The Insider's Guide to Buying Property in Belize
Overview - The Belize Real Estate Market
Bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south, Belize is a nature lover’s paradise and a diver’s dream.
The country, which is the only English-speaking country in Central America, has a long Caribbean Sea coastline fringed with white and golden sand beaches. Lush, old-growth rainforest hides the ruins of ancient Mayan temples waiting to be explored, while offshore lies the second largest barrier reef in the world.
The unique mix of beach, jungle and reef has attracted visitors from around the world in record numbers.
Intoxicating tropical allure, combined with attractive property prices, tax incentives for retirees and ease of access via direct flights from North America, has made Belize one of the hottest real estate investment locations in the region.
Demand is consistently high for condos and houses set along the country’s beaches and lagoons in sought-after locations including Ambergris Caye and the Placencia Peninsula, as well as private islands close to the Belize Barrier Reef.
Like nearby Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the Central American country is an emerging property investment location with great potential and, for the time being, prices remain very attractive. Real estate in Belize can be snapped up for a fraction of the price of more mature markets in the region.
“Intoxicating tropical allure, combined with attractive property prices, tax incentives for retirees and ease of access via direct flights from North America, has made Belize one of the hottest real estate investment locations in the region. “
Fast-growing real estate market driven by a flourishing tourism sector which attracted a record 503,177 overnight visitors in 2019 – a 2.8% increase on the previous year.
Breathtakingly beautiful landscape with lush rainforest peppered with fascinating Mayan architectural ruins, long Caribbean beaches and hundreds of tiny islands ringed by the world’s second-longest barrier reef.
Inviting retirement program offering full-time residency and exemption from all taxes in Belize.
Ideal location within easy reach of North America, making Belize a convenient gateway to the rest of Central America and the Caribbean.
Attractive tax environment with no capital gains tax – if you purchase a property that appreciates in value over time, there is no tax to pay on the profit when you come to sell it on.
The only English-speaking country in Central America.
Fantastic lifestyle with low cost of living and a quiet, relaxed lifestyle in one of the world’s most beautiful locations.
Buying Process, Fees & Taxes
- Can foreigners buy property in Belize?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in Belize and the Government of Belize welcomes investment from overseas buyers. There are no restrictions on foreign buyers acquiring real estate in Belize and foreign buyers enjoy the same rights as Belizean citizens, including the right to purchase beachfront land. Unlike in many other Caribbean and Central American countries, foreign buyers are not required to obtain any kind of license or permit in order to purchase real estate in Belize.
Property can be purchased in the name of an individual or corporation.
- Buying process
Buying property in Belize is a relatively simple process, which typically involves the following steps:
- Begin your property search.
- Once you have found your perfect property, a written offer should be signed and submitted to the seller.
- Upon acceptance of the offer by the seller, the buyer will typically be required to make payment of a 20% deposit which will be held in an escrow account.
- Acceptance by both buyer and seller constitutes a legally binding agreement between the two parties.
- The next step is for due diligence to be undertaken, including a title search which is a legal requirement in Belize. The title search ensures there are no liens or encumbrances on the property and that no taxes are owed. We would advise you to engage the service of a local attorney or closing company to assist with this process. These closing costs are normally born entirely by the buyer.
- Once due diligence has been completed, an Agreement for Sale and title transfer documents will be drawn up and signed by both parties in the presence of a Notary Public.
- Thereafter the buyer will be required to transfer the balance of the purchase price into the escrow account.
- The next step is for the transfer documents to be executed and copies deposited at the Land Registry.
- The Land Registry will prepare new title documents and you will be provided with a copy.
- Fees & taxes
The buyer is required to pay a Transfer Tax (“Stamp Duty”) on the real estate transaction at the time of closing.
Stamp Duty is applied at the rate of 5% of the value of the property.
The first US $10,000 is exempt and the value of any furnishings which may have been included in the purchase are excluded.
Property taxes are relatively low in Belize. The taxes are based on the land value rather than any improvements (e.g. the home) and are typically calculated at the rate of 1% to 1.5% of the assessed land value. Land assessments are usually 10% to 40% of the market value.
Property taxes are levied annually in advance and can be paid by mail or in person at the Lands Department in Belmopan.
Latest Real Estate Listings in Belize
Residency & Citizenship
- How long can a foreign citizen stay in Belize?
Citizens of the USA, Canada, EU and the UK may generally stay in Belize on holiday for up to 30 days without a visa.
Individuals wishing to stay longer than 30 days in Belize must apply for a visa from local Immigration offices. Visas are issued in one-month increments, for which there is a fee of $25 for every 30-day period.
- How do you become a resident of Belize?
An individual can apply for permanent residence after having lived in Belize legally for a period of 1 year.
Belize also operates a Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) Program offering residency and exemption from tax on all income earned from outside Belize.
To retire in Belize participants must be aged over 45 with a non-Belizean based monthly income of more than $2,000 USD.
- How do you become a citizen of Belize?
If you have lived in Belize legally as a permanent resident for 5 years you can apply for citizenship by naturalization.
Mortgages in Belize
Looking for financing to fund the purchase of property in the Caribbean?
Contrary to popular misconception, it is possible for foreign nationals looking to invest in Belize real estate to apply for a mortgage.
Our partner – a very well respected international financial organization – offers mortgages for qualifying non-residents buying, building or improving a second home in Belize.
For more information, see our page on: Caribbean mortgages.
How to Get There
There are direct flights to Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport from various cities in the USA, Mexico and Central America.
Philip Goldson International Airport is located just outside Belize City on the eastern coast of the country not far from Ambergris Caye.
From the USA, American operates flights from Dallas Fort Worth and Miami. United flies from Houston, Delta Air Lines from Atlanta and Los Angeles and US Airways from Charlotte.
There are also regular flights from Mexico and Central America, including Cancun, Guatemala City and San José.
- Los Angeles to Belize 6h 30m
- Charlotte to Belize 5h 25m
- Houston to Belize 2h 30m
- Miami to Belize 2h 10m
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