This trend will continue through 2013, believes John Acott, Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize (AREBB)’s director of the board and RE/MAX Property Center’s real estate agent. He expects prices to rise at least in line with inflation.
Belize has one of the highest-priced real estate markets in Central America, according to the 2012 Central America House Price Snapshot prepared by revealrealestate.com, in coordination with Global Property Guide, which covers Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. But by international standards prices are low. The most expensive “typical house” – three-bedroom single family homes – are in Placencia Peninsula, priced at around US$ 575,000. A typical house in Ambergris Caye might cost US$ 295,000, while one in San Ignacio would cost US$ 255,000.
It is difficult to say how much house prices have changed in Belize recently, as there are no official house price figures. They declined by as much as 25% to 30% after the global economic crisis in 2008, according to M.H. Chebat & Company’s Michel Chebat. Older resale condos comprised most of the sales in 2009 and 2010, with condos priced below BZ$ 200,000 being more popular. In 2010, buyers began to consider properties with an upper limit of BZ$ 300,000. However in 2011, realtors were able to sell a number of condos and homes in the price range from BZ$ 400,000 to BZ$ 600,000.
Outside interest in Belize expanded rapidly from 2000 to 2007, partly due to the passage of the Retired Person Incentive Act (RPIA) in September 1999, and to the tourism boom. Tourists flocked to Belize’s natural wonders - beautiful beaches and tropical forests, plus ancient Mayan temples. From 2003 to 2007, property prices in coastal and tourist areas rose by as much as 30% annually, while prices of inland properties rose by around 15% annually, according to local real estate agents.
Belize’s natural attractions
A combination of natural factors – climate, the Belize Barrier Reef, a Caribbean flavor, as well as the Maya ruins make Belize truly Mother Nature’s best kept secret. Bordered to the north by Mexico, to the west and south by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean, Belize considers itself to be both Caribbean and Central American.
Belize has the world’s second largest reef barrier, and its Blue Hole can be seen from outer space. Three of the Western hemisphere’s most breath-taking coral atolls are off the coast of Belize. There are numerous varieties of wildlife shelter in the inlands. Bird watching, nature trailing, and water sports are popular in Belize.
Belize prides itself on being the seat of Mayan civilization. The Caracol, Lamanai and Xunantunich archeological sites are well-preserved, and easily accessible to tourists.
Analysis of Belize Residential Property Market »
This year, included condos in our research. Condos in Ambergris Caye sell for US$2,660 to US$3,330 per square metre.
Capital Gains: There is no capital gains tax in Belize.
Inheritance: There is no inheritance tax in Belize.
Residents: Residents are taxed at a flat rate of 25% on their employment income. Income from other sources is subject to business tax, wherein the applicable tax rate depends on the classification of the income.
Sale of new properties is subject to 10% General Sales Tax.
Tenant Security: Non-payment of rent and sub-letting without the landlord’s knowledge are grounds for eviction. Landlords, through a court order, can forcibly enter to reclaim the property from tenants, and claim compensation for damages and unpaid rent.
In March 2013, Prime Minister Dean Barrow noted that “brisk activity in agriculture, agro-manufacturing, tourism, construction and telecommunications, which more than compensated for the sharp downturn in petroleum extraction, domestic electricity generation and cruise-ship disembarkations,” was the main reason for the sharp economic expansion in 2012. However, he also projected a deceleration of GDP growth to around 3% in 2013.
Before experiencing recession in 2009, Belize’s economy has experienced strong growth since 1996, with 5.64% p.a. average GDP growth from 1997 to 2007.
Yet Belize is a low income country (GDP per capita US$ 4,536), and a high birth-rate. Tourism, fisheries, agriculture, and manufacturing dominate the economy. Violent crime can be a problem. Despite strong economic growth, unemployment in the country has worsened. In September 2012, unemployment in reached its 14-year high of 16.1%, according to the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). Young people aged 14-24 have an unemployment rate of 30%.
Belize is a former British colony, and won full independence in 1981. In February 2008, the left-leaning United Democratic Party (UDP), which had led the country to independence, won the general election, unseating the centre-right People's United Party (PUP), which had been in power for 10 years and had been rocked by allegations of corruption. The UDP’s leader Dean Barrow is Belize’s first black prime minister.
In the latest May 2012 elections, Barrow retained his post as Belize’s Prime Minister, and his UDP party was re-elected. However, the UDP lost eight seats in the House of Representatives to the PUP, and now has only a one-seat majority.
In 2012, Belize had around 917,870 total visitors, 277,136 of which were stay-over visitors.