The idea of buying property in a foreign country like Belize can be very daunting and confusing.
The first step involves finding a reputable real estate agent in Belize. It’s best to ask for testimonials from other clients or referrals to ensure the agent is competent and trustworthy. Then, after the agent has helped you find a property you’d like to purchase, the next step involves presenting the seller with a formal OFFER TO PURCHASE.
This important document should be provided by your Belize real estate agent and should include the following:
* Purchaser’s name and address
* Vendor’s name and address
* The LEGAL DESCRIPTION of the Property, eg. Lot # 56 blah blah blah.
* The purchase price offered.
* Any other terms of the offer. All terms of the sale will have been written into the offer by the real estate agent, such as time frames for closing, etc.
* The purchaser must sign the Offer to Purchase and provide a deposit.
Your Belize real estate agent will present the formal Offer to Purchase to the seller. The seller may accept the offer or respond with a counter-offer. If the seller accepts then he will sign and execute the offer.
At this point you should usually retain the services of a Belize Attorney to supervise consummation of the deal.
The lawyer’s job is primarily to ensure the property title is “good and marketable”. He should do all necessary Title or Deed searches to uncover any hidden encumbrances which may be present on the Title or Deed. Also, he should check the “plan of survey” to verify the location and dimensions of the property. Lawyer’s fees for real estate transactions in Belize generally range between one per cent and three per cent.
Check the yellow pages or ask your Belize real estate agent for a list of reputable attorneys if you need recommendations.
A huge point of confusion for many foreigners is the fact there are three legal types of land title registrations currently used in Belize.
* There is the Minister’s Fiat Grant, or “Conveyance system”, which provides buyers with a “Deed of Conveyance”.
* There is the Certificate of Title system (also known as the Torrens system) which provides buyers with the old style “Certificate of Title”.
* There is the new Registered Lands Act system, which provides the buyer with a new style “Certificate of Title” which adheres to the recently passed Registered Lands Act.
Different parts of the country use different systems, but the Government of Belize has been converting all properties in the country to the new Registered Land Act system, area by area. All three systems provide the owner with indisputable, legal proof of ownership for their Belize real estate,
Once the property is shown to be “Free and Clear and Marketable” by the lawyer, the buyer would then transfer the funds for purchase to an escrow account in Belize. This is usually done by direct wire transfer from your bank in the U.S. or Canada.
The final steps of the purchase process involve paying the stamp duty, also known as a 5 per cent land transfer tax. The stamp duty is payable on any Belize real estate transactions valued at over $20,000 Belize dollars. Usually the stamp duty is paid by the buyer and will be stipulated in the Offer to Purchase.
The funds for purchase are then transferred to the seller. The land transfer documents are signed by the seller, and then filed or “Lodged” with the Land Registry department in the capital city of Belmopan. Once the documents are filed at the Land Registry Department the land then becomes the property of the buyer.
And that’s it, now you can enjoy your newly purchased Belize Real Estate!