Post-COVID, Belize has quickly reestablished itself as a desired destination for both tourists and retirees. A hotspot before COVID, Belize has quickly rebounded as a cannot miss destination. To this point, Belize experienced a 52.2% increase in overnight visitor arrivals in Sep 2022 vs. Sep 2021. Belizetourismboard.com.
For tourism, Belize’s appeal is undeniable and wide-ranging – offering something for everyone. The country is popular with ecotourists, backpackers, vacationers, dive enthusiasts, and history and archaeology buffs.
For retirees, Belize makes immigration easy. English is the primary language, and Belize’s legal system is based on British common law as a member of the British Commonwealth. As a result, Belize has a stable, democratic government and a stable and dynamic economy.
For ex-pats, obtaining residency is not prohibitive like in some other locales. Belize has also implemented a program that allows foreign Qualified Retired Persons to make an application for long-term residency in Belize and, if accepted, to live in Belize completely tax-free for life. The simple process of qualifying as a Qualified Retired Person exempts retirees from paying all taxes and levies on all income or receipts which accrue from a source outside of Belize (whether income is from work performed or an investment).
Belize also appeals to potential property owners and investors because, in Belize, foreigners purchasing land or property are afforded the same rights as Belize citizens regarding property ownership. Additionally, there are no capital gains or inheritance taxes in Belize.
The appeal of property ownership in Belize is undeniable – for residency and investment. Short of paying with cash, what financing options do potential property owners or investors have in Belize?
For financing real estate acquisitions for either residency or investment in Belize, obtaining local conventional bank financing can be a challenge because of residency requirements.
However, for non-residents, there are creative ways to get around this problem, and here are the top creative options to finance real estate you might consider:
- Offshore Financing.
- Owner Financing.
Offshore banks offer mortgage loans to non-resident individuals and International Business Companies (IBCs) with favorable terms and rates comparable to local financing. Terms can range from 5-30 years with rates comparable to prevailing market rates. Down payment requirements are on the high side as most offshore banks lend at a maximum of 60% LTV. One of the big advantages of offshore lending over domestic lending is that you can choose the currency of your loan. This facilitates transactions conducted in U.S. dollars and facilitates acquisitions by Americans.
One convenient and popular form of real estate financing in Belize is owner financing (aka seller-carried), where the seller offers owner financing to the buyer of the property offered for sale. Of course, the terms vary with the seller, but typical terms of 5-10 years with typically above market rates and higher down payment requirements (typically, 30% to 40%).
The seller-finance loan agreement is filed along with transfer and deed forms with the lands department in Belize to protect both buyers and sellers. The title transfer is complete once the final payment has been made.
Investing in a private Belize company that acquires investment properties through pooling funds or local or offshore secured financing is another way to acquire real estate in Belize without having to deal with the headaches and paperwork of obtaining financing on your own.
Whether through pooling funds with other investors or providing the capital for the investment company to use as a down payment for bank financing, co-investing is an easy and efficient way to indirectly acquire real estate in Belize.