations on the mainland with nearly endless developable land rarely see the same level of equity appreciation. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth (the mainland) is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Belize have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), as well as beaches on the East & West Coast.

 

In Belize, there are some cheaper and less expensive property options. That said, not all Belize real estate is created equal. One of the most famous quotes from Warren Buffett is, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

It is important to conduct thorough research on the area and property you are considering and to consult with a qualified real estate agent to ensure that you are making a sound investment that meets your needs and aligns with your goals. If you are looking to buy property in Belize, contact RE/MAX Belize!

 

 

Top 5 Places to Visit in Belize

Different Ways to Own Property in Belize

Belize Property Ownership

Belize is one of the most popular destinations for foreign investment in the region of the Caribbean & Central America. One of the main reasons Belize has become so popular is the fact that as a British Common Law country, there is full foreign ownership and foreigners (non-nationals) have the same ownership rights as locals. In Belize, you can own land outright (even as a foreigner) but it is still important to note that there are a few different ways to own property in Belize, and each form of Belize real estate ownership has its advantages. There are several ways to own property in Belize, including:
Types of Property Ownership in Belize

 

Different Ways to Own Property in Belize

  1. Fee Simple Ownership: This is the most straightforward way to own property in Belize. Fee simple ownership means that you own the property outright, and you have the right to use, sell, or lease the property as you see fit.
  2. Strata Title Ownership: When you buy into a Strata Scheme you own your unit (shadow footprint over the land), plus a share in common property as described in your certificate of title.
  3. Leasehold Ownership: This type of ownership grants the right to use the property for a specified period of time, typically 99 years. Leasehold ownership can be an attractive option for those who do not plan to live in Belize full-time or for long periods.
  4. Co-Ownership: Co-ownership involves two or more people sharing ownership of a property. This can be a useful arrangement for those who wish to split the costs of ownership and maintenance.
  5. Trust Ownership: A trust can be set up to own property in Belize. This can provide additional asset protection and privacy, as the property is owned by the trust rather than an individual.

 

It is important to consult with a qualified Belize real estate professional when considering any of these ownership options to ensure that you are in compliance with Belizean laws and regulations. Additionally, it is important to conduct due diligence on the property and its title to ensure that there are no liens, encumbrances, or other issues that could affect your ownership or use of the property

Owning Property in Belize as a Foreigner

One of the primary advantages to investing and owning in Belize is that foreigners can own a property outright with a fee-simple title. Belize is one of the only countries in Central America that allows foreigners to truly own property.

Belize recognizes the rights of non-nationals and the property ownership rights of foreigners. When you buy property in Belize (regardless of citizenship or residency status) you can own the property outright and your ownership rights are exactly the same as local Belizean citizens. Unlike other Central American countries and tropical tourism destinations, in Belize foreigners, who are not local to Belize, can buy a property outright with a fee-simple title (the strongest form of property ownership) rather than have to settle for leasehold ownership. With Belize’s British ties, Belize practices British Common Law and the ownership rights are very similar to that in the UK, USA, & Canada.

Another advantage of buying property in Belize is that you do not need to physically be in Belize to purchase a property, or to complete the property closing. Most real estate transactions in Belize are done remotely and the buyer does not have to physically be in Belize. This makes buying real estate in Belize as a foreigner especially easy and appealing.

There are different types of titles and ownership structures in Belize but are still good and all legal. When you buy property in Belize, you have a few options when it comes to the ownership structure.

 

Belize Real Estate & Property Ownership Options

In Belize, most land opportunities and detached single-family homes allow for fee-simple titles and have a physical copy of the title from the Belize lands department. Most condos or developments in Belize are owned with co-op shares or strata titles. Strata Title enables one to pass physical title to a ‘slice of air with a building in it’ without owning the land that is below it. An example of Strata Title would be purchasing and taking title to a 3rd-floor unit without owning the shadow footprint of the land below.

Many developers around Belize erroneously refer to their projects as ‘condos’ when they are not located in a new registration zone. It should be noted that true condominiums in Belize only exist in the New Registration zones where the Strata Act is applicable.  If the ‘condos’ are not in the new registration zone then they should be referred to as ‘units’ or ‘residences’ and, in most cases, they will be titled via corporate share certificate(s).

It is also important to note that Belize has a lot of parallels to the US & Canada when it comes to real estate and real estate appreciation. Condos rarely see the same level of appreciation and most of the condo projects in Belize (especially presales) are co-op share ownership.

 

1. Fee Simple Title

Fee Simple Title is Freehold ownership, which is by definition;

  1. A permanent and absolute tenure in land with the freedom to dispose of it at will, especially (in full fee simple absolute in possession ) a freehold tenure, which is the main type of land ownership. Fee-simple title is an interest in land.  Land owned in fee simple is owned completely, without any limitations or conditions. This type of unlimited real estate is called absolute.  A fee simple is generally created when a deed gives the land with no conditions, usually using the words like “to John Doe” or “to John Doe and his heirs”. (source)

In British Common Law, a Fee Simple, Freehold Ownership, or Fee Simple absolute is real estate in land or physical property and is of freehold ownership. A “fee” that is used as the basis for the title is a vested, inheritable, present possessory interest in land and physical property. A “fee simple” is real property held without a limit of time. This means absolute and permanent ownership of property under the governing common law.

A Fee-Simple Title and Freehold Ownership is the highest possible form of property ownership. There are also properties that are known as a “fee simple absolute,” which is without limitations on the land’s use.

As Mark Twain famously said, “Invest in land; they are not making any more of it.”

If you’ve bought land or a house in Belize, it’s likely you own the property outright with a fee-simple title. This is the strongest form of property ownership and means that you own the “real property”. The fee simple way of owning real estate is the most common type of homeownership in the USA & Canada. Belize is also one of the few countries in the region with fee-simple titles and full foreign ownership. The fact foreigners can own a property outright with a fee-simple title is one of the major draws and advantages of off-shore real estate investment in Belize.

When you buy land or a home in Belize you will receive a “fee simple” title to your property which gives you full and complete ownership, unlike some Central and South American countries where the title is held in trust by a bank or similar institution. Other countries will offer leasehold ownership to foreigners which means you only own the land/property for a set period of time.

Belize is part of the British Commonwealth and with that, Belize has a legal system that is based on British Common Law. This comes with fee-simple land and property ownership. Property purchasers can take title to freehold property in Belize.

The Land Laws of Belize and property ownership Laws of Belize are derived mainly from the Common Law and English Statutes of the 19th century. The Law of Property Act, Chapter 190 has a lot of similarities to the Real Property Act 1925 of England and are nearly mirror images of each other. Other relevant statutes and laws that Belize has used and implemented include the Registered Land Act, Chp 194 which is a statute that governs all land transactions in Belize.

 

2. Strata Title Ownership

It should be noted that true condominiums only exist in the New Registration zones where the Strata Act is applicable. This includes San Pedro Town, Seine Bight, and Belize City are the only locations that have true condos with Strata Titles. Strata Title enables one to pass physical title to a ‘slice of air with a building in it’ without owning the land that is below it. i.e.: one can purchase and take title to a 3rd-floor unit without owning the shadow footprint of the land below.

If a condo has strata title, it provides a higher level of ownership and is a true ‘condo’. In Belize, every property has an individual land title, when you purchase a home or land in Belize you receive a copy of the land title. When you buy a property with a fee-simple title you take possession of it when you purchase a house or a piece of land in Belize.

When you buy a property that is part of a strata title, you own your unit or condo. When you own a strata title property or condo, you have individual ownership over your apartment, unit, condo, or townhouse.

The Strata Titles Registration Act, Chapter 196, of the Laws of Belize, governs the issuance of titles to condominiums in Belize. These condo titles are referred to as “Strata Title”. The Strata Titles Act essentially enabled developers to construct condominium developments in Belize and to issue freehold titles to each unit created in those Developments.

Condominium structures in the Caribbean are very rarely high-rise buildings. They are commonly relatively small two to four-story buildings. This is largely due to building restrictions set by the CBA (Central Building Authority). Unlike large metropolis cities, the structures in Belize are rarely above 3 to 5 stories and are primarily used by vacationing foreign residents. Developments that offer Strata Titles are most commonly found in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Hopkins, and Placencia.

When a developer of a condo project applies for Strata Title, the titles of the various units are issued to the Developer and are put in the developer’s name. As each individual unit is sold, the developer transfers the strata titles to the new owners (purchasers).

A property or development in Belize can only apply for strata title when the unit is built or near completion. This makes it challenging to obtain Strata Title since most of the capital for investment is tied up in development. Because of the laws pertaining to Strata Title, and having to be at or near completion to apply (and the application takes time for approval), most condos or units offer co-op share ownership for presale, which can have risk. The tedious Strata Title process is why so many condos go the co-op share ownership route. If you are looking at buying a condo in Belize, we suggest ensuring the property at least has a strata title.

 

3. Leashold Ownership

In Belize, most residential real estate and land are owned on a fee-simple basis (this is similar to the US & Canada). This is not the case in most of Central America & The Caribbean where land and home sales are in leasehold ownership which are long-term leases with the national government or have layered trusts. Belize is one of the only countries in the region that offers full foreign ownership and fee-simple title.

Under the leasehold model, one party owns a property while the tenant can use the land for a set number of years. This is common in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, etc. Most countries in the region have restrictions on foreign ownership. This is not the case in Belize, where you truly own real property. Generally, Leases involved in these arrangements are usually long-term, typically lasting 55 years to 99 years or more.

Some owners may grant something called a “life lease” where the tenancy remains until the lessee passes away. This means the property itself can not be passed on or inherited. In that case, the property reverts back to the grantor.

If you enter into a leasehold arrangement, you’ll have to pay a fee to use the land, unlike fee simple ownership which requires no rent payments or renewals. With fee simple, you do not have to renew the lease as you own the property outright. With a fee-simple title, you own any home on the land forever. But with leasehold, when the lease ends, both the land and home will revert to the previous owner – unless you negotiate a new lease or renew the lease before the old one expires.

When you own a property with a leasehold property you only “own” the property or real estate for a fixed period of time. When you agree on a leasehold property, there will be a legal agreement with the landlord (sometimes known as the ‘freeholder’) called a ‘lease’. This tells you how many years you’ll have rights to the property. Ownership of the property returns to the landlord when the lease comes to an end or expires.

There are a lot of restrictions on foreign ownership in countries like; Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, etc. These countries often have leasehold contracts or require a trust to own real estate. That is not the case in Belize. Belize has no restrictions on what foreigners can own. There are some condo developments in Belize that are leasehold or co-op share ownership and usually use this structure if they’re bought through shared ownership or a co-op.

 

4. Co-Ownership Shares or Housing Cooperative

This ownership structure is popular and is known to North Americans as “Co-op”. This is the weakest form of ownership in Belize and the buyer does not have any form of title. There are numerous downsides to this form of ownership, mostly being that share certificates cannot be mortgaged by a lending institution, and insurance on the unit is challenging. A housing cooperative or “co-op” shares are a type of residential real estate option that is actually a corporation that owns the real estate.

The ‘owners’ within the development do not own their units outright. Instead of owning the units, each resident is a shareholder in the corporation based in part on the relative size of the unit or equity stake the unit that they live in has. A co-op share ownership in real estate is a way to own a primary residence, through the shares of the corporation. With housing cooperative or co-op share ownership owners own the shares, they however don’t own their units outright or the land itself; instead, each resident is a shareholder in the co-op.

Some co-op shares real estate options allow owners to sell their co-op shares (equity in the unit) in the open market, depending on the development. Often they have restrictive clauses that limit resales. This limits the liquidity of the property.

In Belize, when a condo appears to be cheap or “too good to be true” it is generally because they have co-op share ownership. Co-ops when it comes to real estate in Belize can be less expensive than homes or true strata title condos since they operate on an at-cost basis, collecting money from residents to pay expenses. Often padding additional profits to the developer.

Even though co-op share ownerships appear to be a great deal, they often come with more risk and a low level of ownership control. Before buying shares in a co-op ownership condo, be sure to check out the company’s financial situation and the fees involved.

A lot of presale condos use co-op share ownership. The resale is very difficult since the unit cannot be mortgaged and they are very difficult to insure in Belize.

 

5. Trust Ownership

In Belize, you can own property in a Trust. Which is commonly done through an IBC (International Business Company). Belize uses IBC laws as a form of asset protection. Trust ownership in Belize is commonly used in conjunction with an IBC (International Business Company). By using a trust to hold shares in the IBC, an additional layer of legal protection is provided for the owner of the property.

Trusts have become one of the dominant instruments to facilitate international finance and hold property internationally. The reason for setting up a Trust is that every individual or company has the desire to protect, preserve and enhance their wealth, and Belize has become one of the top destinations for international financial services looking to diversify a Trust investment. Belize real estate is a great means for realizing the goals of wealth growth, protection, and preservation. Belize allows the creation of a trust, except for a unit trust (for a co-op share ownership condo) and the trust ownership must be in writing.

The main advantages of Trust Ownership are as follows:

  • Saving on Inheritance Tax or Estate Tax: Even though Belize does not have any estate tax or inheritance tax, a country outside Belize may have enforceable taxes. Through a Trust or IBC, on death, the inheritance tax, normally assessed on the value of the shares, would generally be eradicated.
  • Asset Protection: Assets (like real estate) within a trust usually cannot be reached by creditors who might arise as a result of financial difficulties, litigation, divorce proceedings, etc.
  • Avoiding Probate: Through trust ownership, assets can be smoothly passed on to the next generation without disruption, substantial costs, delays, loss of confidentiality, etc.
  • Lifetime Tax Savings: During a lifetime, substantial income and capital gains tax advantages may result from setting up the trust.

Trust Ownership uses a Trust to own the property. A Trust is a specific legal relationship, that is used in British Common Law. By means of a Trust, the owner of certain assets (“Settlor”) transfers these assets to an independent other party (“Trustee”). The Trustee, in turn, is legally bound to maintain and manage these assets for the benefit of another person or group of persons (“Beneficiaries”).

The core principle of the Trust lies in the separation of the legal title (ownership) of the asset from the benefits derived from that asset. The control over the asset (right to dispose of) is also separated from the benefits derived from that asset.

 

IBC Property Ownership

There are different types of titles and ownership structures in Belize but are still good and all legal. When you buy property in Belize, you have a few options when it comes to the ownership structure. A lot of real estate transactions in Belize are through corporations and have property ownership in an IBC with fee-simple title. Owning a property in an IBC is still fee-simple full ownership with an added layer of asset protection and tax optimization.

When you buy a property in an IBC there is no stamp or transfer tax when a property is held in an IBC (International Business Company). When you buy a property, you own it outright. We have a lands department, which manages the titles of each property. I always suggest buying a property in an IBC or having a property put in an IBC (especially as a foreigner). There is no stamp or transfer tax when a property is in an IBC. If a property is not held in an IBC, there is an 8% stamp/transfer tax when you buy or sell the property as a foreigner or non-resident and a 5% if you are a resident or Belizean (or Belizean corporate entity). When the property is in an IBC, you don’t pay the stamp or transfer tax, you have an added layer of asset protection (if someone sues you in the US, they can’t touch your Belize asset), and you have improved liquidity when you sell the property and remove liability.
You own the IBC, and the IBC owns the property with fee simple title. The advantages are;
  1. Tax optimization as you don’t have to pay stamp or transfer tax.
  2. Asset protection.
  3. Improved liquidity.
  4. Faster transfer of ownership.
  5. Ownership ambiguity.

 

If you are looking to get the most out of your Belize investment and have the best value when it comes to Belize real estate, we suggest buying land and owning a property with a fee-simple title. We also suggest using an IBC (whether buying a property in an IBC or having it put in an IBC). The most desirable thing about Belize real estate is the fact that Belize has full foreign ownership and foreigners (Americans & Canadians) can own a property outright with a fee-simple title. When you purchase a condo (especially something with co-op share ownership) you erode the largest value of buying and investing in Belize.