A few weeks ago, ads started popping up all over my Facebook and Instagram for a public auction at Mahogany Bay on South Ambergris Caye. It caught my attention for a few reasons but mostly because of where it was. Four properties – all bundled together – the original commercial properties at Mahogany Bay Village (the biggest hotel in the country of Belize). For auction: the Rum and Bean Cafe, the large building that houses the yoga and wellness studio and 2 others were all up for public auction.
I shared the ad on my Facebook page and got LOTS of responses. Mahogany Bay also sent out a message to their owners and residents:
Here is a look at the area in 2014 when construction was just starting on this newly reclaimed land.
Here’s the property for auction.
And here are some pictures of the buildings/properties when I stopped by yesterday.
The Rum and Bean building and the original sales office for MB.
Behind Rum and Bean, an empty building. A few years ago, it housed a beautiful but expensive furniture gallery. (Here it is open in 2016)
And then behind it, the tours and rentals building.
Jeff looking forlornly in the fly shop window. All of the businesses (including the cafe) were closed.
And then this huge two-storied space that I believe holds a spa/yoga studio and then it vacant downstairs.
The previous spa was GORGEOUS. Here’s a look inside. These owners have since left Belize.
And then downstairs, Mahogany Bay used to hold farmers’ market events and at one time, a deli/general store was slated to arrive. But that was a few years ago…
Back to the auction!
I’ve written about one public auction before – for a property up north, near my home, that I attended a few years ago. Public Property Auction in San Pedro: Questions Answered, So Many New Questions Formed
The public auction is a curious, murky, mysterious process in Belize. Each week, the local papers list a myriad of homes, land and commercial buildings for sale. Belize laws have an Auctioneer Act – outlining who can be an auctioneer and how they must operate. There have been legal rulings against certain auctions – where the auctions weren’t public at all but, as in this case, deemed a “private treaty” and nullified.
But what is really going on with these auctions? Why, in general, are they so poorly advertised? If I was the bank and someone had defaulted on their loan, I would want to get the highest price I could for the property. I would want to whip up excitement. I would advertise it far and wide…with glossy pictures and pretty words (an incredible “fixer-upper” or incredible potential for your dream home), not just post a list in the black and white newspaper.
Just google Public Auction Belize – none of these ads say BUY ME! And…they are just not easy to find.
As the Amandala article starts: “Land transactions (in Belize) are known to be rife with opportunities for fraud and fast dealing…”
It was time to attend this auction. Listed for 1pm at the site on July 18th. Jeff and I drove down to Mahogany Bay.
Questions I had (and still have): Does the original owner get a “last look”? Or does the property just sell if someone bids over the reserve?
Here’s what happened. The auctioneer arrived at about 1:30pm. A small group had assembled…a few businessmen (I call any man in long pants in San Pedro by that term) – real estate agents, a developer…really only about 8 or 9 people.
The auctioneers described the properties’ specs. Square footage, buildings. And said that they were now owned by Alpha-Gamma Corporation -the financial institution that provided the loan. 4 properties together in the Mahogany Bay subdivision.
He stated that he would not be revealing the reserve price – the minimum bid that might be considered. He said that if a bid was accepted, the new owner would have to pay 10% right here and now and then come up with the remaining payment within 2 weeks.
The auctioneer indicated that online there was a bid of $2.1 million BZD (just beating out the gentleman next to me that told me he bid $1mil US) and that we would be starting at:
$3 MILLION DOLLARS BELIZE!!!!
Silence. One gentleman was on the phone with someone (probably a Saudi prince or a Chinese billionaire 😉 )
And no one bid.
And that was the end of it. We all picked up and left.
Sorry to leave you hanging but I am far from discouraged. This only makes me MORE interested. I’ve called in to the auctioneer to ask some questions and…I’ll get back to you if I find out more.
Please let me know if you’ve had any experience in this realm, I’d love to hear about it.
Oh and no. The auctioneer did not talk like this…
Maybe that’s an American thing.
The next auction will end in August 2022 and you can bid online on Beacon-auctions.com.