Buying Property in Belize
Buying Property in Belize is usually an easy process, but there can be some complications.
So, you’ve found the property of your dreams in paradise, but you’re not sure about the next steps?
I’ve been selling property in the Belize Real Estate industry through RE/MAX for the past 12 years, so my knowledge and experience are extensive.
Buying property is usually a unique and lengthy process with tons of paperwork, and it is pretty much the same in Belize. However, the paperwork may be less, and there are a few things you should pay extra attention to.
1. Making an Offer
This can be done verbally or in writing via your trusted real estate agent or through a lawyer. An offer to purchase will outline your desired purchase price and any conditions (e.g. quick closing within 45 days).
2. Sales and Purchase Agreement
Once you and the seller have agreed on a price, your real estate agent or lawyer will draft a Sales Agreement for both of you to sign. This agreement is a legally binding contract and will outline how the buyer’s payments will be made, who is responsible for closing costs, default clauses, possession of property etc.
3. Earnest Money / Non-Refundable Deposit
As soon as the Sales Agreement is signed, the buyer typically has 5 -7 days to make an earnest deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price, to the escrow account outlined in the Sales Agreement. Some reputable Belize real estate companies like RE/MAX have their own escrow account. If your real estate agent does not have an escrow account, I strongly advise that you use a lawyer’s or third party escrow account.
4. Closing Agent or Lawyer
A closing agent will carry out the same work as a lawyer would but at a much lower, flat rate. Over 85% of my clients choose to work with the closing agent. Both are responsible for title search, preparing the transfer documents, filing the legal documents and continuous follow-up until your title is ready.
5. Title Search
The buyer is usually responsible for paying the closing cost, including the closing agent or lawyer fees. You will be given the option to use either. The title search process includes checking the Government’s records for any encumbrances, liens, court orders, mortgages etc., that may be on the title. Once the title search is completed, and the property is free and clear, you can proceed with the closing.
5. Closing and Possession of Property
Unless you are buying property via owner-financing, the purchase price balance is due immediately following the title search or 15 days before the closing date. Once the escrow confirms receipt of the balance, the transfer documents are issued and will need to be signed and witnessed by a Notary Public. If you are not in the country, the documents will be circulated via FedEx. Upon receipt of the fully executed documents by both the sellers and buyers, the closing agent will submit the documents to the Government of Belize Land’s Department. The stamp duty will be paid, and upon proof of receipt that the Land’s department has successfully accepted the documents, the seller’s funds will be released, and the sale is be marked as closed. The buyers will then be able to take legal possession of the property.
6. Legal Possession and Title in Your Name(s)
Once the transfer documents have been accepted by the Land’s Department and the seller has been paid, you will be able to take legal possession of the property you’ve just bought. If you are purchasing a home, ensure that you have the property authorization to transfer utilities into your name. As a commonsense practice, be sure to change the gate and any main locks.
Buying property in Belize is not a complicated process. However, working with a reputable real estate agent with a well-known company, such as RE/MAX, is highly recommended. There are no licensing of real estate agents in Belize, so anyone can sell you real estate. Do your research and feel free to contact me with any questions you have – I am here to help!