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Rachel Jensen of Grand Baymen – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
No you do not need to hire an attorney when buying a home in Belize.  Because English is the official language of the country, all of your documents will be in English.  However, it is up to you to do your due diligence and know with whom you are working, and that all of the documents make sense to you.
 
If you would like to hire a local attorney, there are a few in the region with whom you can connect.  However, most folks review the paperwork themselves, or let their attorney at home review the documents.
Bentley Wildman of Consejo Shores – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
gazebo, Consejo Shores, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingNo, you don’t have to hire an attorney when you buy a house in Belize.  You can use paralegals or a real estate agent that you're dealing with.  The real estate agent will use a paralegal or an attorney.
 
It's okay to use attorneys. They charge about 2.5% of whatever the property is valued at and it can take over a year for you to get your title. So if you buy a house for $200,000, you’re going to have a $5,000 legal bill.  As an alternative, we have a paralegal that we can get stuff done within 3 months or less.
 
The difference in what is done is basically nothing. The attorney gets all the paper together and they let their paralegal do all the work. In our business, we bypass the lawyers and we have our own paralegal who we've been working with for 25 years now and she looks after it. She takes care of the transferred land and everything that needs to be done in order to get the deed in your name.
 
Either an attorney or a paralegal will do the title search in order for you to get a clear title. It's just that attorneys tend to take a long time for anything to happen, so it may take you a lot longer to get your property title. However, we have what we call "land transfer" documents that go into the government for the title. And normally once those land transfers are all signed and the money changes hands and the application goes into the government, the real estate is considered sold.  While this process is ongoing, it’s not holding you back for a year to move into your house. You could still move into your house after the closing day.  All this just means that you won't have your actual or physical title for maybe a year.
 
(Rolling lawns and a private gazebo on a property at Consejo Shores, Belize, pictured.)
Boris Mannsfeld of Boris Mannsfeld & Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Belize house on stilts by the water – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf 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.

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