September - In the face of potential political and economical instability
as well as a struggling local property market, an increasing number of
affluent SA property buyers are moving to off-shore property investment.
One overseas market that has attracted major interest from both South
African property investors and property developers is Belize.
Emerging as the best investment destination in the Caribbean, a recent
Coldwell Bankers study has revealed that property and land in Belize has
seen an increase in value of 15 per cent, and as much as 30 per cent along
the coast, in the period between 2006 and 2007.
The Wall Street Journal also recently earmarked Belize's real estate market
as one of the best value markets not only in the Central American region,
but globally. Properties here start from as little as US $ 30 000 for a
plot, to private islands at US $ 175 million.
"We have had an overwhelming response since we have commenced marketing of
our various developments to the South African market. The majority of interested
parties in the country, specifically investment bankers and high
net worth investors, know that Belize, in property terms, is the next gold
rush," says Bruce Krog, head of marketing in Africa for Hopkins Bay Group.
The Hopkins Bay Group, a consortium of Canadian and South African investors,
is behind a unique integrated master planned resort, residential and
business destination offering various investment opportunities near the town
of Hopkins, which is just a two hour flight south of the US.
It currently constitutes Belizean Dreams (a private enclave of luxurious
villas), Hopkins Bay Resort (a private coastal resort with oceanfront villas
in a lush tropical paradise), and Sittee Point (a quiet gated community
featuring beach front and beach view properties). Over and above what
already exists and is under construction the development team are busy with
a strategic master plan that covers the balance of the 4000 acres owned by
Belize is a particularly favourite investment spot for US, Canadian, UK and
South African investors because of its British heritage and legal system and
English-speaking population. Property investors are also attracted to
favourable property laws, reasonable property prices, immigration laws and
the user-friendly banking system, believes Krog.
"No restrictions are placed on you as a foreign buyer of property in Belize.
Those who own real estate in Belize pay no capital gains or estate taxes and
pay very low property taxes. Rental yields are improving as tourism in
Belize flourishes, and the best news is that rental income is taxed at only
1.75% of gross receipts.
"The cost of transfer of property is generally 5%, plus an additional 10%
GST if the property is purchased from a registered developer. Property tax
is usually assessed at 1% of land value for undeveloped land.
"Banking in Belize is one of the only secure and private havens in the
world. You can protect your wealth with confidence as Belizean legislation
prohibits banks from revealing the ownership or contents of accounts to
anyone but the rightful owners, and only to authorities that can provide
substantial evidence of criminal activity.
Formerly British Honduras, until the name of the country was changed in
1973, Belize lies on the eastern Caribbean coast of Central America, bounded
on the north and part of the west by Mexico.
For further information on Belize as an investment or emigration
destination, contact Bruce Krog at firstname.lastname@example.org or Raquel Croeser on 021 424 0470 at the South
African office of the Hopkins Bay Group.