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May 2001 – Real Estate News...
Ambergris Caye and Beyond

"The Market" – Realtors report that 2001 has been the busiest business year in history.

Properties of every kind are selling quickly and prices are going up. The month of May typically signals the beginning of a slower pace – but not this year. Right now local Realtors are working so hard that they are almost too tired to celebrate their good fortune.

As the 2001 "high season" approached there were fears that Hurricane Keith (September 30-October 1 of 2000) would negatively affect tourism and real estate. The fears were unfounded. Two factors appear to have positively impacted the local market ……..

"Temptation Island" and stock market reversals.

The Fox television series "Temptation Island" may not have won any awards for class, but no one can deny that the visual presentation of Belize was stunning. A huge audience learned about Belize for the first time – imaginations were captured and trips were booked. In case you missed it – the show was based on Ambergris Caye, and was shot during September of 2000. In a stroke of wild good luck, the shoot was completed two days before Hurricane Keith hit the island. For that we are all VERY grateful !

How can a "bad" stock market be good for real estate? Easy. During the "hot" stock market, large sums of money that would have normally gone to discretionary purchases such as vacation homes were instead being invested in stocks. When corrections occurred, people began to buy income property and second homes again. Those of us who were in real estate ‘way back in 1987-8 can remember the same phenomenon after "Black Thursday". This is not a fluke, but a predictable trend in the marketplace. Sooner or later people remember why it’s called "REAL" estate. You can touch it, see it, use it and enjoy it. Stocks can be split and new public offerings can occur at any time – but there is a limited amount of land. This is particularly true of beach front land in sunny warm climates. As baby boomers reach retirement age, the demand for such property continues to grow.

What are the numbers? During the high season of 2000, beach front lots (east side of the island, facing the Reef) in residential areas within 5 miles of the heart of San Pedro sold at prices from $1,000-1,200 US per front foot. The same properties today have asking prices of between $1,800-2,000 per front foot, and cash sales are closing from $1,500 – $1,600 per front foot. Inventory is low, but buyers can still choose from a reasonable variety of high-quality properties. Prices continue to rise, and buyers should prepare themselves to pay as much as $2,000 per front foot in the near future.

Beach front homes are as always in short supply. The island is still in early stages of development and most of the folks who have built their homes are not yet ready to part with them. New Villa homes are selling from $340,000 - $380,000. At El Pescador Villas, a new four home development just north of San Pedro, two homes sold prior to ground breaking. Resale homes start at $495,000 for a good quality duplex close in to town, and go all the way up to $975,000 for a large four bedroom home on three lots 6 miles north of San Pedro.

Hotels that sat on the market for several years have sold and closed during early 2001. The "Original Green Parrot" (Ambergris Caye) is under new ownership and is now being transformed into "Portofino". Coconuts Caribbean Hotel recently "sold". Casa Caribe closed and re-opened as the "Avalon Beach Club". The old Rock’s Inn has new owners and is now known as "The Blue Tang Inn".

As St. Matthews Medical University continues to grow rental properties are in high demand. Sites suitable for building rental units sell quickly. Sandpiper Apartments, a four-plex across from the Jade Garden, sold in multiple offers. Three buyers contended for that property at the same time.

Condo sales have been particularly good at Belizean Shores and Sunset Beach Resort.

Properties on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye are now being successfully marketed.

Both individual lots and larger tracts are selling at attractive prices.

Beyond San Pedro …….

The Placencia Peninsula was long regarded as the place to buy property if you wanted "a deal". Prices there are now pretty much on a par with San Pedro’s. Homes are going up along the Peninsula at an astonishing rate. Perhaps as many as 20 are now under construction in that area. Turtle Inn recently sold to Frances Ford Copola, and is being upgraded to match the standards set at Blancaneaux Lodge. A parcel of land with 330 front feet, 600 feet of depth and an older concrete home just closed at $600,000 US. Surfside is almost sold out. One broker recently reported selling 11 residential lots in 7 days.

Sittee Point is also selling at $1,000 per front foot and up. This is a planned community development south of Hopkins Village. It is definitely "remote" but has roads, power and water in place within the development.

Outlying island properties ………. Are selling ! Private islands in the Southern Cayes are in demand and are fetching healthy cash prices. Two large tracts of land on Calabash Caye recently sold as well.

Legal Developments ………. BIG NEWS !!

The Alien’s Land Holding Act is soon to be "history." Central Government voted to abolish the Act and the 5% Alien’s Land Tax that accompanied it. This speeds up land transfers, cuts costs and generally eases concerns of foreign buyers about title processes.

If Belize is on your mind – don’t wait. Come take a look and see if it’s right for you.

Thanks for reading ..... Diane Campbell

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION on buying property in Belize, or to contact Diane or her husband Bob Campbell, click here.

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