Belize Real Estate News

March 28, 2016 - How To Avoid Belize Real Estate Scams and Con Artists (Part 2)

Our Belize law firm’s most recent blog post about how to avoid con artists in Belize received a bunch of feedback.  So back by (un)popular demand: more on Belize real estate scams.

While many expats have moved to Belize and found their dream homes (and dream lives) in our country, others have shared horror stories about being ripped off by real estate scams and con artists in Belize.  We invite you to read one such story here.

The person who shared this experience is understandably upset after being bilked for a lot of money.  However, our Belize real estate attorneys know that the answer is not to write off Belize completely as suggested.  In fact, somebody who posted on our Facebook page put it very succinctly:

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Indeed.  The takeaway for anybody seeking their piece of land and live the Belizean dream is, "do your due diligence and always get a legal and binding contract drawn up by a lawyer no matter what is at stake."

Below are a couple questions from our Belize Real Estate FAQ page that might be helpful. Please visit the page to learn more.

How Do I Ensure the Belize Property Has a Clear Title?

Step one: retain a Belize real estate lawyer! The only way you can be absolutely sure that a Belize property has a clear title is by having a Belize attorney research the title and issue a title opinion. The title is researched at the Belize Lands Registry, and also the Belize Companies Registry if the property is currently held and being sold be a Belize company. Liens, judgments, and encumbrances are valid only if properly addressed.

An opinion of “good and clear title” is issued only once the Belize real estate attorney has conducted all necessary title research.

Should I Obtain Title Insurance?

If you have a Belize real estate attorney, then title insurance is not necessary.

Title insurance is available, however, from reputable sources. In fact, Belize is the only country in Central America that 'A+' American title companies insure to guarantee title. Belize Land Certificates or clear Deeds of Conveyance are guaranteed by the Government of Belize and are as secure titles and any Commonwealth, European, or North American country.

After title research done properly by a Belize real estate lawyer, of course.

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In case you missed the last post, here again are a few common elements that should create red flags in your mind when you're considering a Belize real estate transaction:

  • Belize real estate scams victims do not verify title.  Scams often involve a faulty title, so victims end up paying for worthless pieces of paper rather than a deed to actual Belize property.  
  • Belize real estate scam victims feel rushed into making a decision on the property. If they don't act now, the opportunity will be lost.  
  • Belize real estate scam victims have trouble communicating with those involved in their Belize real estate transaction and have difficulty receiving updates on their Belize property investments.
  • Belize real estate scam victims rely on parcel maps to make their decision.  But such maps can be deceptive, and victims who thought they were buying beachfront property suddenly notice two plots between theirs and the ocean upon moving to Belize.
  • Belize real estate scam victims do not read the fine print in the documents they sign.  For example, a victim realizes she will forfeit her $1,000 deposit on a Belize property if she doesn't pay for a $995 package to travel to Belize to see the property.  It was all there in the fine print she chose to ignore or did not understand fully.
  • Belize real estate scam victims are not present at the transaction closing.  If a Belize real estate is encouraging you not to be present at the closing, that’s a big flapping red flag that the agent might be unethical. (Of course, if you’ve gone through the process before and have somebody who you truly trust or you have legal counsel present, you do not absolutely need to be present.)
  • Belize real estate scam victims do not have a Belize real estate attorney

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You’ve probably heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true.”  Heed this.  Excellent bargains and investment opportunities do exist in Belize - these are not too good to be true. Take your time to understand the difference.  

Here is a quick guide that will be helpful if you decide to proceed:

  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by being diligent and doing your research
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by taking your time to finalize a property deal
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by recognizing that communication is key
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by reading the fine print
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by relying on your own two eyes or the eyes of somebody you trust
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by obtaining a trustworthy real estate agent
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by being present at the closing
  • Avoid Belize real estate scammers by hiring a Belize real estate attorney

It might seem like a long list, but fortunately you can ignore everything but the final bullet point.  To avoid a nightmare, contacting a reliable real estate agent in Belize is key and our real estate lawyers have over 12 years of experience with Belize land transactions both large and small.  We assist our clients with all aspects of real estate transfer, including the provision of a detailed and comprehensive title search necessary to determine good title.  Our office is well versed with all forms of land title present in Belize, including Deeds of Conveyance, Transfer Certificates of Title, and Land Certificates.  The use of our office's escrow account can be another significant advantage to you when contemplating a land purchase or sale in Belize.  Our Belize real estate attorneys also assist land owners with First Registrations for those who obtain a title by means of a Deed.  Consider inviting Wrobel & Co., Attorneys-at-Law to assist you today.  

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