Posted By: Hollandia
Stamp Duty... - 12/03/02 05:15 AM
Can anybody tell me if I need to pay for stamp duty before I can get title to a piece of vacant land approx. 9 miles north of town?
Any info welcome!
Posted By: rickcheri
Re: Stamp Duty... - 12/03/02 06:54 AM
Yes, if you want it to be legal, its for your protection...
Let us know, Rick
When there is a change in the registration of title to land anyhwere in Belize, the Government of Belize charges a "Stamp Duty" of 5% of the value transferred. This is true of property of any size, in any location and applies to every transfer. For instance - if you are single, get married and want to change the title on your land from you to you and your spouse, there is a 5% charge for that too. If you want to give away your land for nothing, there will still be a 5% charge for title transfer, and that will be based on a relative "assessed" value.
To clarify - the Stamp Duty is not paid "before you get title" - it is paid at the time title is transfrred to you. The two items are part and parcel of the same event.
If the purchaser is an "alien" there is an additional fee of 5%.
If you are buying land on an "Agreement for Sale" - down payment, and seller financing for a period of time - then the title will remain vested in the name of the seller while you are making payments. The "Agreement for Sale" may be registered with the Government of Belize, and in this way you can rest assured that your position in the chain of title is protected. The cost for registration of such a document is around $30 BZ - the cost for preparation of such a document ranges from 1-2% of the price of the property.
The Stamp Duty sounds a little high to folks from out of the area, but if viewed in the greater context, it is not so bad. Annual property taxes are extremely low, there is no tax on "interest income" nor on "capital gains".
Posted By: ChrisW
Re: Stamp Duty... - 12/03/02 05:05 PM
Sounds a little high? Sounds alot high to me. A $200,000 property flipping owners 5 times with 10% to a real estate agent and 10% to the goverment means that $200,000 in fees goes up in smoke. The ways to avoid are renting, building, long term ownership, or something more creative? How about ownership through a business or a trust and transfer the business or trust to the new owner so the title does not need to be changed?
Posted By: Hollandia
Re: Stamp Duty... - 12/03/02 05:19 PM
This answered all my questions. This justifies the "high" attorney bill I received....
Chris, I think it's pretty high to, but I will
hold this for the long term. I guess it's just a
1 time fee for me....Paradise doesn't come cheep! lol!
Posted By: susangg
Re: Stamp Duty... - 12/03/02 07:32 PM
No buyer or seller of property should agree to pay an attorney's fee of 1-2% of the property sale amount for shepherding the sale and title paper work through the Belizean land office, recording, etc. in a simple property sale.
That is an exorbitant fee that is not justified by the amount of work done. Insist on an hourly retainer agreement up front and a written description of the work to be done and the estimated time it will take. If the lawyer you contact insist on a percentage "because we have always done it that way," take your business elsewhere. Find a young hungry lawyer who will charge a reasonable hourly fee or a paralegal or document service.
This work is mainly done by the secretary or paralegal. The forms are simple and the primary task in a title search is going down to the lands office.
Of course, if your property sale or purchase is complicated (a development deal, for example) that's quite different, but if its a simple fee simple sale of clearly titled property, it should not take more than a few hours of time.
Same for real estate commissions; the 8% commissions being demanded by some agents is exorbitant unless its remote land that's a hassle for the agent to show, there are survey issues, etc.
Nobody should pay that kind of money to sell a house or a condo in San Pedro.
(Of course if money is no object for you, forget about all this...this message is for us ordinary folk.)
We may not be able to control taxes, but we can control what we pay for professional services by insisting on reasonable fees. Don't be afraid to tell a lawyer or agent "that's too much, I won't pay it, drop your price or I'll take my business elsewhere."
Those in Belize under the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program, regular residency or the now defunct Economic Citizenship (buy-a-passport) program pay only the 5%, not 10%, which is a considerable savings.