By John Lamkin
Many publications have touted foreign ownership of real estate in Belize — and rightly so. With jungles, beautiful beaches and the second largest barrier reef in the world, the country is an excellent choice. Places like Ambergris Caye and Corozal have become known and still offer an attractive lifestyle, but for those that want to "fly under the radar," Placencia, Stann Creek District is the place to look.
David Kafka gave up his landscaping business in Florida to move to Belize for a simpler and less expensive life for himself, wife, and young daughter. In Placencia he found that and more. The opportunity arose to establish a RE/MAX real estate office in the small, upcoming town. The boom there managed to keep David, a distant relative of Franz Kafka it so happens, quite busy. Well, busy by Belize standards anyway.
In addition to his real estate business, he is participating in community affairs, making Placencia a better place to live. David says about the village, "I love the area, friendly people, great food, and more. Placencia is growing — with a sewer project, the new international airport..." He feels that Placencia is a very safe place to live, to bring your family, or just visit. Now, after a few years in the real estate business he sees that there is a need here for a landscaping company; will he be the one?
For years all that I'd heard was that Placencia was a primitive, backward town, and hard to get to. But, when we arrived, much to my surprise, we found a charming, active, and booming little village of about 7,000 people with several great restaurants and some fine world–class resorts.
The real estate "ground floor" is still happening. A new cruise ship terminal is in the making. According to Kafka, it's a done deal. "Money has been paid — lots of it." An international airport is under way on the other end of the peninsula that is much larger than the current airstrip hosting domestic flights and is about 70 percent complete. Marinas are already in place and more are underway. The climate is ripe for luxury investment. A real estate boom is happening.
All prices shown in the following examples are in U.S. dollars.
Some Properties worth checking out
French Canadian owner/developer Jean Marc Tasse took over this property in 2011 and big things are happening. The whole resort has been given a facelift and much work has been done on a full–service marina with residences, a new restaurant, PADI 5 dive center, slip spaces for lease, beach access, and resident's club. The marina is situated on a lagoon across the street from the main resort. The marina has a boat that serves it and the resort with regularly scheduled tours.
Robert's Grove Resort is on 22 acres of beautiful, white–sand Caribbean beach. It has two swimming pools, two fine restaurants, a spa, and many updated amenities.
The two– and three–bedroom, fully equipped condos at Robert's Grove are priced from $275K to $485K and according to realtor Boris Mannsfeld have a very high annual rental yield.
The Robert's Grove Marina has thirty lots with boat slips for sale from $150,000 to $199,000 with the stipulation that the owner must build within two years. At the time I was there seventeen lots were already sold. Four duplexes have already been built and sold.
Chabil Mar and The Peninsula Club
In 2003, entrepreneur Diane Buhlman came to Placencia to "find her own small house" but ended up developing Chabil Mar, a luxury boutique condo resort. With Chabil Mar completed and doing very well, Diane has started a new development, The Peninsula Club.
Chabil Mar has 22 condo/villas that were priced at $550K for a two bedroom with one bath and $650K for a two bedroom with two baths. These are beautifully appointed, spacious units with full kitchens and all the amenities. According to Buhlman the condos are yielding 6.5% per year as rental units for the resort. "Most buy to live here at least three months a year, mostly in 40's to 50's age group. Many bring their computers to (be able to) work. It's quality of life they're after." Unfortunately at the time I was there were no condos for sale. I was told that the owners don't part with them easily. It would be worthwhile to check if any of these condos come onto the market later.
The Peninsula Marina is on 65 acres with a dive shop and a few units already built. Building lots with a slip are available for single family homes, duplexes, and fourplexes. A high–end health club and spa is underway and there will be a complete, upscale shopping mall on the property. The 9.3–acre marina was still for sale at the time of my visit. I looked at a couple of homes with slips, finished or nearly finished. The price range finished was approximately $500K to $999K.
Villas at Coco Plum, Development Resort
The Villas at CocoPlum is a beautiful new eco–conscious development that has kept the native vegetation as natural as possible, adding to it with stunning tropical landscaping. The utilities are underground, as is the case with most of the newer resorts and developments in the area. Planned are a marina, condos, and single family homes. Several luxury single family units are already built, priced from $250K to $799K and you can buy a penthouse for a cool $million.