Josh Buettner
      Real Estate Agent, Ambergris Seaside Real Estate
      San Pedro, Belize
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BUYING PROPERTY ON AMBERGRIS CAYE

Buying property in a foreign country can be very intimidating so it is important for you to be working with someone whom you can trust to provide full disclosure. Keeping in mind that every transaction is different, the information below is a glimpse of the general purchasing process.

  • identifying criteria and properties
  • gathering comp information
  • making an offer
  • closing costs
  • contingencies
  • closing

Identifying properties can be started prior to your arrival here on the island. In general what I recommend is that you look over properties on the MLS in order to give yourself some idea of what is available and the general price range. The next step is to identify your particular criteria (number of bedrooms, baths, amenities, price range, size of property, location, etc.). Armed with that information as well as a few properties that catch your eye from the MLS web site I will look through all the current island listings and make some additional suggestions. I work with all realtors here on the island so you are going to get information on every property that meets or comes close to your criteria.

It is always a good idea to make arrangements to view properties prior to your arrival so that I can devote as much time as needed for your particular search. If you are a first time visitor it is important for you to get a feel for the lay of the land (proximity to shopping, restaurants, and the various services and amenities that are important to you). This process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on your schedule so timing is very important. If you are visiting during the high season (December through June) we also need to take into account the fact that some of the properties you are interested in may be occupied.

Prior to drafting an offer for a specific property we will determine the actual market value of the property by looking at market comparables, inventory, extras, etc. all of which will assist in determining an offer price.

Drafting the Earnest Money Agreement for Sale is a critical part of the actual transaction as it will include all the terms and conditions of the purchase (offer price, closing dates, amount of the deposits and the contingencies). In general here closings will occur within 30 to 45 days of the offer date. In presenting an offer you should be aware that we must have an earnest money deposit in place (consideration) so if you plan to make an offer on a property while you are on the island you should remember to bring a personal check with you or have the ability to make a wire transfer into escrow.

Once the offer is prepared and submitted we will generally have one to three days before the Seller responds to it. If the offer is rejected or countered it will be up to us to counter or accept. If your offer is countered and you no longer want to pursue the property your deposit will be returned to you in its entirety. There are no fees incurred by you at this stage. When we have an accepted offer the earnest money deposit will usually need to be increased. Most Sellers and realtors here will ask to have 10% in escrow within a short time of your offer being accepted (3 to 10 days).

At this stage I will recommend that you give some thought as to who you will use to do the closing. Your options are limited to either an Attorney or a Para-Legal. In most instances I will recommend a Para-Legal of which we have three on the island that handle only real estate transactions and thus are able to provide a better service at a better price than most attorneys. If you want to use an attorney I can provide you with a list of reputable attorneys to assist you. Depending on what property you are buying you can expect to have total closing costs of about 7% of the purchase price (includes stamp tax, legal fees and due diligence).

In Belize all the closing costs are paid by the Buyer and the commissions are paid by the Seller.

The most important part of the due diligence/contingencies is the title opinion which will verify the clean unbroken chain of ownership in the property as well as identify any liens and or encumbrances that might be lodged against the property or the seller. NEVER BUY A PROPERTY WITHOUT DOING A TITLE OPINION! Other items that may apply in the contingency section include; re-survey of the property, physical inspection, financing, inventory, review of financial/contractual data and a structural/mechanical inspection (some of the above listed items may not apply to your purchase).

Prior to closing the closing agent will circulate via Fed Ex all the transfer paperwork to ensure he has the original title as well as the signed transfer documents and any other relevant documents needed for your particular transaction. You don't need to be present for the closing as all the paperwork is completed ahead of time. Once the funds are disbursed to the Seller we are officially closed and the transfers are submitted to the Lands Department. Within about 6 to 8 weeks you will have the new title issued in your name.

Everyone who intends on buying property in Belize should read the important Ten Guidelines For Buying Real Estate.

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