Buying property in China? Our guide covers legal, financial, and cultural aspects. Explore tips and insights for a successful real estate investment.
Considering buying property in Belize?
Buying a house in Belize might mean a smart investment, a dream vacation property or the opportunity to start over as an expat. Because foreigners can buy property freely in Belize, more and more Americans have been tempted to investigate and maybe make the leap into owning property in Belize.
If you’re wondering if buying in Belize is right for you, use this guide to start your research. We’ll cover what to look out for — and also introduce Wise as a way to save money when sending money to Belize.
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Buying a property in Belize can be a dream — but there are risks to be aware of. Here are some common issues.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had to take action in 2018 to shut down a large Belize real estate scam¹. This scam alone cost customers a scary 100 million USD and extended to multiple real estate developments and lots. While scams on this scale are mercifully rare, being on your guard is a given.
Hurricanes are a particular issue in Belize — make sure you understand the risks in the location you’re looking at. And take them into account when you’re surveying the property for its build standards.
Getting checks done to make sure a property you buy is in sound condition is important anywhere. But doing so when you’re buying overseas, where construction standards may not match those in the US is essential.
Another form of scam that can target foreigners buying Belize real estate related to the titles involved. If you fall victim you may end up handing over money to someone who doesn’t even own the property or lot you’re buying — and not realise until the fraudster is long gone.
Get due diligence checks done to make sure the property you’re interested in can be legally sold.
An escrow company of course should be a neutral entity that acts as a liaison between the seller and the buyer as your property deal closes. But Belize doesn’t license official escrow companies, meaning you could end up with a bad company or a fraudulent agent.
Choose an established law firm to support your purchase to make sure you don’t lose out. Get recommendations before you select the services and professional support teams you need when buying a home in Belize.
Finally — if you’re not going to be resident year round in your Belize property you’ll need to take steps to look after it, even when you’re not there. Having measures in place to prevent squatting, damage or vandalism — as well as theft — will prevent a lot of heartache.
The most important things people need in order to buy real estate in Belize are not things at all. They’re usually people.
Getting a Belize real estate attorney and a Belize real estate agent will mean you pay a fee — but it’ll also mean you get good local advice, and can avoid some common pitfalls.
There are plenty of US expats living and working in Belize who can help as experienced real estate agents and attorneys. Pick your support team through customer recommendations to make sure you get help from professionals who are really established in the Belize real estate market.
Property costs in Belize vary enormously by location, reflecting the popularity of different cities and towns among both local and expat residents. Popular tourist destinations are among the most expensive places available to buy property in Belize — but you can certainly find cheaper deals if you’re prepared to shop around or pick an up and coming location.
Here are some average property costs for key locations in Belize — taken from Numbeo, using live data from users:
|Belize location||Average price per square meter — city centre||Average price per square meter — outside city centre|
|Belize City²||801.22 USD||945.61 USD|
|Ambergris Caye³||1,399.31 USD||1,184.03 USD|
|Corozal⁴||2,960.08 USD||5,381.96 USD|
Note: prices correct at time of research, 10 November 2021
When you’re budgeting for your property purchase you’ll also need to factor in legal and closing costs which need to be paid by the purchaser.
|Wondering what day-to-day costs in Belize look like? Check this handy guide on the cost of living in Belize|
If you live an international lifestyle you could be better off with a Wise international account.
Open a Wise account online for free, to hold and manage 50+ currencies, and send payments to 80+ countries. All currency conversion uses the real mid-market exchange rate with no markups and no hidden fees. That can mean you save significantly compared to using your regular bank for international payments and spending.
As with anywhere in the world, the tax you’ll pay depends on a range of factors. Your residence status and the location and type of property you have can make a difference when it comes to property tax in Belize.
Usually you’ll pay a stamp duty tax of 10% when you buy property, and there’s a land tax on purchases of undeveloped land too.
Property tax can also depend on the location of your home in Belize, and also whether it’s occupied. As an example⁵:
You may be able to get a property loan locally in Belize, or take an offshore loan. However, individual banks and mortgage companies will set their own eligibility policies for mortgage products which will vary depending on the value of the property, your income and assets, whether you’re resident and a range of other factors.
Buying real estate in Belize can be both a solid investment and a dream place to live and vacation. But there are risks involved so you’ll do well to get established professionals on side to help.
Use this guide to help you avoid some common issues. And don’t forget — you could also save on the costs of currency conversion when you live, work or travel abroad, with a Wise international account.
|💡 Further reading: is it safe to visit Belize?|
- FTC - Belize real estate
- Numbeo - Cost of living in Belize City
- Numbeo - Cost of living in Ambergris Caye
- Numbeo - Cost of living in Corozal
- Global Property Guide - Belize taxes and costs
Sources checked on 11.11.2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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