The condominium type of real estate property ownership is not new to Belize. Condo developments are springing all over the country and are especially popular on the beach areas of Ambergris Caye, and in the Placencia Peninsula in the south. Even the smaller island near Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, is starting to see condominium development. A feature of Belize condos is size – smaller than you will see in North America or other parts of the Caribbean. Smaller master plans and more boutique style development with one, or sometimes two swimming pools are the norm.
Recent episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters International have featured Belize on several occasions. From one of the first episodes: “Real estate agent Michelle Owens adores her life in Charleston, S.C., but after vacationing in Belize six years ago, she fell in love with the exquisite natural beauty of the Central American country – so much so, that she’s decided to make it her new home. She wants a large house with plenty of guest bedrooms for visiting friends and a drop-dead view of the Caribbean Sea.” Belize-based realtor Howard Oldham from Tropic Real Estate helped her find her dream home in Belize.
Condo prices start as low as US$100,000. for a basic one-bedroom unit and go up to well near a million dollars depending of course on location and size. On a square foot basis, buyers can expect to pay US$200 to $350 per square foot for a sea view condominium.
Fees and Costs of Purchase For Condos
Added to the cost of the property, you can incur associated charges ranging from 6% to 17% of the purchase price. These charges are broken down thus: Stamp Duty: 5% tax is due at closing and is calculated on the gross sales price of the property. GST: The Gross Sales Tax of 10% applies to the first time sale of new or substantially renovated property. This applies, to new condos and houses. Substantially renovated means that 60% or more of the property was renovated. However, you can sometimes get the GST rolled into the sales price – consult your local attorney or realtor.
Attorney’s fee: For about 2% of the purchase price, an attorney will draw up sales agreements, transfer documents and run a title search to ensure that the title is free and clear of any liens, claims or encumbrances.
As an example, if you are buying a new beach front condominium for US$250,000. at the time of closing you will pay the 5% stamp duty, 10% GST and 2% attorney’s fee, for a total of 17% of the sales price, or US$42,500.
Many folks dream about living in a tropical Caribbean country. Some are fleeing recession, freezing winters, dwindling pensions and escalating costs of living. Others have visited the country and fallen in love with it or looking to make a fresh start.
Check out the true story below as related by Emory King – one of the first Americans to settle in colonial era Belize. Emory went on to make a fortune in real estate and wrote several books on Belize. Like him, Belize might just be right for you:
American Businessman Meets Belize Fisherman
An American businessman was relaxing at the pier of a small village in Belize when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large lobsters, and an icebox full of red and yellow snapper. The visitor complimented the Belizean on the quality of his catch and asked how long it took to bring it in.
The Belizean replied, “Only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish and lobster?
The Belizean fisherman said, “I get up early and watch the sun rise, then I fish a little, come home and relax, play with my children, have a big lunch and take a rest with my wife. In the evening I stroll into the village where I sip cashew wine and play music and sing with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the profits buy a bigger boat and hire a crew. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman or the village cooperative you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave Belize and move to Mexico, then L.A. and eventually New York City where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Belizean asked, “But how much time will all of this all take sir?”
To which the American replied, “Oh, about 15 to 20 years.”
“What then, sir?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would launch an IPO, sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions of dollars.”
“Millions? Then what?” asked the Belize fisherman.
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move back to a caye in Belize, where you would get up early and watch the sun rise, then fish a little, play with your grand kids, have a big lunch and take a rest with your wife. In the evenings you could stroll to the village where you could sip cashew wine and play music and sing with your friends.”