Just as with any investment, there are risks when buying property in Belize. To cut to the chase, you really shouldn’t buy property in the country. Find out why in this article.
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Foreign nationals have the freedom to buy property in Belize, even without stepping foot in the country. There is also no capital gains tax, while property taxes will not take too much out of your budget. Not only that, prices for real estate are relatively cheaper in comparison to Costa Rica, Mexico, and certain areas of Florida. Though this situation may sound tempting, there is more than what meets the eye. There are different reasons why buying property in Belize is not the best investment there is.
Reasons Why Buying Property in Belize Isn’t a Good Idea
1. The construction standards in Belize may not be at par with what you’re used to.
Evaluating a property in terms of how it was built is applicable wherever you are in the world. However, this becomes even more important when buying one outside of your place of residence, especially if you come from a developed country. You would need the prudence and right informants to exactly know how the property came to be, without being told just flowery words. This is because government regulatory procedures may not always be strictly implemented. As such, construction companies have leeway to skip a few standards.
2. Real estate agents in Belize do not need to obtain a license to practice their profession.
Real estate agents in Belize do not have to undergo the rigorous training and licensing requirements that are established in other countries. Because of this, anyone and everyone can simply list a property to sell. For foreign buyers, this means that they are at a high risk of transacting with someone not knowledgeable about the field.
At the same time, real estate agents in the country are not legally mandated to provide relevant information about the property. Sellers can leave out important details without facing any consequences under the law. The burden then gets transferred to the buyer, who unknowingly invested in a property that they wouldn’t have if only they had the proper information.
Furthermore, foreign buyers may be tricked into getting a title to a property that doesn’t even exist in the first place. There are other possibilities where the person who sold the property isn’t the rightful owner or there are fine details that go unnoticed.
3. There are no official licensed escrow companies in Belize.
An escrow company is a neutral third party that holds payments and documents relevant to the transaction. It is only when all agreements have been fulfilled that the money and title will be released to the concerned parties. This offers protection for buyers since it ensures that all terms and conditions are met before the transaction is completed.
Since there are no licensed companies for such services, you can fall victim to fraudulent or substandard agents. This necessitates hiring a trustworthy and competent real estate attorney to protect your interests. At the same time, they will be responsible for fleshing out the details of the transaction and making sure that they abide by the law.
4. Your property may crumble under the force of natural disasters.
The months from June to November are considered the hurricane season in the country. This increases the vulnerability of the property, especially if it is not constructed well. Historically, many residential and non-residential properties have been ravaged by hurricanes.
Earthquakes are less of a risk in Belize. However, they could still be affected when such movements occur in nearby countries.
5. Living conditions in Belize are less than ideal.
Belize belongs to the list of countries with a high murder rate per capita worldwide. In 2021, it ranked 7th in this regard. Other than that, violent crimes and physical assaults are concerns that keep expat residents looking over their shoulders. This is relevant even in broad daylight. Should anyone end up in this unfortunate situation, the local police aren’t too dependable. Because of insufficient resources and training, many crimes do not undergo due process.
There are also political demonstrations often held in Belize City and Belmopan. They are usually peaceful, but civil disorder sometimes does occur as a result. For individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, caution must be taken. It is still not widely accepted by members of society, which can increase the risk of hate crimes against them.
Moreover, the availability and accessibility of health services and prescription drugs are not always reliable. This often requires individuals who need advanced medical management to fly out of the country.
Lastly, informal settlers may pose a challenge to property owners. Though the country has implemented anti-squatting laws, it would still be best to keep safeguards in place for this possibility.
So, with the question of “is buying property in Belize a good idea,” the reasons above show you just why it isn’t. The risks of buying property in Belize may not outweigh their benefits. Because of this, your hard-earned money can be invested elsewhere that can offer higher returns.
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