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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a non-Belizean own property outright in Belize?

Yes

How are Belize properties titled?

There are many ways to take title, the usual (and in order of assurance) are:

  • The registered land title
  • Transfer certificate of title
  • First certificate of title
  • Deed of conveyance

What is a condominium/strata title?

This is a subset of the registered land title system.  It applies only to self contained units usually of at least 2 units or more.  The developer applies for this type before selling and the owner's association is created known as a "strata corporation".  These also attract "common area" rights.

How do I ensure the property that I want to buy has clear title?

A root of title search is always recommended.  This is to vet the lands register for charges, reservations, encumbrances and liens.  It is incomplete if a court search is not also undertaken and if it is not reviewed in light of possible equitable interests such as a spouse not on title or inheritance anticipatory gifts.

Can I take title to my property under an entity other than myself?

Yes.

Can North American Government investigate my investment activities in Belize?

Belize is an offshore nation that does not have a tax treaty with the USA or Canada. Belize has modern offshore banking legislation, including a tough ant-money laundering act which is designed to repel illicit monies and persons from using our offshore protectionism.

However, if there is evidence that a person or entity is involved in criminal activities and or money laundering, the Belizean Government will co-operate with these countries.

Can I get Title Insurance?

Yes, Stewart Title out of Texas and First American Title has issued policies.  Belize is the only country that we know of, where an A+ American title company has felt comfortable enough with the security of a Central American nation to guarantee title.

What are typical closing costs?

5% of stamp tax on the assessed value above US$10,000.00.

Legal fees typically 2% of the purchase price. 

It is customary that the purchaser pays for all closing costs under Belize transactions.  There are additonal fees in the case of Certificate of Title.

Do I have to retain an attorney to purchase property?

It is recommended that the buyer ensures that a reputable broker is transacting the sale.

Are most properties sold in US Dollars?

It is customary that the properties are listed and marketed in US$.

Is local financing available?

Yes, however interest rates range between 12-14% with fixed terms of only 12 months.

What are the procedures for seller financing and how am I protected?

  1. In some instances, the seller financing your purchase would be a North American Developer or landowner.
  2. An Agreement for Sale or Memorandum of sale is a valid and binding contract under Belize law that vests the purchaser with an equitable interest in the property concerned.
  3. This agreement should be registered or recorded at the Land Registry. This constitutes notice of the purchaser's interest as "Equitable Estate".
  4. The "Legal Estate" does not pass to the purchaser at this point but the registered Agreement or Memorandum acts as a lien and security for such title being eventually transferred.
  5. The titleholder can no longer enter into any other contract on the property or mortgage the property.
  6. Legal Estate will be passed at such time when the purchaser satisfies all conditions of the agreement which is when full payment has been made to the seller.
  7. When an Agreement or Memorandum is associated with property falling under the New Registration Act, an additional document called a "Caution" is lodged in the property's register to act as a similar lien in the Registered Lands Department.
  8. The Agreement or Memorandum must state that 5% stamp duty is payable on the sale, otherwise it may not be valid or enforceable.

What is the process for purchasing a property in Belize?

  1. Research and use a reputable broker, AREBB offers a list of Brokers.
  2. Once confirmed with a broker and a property is chosen, the agent will draw up a contract to purchase which must be secured with a deposit.
  3. A typical closing normally takes place between 30 to 60 days.

Are there escrow companies in Belize?

No, there are no independent escrow services available in Belize.  Typically a bank, an attorney or your real estate broker will offer monetary and documentary escrow services for real estate transactions.  The costs vary between free and up to 1% of the value.

Should I involve my US attorney in purchasing property in Belize?

No.

USA property law is significantly different from British property law.

Can I open a bank account if I am not a resident?

Yes, it is relatively simple to open a Belize dollar account with any of our local banks.  You will need:

  • Your US bank reference letter.
  • Copy of passport of each individual or director of a company.
  • Confirmation of address, or the address of your company registered office.

You can also open a US$ account through one of our Belizean offshore banks. 

Do I have to be in Belize to buy or sell property?

No, you don't need to be in Belize. However, it is advisable to view your property.

The golden rule, when buying or selling land, use a reputable AREBB broker who will act as your agent.

What are the property taxes in Belize?

Property taxes are very affordable.  Rates vary based on a classified system with the main variables being consideration of urban or city.

What about property insurance?

Comprehensive all perils (including Hurricane) insurance is available here on buildings and structures through local insurance companies who are re-insured through US and European carriers. Rates run from 1.5% for concrete structures to 2.5% for wooden structures. Deductibles are normally 5% of the sum insured on storms and less for fire.

Are squatters a concern in Belize?

No, Belize has a tough anti-squatting laws unlike other Central American countries.

One can only claim title to a land or easement upon proof to the Supreme Court of Belize that one has had continuous and undisturbed possession for 30 years on National and Conveyed lands and 12 years on Registered lands.