Out of curiosity; how does the government of Belize guarantee title? If I was purchasing property (no matter where located), I would have a local lawyer who specializes in this area provide me with a chain of title search and all documents to substantiate title is free and clear of any encumbrances, advesary ownership rights, etc.
Here in Belize the issuing of titles is handled solely by the Government of Belize's land registry. We don't have title companies.
Once your attorney has ascertained the chain of ownership, via the government lands records at the lands registry he will inform you if the title is clear and unencumbered or not. If you have confirmed that the title is clear then the government would issue the title in your name. This is then recorded at the registry and added to the chain of ownership.
In Belize you must file and record your claims, transfers, equity ownership etc at the land department (for a fee) - if you don't then your claim isn't valid.
Many people don't file their transfers, or claims (ie if they make a loan with land as collateral) so that they can avoid or defer the stamp duty. This works so long as everybody is in the loop and something doesn't come in from left field (ie illness, death, or fraud.)
There is another title company here called First American and the only persons able to do title insurance are Attorneys. What I tell folks is that it is completely unnecessary unless it is going to be the item that makes you sleep at night. The most important aspects of purchasing undeveloped land here in Belize are the title Opinion. Attorney's do not do these. The are done by title investigators. With re registered land they are very simple but with a conveyance they are sometimes a little more complicated. What you are looking for is a clean unbroken 30 year chain of ownership. As long as this is done there is basically no risk. The second item is a resurvey of the property to verify the properties dimensions and location. If someone drives down the coast and they tell you this is what you are buying the best way to verify that location is to hire a real surveyor.
In regards to making the check out to the government of Belize for the Stamp duty that is currently not possible. Not sure when the last time you wrote them a check at the lands department but in most cases they will not take checks except from a very few regulars. Whomever you hire to do your closing is who you are going to have to write the check to. All you need to do is get the receipt which is part of what you get when they give you back the title. generally after about 4 weeks these days.
Talk to people who do this for a living Paralegals, Attorney's and Real Estate Agents. Just check some references prior to working with anyone.
Is it possible that he can know his land purchase is free and clear and that the land is registered in his name with the government when he pays tax on it and gets a receipt back from the government? Would this not prove that everything is O.K. since the government issues a receipt for the tax with the number or name of his land holding on the receipt?
Would that be proof?
Furthermore, Claudio Azueta is a paralegal in San Pedro at South Wind properties. He may be able to check out the title for you for little cost. What thinkest other people?
Just because somebody can show you a title & a government receipt doesn't prove that the title is clear. The title holder could have a loan on the property or any other manner of items that encumber the title. The title search must be conducted - and it should occur right before you plan to pay for the land. The title holder might have a judgement against him that encumbers the land so this is why it is wise to hire a lawyer or paralegal to sort through things for you.
Well said Amanda. The title opinion will not only look at the title but also the title holder to verify that there are no outstanding/pending judgements against him. Also if a company is the title holder that company must have all of its filings in place and up to date or the Lands department will not process the transfer.
Good to know, thanks all. A bit similar to transfers of title to real property here in the States, minus the title insurance issue. And also good points to check on judgments, etc...do they have liens against property in Belize?
It seems a little odd but a good title verification is to borrow money on it. The bank in creating a mortgage will make sure the title is good before they loan money on it. You pay in the neighborhood of 400. attorneys fees on a mortgage development to do that. We don't have title companys because.. Title insurance protects an owner or lender's financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects or liens.. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title. The Belize system makes this unnecessary ...instead the bank has its attorneys check it out! ps another heads up in buying is listen for your seller or sellers agent to say,'Banks in Belize don't lend money on property."
If you folks think Belize is quaint in the way it handles property transfer you should see the Czech Republic. There you exchange a contract saying you are going to exchange a contract in the future subject to the wording in the first contract. Then you apply to the government office (cadaster) to determine if the property is owned by the person selling it to you. Then you exchange the second contract where the purchase is confirmed and you send this to the government office. Then when the government gets around to it it registers the property in the new owners name and a third contract is executed which confirms the purchase has been made and the title transferred on the governments book (something like a quit claim deed) and the bulk of any remaining funds are transferred.
There the only authority on who owns the property is the government office (cadaster) which seems to be much like what is being described here. The only difference is that each region in the Czech Republic has it's own cadaster and the waiting times to get title transferred can be anything from a few weeks to many months.
One of the other things you have to worry about there is that the land and the building on it may have different owners and sometimes people try to sell you something that they don't own but is owned in fact by the local government. Very complicated but I always get a mortgage from a bank (even if I have the cash to purchase) just to make sure I am getting a clean title.