We lend on properties not only here in Belize, but also in Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica. However, here in Belize, we do have an extensive wealth knowledge based on how long the bank has been here.
We lend 50% loan to value, so you have to pay 50% of the value of the property. From the perspective of foreigners, the interest rates here are quite high. We lend at 11% to 13%, which is standard in Belize. When most people hear this they gasp and say, “No, I will go to something else…” but usually they cannot find any other better lenders in Belize, so they come back to us for the loan.
The loan term is usually 10 years at 11% to 13% interest rate for US dollar loans, but we can amortize it. Each loan application is viewed separately. We personally go and visit the site as well. We also offer development loans. If you buy a property or a piece of land and you’d like to change it, we’ll work with you on that, too. We know most of the developers – at least the good ones that we would lend on here in Belize. We are always looking to offer loans and we always encourage people to invest in Belize.
Every loan application is viewed differently. They are all personally put before the board, the management and the lending finance committee. This can be done very quickly and as matter of course for each loan, once all the information is presented.
Each person receiving a loan from us has to have a bank account with us. That allows us to do all our due diligence to make sure that we can hold an account for you. Once that’s done, we then need to have all the information from you, such as the title, an independent assessment, etc.
Not only can we lend in US dollars, but we can also lend in Swiss Francs, Pounds, Euros, and the Canadian dollar. We are an international bank, so we do not lend in Belize dollars. Banks in Belize are classified in classes. We are a Class A, which is an international bank and we only work in foreign currencies; we do not work with the Belize dollar at all. What you would do is you get your loan and have it on a holding account here, which we will filter into Belize dollars, as you want it.
There are domestic banks that work with Belize dollars and some of them have interest rates that are more favorable. But once you have your money in Belize, it is a little out of jurisdiction to get out. So if you want to write a 15,000 Belize dollar check to one of your contractors, you would have to get special permission to do that within a local bank account. With us, although we don’t hold deposits in Belize dollars, we can and do have a Belize dollar account to send outgoing payments. A lot of contractors do like US dollars checks and to work in US dollars, because that is the currency they use to pay for their materials.