Belize Real Estate Overview
Purchasing Belize real estate is very simple and extremely secure. The extensive documents that are common with a property purchase in the USA, Canada and/ or Europe are thankfully not part of the buying process here. There are no barriers to foreign investment and, as a member of the British Commonwealth, Belize has a legal system based on British law and is the only English speaking country in Central America. Understanding your documents will be much easier than in other countries in Central America. Title is fee simple absolute title so is extremely secure. Title insurance is available yet rarely utilized. Foreigners have the same property rights in Belize, as do local citizens. Foreigners can own beachfront property in Belize. In addition, Belize has no capital gains or inheritance taxes and a growing private offshore banking sector. Corporate income taxes are also quite low and can be as low as 1.75% of gross sales! Property taxes are extremely low (normally below $US 100 annually) so holding costs are very low. All real estate transactions are funded with US dollars with a few exceptions (this provides extra protection to the owner since your asset can not lose value due to a currency devaluation as is possible in other countries). Furthermore the Belize dollar is fixed to the US dollar 2 to 1 so to offer additional security since currency devaluation is very unlikely. Owning Belize real estate can be a very rewarding experience.
Belize Real Estate Agents
Belize Real estate agents are not licensed because we do not have a governing association with any set rules and regulations. This means that most agents in Belize have never received any formal training much less follow an obligated code of ethics and standards. In reality, ANYBODY can advertise himself or herself as a Belize real estate agent. Steps, however, are being put in place to legislate an association to implement set rules and regulations for the Real Estate Industry. Boris Mannsfeld & Associates takes the extra steps to assure that an exceptionally high level of ethics, professionalism and expertise is utilized with all clients. Boris Mannsfeld developed, bought and sold real estate in Colorado for 12+ years before moving to Belize. He earned his real estate license in Colorado in 1998 and continues to be a license agent while operating in Belize. Boris has to undergo continuing education in the USA to maintain his license and is legally bound by all rules and regulations set by the Colorado Real Estate Board; if he screws up he can have his license revoked in the USA! Boris Mannsfeld & Associates is also a member of the Association of Real Estate Agents in Belize (AREBB). We suggest that all buyers and sellers of property in Belize check with the agents that you may be working with and ask for some referrals to make sure you will be receiving professional service. Make sure you review all your real estate documents on your own before transferring any funds. Do your homework. The real estate market in Belize is very safe, yet, like anywhere in the world these days, screwballs exist waiting to take advantage of people.
Most people pay cash for Belize real estate. Some foreigners will tap into a home equity line of credit if needed. Foreign banks will not lend for a purchase of real estate in Belize (if you locate one then please let us know!). Occasionally owner financing is available yet it is not common.
A handful of well-established local banks (some are international) in Belize will provide you a mortgage for a purchase. In general they will lend 65-70% “Loan to Value” with 15-20 year terms. Finance is available in Canadian Dollars, US Dollars, British Sterling or Euros. Your Interest rates are linked to the US LIBOR rate, which provides some stability from wild fluctuation swings. Currently the interest rates are 10.5% annually (the banks add quite a few points to the LIBOR rate!). Boris Mannsfeld & Associates has very good contacts with the Belize banks so let us know if you need some assistance.
Belize is considered a Tax Haven and offers a very well established offshore banking and corporate system. One can easily setup an IBC (International Business Company) for around $US 1,000. Boris Mannsfeld & Associates can recommend a very professional firm that we have been working with for years to create such offshore corporations. You can also setup an offshore US dollar account that will be utilized by your new company. Experts regularly state that one of the most important questions to ask when selecting a tax haven is “Does the haven respect privacy?” Strong privacy laws are a must in any haven that you consider. Under what circumstances can creditors or the government obtain information about your wealth, or even seize it?” Belize, unlike Switzerland, still protects the privacy of the owners of offshore accounts. One can take title of property in Belize under such an IBC and then ownership will be recorded under the company name. The name of the directors (owners) will only be known by the attorney who created your company and who also acts as your agent. Such offshore companies are a legal way to protect and manage you assets. Contact Boris Mnansfeld & Associates for contact information for the best firm in Belize for creating your IBC. We are happy to speak with you regarding any questions about Belize real estate.