Thanks to a system based on British Common Law, Belizean law places almost no restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate. As a result, buying property in Belize is far easier than it is in many other countries.
Like many other countries in the area, however, Belize also places few restrictions on real estate agents. In fact, anyone can call him- or herself a real estate agent in Belize as long as the company adheres to laws that regulate businesses in general. While the majority of real estate agents are above board, anyone buying property in Belize should be careful not to let the prospect of a good deal cloud his or her judgment. In practical terms, this means acting on the advice of professionals whose job it is to spot problems. In Belize, these problems can arise because property costs a fraction of what it usually does in the U.S. No matter how good a deal looks, however, don’t forget the precautions that would come naturally at home. If you follow the straightforward guidelines below, you can prevent almost all problems connected with buying and owning your very own piece of Belize:
- Don’t hand over any money without first retaining a reputable lawyer to review the contract
- Don’t buy into grandiose schemes for future development
- Don’t buy property without title insurance.
Before you buy, it’s wise to arrange for a home inspection and, when applicable, to hire a surveyor to check property boundaries. If a mortgage is involved, the bank will have the property appraised, but keep in mind that appraisals are for the bank’s interest and don’t always reflect the market value of the property.
Don’t delay in making an offer once you find property that you want to buy. The market in Belize is simply too robust to wait. With the help of your real estate agent and attorney, prepare an Offer of Purchase to present to the property owner. It should include your name, the name of the seller, the property’s legal description, the purchase price you’re offering and the terms of the deal. You submit this with a deposit—usually 10%. Most real estate offices have a standard form they use for this. At this point, an attorney can research the title and take care of the paperwork needed to complete the sale, including registering your title to the property. (Again, the earlier you engage an attorney, the better. You should not use the same attorney as the seller.)
Source: International Living