Buying a house in Belize
How difficult is the property purchase process in Belize?
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property.
The first step to purchasing property in Belize is to hire an agent and a lawyer. It is very important to have legal representation because there is no regulation on the real estate industry in Belize. Agents are not required to have any certification or license. Moreover, real estate agents in Belize are not required by law to disclose valuable information about the property.
Be aware of Deed Restrictions. These are intrinsic to the property title, which means, while there are no restrictions mandated by law, there are restrictions that go with the property owners rights and obligations. These restrictions outline how the property can be used. The lawyer can be helpful in making sure the Deed Restrictions of a title are legal. Also, it is important to ascertain the propertys zoning. This specifies how high the dwelling/building must be, how many rooms it can contain, etc.
Once a property has been chosen, negotiate. Upon reaching an agreement, a 10% deposit must be paid, which takes the property off the market. It is the duty of the lawyer to ensure that a title for the property actually exists since there are unregistered properties in Belize.
The lawyer is responsible for performing due diligence. It is typical for the buyer and seller to have separate lawyers.
The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property lawyers fees, notaries fees, registration fees, taxes, agents fees, etc.
Belize uses the Belize Dollar (BZD) which is pegged to the US Dollar at USD at USD1 = BZD2. Property value is USD250, 000 or BZD500, 000.
Since June 2006, Stamp Duty on transfer of land (or any real estate) has been set at 5% of property value regardless of citizenship. Before, aliens pay a higher rate for stamp duty. The first BZD20, 000 (US$10, 100) of value is not subject to stamp duty.
The use of lawyers for property sale and purchase is optional. Legal fees are negotiable between 1% and 2% of property value.
General Sales Tax:
A 10% General Sales Tax is imposed on sales of new residential properties.
Real Estate Agent´s Fee:
Real estate agents fee is typically 6% to 7% for homes and 10% on land. The commission is typically paid by the seller but can be split between buyer and seller depending upon negotiation.
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