Buying character is always a stressful course of action and can be already more so when purchasing in a foreign country. However, Belize is part of the British Commonwealth with a legal system that shares the same British shared law as does Canada and the United States. However, there are five basic things that every buyer must know before they begin that course of action of buying their dream character in Belize:
- A foreigner can own character outright in Belize and has the same rights as a Belizean citizen to freehold character ownership. Since the Alien Landholding Act was abolished in 2001 there are no licenses, permits, special permissions or conditions needed for a foreigner to take title to freehold land in Belize.
- It is always advisable to have specialized legal advice when purchasing character although you will often be told the opposite. There are experienced and reputable paralegals who will be familiar with the title history of local similarities and they can often finalize a buy. However, there can be important issues concerning how best to take title which can impact your closing costs and potentially impact how you sell your character. Don’t take any risks, acquire qualified local, legal representation.
- Title insurance is very common in the US and increasingly so in Canada but is not so shared in Belize. However, Belize is one of the few Central American countries that in fact does offer title insurance by one of the major American providers, Stewart Title. It is important to observe that the Government of Belize guarantees most Belizean titles while your local lawyer can provide a title opinion which makes character buy as obtain regarding your title as in the USA and Canada
- Closing costs in Belize are very straight forward. Since there is no capital gains tax associated with the buy and sale of real estate, the Government assesses a 5% stamp tax on the declared buy price of the character at the time of move of title. However, there is an additional tax of 5% for foreigners and persons who have resided in Belize for less than 3 years. It is important to fully review and understand your options prior to completing the sale to insure you take title to your Belizean character that best serves your particular circumstances. Closing fees to your lawyer or paralegal should be budgeted at a minimum of $500 – $1500.
- Local financing, although obtainable, would not be a recommended course of action. The majority of foreign character transactions is either cash or otherwise financed offshore. Belizean interest rates are typically much higher than you will be used to in your home markets with fixed terms of only twelve months and only issued in Belizean dollars. At the end of every year the loan is closed out and then renewed at the current interest rate. A more reasonable different may be to borrow by an offshore banking institution and, as always, specialized advice is very important.
shared sense needs to prevail when contemplating buying character in any foreign jurisdiction and that should begin by retaining an advisor who is on your side and not compromised by acting for the seller in addition. Begin by following the above five factors and you will go a long way to making this an exciting and joyful experience.