How to Buy Real Estate in Belize

The Majestic Jabiru Stork, Belize’s National Bird, at Sapodilla Lagoon in July 07
By David Gobeil
This article assumes you have already found the perfect property in Belize and are ready to fork over your hard earned cash and collect the land-title or deed.

If you would like some pointers on how to FIND your perfect slice of paradise in Belize, then please read THIS.

Okay so you’ve searched high and low, driven miles over back breaking, pot-hole filled gravel roads and now you’ve decided to buy a piece of property in Belize.

Great! Now what?

Actually, the process of buying property in Belize is not that much different from buying in Canada or the United States. (sorry for you readers from OTHER countries…. I can only comment on where I have experience!)

First, you need to present the seller with a formal OFFER TO PURCHASE.

This important document should be provided by your real estate agent and should include the

  • 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.

Then, the 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 Belizean 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 any neccessary Title or Deed searches to uncover any hidden encumberances 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.

There are three types of land property title registrations currently used in Belize.

There is the Conveyance system, the Certificate of Title (otherwise known as the Torrens system) and the Registered Land Act system.

Different parts of the country use different systems, but the Government of Belize has been converting all propeties in the country to the Registered Land Act system, area by area.

All three systems provide the owner with proof of ownership, with the Conveyence system providing a Deed and the Registered Land Act system and Certificate of Title (Torrens) systems providing Certificates of Title.

Although it is an excellent idea to convert all properties in Belize to the Registered Lands Act system, this may result in a slight delay in processing your new Certificate of Title.

That’s because there’s currently a backlog at the lands office in Belmopan.

But keep in mind that the new system guarantees the land exists and the title is YOURS, so it’s worth the wait!

Now all you have to do is pay the stamp duty, also known as a 5% land transfer tax. This is payable on any land transactions valued at over $20,000 Belize dollars. Usually this is paid by the buyer, but in any case it will be stipulated in the Offer to Purchase.

Lawyer’s fees for real estate transactions in Belize generally range between one per cent and three per cent.

And that’s it!

Copyright 2007 By David Gobeil