Belize Real Estate Listings… 

Are you searching for a real estate listing in Belize? Good luck. In the U.S., finding real estate is easy, but not so much in Belize.

In the U.S., the starting point for any property search is on the internet through one of the aggregate listings sites like Redfin, Zillow, or Realtor.com, which all draw from local and regional multiple listing services (MLS).

A multiple listing service (MLS) is a database established by cooperating real estate brokers to provide data about properties for sale. Access to this database is restricted to licensed brokers and agents. An MLS allows brokers to see one another’s listings of properties for sale to connect homebuyers to sellers. Under this arrangement, the listing and selling brokers benefit by consolidating and sharing information and commissions.

The MLS system in the U.S. makes searching for homes fast, easy, and convenient. Neither the MLS nor a comparable service is found in Belize. Heck, there isn’t even real estate licensing required in Belize. Anyone looking to buy a property to retire in or for investment will have a tough time doing it on their own. You’re going to need help.

I get inquiries all the time – typically every week – for listings on Ambergris Caye or another district in Belize. When I try to explain to these potential buyers that there’s no comparable listing service to the MLS like in the U.S. or other developed countries, they tend to dismiss it. While you may find a website called MLS Belize, the reality is cold water on your home-buying hopes. It’s not a comprehensive listing, and it’s not always reliable.

The fact that there is no MLS (Multiple Listing Service) system in Belize means that there is no one-stop shopping resource for your home or investment property buying needs. This means there is no centralized database of properties for sale on the island or elsewhere in Belize.

Of course, this can make it difficult for buyers to get a complete picture of what’s available. It also means that there is limited market data for potential buyers to rely on to hold agents and brokerages accountable for their pricing. In other words, you get ripped off.

The key to finding the best properties and deals in Belize is establishing connections with somebody or some organization with connections. Suppose you find those parties who already have long-standing relationships with land owners, sellers, and buyers and have extensive experience in the area and knowledge about navigating the entire home searching and buying process. In that case, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, headaches, and money. The connection is the key.

Have you heard of pocket listings in the U.S.?

They’re frowned upon in the U.S., but a pocket listing is a privately sold home. It is not listed on the MLS and, therefore, will not show up on one of the sites like Redfin and Zillow.

Instead of publicly listing a property, agents work their network by marketing pocket listings to other agents in their offices or an exclusive network of buyers. Only buyers with some sort of direct or indirect connection to the brokerage, the listing agent, or the home seller will know about the property.  

Some may frown upon pocket listings, but they have their merits if a seller has a relationship with a broker that has a large database of potential buyers or a database of buyers meeting a particular demographic (e.g., local or out-of-state ultra-high-net-worth investors (UHNWIs), it makes sense try to sell it through a pocket listing first because some sellers don’t want a bunch of potential buyers parading through their home – especially if they’re still living in it.

Although often frowned upon in the U.S., in Belize, pocket listings are the norm. It’s how brokers and agents work here. The advantage of pocket listings for potential buyers is that they won’t have to compete for the attention of a broker or a potential property with many other buyers. If you can connect with the right agent or broker, your home-buying experience will be much more efficient and enjoyable.

The draw and appeal of Belize are undeniable. Besides English being its official language, Belize is establishing itself as a hotspot for tourism, retirement, and investment because of so many appealing aspects, including its diverse ecosystem, the rich variety of flora and fauna, diverse topography that includes jungles and beaches, pristine beaches, clear water, scuba-diving spots including the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole, and Mayan ruins, etc.  

Post-COVID, Belize is now on everyone’s radar more than ever. It’s no surprise that the world is now discovering all the benefits of traveling, living, and investing in Belize, which I’ve known for decades of living here.

Belize has a lot to offer and still has room to grow. It is far from peaking and offers tremendous growth potential for investors.

For anyone seeking to establish a toe hold here, you’ll need a connection – one with someone with the type of experience and track record that would instill confidence in your real estate buying experience in Belize.