Ask the Experts: Real Estate Update on Ambergris Caye

A Real Estate Update & Overview from An Expert on Ambergris Caye

Quick Thoughts from Me:

Here on Ambergris Caye, we are 10 days into a 28 day “total lock-down” quarantine.  My mind feels like mush most of the time as I ping pong between a confusion/mania and a quaran-stupor of napping and baking.

SO many questions like “What’s for lunch”…What’s for snack?”…”Why do awake clothes and asleep clothes need to be different?” and “Will tourism be back in 2020 at all?” …the last one is taking up so much of my time and there is no way I can have the answer.

It’s a PERFECT TIME to ask someone else to share their expertise!  Especially on something that I know very little about.  Real estate.  I’ve NEVER purchased a home or apartment or condo.  Ever.  Though I FULLY understand the thrill of real estate voyeurism whether it’s in Belize or elsewhere – it’s a great “hobby”.  (I’m an undeveloped land gal when pretending to shop for a property on Ambergris)

I’ve also been looking for the perfect pied-a-terre (I just need to learn how to pronounce that) in San Pedro town and…THIS IS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have realized that the real estate market, especially in Belize, responds to factors that I generally don’t even consider.  So…I asked Amanda Syme, owner of Sunrise Realty and one of my fantastic sponsors, if she could give us an overview.  Take it away…

And I asked a few questions which Amanda answers at the bottom.

Real Estate Overview:

Have you ever thought about moving to Belize to enter a simpler existence enjoying the daily experiences that island living can offer you? Despite the pandemic, Sunrise Realty has received many emails and phone calls from folks in the US and Canada who are looking to do just that. With Belize having a relatively low population density and a diverse ecosystem there is a perfect place for most who are seeking a lower-tech, laid back lifestyle. On Ambergris Caye you can be as busy or as relaxed as you choose as there are so many options to select.

Over the past four months, we have seen a surge in land sales of home-sized plots in areas that will require some self-sufficiency to provide water and electricity which can be achieved via solar and wind power coupled with rain catchment and reverse osmosis.

In the Secret Beach area lots are available for between $14-35K USD and to the north 18 miles from town you can invest in a beachfront lot for only $42,500 USD.

Land on Ambergris Caye for $50,000USD or below.

We have found that condos in the $100K – $450K USD price ranges have been selling quickly with use of virtual tours, photos and plenty of discussion.

In the luxury market, we have also seen sales of homes and condos.

The vacation rental market has been negatively impacted, heavily, due to lockdowns and border closures but we fully believe that the holiday market will rebound over the next few years and will incorporate the internationally recommended sanitation and hygiene protocols to ensure that our guests, staff and community remain safe and healthy.

We have a number of beautiful beach front homes that are suitable for long or short term rentals and ideal as full-time residences including Anil Mar Villa listed at $975K USD which is set on a beach with the most stunning turquoise water right offshore…

(Picture from the Scoop since this home is right down the beach from us)

and Solaria Villa 1 with 4 bedrooms beachfront listed at $899K with financing available.

(Scoop:  I visited Solaria a few years back and it’s gorgeous!)

and Seacluded Sands listed for only $595K USD.  (Scoop: LOVE THIS NEIGHBORHOOD…oh wait…everyone loves this neighborhood!)

More modest homes are available priced under $300K USD and include eco-conscious styles and waterfront hidden gems. We are seeing large investments continuing in Belize in the tourism sector including cruise ship ports on the mainland and a handful of sizable high-end condo resorts on the island.

The future for Belize in the short term is going to be challenging, but in the mid and long-range we anticipate continued economic growth in the real estate sector.

Purchasing property in Belize is a relatively simple process, although it can take a little longer than many anticipate to complete a transaction in full. Once an offer is made and accepted the typical period to close a sale is 45-60 days and at the closing the possession of the property is handed over but the actual title transfer can take as little time as a few weeks but, in rare cases, can take months depending on how backed up the Belize Lands’ Department is. Following the system and using the services of an attorney or a well-experienced paralegal is key to ensuring your transaction is smooth.

Our agents are available via email and phone to discuss your options and help to tailor a virtual tour of suitable properties and to guide you to make informed and wise decisions in regards to your investments.

Questions This Prompted for Me

  1. How would you characterize those buying during this time – older younger or just your usual?  We have the usual assortment – some are young entrepreneurs, others are looking at retirement within 5 years, and some are investing in vacation rental properties anticipating that we will rebound in a strong way…
  2. Are they all people that were looking for a while before all this happened?  No, I think everyone staying at home and not going to work actually brought Belize into the spotlight of people who did not originally have any overly strong interest in Belize. A handful of our sales are from previously interested buyers but a large number are people who are willing to dabble in small investments in the under $25K price point purchasing sight unseen. For me, surprisingly, I am seeing more Belizean buyers/investors than usual but perhaps that is mainly because during this shut down I have had an opportunity to reach out to a lot more local clientele.
  3. Are people seeing any “pandemic discount” on prices? No. We see the usual negotiation of, say 5% discounting in some cases but we have not had any heavy discounting by sellers to date.
  4. The uncertainty of rental income must be a big question for those who say 5 months ago would have factored that into the pricing…ie…using rental income to assist with the purchase. At this point, historical data is handy in far-future planning but it really cannot be used as a true gauge for near-future expectations. Perhaps some buyers will need to factor in the fact that full income will not be achieved for the next 12-24 months but many who purchase were viewing the income as a bonus – I do believe we will see units breaking even or close to it within 18 months and begin to see small profitability again in 2 years (my thoughts today….)
  5. Are you seeing more sellers/push from sellers to sell…price cuts at all? No, not really – just the usual, We don’t have anxious urgent sellers – of course, we may see this change over the next 6 months as the true depth of economic downturn effects will be a lot more visible then.

AND sign up for their newsletter – I just got an update a few days ago with this list and it got me headed down the “real estate rabbit hole” – it’s a great activity if you are a bit bored at home.  Beautiful homes on gorgeous blue waters?   Barren beaches in the far north of Ambergris Caye?

Yes please.

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