Belize Real Estate & Exodus of Expats

The Exodus of Americans Moving to Belize

Every year, more-and-more people are looking at investing and relocating off-shore. Whether it is for lifestyle or retirement, Americans & Canadians are rethinking their lives and where in the world would provide the best future. This is shown by the recent migration stats.

Americans & Canadians are leaving their home countries and seeking foreign visas in record numbers, according to immigration lawyers and expatriate organizations. Belize saw an unprecedented number of Americans not only inquiring about Belize real estate but also following through on their pledge and taking the steps to leave over the last 3-years (2020, 2021 & 2022). This is seen by the growth in the expat population on Ambergris Caye over recent years.

The number of Americans who were recorded as having given up their citizenship or U.S. residency soared to 5,816 in the first six months of 2020, compared with 2,072 in all of 2019, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Dan Prescher, the senior editor of Internationalliving.com, said traffic related to “how to move out of the U.S.” surged 1,676 percent in 2020 and has been a continued trend since.

“Quieter, more stable countries start to look appealing,” he said.

The exodus has been led by not only baby boomer expats, but also young professionals looking for an opportunity and parents looking for countries with open and safe schools that provide futures for their children. No matter the age, the group largely consists of Americans with financial means and the ability to work virtually, or are in a position to relocate.

 

Why are people leaving?

The U.S. State Department reported in April that there are a record 8.7 million Americans live abroad. This number alone speaks for itself – never before has such a large group of U.S.-born citizens lived abroad. They’ve decided that it’s time for a change, to move to a new location where they are able to not just survive but thrive.

People’s motives for leaving or seeking relocation differ. But overall, the objective is a better life and a more promising future. The IMMI Group analyzed the top 10 motives for leaving the US, the list includes;

  1. Money
  2. Cost of healthcare
  3. Taxes
  4. Government regulations
  5. Freedom

 

Why People Are Looking at Belize & Ambergris Caye

Belize Real Estate & most of all Ambergris Caye Real Estate have seen a boom over recent years. Most of the buyers are people looking at living and/or investing overseas. This is seen by the growth in Belize real estate transactions over recent years;

While there is no nationwide MLS for Belize to track the total sales data and the number of real estate transactions, RE/MAX Belize is the largest real estate company in Belize with over 100 agents in 13 offices and shows a good indication of where the market is at and how it has grown. 

Total sales volume increased 8.7% from 2019 to 2020, followed by a staggering 167.7% from 2020 to 2021.  Based on current year-end projections, sales volume and real estate transactions in Belize are expected to grow by 301.5% year-over-year from 2021 through 2022.

From the beginning of 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, through to 2021, total Belize real estate sales volume has increased by 190.94%.

For RE/MAX Belize, the market has seen the number of sales exceed 2019 total sales volumes by 300% (299.6%).

Potential buyers are increasingly younger with more-and-more buyers being in their 40’s and 50’s (compared to retirees of earlier years).  Most of the people purchasing Belize real estate are from the US and Canada. Among the top reasons for considering Belize for second homeownership:

  • Allows diversification outside the USA or Canada
  • Provides a safe secure alternative during societal unrest
  • The only English-speaking country in Central America
  • Close geographic proximity to the USA
  • No capital gains tax, very low property taxes 
  • Tropical Caribbean climate
  • World-class fishing, diving, snorkeling, and watersports 

Second home ownership in Belize is like “going abroad with training wheels”.  It’s a very safe and easy experience, and the number one comment from those who have done it is that they wish they had done so sooner. 

 

Ambergris Caye Relocation

The top reasons people choose Belize and Ambergris Caye real estate include;

  • Safety
  • Tax protection
  • Accepting of new residence
  • Stable political climate
  • Affordability
  • English speaking
  • Schools & Education
  • Racial and cultural diversity and acceptance
  • Currency pegged 2:1 with USD
  • Climate
  • Opportunities and room to grow
  • Freedom!

Many countries have restricted accessibility to residency, which makes travel and relocation more difficult. Not Belize. Right now Belize is open and accepting tourists, expats seeking offshore residency, and citizens. Belize is a small country that is very pro-foreign investment with a small population. The country’s agricultural independence and desirable climate make it one of the top destinations for Americans & Canadians seeking relocation.

There are many other thriving places to make a life. This has led to many people seeking a brighter tomorrow, a life that provides freedom, safety, security, and support.

 

8 Reasons to Buy Overseas Real Estate Right Now

8 Reasons to Buy Overseas Real Estate

Luigi Wewege

President, Caye International Bank

  • There was an upturn of 3.2% in the GDP figures in the third quarter of 2022, but the change is unremarkable.
  • Despite indications of growth in some economic activities, most economists suggest the economy will continue to slow for at least the next few months.
  • Financial markets and other investments in the US, including property markets, remain unpredictable, creating a demand for more tangible assets and the diversification provided by overseas real estate.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis readings for the third quarter showed a +3.2% change in the US GDP in the third quarter, compared to -0.6% in the second quarter. Despite growth in some economic activities like industrial production, retail sales, and job growth, many economists still fear the possibility of a lurking recession.
Investors tend to turn to hard assets at times like these, and since the US property market faces a price slump, they look for overseas property opportunities.
“There are many reasons why investors turn to overseas real estate,” says Luigi Wewege from Caye International Bank, “but one of the major reasons is seeking a haven from the type of economic volatility we currently face.”

 

Here are eight reasons to buy overseas real estate right now

1. Discounts Due to Currency Advantages

When buying with USD or another strong currency, you can buy much more property in a market abroad with a weaker currency. Currently, the USD is at historic highs, meaning enhanced spending power.

The current surge in the value of the US dollar is producing unexpected opportunities for property investors holding the currency in many overseas real estate markets. It’s at historic highs against the euro, the pound, and other key currencies.

 

2. Currency Diversification

Buying a house overseas allows you to gain the benefits of diversifying into another currency. Currency diversification through property enables you to gain the benefits of earning an income or equity gain of the property in that country’s money.

Buying with the current strong conversion rate for the USD can also mean that even if the property value does not increase in local currency, you will have appreciation if the exchange rates return to historical averages.

 

3. Cheaper Properties

Besides the advantage of currency savings, properties in many overseas countries are highly affordable compared to properties in many US beach towns. “Caye International Bank facilitates real estate loans in five currencies and low-interest rates, with negotiable amortizations and terms,” says Wewege.

 

4. Earn an Income

Whether you buy a second home or have your eye on investing some money, overseas real estate can generate an income that can help pay for the property running costs and create a nest egg in the local currency. Even if you plan to holiday at your overseas property, you can rent it out short term to others.
Remember that most European countries have lower rental net yields for long-term rentals, but these increase with short-term rentals, especially in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean.

 

5. Privacy And Tax Advantages

Americans don’t have to report their personal or rental overseas property to the IRS. Therefore, your foreign property remains out of reach to lawsuits, your ex, and the US taxman.
There are also some US tax advantages when you rent out the property. For example, the interest paid on your mortgage is deductible from your taxable US income, as is the cost of trips to check on your asset.

 

6. Diversify Your Portfolio

Investing some money on overseas real estate diversifies your investment risk because it’s in another market. But, as we said earlier, you also diversify your exchange rate risk and avoid liability risks.

 

7. Brings Residency Perks

If you want to fast-track residency to countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal to access the Schengen Area, you can purchase a property as part of their Golden Visa Programs. In addition, some countries like Northern Cyprus and Montenegro don’t have a price limit on how much you can spend to receive residency.

 

8. Low-Cost Vacations

Besides investing your money wisely, buying overseas real estate means you can choose a place to holiday without adding expensive hotel stays. As a result, you can enjoy the benefits of holidaying (or even retiring) somewhere with a lower cost of living, and you can escape the cold winters of the US.

 

Final Take

As you can see, buying overseas real estate makes perfect sense right now, especially if you want to diversify your investments and create an income in another country. In addition, your investment can provide you with a dream holiday destination and a financially secure retirement. For more information on investing offshore and in Belize real estate contact RE/MAX Belize!

 

By Luigi Wewege

5 Reasons to Invest in Belize Real Estate

Investing in Belize Real Estate

Belize real estate has become a popular topic among investors. Investing in foreign real estate can feel overwhelming and knowing where to invest requires a lot of research. When investing offshore and buying foreign real estate, an investor has nearly endless options and destinations to choose from. With all the options and countries around the world, it is hard to know which location has reached its peak and which has room for growth (especially from an investment standpoint). Investors always want to find real estate with appreciation growth potential.

We’ve all heard real estate investors say, “location matters,” and it is easy to see why destinations in the Caribbean as well as South and Central America are so appealing. The regions are home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, a warm climate, and an affordable cost of living. All of these are factors that make an offshore investment appealing, but different locations have advantages. Many foreign investors are realizing that Belize real estate has some untapped potential and that the market is only just starting to “take off”.

Take a look at some of the five top reasons why it is smart to invest in Belize real estate.

 

5 Reasons to Invest in Belize Real Estate

 

1. Belize Tourism is on the Rise

If you are looking to invest offshore and in a foreign market, you will likely want to find a destination that is on the rise and has growing tourism (which increases awareness). Luckily, Belize tourism is really booming, with more-and-more people traveling to Belize and visiting Ambergris Caye.

Every investor has a slightly different motive or reason to invest in Belize real estate. Sometimes, buyers/investors just want to have their own slice of paradise, a tropical getaway. You might invest in a Belize vacation property so that you can spend time in Belize, or eventually have your nest for retirement.

However, one of the leading reasons people invest in Belize real estate is the tourism income generated from nightly rentals and vacation rentals. Investors looking at Belize often look at the cash flow and yield potential with plenty of buyers interested in buying real estate as a way to earn a profit. If you want to turn your real estate into an income generator, that produces passive earnings, you will want to invest in a market with growing tourism.

Belize tourism hit an all-time high in 2019, with over 500,000 overnight tourists arriving in the country. In 2022, Belize’s tourism rebounded to nearly pre-COVID numbers. In 2022, Belize’s tourism was at 81% of its peak. If you take Belize’s tourism growth over the last 12 years (2010 to 2022) it grew at a rate of 14.6% annually. That is compounded year-over-year growth. Very few destinations in the world see double-digit annual tourism growth. You can see the year-over-year growth illustrated below;

Belize 2022 Tourism

Belize Tourism 2018 to 2021

Belize Tourism Recovery

Belize Tourism Board

 

In 2019, Belize saw more visitors overall, both via the airport and cruises, than any year prior. In 2022, we saw the tourism numbers nearly reach the 2019 peak (81% of peak pre-COVID tourism). Some of this can be attributed to the strong investment The Government of Belize and the private investment sector have made in infrastructure development projects in the region. It is also largely associated with the emergence of branded hotels in Belize like; Hilton, Marriott, Margaritaville, Wyndham, Six Senses & Four Seasons.

Belize’s tourism is on the rise, and that is a strong investment indicator. The more tourists, the more rooms are rented, and the better the vacation rental ROI.

Not only has Belize seen an annual tourism growth rate of 14.6% over the last 12 years, but Ambergris Caye (the #1 destination in Belize) has seen the highest volume of all Belize tourism while also seeing a rise in population. The population of Ambergris Caye has grown by an annual average of 8% over the last 5 years and grew at a rate of 17% the 10 years prior.

For those who own Belize Real Estate & Ambergris Caye Real Estate, the increased awareness, and tourism correlate to a rapidly growing audience of potential renters who may wish to rent a Belize vacation property.

A growing tourism industry isn’t just ideal for those who want to generate rental revenue each year. It is also ideal for those who want to see the value of their property grow. The more people that visit, and the higher yield an income property produces, the higher the resale value. As Belize continues to grow, so will the value and price of real estate.

 

2. Foreign Investors Actually Own Their Property

Most destinations in the region (Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, etc.) do not grant foreigners the same property ownership rights as locals. One of the biggest risks of investing in real estate overseas is that ownership rights can be confusing, and often a foreign investor will not actually own the real estate. In some destinations, citizenship or residency is required in order to buy and own real estate outright. For a foreign investor investing overseas, this can mean less security and more risky investment. It is not uncommon for countries to have a leasehold or require some sort of trust for a foreigner to own real estate.

It is very common when you buy international real estate, an investor is really only buying a “leasehold” for a set number of years. If you plan to leave the property to your children or dependents in the future, this can again be a concern.

With Belize real estate and Belize property, none of these issues are a concern. Belize is one of the few countries with British Common Law that has full foreign ownership and allows foreigners to have freehold property ownership with a fee-simple title. In Belize, it is rare to hear of disputes over land ownership. A property owner is granted a land title, which they own outright. Anyone, even foreign investors, can purchase property in Belize. To own and invest in Belize, you do not need to be a national, have citizenship, or be a resident. You can truly own property as a foreigner.

Even better, when buying Belize real estate as a foreigner means that you own the property outright, and leaseholds are virtually nonexistent. This gives an investor a greater sense of security and more peace of mind. Belize is one of the best offshore markets to invest in for capital protection. Belize also does not recognize squatting rights.

 

3. Stable Currency

When investing in foreign real estate, you want to ensure your investment is secure and that the dollar value of that investment appreciates with a stable currency. It is important to ensure you are investing in something with property value retention. Investing in a market with high inflation and owning an asset in a volatile currency is a risk and a valid concern. When investing offshore it is important to consider if the local currency of the jurisdiction you are considering fluctuates and avoid markets with high currency volatility/inflation.

The Belizean currency is the Belizean Dollar which is a pegged currency at 2:1 with USD. In Belize, currency fluctuations are minimal since we are pegged to USD, and the fact that almost all real estate transactions are in US dollars. If you own Belize real estate, you own an appreciating asset in USD. You own the property in a stable currency without the risk of domestic currency inflation.

The Belize Dollar is pegged to the United States Dollar. Two Belize Dollars always equals one US Dollar. The fact that real estate transactions are primarily in US dollars makes it incredibly easy and straightforward. The fact you own the real estate asset in USD means that you won’t see a dip in the value of your property just because the market fluctuates or the currency experiences rapid inflation (like Argentina or Venezuela).

The fact Belize has a pegged currency and real estate transactions are in US dollars is a big advantage, especially if you live in the United States or deal financially in US Dollars. Although property values can, change and fluctuate with the market, Belize real estate won’t drop due to currency issues.

 

4. Belize Real Estate & Property Taxes

Owning real estate anywhere has a cost of ownership called “holding costs”. Anyone who has ever owned property anywhere in the world knows that there are ongoing costs and expenses to consider. Maintaining a home or property costs money, property taxes can be significant, and the taxation on a property is something someone must consider when investing offshore.

Property taxes in Belize are surprisingly low. Real estate taxes and property taxes are based on the undeveloped value of your land. The property taxes someone pays do not fluctuate with the home or property improvements. This makes property taxes in Belize very low. Canal-front homes have annual property taxes of $108 per year, while other off-beach properties near the West Coast of Ambergris Caye start at $75 per year. Belize is a low-tax jurisdiction, and one of the major draws to owning property and real estate in Belize is the fact that the cost of ownership is so low.

The cost of property ownership in Belize is much cheaper on a year-to-year basis than in many comparable destinations, keeping costs of ownership low and increasing the investment return.

 

5. Belize is an Unsaturated Market with Low Competition

With all the benefits and advantages of owning and investing in Belize real estate, you might assume that it is a seller’s market or that property options are limited. With the tax advantages, growing tourism, property ownership rights, and the fact you own an appreciating asset in USD (a stable currency) you would assume that Belize is a saturated market. In reality, it is the opposite, and Belize is a very unsaturated market with low competition.

In Belize, it is still very much a buyer’s market, and there is a scarcity in supply. Although there has been growing interest from foreign investors, and a growing expat population, the market is far from saturated.

We’ve all heard the age-old saying, buy low sell high. The vast majority of properties within a saturated market are already overpriced and thus in these conditions, it is much harder to find good, let alone great investment opportunities.

Properties within an infancy market that is unsaturated have the most potential upside in the future. The key: finding something within an infancy market that lies in the path of progress. Examples would be Ambergris Caye Real Estate & Belize Real Estate.

The increase in population and tourism has led to a scarcity of rentals and overall lodging inventory. In Q5 2022, the lodging inventory on Ambergris Caye decreased by 5% (due to population growth) and the lodging inventory has decreased by an astonishing 20% over the last 3 years.

 

Ambergris Caye Lodging Inventory

*From AirBNB

 

In short, there are more people who are eager to spend time in Belize, and there are even more people traveling to Belize. When you take the increase in population and the increase in tourism, you understand the investment and rental income potential.

Increased Demand + Limited Supply = Higher Occupancy & Higher Rental Rates = Increased Revenue

It is rare to see and have an opportunity to invest in a destination that is growing as rapidly as Belize and Ambergris Caye which has a decrease in lodging inventory.

There is plenty of undeveloped property still in Belize and on islands like Ambergris Caye (which have island economics). Belize real estate is often much lower than investors expect (given all the advantages). Belize is now one of the leading International jurisdictions for offshore banking in Central America and you will discover that investment dollars go further in Belize and yield much higher returns than in many other countries.

 

There are many other reasons to invest in Belize real estate, these 5 are just some of the top. Overall, there are many other reasons why real estate in Belize is a smart investment, particularly for those interested in diversifying their financial portfolio and investing offshore. Whether you’re searching for a retirement destination, a rental income property, or a vacation home for the family, Belize real estate offers a wide variety of options and opportunities.

To learn more about Belize Real Estate & Ambergris Caye Real Estate contact REMAX Belize! We look forward to helping you find property listings and start investing in Belize.

 

Inflation & Global Economies Impact on Belize Real Estate

Inflation & Belize Real Estate

A recession and inflation are not new things, they are part of any economy. The US just came off a long bullish market. Just because inflation and recessions happen, doesn’t mean investment stops, strategic investors look to new avenues and leverage cost-effective ways to place capital.

When economies turn, people no longer look for Return on Investment, they look for Return of Investment. They start looking for investments and strategies around;

  1. Wealth Preservation
  2. Asset Protection
  3. Tax Optimization

When looking at a real estate investment, there are generally 2 elements cash flow and appreciation. Savvy real estate investors and people investing in offshore markets like Belize tend to dive a little deeper and there are essentially 4 pillars strategic real estate investors look for;

  1. Capital Protection,
  2. Capital Growth,
  3. Yield (Cash Flow),
  4. Favorable Taxation.

Luckily, when you invest in Belize Real Estate, you are in a position to check all 4 boxes. You also have the added benefit of limited supply and scarcity, in a market with growing demand.

When looking at a strategic investment strategy, it is important to remember that money doesn’t just “go away” it moves. A recession, by definition, is;

“a macroeconomic term that refers to a significant decline in general economic activity in a designated region. It had been typically recognized as two consecutive quarters of economic decline, as reflected by GDP.”

In times of globalization, markets are more dependent on each other but are also still independent. What happens in one country, does not mean the same will happen in another. Just because one region is experiencing economic decline does not mean that another region will see the same effects.

In 2021, the US economy is seeing the highest inflation rates in over 40 years. This is largely fueling a lot of what is happening in the global economy. Real estate, however, is one of the only assets and investments that is pegged against inflation. When looking at an investment that is more resilient to inflation, you want something that has price adjustments that meet or are pegged to the rate of inflation. If you have an investment asset that adjusts with inflation, while still producing cash flow, you are well-positioned and diversified.

Typically, the more inflation-resistant investments are able to pass price increases along to their customers. This remains true in Belize. I am not by any means saying we are recession-proof, but Belize (especially real estate) is well situated, all things considered.

One important thing to note is that property values and rental income both tend to keep up with inflation over time, and the investors that invest in real estate tend to outperform the market during inflationary periods. For example, in 2021, inflation reached its highest level in 40 years, and real estate (both rental income and asset appreciation) outperformed the S&P.

Generally, real estate assets and investments perform their best when inflation rates exceed 7% (which they do now). The inflation-hedging capability of real estate stems from the relationship between GDP growth and the demand for real estate. As economies expand, and people relocate or reallocate, the demand for real estate drives rents higher. When you have a combination of residents looking for rentals combined with the vacation rental market, you are able to adjust. Higher rents with better occupancy, in turn, translate into higher capital values. Therefore, real estate tends to maintain the buying power of capital by passing some of the inflationary pressure on to tenants and by incorporating some of the inflationary pressure in the form of capital appreciation.

 

Real Estate Investment & Inflation

When compared to other investments, real estate tends to hold up well against inflation. But it’s important to realize that there are many different types of real estate investments, and not all have the same inflation resistance. When looking for more inflation-resistant real estate assets it is important to look for;

  1. Short-term lease durations: This allows you as an investor to quickly adjust rents (market rent and net rent) to meet the demand and inflation. A vacation rental market is perfect for this. Typically, the average rental on Ambergris Caye is 6 days, and prices can very quickly be adjusted. You can also offer monthly rental rates, which avoid locking in at below-market rent for a year.
  2. Price powering: Can you control and quickly adjust the price when needed to match inflation? Vacation rentals give you high control as you can continuously adjust rates to meet inflation and/or demand. A lot of other rental markets have vacation rental restrictions (controls), or rent controls in place. Belize does not, which makes it a great investment when it comes to ownership control.
  3. Resilient or increasing demand: Belize has seen double-digit tourism growth every year except in 2020 (COVID restrictions). The country has just entered the world’s radar and has frequently been at the top of the list when it comes to emerging vacation destinations.
  4. Fewer Regulations: Belize does not have rent controls. This allows you to manage your rentals as needed. We are also one of the very few “pro-landlord” countries in the region. We do not recognize squatters, and as the owner of the property, you can dictate who stays there and for how long.
  5. Favorable Taxation: Belize is a tax haven. Belize has very low property taxes. Low corporate tax. No capital gains tax. And no estate tax.

 

Recessions and inflation are not permanent. Real estate investors make money through rental income and appreciation. Good real estate investments offer passive income, stable cash flow, tax advantages, diversification, and leverage. It is important to invest not only for the short term but for the long term as well. Even though Belize real estate is counter-cyclical when compared to other real estate investments, we still see the boom in bullish markets when people have more accessible capital. After a Bear market comes a Bull market which will see all real estate (especially vacation markets) have a more substantial appreciation.

In regards to investment, Belize is unique as it is both Central America & the Caribbean, the mainland has more similarities to the Yucatan Peninsula (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, etc), while Ambergris Caye is more comparable to the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Etc. The fact Ambergris Caye is an island, there is far more scarcity of property than being on the mainland. As a real estate investor, scarcity works to your advantage for both rental income and property appreciation. The fact that Ambergris Caye is one of the few opportunities with high tourism growth and land available, makes it a unique opportunity in today’s market.

Ambergris Caye (being the largest island in Belize and #1 destination), luckily has island economics. 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. The island economics of Ambergris Caye creates scarcity, not only scarcity of property and rental accommodations but also in completed resale homes.

Belize also has growing tourism with unprecedented COVID tourism recovery. Ambergris Caye (the #1 destination in Belize) and the island where the popular San Pedro Town is located see over half of all tourists coming to Belize. Even though Ambergris Caye is experiencing tourism growth, the destination has not seen rental accommodations meet the demand.

Even though tourism is growing and we have seen Belize tourism rebound in 2022 to pre-COVID numbers, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant with almost no new inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -5% decrease from Q4 of 2022 to Q1 of 2023. Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

Rental Inventory: From Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 lodging inventory decreased by -5%:

 

Ambergris Caye Lodging Inventory


For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -2% in Q3 2022, -1% in Q4 2022, and -5% in Q1 2023. Over the last 3-years, Ambergris Caye lodging saw a decrease of 20% in inventory though tourism has increased by 14.6% annually. So compounded tourism growth over 13 years at an average of 14.6%.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing 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.

Belize has a unique offering when it comes to real estate investment. We have a market that is not overly leveraged (due to a lack of traditional bank financing), and we are a growing destination that produces cash flow and can quickly adjust. The lack of inventory of rentals and resale properties creates a unique opportunity. If you combine that with the fact we are not as susceptible to real estate bubbles (due to most real estate being owned outright with cash) we are one of the most well-positioned markets.

 

Why Belize?

  • Low Carrying & Holding Cost.
  • With Fee-Simple Title You Own the Property Outright as a Tangible Asset.
  • Belize is a Tax Haven.
  • An Appreciating Asset in a Desirable Destination.
  • Primarily Cash Market Making Les Susceptible to Real Estate Bubbles.
  • Growing Demand with Limited Supply

It is also important to note that you own a tangible asset when you buy a property in Belize. Belize has full foreign ownership with the ability to own a property with a fee-simple land title (outright ownership). Unlike stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency; if the value goes down (or even has no value/defaults), you still own a tangible asset in Belize that you are in control of and can use. Belize is also a tax haven, and property taxes are very low, which means the cost of ownership is next to nothing.

 

Benefits of Off-Shore Investing in Belize

  1. Diversification: It is always important to diversify investment, but that is even more true during economically challenging times. Diversifying across asset types, markets, and even currencies is essential for wealth preservation and hedging your investment. Diversification into a hard asset like real estate protects your investment and hedges against the stock market’s volatility.
  2. Find Deals in an Unsaturated Market: Belize does not have a formal MLS. Though this makes the property search process more difficult (and a realtor almost essential) it also creates opportunities. As a reactive market, you can find great deals that fly below the radar. By expanding your reach and your investment in an emerging market (like Belize), investors can broaden their opportunities and find diamonds in the rough, and undervalued assets.
  3. Less Saturation & Competition: A relatively new market, like Belize, has less competition. One reason I love Belize is the fact you don’t have to be a genius to be successful. There is a very low level of competition (in almost all industries in Belize) which allows an investor to take success from more competitive markets. Real estate in Belize is a tangible offshore asset that can help shield an investor from the volatility of market swings.
  4. Bigger Upside: Growth in offshore emerging markets has the potential to outpace growth in developed economies like the US, where populations are getting older and growing slowly.
  5. Taxation: Property taxes are low (almost nothing). For property around Secret Beach, for example, the property taxes are $75 to $90 per year. Canal-front homes in Mahogany Bay have property taxes of roughly $108 per year. Belize has a corporate tax rate of 1.75% (offshore) to 3% (domestic). With no capital gains tax and no estate tax.
  6. Residency: Property ownership can grant residency. In Belize, you can qualify for an “Investment Residency” through real estate investment. With the state of the current market, Belize can provide a safe haven for those hoping to escape the current state of uncertainty. Through the residency, you can protect your current assets and help secure your future.

Learn more about investing off-shore and tips for doing so.

People assume that real estate values in the US reflect the global market; when in reality, there are many markets that thrive during inflation and a recession. Generally, when people lose in the domestic markets, they look to alternative investments (like Belize). When money leaves one country for another, it is an “Exodus of Capital”. When investors lose trust in domestic systems and institutions they often look for tangible assets offshore. It is also important to note that Belize is also predominantly a cash market, because of this, we don’t have overlending and real estate bubbles. Right now, Belize is not only seeing tourism growth but also experiencing an influx of expats looking to relocate, this is an “Exodus of People”. When a population is experiencing a growth of high net-worth individuals, you see even higher property appreciation. As economies expand, and people relocate or reallocate, the demand for real estate drives rents higher. When you have a combination of residents looking for rentals combined with the vacation rental market, you have a favorable real estate investment.

The global inflation rate is why so many people are investing even more in Belize real estate. The reason they are doubling down on Belize real estate when inflation is on the rise is that you have an asset hedged against inflation, in a market that is not as susceptible to bubbles (due to lack of over-leveraged real estate), with a low-cost of ownership.

In 2009 RE/MAX in Belize had more transactions than any year prior. At this time, the US had the subprime mortgage crisis and global economies saw a downturn. When inflation comes, there is more money in circulation, the money does not “go away” it is often just reallocated. Diversifying your portfolio is always recommended, and there are a lot of opportunities off-shore in markets like Belize. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and if history is any indication of what will happen, Belize is sure to see more real estate transactions and be a great investment vehicle for years to come.

During economically slow times, many investors look at tangible assets like real estate and gold. During periods of uncertainty and economic stress, it is important to look at getting not only a Return on Investment but also a Return of investment.

Property in Belize is a cost-effective way to get both. Ambergris Caye Real Estate provides investors a means to own a finite commodity that is a tangible real asset with future demand. We often like to view Belize real estate as counter-cyclical, when other markets go down, Belize generally stays stagnant or increases.

If you are looking to learn more about the Belize market and investment opportunities in Belize let us know! Our team and RE/MAX Belize look forward to chatting with you.

 

 

Buying Real Estate in Belize Process

Belize Real Estate

Buying Belize Real Estate is very easy and the process is much like in North America (USA & Canada). Belize is one of the few countries in Central America & the Caribbean where foreigners enjoy the same property ownership right as nationals in land ownership and tenure. When a foreigner buys property in Belize, they own it outright with a fee-simple land title. The preferred practice of owning Belize real estate is through a fee-simple title which is clear title freehold ownership.

Foreigners can own property in Belize as an individual or through a Belize Chapter 250 (Limited Liability Company) or with an International Business Company (IBC). A property (like Belize land) will have a title that would be issued by the lands department. Condominiums in Belize are purchased through a “Strata” title or co-op share ownership. There are a few types of property ownership in Belize and it is important to learn the differences.

 

Belize Real Estate Purchasing Process

The property purchasing process in Belize is similar to Canada or the US (countries with fee-simple titles). Before you purchase property in Belize or buy Belize real estate it is important to know and understand the process.

 

Belize Property Search

Before buying in Belize, make sure you know the area that is best suited for you, your lifestyle, and your investment goals. Check out the different areas and districts in Belize; Ambergris Caye, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Cayo, Placencia, etc. Belize has a robust landscape from the island beaches of Ambergris Caye to the jungle mountains of San Ignacio. When searching for Belize property, decide what is most important to you; the beach, mountains, inland, river, etc.

Ambergris Caye real estate is popular due to the fact that the island and San Pedro Town is the country’s most popular destination with the highest level of growth. Let the Remax Belize team help you with your Belize property & Belize real estate search. We can help go over the different options and opportunities available in Belize.

There are a lot of opportunities in Belize and a diverse real estate market. In Belize, we do not have a formal MLS, so a real estate agent’s job is a little different. If you are looking at buying or investing in Belize, a Remax Belize real estate agent can help with the search.

 

Offer to Purchase Belize Property

After the Belize real estate search, and once you find the property you want to purchase, the next step is to put in an offer or draft up an agreement of sale. The real estate agent will require your full name and address to be able to draft up the agreement/offer.

Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales. That said, there are opportunities with financing available. Most real estate opportunities in Belize with financing available are through seller or vendor financing. Belize does not have the standard bank financing or mortgages people are used to in the US or Canada. If you are wanting to purchase Belize real estate with financing, talk to your agent and find opportunities with financing. Or include the financing terms in the offer/agreement.

When writing an offer or agreement, make sure you add any contingencies, clauses, or addendums you require. Or include details required for the closing and include any additional services needed for the property transaction to go through.

In Belize, we do not have traditional home Inspectors or property appraisals. If required, you can an hire engineer or trusted home builders to inspect the property of interest and write up a report. If you are purchasing raw land, you can request a copy of the land title and/or a property survey.

You are also able to purchase Belize real estate through a Self-Directed IRA or 401K. Be sure to let your RE/MAX Belize real estate agent know if you want to use a Self-Directed IRA or 401K when you are purchasing the property. After the agreement is signed by the purchaser and the seller, a color copy of your passport will be needed as well as a utility bill matching the address on the offer to purchase.

 

Escrow Down Payment or Deposit

If you are purchasing a property with financing, you will have to send the down payment to an escrow account or escrow agent. Even cash sale transactions it is suggested to use an escrow account and closing company.

After all the documentation is signed, everything will go to a Closing Company for the due diligence and transfer of property. When buying any property in Belize you want to ensure the process is done correctly. That includes initiating a title search and ensuring there are no liens or encumbrances on the property. When buying Belize real estate you also want to make sure that the seller is legally able to sell the Belie land.

The property history as well as corporate and IBC registration is also something that the Closing Company will take care of. A Closing Company will make sure past transfers of ownership were done properly and that the whole process is done correctly.

You also want the Closing Company to look over the proposed purchase agreement, making sure the information is correct and ensuring it’s in full compliance with the local and governing laws of Belize. A Closing Company is particularly important if you are choosing to finance a property with the seller because a payment processing company is often needed.

It is also common in Belize for a closing company to use an Escrow Agent and/or Escrow Account. This helps to protect the buyer and the seller during the real estate transaction. Since most real estate transactions in Belize are done in USD it is common for the Escrow Account to be in the US and with a US Bank account.

Real estate transactions in Belize are in US dollars and use a US escrow agent or account (a US account or US intermediary is needed for any transaction in USD). The closing costs are paid by the buyer. The seller is responsible for the real estate fee and commission. All money is sent to a US escrow and a closing company releases funds upon closing.

When an offer or sales agreement is submitted a down payment for escrow is required. If it’s a cash sale, it will be the entire balance on the property which will go to escrow during the closing process. If it is a financing agreement, the down payment (20% to 25%) will be sent to escrow during the closing process.

The closing costs are between 1% – 1.5% of the sales price. Due diligence consists of a title search and a company search if the property is in a company name. This is all handled by the Closing Company.

 

Property Closing & Transfer

Once all the legal processes and closing have been completed along with a title search and closing documents. The legal documents are signed by all parties and original copies are sent to the purchaser. With a financing agreement, the seller will carry the note on the property (similar to a bank in the US). If it is a cash sale agreement, all original documents will be sent to the purchaser (the new owner of the property).

If the property is not in an IBC there is a one-time Stamp Duty Fee of 8% paid to the Government of Belize (GOB). Stamp/Transfer Tax is a tax of 8% on the total sale price and the Government of Belize gives you the first $10,000.00 USD exemption. GOB reserves the right to reassess the Stamp Tax and if they feel you paid too little for the Belize property, if this is the case the purchaser will require you to pay the difference.

If a property is held in a corporate entity like an IBC all the shares will be transferred to the purchaser. IBC property ownership means there is no stamp/transfer tax and the transfer of ownership is much faster.

To learn more about the closing process for land and properties held in an IBC vs not in an IBC contact us at RE/MAX Belize. In Belize, you own a property outright with a fee-simple title. Foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals.

 

If you are interested in Belize property and/or buying Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize! We are here to help with your Belize real estate search. We can help find your dream home in paradise or investment property in Belize!

Belize Land Titles & Land Title System

Belize Land & Land Titles

Foreigners and Non-Belizeans are able to purchase land, real estate, and property in Belize. The full title of the land and property is granted to non-Belizeans just the same as it is given to Belizean nationals. Belize is one of the only countries in the region with fee-simple land title ownership and full-foreign ownership. Even though Belize has full foreign ownership and foreigners are able to own Belize land with a fee-simple title, there are a few types of Belize property ownership that buyers and investors should be aware of and not all types of property ownership in Belize are equal.

In Belize, when you buy land that has a title, the original or certified copies of Belize land documents registered with the Lands Department are issued as proof of ownership. The land title will have either the owner’s name or a corporate entity (like Chapter 250 or IBC). In Belize, for a land transaction to take place proof of ownership is required.

When buying Belize Real Estate, it is advised to work with a Belize Real Estate agent and Closing Company. When buying land or property in Belize the real estate agent will draft a formal offer of purchase or agreement of sale and present it to the land owner. The Belize real estate agent will require the full name and address of both the “Purchaser” and the “Seller” with the legal name of the property (Lot Number & Parcel Number). The property will have an identification number which is given by the Department of Lands and Survey Office. Standard land and real estate agreements include a property title search. 

The Closing Company and Real Estate agent will request records for the land with the Department of Land and Survey. This office provides information on who the land title is registered to (the owners), whether it is held in a corporation or individual name, and checks if there are any restrictions on the use of the land. They will also ensure there are any liens or encumbrances on the property.

 

Belize Land Laws

Belize is a British Common Law Country and with that comes strong real estate ownership laws. The land and real estate ownership laws in Belize are derived from the Common Law and English Statutes of the 19th century. The Law of Property Act, Chapter 190 in Belize is based on the Real Property Act 1925 of England. Other relevant statutes and laws in Belize include the Registered Land Act, Chapter 194 (1977) which is a statute that governs all land transactions in Belize.

There are mainly two categories under which land in Belize can be classified. These categories include;

  1. Declared Land
  2. Undeclared Land

Declared Land transactions in Belize are much easier as the property itself already has a title issued. Transactions done on Undeclared Land have to be recorded at the Titles Registry and require a much longer process. If the land is “Declared Land” the title is registered at the Land registry. Most real estate transactions and property purchases are in “declared land” with a real and absolute title.

Belize allows for full foreign ownership and freehold property ownership. Property purchasers can take title to freehold property in Belize in three different ways. They are:

  1. Deed of Conveyance
  2. Transfer of Certificate
  3. Land Certificate

 

Fee Simple Land Ownership

Owning land or Belize real estate with a fee-simple title is the strongest form of property ownership. A Fee-Simple Title and Freehold Ownership is the highest possible form of property and land ownership. It means that you own the property outright.

If you’ve bought land or a house in Belize, it’s likely you own the property outright with a fee-simple title. If you own a property with a fee-simple title you will have a physical copy of the land title from the Belize Department of Lands. A fee-simple title is the strongest form of property ownership and means that you own the “real property”. Belize is one of the few countries in the Caribbean & Central American region that allows for full foreign ownership with a fee-simple title.

In Belize, not all properties and real estate have “fee-simple titles.” A lot of condos will use Strata Title or Co-Op Share ownership which is a less desirable form of property and real estate ownership in Belize.

 

Belize Property Taxes

When buying land or property in Belize, you will be shocked to learn how inexpensive and cheap the property taxes are. Most property taxes are 1% to 1.5% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually far less than the actual resale value. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.

Property taxes in Belize are paid annually in April and are to be paid each year. Property taxes in Belize for land and real estate are assessed and determined by the Department of Natural Resources. Belize is a low-tax jurisdiction and the property taxes in Belize are some of the lowest of any of the Commonwealth countries. Property taxes in Belize are almost unbelievably low for most off-shore owners and investors.

 

Stamp & Transfer Tax

When buying a property in Belize Belizeans pay 5% of the purchase price in Stamp Duty or Transfer Tax to the Government of Belize. Foreigners and non-nationals pay an 8% Stamp Duty or Transfer Tax to the Government of Belize when buying real estate or property in Belize. This is why so many foreign owners and investors purchase Belize real estate in an IBC. When you buy real estate in Belize that is in an IBC there is no stamp or transfer tax. Learn more about owning Belize property in an IBC.

 

For more information on Belize Real Estate, Owning Belize Land, & Land Titling in Belize contact our team at RE/MAX Belize! We look forward to helping you with your Belize Real Estate Search!

 

5 Misconceptions About Moving to Belize

5 Misconceptions About Moving to Belize

Belize is an amazing place to live and there are tons of opportunities for people not only looking to retire but also invest and/or start a business. Moving to Belize is much easier than in other countries with a lot of incentive programs in place. But there are a few things everyone should know before moving to Belize (to avoid any surprises). The lifestyle in Belize & Ambergris Caye is amazing and it is easy to see why so many people are making the move every year.

Here are the 5 biggest misconceptions about moving to Belize! If you’re considering moving to Belize from the US or Canada be sure to give this video a watch before doing so. We break down some of the key things you should know before making a move to Belize and 5 misconceptions people have before making the transition

 

 

Misconception 1: Belize is All the Same

Belize has a very diverse landscape ranging from the Caribbean Islands of Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker to the lush Rainforests in Cayo & San Ignacio. If you have visited Belize, you know how different each area of the country is. If you are looking to be near the beach and reef, you will likely want San Pedro or Ambergris Caye Real Estate. If you are looking to live near Guatemala and enjoy the rainforest, you may prefer Punta Gorda or Cayo. Belize has a lot to offer, and it is important to know that not all of Belize is the same.

 

Misconception 2: How Quickly Things Can Move

Things sometimes move a little slower in Belize and the different departments handle different areas of permitting. Belize does have a slower and less stressful pace, which is one of the reasons so many people love Belize. That said, the slower lifestyle sometimes requires a little more patience and a different process. You are able to get things done in Belize, but be prepared to go through the due process.

 

Misconception 3: Everything in Belize is Cheap

A lot of things in Belize are less expensive. Anything made locally is a fraction of the cost of what you are used to in the US or Canada. That said, there are things that are more expensive. If something is imported, you will notice that you are paying more. Also, if you are on an island, there are additional logistics that are needed.

 

Misconception 4: You Need Residency or Citizenship to Move to Belize

You do not need to be a resident or citizen to move to Belize or to buy property in Belize. There are also no restrictions or time constraints on how long you are able to stay in Belize as an American or Canadian. You can stay in Belize as long as you want, as long as you renew your Tourist Visa every month.

 

Misconception 5: Finding Property in Belize is Easy

Belize does not have an MLS or standard listing platform. There are a lot of opportunities in Belize and a diverse real estate market. We do not have a formal MLS in Belize, so a real estate agent’s job is a little different. This makes it important to work with a real estate professional who knows and understands the market. We also do not have the same licensing for realtors or a standard real estate association. Make sure you are working with a realtor who has licensing and/or is a member of the different Belize Real Estate associations like AREBB (Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize) or BNAR (Belize National Association of Realtors) or have a brand like RE/MAX which holds its brokers and agents to the highest standard.

 

If you are considering moving to Belize or investing in Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

We look forward to helping you find your property in paradise.

Belize Real Estate Investment & Relocation

Belize Real Estate

Facts About Belize Real Estate

Belize Real Estate is becoming more and more of a hot topic for Americans, Canadians & Europeans as more learn about the tremendous benefits of owning real estate in Belize. Whether it be for investment or lifestyle purposes, Belize stands out amongst other countries in the Caribbean & Central America region for several reasons. These are the cornerstones of relocation to the county and are as follows:

 

English Speaking

When you consider that 90% of the U.S. only speaks English, this is a huge benefit of Belize. People love the fact that when they go to their doctor in Belize they can communicate in their native tongue or when they go to fill out legal documents they can read them in English.

 

British Common Law

Belize is the only English-speaking country in the region, this is a direct result of British influence over the years. The British also left something else extremely beneficial behind, their legal system. Other countries in the region (Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, etc.) adopted the Spanish legal system, Napoleonic Civil Law. When it comes to Belize real estate there is a key difference between the two. That is, with British common law there is full foreign ownership. When Americans, Canadians, or any foreigners for that matter invest in property they receive a fee simple land title along with their property and truly own it.

When you invest in property somewhere with Napoleonic Civil Law there are two-tier ownership rights where residents can own, but foreigners must do so through a corporation with local directors or other grey area strategies. This is not the case in Belize, where foreigners have full ownership under British Common Law.

 

Proximity to the U.S.

Belize is 750 miles from the nearest point in the U.S. and has direct flights from L.A., Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Newark, Toronto, Chicago, & more locations being added. The flight from Miami is roughly an hour and a half making it very easy for Americans and Canadians to get down in a very short period.

Fun Fact: Belize is within five hours of 82% of the U.S.!

Below you can see the direct flights to Belize;

 

46% of Belize is National Park & Marine Reserve

One of the things about Belize that most don’t know is that the official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973, and full independence was granted on 21st September 1981. Given that Belize as a nation is relatively young, it has had the opportunity to model policies and characteristics from other countries that it feels are beneficial to the country.

One of the biggest things Belize has done in this regard is dedicated 46% of its land to a national park and marine reserve, one of the largest portions of a country in the world to be a national park. Not only is this beneficial from an ecosystem perceptive, but it’s also highly valuable from a real estate investment perspective. When you put a 46% restraint on development, you increase scarcity, which as we all know leads to appreciation.

 

Property Tax

In Belize, there are no capital gains taxes and property taxes are extremely low compared to what many are used to in the U.S. and Canada. For example, property taxes on a 60’ by 75’ piece of land would be roughly $75 per year paid annually in April.

 

Tourism & Rental Market

Belize is going through a state of high nightly rental demand with increasing tourism (44% over the past 5 years) without an equitable increase in the supply of nightly and monthly rentals leading to increasing rental rates and higher returns for investors. 2019 was the all-time high in tourism that Belize had ever seen, and the trend is showing absolutely no sign of slowing as Belize’s tourism in 2022 rebounded strongly after the pandemic.

The Belize Real Estate Market and Tourism are also looking promising in 2023. In fact, with the airlines adding as many flights as they have in recent years, Belize is expecting the growth to not only continue, but increase. With 70-75% of all tourists who visit Belize going to Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) during their stay, Ambergris Caye is the standout location for relocation and investment.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize measuring 27 miles long. Ambergris Caye is located at the northern point of Belize’s coastline with the Belize barrier reef just off the east Coast. Ambergris Caye is the top tourist destination in Belize and sees hundreds of thousands of tourists visit every year. Here are some quick facts about Ambergris Caye;

  1. The largest of all Cayes and Islands in Belize, Ambergris Caye is widely known as the “Jewel of Belize”.
  2. Belize’s largest island is 24 miles long and 3 miles wide
  3. 70% of overnight tourism comes to Ambergris Caye
  4. 12 miles from the mainland
  5. #1 tourism destination in Belize

One of the best-kept secrets in tourism-driven markets is the distinct correlation between the change in tourism numbers and real estate appreciation. As tourism increases, we tend to see a proportionate increase and appreciation in property values.

 

Baby Boomers & Belize Real Estate

As many of you may know (or maybe going through the process) more baby boomers are looking to relocate from the U.S. every day. About four million people will retire every year, as of 2014. From 2014 to 2034, about 80 million people are expected to retire. This equated to roughly 10,000 people retiring per day for 20 years. Obviously not all these people will choose to relocate however, according to an AARP life survey, roughly 28,121,000 people will be relocating outside of the U.S., and the area with the largest expected growth is the Central America & Caribbean Region.

When you factor in our list of retirement benefits (English speaking, Proximity, Legal System, Etc.) it is more than safe to say that Belize will receive its fair share of baby boomers. This is only leading to more scarcity in the rental market, as when baby boomers move down, they generally take inventory out of the rental pool as they will live in it year-round as opposed to previous owners who would rent the majority of the year. When you factor these aforementioned thoughts together, you have the “perfect storm” for rental rates to increase and investor returns to increase.

 

Belize Facts

  1. The Capital of Belize is Belmopan
  2. The Population of Belize is 404,915 (2021) World Bank
  3. The Currency in Belize is the Belize dollar with is 2:1 with USD (U.S dollar accepted nationwide)
  4. The Government and Political System in Belize is a Constitutional Monarchy and British Parliamentary System.

 

Belize Real Estate – Investment & Relocation

There are many other benefits when it comes to Belize real estate. For the most part, Belize is still underdeveloped and sparsely populated so there is still plenty of room for growth, and property values haven’t come near adjusting to where they should be given the growth in tourism we discussed in the previous section of this post.

Another benefit of Belize is its economic and political stability. The economy here in Belize isn’t a one-legged stool, there are many facets to the GDP including agriculture, energy, transport & tourism. The government has shown it is a pro-foreign investment country by facilitating the process for foreigners and even bringing in the QRP program to reduce the costs and expenses of relocation to Belize.

 

If you have any further questions on Belize and looking to buy Belize Real Estate we are happy to chat via email or phone, feel free to reach out to RE/MAX Belize to chat and discuss your Belize real estate goals in further detail and get all your questions answered.

 

Guide to Buying Belize Real Estate in 2023

Belize Real Estate in 2023

As 2022 comes to an end and we look towards 2023, Belize real estate continues to boom as Belize is now very much on the world’s radar. When looking at the Belize market (considering we do not have an MLS), we have seen Belize real estate demand and prices trend upwards over the past 10 years. Going into 2023, demand is still on the rise. Properties on the islands that are popular tourist destinations like Ambergris Caye continue to be an excellent investment, for both appreciation and passive rental income. The tourism sector is booming and we saw 2022 Belize tourism rebound, nearly reaching pre-COVID numbers.

Belize is a great place to live and invest. The lifestyle on Ambergris Caye has a very laid-back Caribbean vibe. If you are looking at Belize from an investment standpoint, rental income-producing properties are in high demand for both vacation and long-term monthly rentals. Belize properties and vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) rent out quickly and for a high nightly rental rate. Whether you are planning for a long-term investment to buy and hold or a short-term source of passive income, you can’t go wrong with Belize and owning Ambergris Caye real estate.

Just to illustrate the popularity of Belize real estate, you can see the transaction volumes for RE/MAX Belize (all offices & agents in Belize) below;

 

What Makes Belize Real Estate So Attractive?

Compared to a lot of places Belize offers an outstanding quality of life. The quality of life exceeds the warm tropical climate (which is very consistent year-round). Ambergris Caye is a perfect location for a young family looking for a better lifestyle, or an investor/business owner who wants to get in on Belize’s growing tourism industry or diversify their investment portfolio. Belize is also the perfect destination for individuals looking to retire in a warm, affordable place to call home. Whether you are looking for personal use or investment, Belize real estate has a lot to offer.

If you are on Ambergris Caye, the weather is warm year-round, and you can enjoy sunny skies and a tropical Caribbean climate almost every day of the year. If you enjoy outdoor activities and being active you will be mesmerized by the water-based recreation, and endless hiking trails. Belize has all of the charms of the Caribbean.

People in Belize and Ambergris Caye (locals and expats) live a relaxed, stress-free life. One of the most charming things about Belize is the fact there are no chain restaurants, skyscrapers, or fast-food restaurants. This also shows the opportunity in Belize and where the country is at in the scheme of time. When living or visiting Belize you will quickly notice are no traffic jams and no blizzards. Ambergris Caye is also incredibly safe, for both visiting and investing.

 

Why is Belize Real Estate so Popular?

Living and investing in Belize allows you to stay close to home and quickly get to your investment property. Belize is a short flight from the US or Canada with direct flights from most major airports. Belize is also English-speaking (one of the only English Speaking countries in the region). Along with being English-speaking, Belize also practices British Common Law and allows for full-foreign ownership and some of the strongest property ownership rights in the world.

Belize has also grown in tourism popularity without new lodging inventory. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply is behind the tourism and vacation rental demand.

You can see the tourism growth in Belize from 2014 to 2019 below;

BTB Belize Tourism Board Data

Even though tourism has grown (and continues to grow post-pandemic) the total rooms for lodging have stayed stagnant. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -2% decrease from Q2 to Q3 of 2022. Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). The opportunity for a better lifestyle and a high-yield cash flow property is the driving factors on why Belize real estate has been so popular and continues to be in demand for years to come.

 

Where To Look for Property in Belize

Like anywhere, there are certain areas of Belize that attract more tourists, expatriates, and retirees. There is a reason why the popular areas are popular. Every year, Ambergris Caye and San Pedro are the top tourist and investment destinations. Ambergris Caye provides the best lifestyle and investment upside. As an island, there is a scarcity of property which improves the rate of property appreciation. Ambergris Caye also sees the highest volume of tourists, which increases investment potential and improves infrastructure.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate

Ambergris Caye is an island on the western coast of Belize and on the northern Caribbean side. Ambergris Caye is the most popular tourist destination in Belize. San Pedro is the main municipality on Ambergris Caye and is a well-developed town with all the amenities and infrastructure you could need. San Pedro boasts high-end, luxurious resorts and real estate opportunities for personal use or investment. With its scenic surroundings (with the reef just off the East Coast and sandy West Coast beaches) and lively nightlife, it is easy to see why Ambergris Caye is so popular for tourists and expats and why it is the #1 destination in Belize.

 

Belize Real Estate for Foreign Investment

When it comes to owning off-shore, Belize is one of the only countries in the region with full foreign ownership where foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals (nationals). Belize is one of the few countries in the world that has full foreign ownership and foreigners have the same real estate and land ownership rights as citizens. Other tropical destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico do not allow for full foreign ownership and when purchasing property a foreigner has to take extra steps.

Even with the extra steps, when investing in another off-shore market (like Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, or Honduras) a foreign investor does not physically own the property. If you are investing in a market outside Belize, you can own property, but additional work is required. Other countries in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America make it even more difficult to buy property as a foreigner. This is not the case in Belize where foreigners have the same ownership rights as locals and when a foreigner buys a property they own it outright with a fee-simple title.

In Belize, you can buy property as easily as you buy property in the US or Canada. This is due to Belize sharing the British Common Law system. When you buy Belize real estate you can purchase a residence to live in, a home to rent out, commercial/business properties, industrial buildings, and raw land all as a foreigner.

Belize also offers a lot of investment incentives for foreigners looking to buy and/or invest in Belize. These are further reasons to invest in Belize.

 

Tax Incentives for investing in Belize

There are a lot of benefits when it comes to owning and investing in Belize. Belize is a low-tax jurisdiction. One amazing benefit of buying Belize real estate is the fact that there are no capital gains taxes or estate taxes. If you purchase land, develop it, and then sell it for a profit, or even flip a property for more money you are not obligated to pay any capital gains tax in Belize. You keep all the money. Also, if someone inherits your property or Belize asset, they are not subject to estate tax or inheritance tax.

One of the other major draws of Belize is the fact that property taxes are very low (almost shockingly low). Belize property taxes are affordable and the cost of land/property taxes is next to nothing. The low taxation and cost of ownership are one of the driving reasons so many investors and owners are investing in Belize.

Most property taxes are 1% to 1.5% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually 10-30% of the property’s actual resale value really is. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.

When you compare property taxes in Belize with other countries you will see why so many people are buying and investing in Belize real estate and Belize land.

 

Language & Laws

Belize is English-Speaking and one of the only English-speaking countries in the region. The fact you do not have to learn a new language to live or do business in Belize is very appealing. When owning or investing in Belize you will find that it is very easy for a foreigner to do business in Belize. Having the official language English helps with more than day-to-day communication, it also means that all legal documents are in English as well. This is from Belize’s former history as a British colony, and practice of British Common Law. Having the language and legal system in place makes dealing with contracts and other legal matters much easier.

It is also important to note that the property and real estate contracts in Belize are similar to the real estate contracts in the US, UK, and Canada. There are some cases with corporate tax optimization programs like IBCs. But for the most part, a transfer of ownership and land title certificate is very similar to the US & Canada. When buying real estate in Belize you won’t have trouble understanding the process or the documentation.

 

Affordable Prices

Compared to other Caribbean & Central American real estate markets, Belize is still very affordable. Even though our real estate prices are on the rise, they are still a fraction of what you will find in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, & Panama. The affordability of property and the affordability of lifestyle are major reasons people keep flocking and investing in Belize.

It is important to note that the real estate market in Belize has not stayed stagnant, prices have gone up over the years, but it is still affordable compared to the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, or Mexico. For retirement and vacation homes, Belize is a fraction of the cost of the coastal areas of Florida and California. Belize also does not have the red tape and restrictions on rent controls other markets have in place. When buying land or real estate in Belize it is an amazing deal when compared to other destinations.

The cost of living in Belize is also less expensive than you are likely used to in your domestic market.

 

Government

Belize has a stable government. The Belizean political system is a British Parliamentary Democracy. The democratic system in place makes Belize one of the more stable emerging countries with a democratic government. Belize also has the growing tourism industry which is strongly supported by the local government, which can be seen through the amenities and stronger safety measures. When compared to a lot of the world Belize has a low crime rate and is not subject to riots or terrorism. The crime in Belize is concentrated to a small area of Belize City. The island of Ambergris Caye (the #1 destination in Belize) is very safe.

The government in Belize supports economic growth, foreign investment, and the popular tourism sector. The currency controls in place also prevent corruption on a federal level as we have a pegged currency (2:1 with USD) that is not subject to localized inflation rates.

 

Ways To Own Belize Real Estate

There are a variety of ways to own property and real estate in Belize. Belize has a lot of incentive programs in place to make purchasing real estate easier and remove some of the tax obligations. When buying real estate in Belize you can property in your personal name, a corporation (like and IBC), or a Belize trust. Belize is an excellent choice if you want asset protection.

When you are looking at investing in an offshore market like Belize, there are 4 pillars a person should look for regarding real estate investment;
  1. Capital Protection: How safe is the investment? In Belize, there is full outright ownership. Belize is also pro-landlord and does not recognize squatting rights.
  2. Capital Growth: The appreciation of an asset. Belize is growing, and with growth comes increased demand. Belize is an appreciating market.
  3. Yield (Cash Flow): Can you produce passive income from the property? In Belize, you can rent out a home or condo with ease. You have passive real estate income from vacation rentals.
  4. Favorable Taxation: Belize is a tax haven with no capital gains or estate tax. Property taxes are also low and corporate taxes are 1.75% for international companies and 3% for domestic companies.

Luckily, when you invest in Belize, you are in a position to check all 4 boxes. You also have the added benefit of limited supply and scarcity in a market with growing demand when investing on an island like Ambergris Caye.

 

Buying Belize Real Estate

Hiring a reputable Belize real estate agent can help you navigate the process and find a property that is inline with your needs and/or investment goals. Our team at RE/MAX Belize are here to help answer your questions and aid in your property search. It is important when making a purchase and investment off-shore that you work with a professional real estate office. Also having someone who understands the Belize market that can steer you to the right areas and the best properties.

When buying real estate in Belize it is important to rely on your realtor for your property search. We do not have a standard MLS in Belize, which makes a real estate agents job even more important. Your RE/MAX Belize Real Estate Agent can explain the process to you and expedite the purchase process.

Belize has a lot of advantages and offers owners and investors affordable prices, high rental income, and low taxes. The ease of purchasing real estate in Belize is very similar to the US & Canada but without as much bureaucracy and red tape. Belize is a very easy country to invest in and do business. In Belize the real estate contracts are quite easy and we use English as an official language make Belize an attractive real estate option.

If you are interested in Belize Real Estate and learning more about the Belize market in 2023 contact us!

 

Questions to Ask When Buying Land in Belize

Thinking of Buying Land in Belize?  

The news on Belize is out. The Caribbean & Central American country of Belize has entered the world’s radar and is no longer a “secret.” Since Belize and Ambergris Caye are no longer secrets the Belize real estate market has been attracting a lot of attention from investors and people looking to relocate to a tax-friendly, English-speaking, tropical destination.

Belize is full of opportunities; from residential properties that people intend to use for their own personal use (moving or retirement) to developing investment properties. When investing in Belize and buying land in Belize there’s something for everyone.

If you’ve been considering purchasing property and real estate in Belize, it helps to understand and be knowledgeable about what you can and can’t do. When buying Belize Real Estate or Ambergris Caye Real Estate you ultimately want to consult and work with a real estate professional. Our team at RE/MAX Belize is here to help with your Belize real estate search.

If you are considering buying land in Belize, you will likely have a lot of questions, and hopefully, the answers to a number of these questions will help you get started.

 

Do I Have to be a Citizen or Resident to Purchase Land in Belize?

Unlike other countries in the region (Central America & Caribbean), when buying property or buying land in Belize you do not have to be a citizen or have residency. In Belize, foreigners have the same ownership rights as nationals (citizens). Belize offers full foreign ownership and the strongest property ownership rights (fee-simple title). You do not need to be a citizen or have residency when buying land in Belize.

There are certain requirements and criteria a closing company will request for the property transfer, but it is very easy and straightforward. There are some taxes and fees that do apply. But when you are buying land in Belize, you own the land outright.

The fees and taxes when buying land in Belize often must be paid separately and cannot be bundled into the sale or whatever financing arrangement you’ve made. To reduce the fees and simplify the process, a lot of foreign investors buy Belize property in an IBC.

To get a better idea of how those fees and taxes apply to you, and the property/land you are looking to buy, you should consult with your Belize real estate agent. Different properties (depending on their ownership structure) have different fees and taxes. Working with a Belize real estate professional (with experience) will ensure that you aren’t caught with surprises in the middle of the transaction and end up scrambling for additional money to cover the taxes and closing costs.

 

What Type of Land Can I Buy in Belize?

One of the major draws for foreign investment in Belize is the few restrictions on foreign ownership. Belize does not have limitations on foreign ownership or impose limits on the ability to purchase land that’s zoned for residential or commercial use. Even if you are not a Belizean citizen or resident, you have the ability to purchase land without restrictions or an overly complicated process.

By working with a Remax Belize Real Estate agent, it’s easier to focus the Belize real estate search and find the right property/land in Belize.

When buying land in Belize you want to make sure you know how a given tract of land is zoned and make sure it is surveyed and titled before spending any time trying to acquire it. Some properties may have restrictive covenants in place and zoning limitations (zoned for commercial and residential). People often purchase a property with titling conflicts, because of this we suggest working with a reputable realtor like RE/MAX.

Like anywhere in the world, some properties and pieces of land are set aside for one purpose or the other. Knowing what you can (or can’t) do with a property is important. Some owners/investors want a property or are looking to buy land in Belize without any restrictive covenants. Others are looking for something with some community or development restrictions (like Mahogany Bay) to secure the property value and continuity. Knowing what you want from your property or land in Belize will help narrow down the search.

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.

To learn more about the different types of property ownership in Belize check out our other blog post.

 

Is There Types of Land or Properties That Aren’t For Sale?

There are certain properties and classes of land that are not for sale or cannot be purchased. There are also other properties and types of land that a person can purchase if they meet certain criteria. Some types of land and properties have restrictions. 46% of Belize is National Park or marine reserve. If the land is in a protected area, it cannot be sold or bought (these properties won’t have titles). In Belize, a foreigner can only purchase land that has a title.

In Belize, nature reserves are an example of land that is not for sale. There are some areas and pieces of land in Belize that can be sold, but the purchaser is prohibited from constructing certain types of structures on the property.

Another thing to be aware of, that most foreigners do not realize is the “Queen’s Beach” or “Queen’s Land.” The Queen’s land is another type of land that cannot be sold or purchased (by a citizen or foreigner). The Queen’s land in Belize is also commonly known as Crown Reserves. The first 66 feet from high tide surrounding any major body of water (ocean or sea) is public property and cannot be owned or developed.

All beaches in Belize are public access and the first 66 feet from the high tide is considered public land and public property even if it’s adjacent to private property. All docks are also public property (even if it is adjacent to private property or built by the owner).

While an owner of beachfront property is free to use the first 66 feet from high tide (Queen’s Lan), the use of the land must be open and nonexclusive. A resort or home can install a seawall, beach chairs, etc, but they cannot claim it as “private property.”

In Belize, there is a law regarding the ownership and usage of beaches or land along the coasts. This type of property is known as Queen’s Land. The Queens Land is 66 feet of land at the shore of any large body of water and cannot be purchased or developed. The first 66 feet from the high tide is considered public land, even in the case where it is adjacent to private property.

If you own beachfront land you are not legally able to construct any type of permanent building or structure. An owner of beachfront property is also not allowed to restrict the access of others to the property.

In Belize, even though a property may not have a physical “road” there is still likely a road reserve. Road reserves refer to the land found on each side of a public road. When are area is zoned and titled, there are often road reserves put in place. There are also setbacks from the road reserve that must be met. If you own property or land, you cannot build over the setbacks as there is land set aside for potentially widening the road in the future.

If you own land in Belize or considering buying land in Belize you will likely want to develop the property. If you plan on developing the land and building a fence or wall around it, it is important to make sure you know where the road reserve ends, and your property line begins. This is why we always suggest a property owner has their land resurveyed before the start of construction.

A resurvey will ensure the structure and construction meets the setbacks. If a property is not resurveyed and you build on the land, the day could come when your fence or structure has to come down.

 

Do I Have to be in Belize to Purchase Land?

If you are buying land or property in Belize you do not have to physically be in the country. The entire property purchasing process can be done remotely and without physically being in Belize. When buying land in Belize it is not necessary to be in Belize when you buy property. Everything from sharing information, to signing, and closing can be done remotely.

Much of the work needed to buy land in Belize can be done through your real estate agent and the closing company. At RE/MAX Belize, most of our clients buy property remotely (many of the people we work with buy property or land site unseen). Our team of Belize real estate agents can coordinate the sale with the seller, the closing company, financing/payment processing company (if needed) and even ensure that everything is in order to pay the property taxes.

Using technology and online resources neither the buyer nor the seller of a property needs to be in Belize. The closing and transfer of property can all be done remotely.

It is important to note that current laws do require that a person purchasing property in Belize has a valid passport or form of government ID. When buying land in Belize, be prepared to provide the Closing Company with a photo of your passport and a utility bill. They will likely need proof that you do have identification and that it’s up to date.

It is also assumed that you will want to visit your Belize property at some point and a passport is needed for international travel. An ID or passport is needed for closing and transfer of property (even if a property is in an IBC or corporation).

 

Can I Get Financing For Buying Land in Belize?

In Belize, we do not have the same bank financing or mortgages people are used to in the US or Canada. Traditional bank financing is difficult but there are some Belize real estate opportunities with seller/vendor financing available. Most real estate transactions in Belize are cash sales. But real estate opportunities like Mahogany Bay or Secret Beach have seller financing available.

Some local or international banks will provide financing for purchasing land and/or residential and commercial properties in Belize. However, the banks in Belize have less desirable financing terms than what people are used to in the US or Canada. This is why a lot of people looking to buy land in Belize look for opportunities with seller or vendor financing.

When buying land in Belize, you can add provisions that allow you to work out a purchase agreement with a seller with financing. The terms and financing arrangements can vary. Seller financing options are often a non-recourse loan without credit checks. Seller financing is available on some properties, and it depends on the land and your circumstances. The type of property you want to purchase, and the seller of the property will determine the financing.

For the most part, real estate in Belize is paid for in cash. If you are financing a property, there will be a financing agreement. In a typical owner financing arrangement, the purchaser will provide the seller with the agreed-upon down payment. After the agreement is signed by both parties, and the down payment is made, the seller will provide monthly payments which will be outlined in the agreement of sale until the debt is discharged in full.

When buying a property with financing there’s also likely to be a requirement to pay all property taxes and fees related to the property.

 

With Owner Financing, When Does the Ownership Transfer?

When you buy a property with owner financing, an agreement of sale is drafted and signed by both parties (the buyer and the seller). The agreement will be an agreement of sale with financing terms. Unlike bank financing (where the bank carries the note) with the owner financing model, the seller acts as the bank and carries the note on the property. The owner financing process is also much easier when a property or Belize land is held in a corporate entity like an IBC (International Business Company).

After the agreement of sale with financing is signed by the buyer and the seller and the down payment is made, the owner gets full use and enjoyment of the property, and the new purchaser can build and use the property from the closing or completion date.

One major difference between bank financing (like in the US or Canada) and when you have owner financing with the seller is who holds the physical title to the property during the financing period. With traditional bank financing, the purchaser is the physical owner of record with the bank holding a claim (note) on the property. That claim is released when the mortgage is paid in full to the bank.

With owner or seller financing in Belize, the seller acts as the bank until the final installment payment is made. At that time, the title to the property is transferred to the new purchaser. When a property has owner/seller financing, a mortgage contract is issued with the Central Bank of Belize which protects the buyer and the seller during the financing period.

 

Why Should I Use a Closing Company?

In Belize, a Closing Company handles all the due diligence and transfer of property (including a title search). When buying any property (domestic or off-shore) you want to ensure the process is done correctly. That includes initiating a title search, so you know what you are buying, you also want to ensure that there are no liens or encumbrances on the property. You also want to make sure that the seller is legally able to sell the Belie land.

The property history as well as corporate and IBC registration is also something that the Closing Company will take care of. It is a small fee (often $1,000 or 1% of the purchase price) and something we urge our clients to use. A Closing Company will make sure past transfers of ownership were done properly and that the whole process is done correctly.

You also want the Closing Company to look over the proposed purchase agreement, making sure the information is correct and ensuring it’s in full compliance with the local and governing laws of Belize. A Closing Company is particularly important if you are choosing to finance a property with the seller because a payment processing company is often needed.

At ReMax Belize, we use Capital Corporate Services as our closing company for our clients. It is also common in Belize for a closing company to use an Escrow Agent and/or Escrow Account. This helps to protect the buyer and the seller during the real estate transaction. Since most real estate transactions in Belize are done in USD it is common for the Escrow Account to be in the US and with a US Bank.

 

Buying Land in Belize

The most important thing to know when buying land in Belize or purchasing Belize property is that you can own property in Belize outright with a fee simple land title. Belize has full foreign ownership. Even with the favorable laws and easy process, it is important to do it the right way. That is why our team at RE/MAX Belize is here to help. When you work with RE/MAX Belize you have a team of professionals to ensure nothing is left undone and that you understand what sort of commitment you’re taking on (purchasing with cash or financing). With the right approach and process, everything will be seamless and you will own your own piece of paradise!

For more information on Belize Land and buying land in Belize, contact us.