If you are buying a house in Belize, you don’t need an attorney because we have closing companies. You can use them and not an attorney. If you have a good real estate agent, they can direct you properly.
The real estate agents here do not have standardized forms for contracts like they do in the States. I have offers submitted to me that say, “My clients want to buy a house at $200,000.” That is it! The purchase contracts are not standardized.
However, the documents from the government to transfer your title are standardized. You have to fill out government forms and they have specific, very simple forms. You have to have the filled out forms notarized. A couple of years ago, the government had it standardized that you have to have a photocopy and a notarized copy for the buyer and the seller. Now, you have to have a colored copy and a notarized copy for each party. Your closing company can drop the forms to the Lands Department and record the transaction.
There are certain procedures that have to be followed and are standardized. You have to show a receipt showing zero tax. Up front, when you register the closing and the title, you have to pay stamp duty, which is the government tax that they charge you for the transaction, equal to 5% of the purchase price. The stamp duty is on the real estate value and does not include your furniture and everything else. A good real estate agent will try to save money for his or her client by pointing this out, but many people don’t know this, and if their real estate agent doesn’t tell them, they can wind up paying the 5% tax on their personal property as well.
In Belize, the seller pays the real estate agent’s commissions. The buyer pays for all the closing costs plus the 5% stamp duty.