Monday, July 30, 2012

If you're one of those who has an oceanfront lot on Ambergris Caye and is wondering how you can get the best price out of it then READ ON:

It's a fact that since 2008 most buyers of oceanfront lots are looking to build. They're no longer looking to buy a lot just to "sit on it" and wait for the value to double before dumping it. This means that since 2008 the number of potential buyers for your oceanfront lot has plummeted. Less potential buyers = downward pressure on the value of your property.

Happily, it's also a fact that beach front homes are in great demand with some big prices being paid for such properties.

So, if you have an oceanfront lot consider building a really nice home on it and then selling it. Your profit will be a lot greater than if you are just trying to sell the lot on its own. Just bear in mind a few pointers:
1. Don't hold back on the quality of the construction. Buyers willing to pay the big bucks want something of real quality.

2. Try and find a buyer while the home is under construction...this way they can choose their own tiles and colours.

3. Don't try this trick if your lot is in a remote and difficult to access location. The house will cost a fortune to build and you'll have problems getting your money back. This tactic only works if your land is fairly close to town (5 miles or less) and with good road access.

This is something we're actually helping clients with right now and I think they're going to make a very nice profit from their efforts!

The Great Recession and how it affected real estate on Ambergris Caye

People, especially folks from the USA, often ask us how real estate values have held up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and the recession since. Here's what I have observed over the last few years:

1. House and condominium values have held up very nicely with vibrant sales in both categories.

2. That said, some of the more ambitious condominium developments (for "ambitious" you can also read "poorly located and even more poorly planned") have had their problems. The recession put paid to impulse buying from folk with money to burn. Now people are much more sensible and frugal with their hard earned dollars. In general, any condo development located 6 miles or more north of town or on the West side of the island either went bust or slowed to almost zero progress on construction.

3. Land sales: We saw beach front land values hold steady but the rapid increases in values of the previous years came to a crashing halt. Here we are in 2012 and prices are either the same as they were pre-2008 or have even pulled back just a bit. Here's why: Pre-2008 most of our buyers were investors looking to cash in on the rapid increase in land values. Post 2008 most of our buyers are people getting ready to build their dream home. As you can imagine there were more investors than house builders. The beachfront land category is still quite healthy but if your land  is too far from town it's very hard to sell for 2008 prices in today's market. Not many people want to build 7 or more miles from town.

4. Commercial and businesses: This is one area which might actually have benefited from the recession. A lot of people just plain "wanted out" after their financial world collapsed in September/October 2008. They were looking for a new challenge. We saw (and still see) existing businesses change hands at what seem like very healthy prices here on the island. Not all are successful. Buying a business here on Ambergris Caye means using common sense and finding a real estate broker or agent who is not afraid to tell you what you don't want to hear.

5. Timeshare: This is one category that shouldn't be classed as "real estate." It should have its own category: "Pointless Purchase for Really Naive People." The Great Recession killed all timeshare activity on the island except for Captain Morgans timeshare which has stubbornly hung around. It is my opinion that timeshare in Belize is a complete and utter waste of time and an even bigger waste of money. You'd be better off chucking your dollars towards the Captain Morgans Casino than wasting it on timeshare.

I might post more on the subject of the Recession vs. Belize Real Estate in the coming days.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ambergris Caye Roads

Visitors to our island often notice that some of our roads are not paved....and have suffered neglect over the last few years. Cue our new mayor, Danny Guerrero. He cam into office a few weeks ago with a pro-tourism agenda and today some of our worst roads are being given some serious maintenance work. Bargeloads of all-weather rock rubble, the kind that won't wash away, are being trucked from the barge to the most neglected roads on Ambergris Caye. It's an amazing and great sight to see after years of falling into disrepair under the previous administration.

Mayor Danny even promised the island's first roller...and today it was seen in action making a huge difference to the newly surfaced roads. Folks on the south part of the island will notice the difference. Let's hope that drivers stick to our 15mph speed limit. Good roads don't have to be killers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Time Share on Ambergris Caye, a Good Investment?

Let's get right to the point:

Now you know how we feel let's take a moment to explain:
1. Almost every timeshare property on Ambergris Caye has actually fallen into bankruptcy. People have lost a lot of money after "investing" in timeshare in Belize.
2. "Almost" every timeshare means there's at least one still surviving. Actually, there's just the one. I wouldn't invest there either. 
3. Timeshare sales people tend to work on the premise that after all the freebies and valuable time they spend with you, you would have to be a right jerk to refuse to buy. Timeshare in Belize is really no different. The sales pressure exerted on unsuspecting couples is pretty intense. The sale people are very good at what they do. They have to be. It's a crappy product they're peddling.
4. Timeshare sales people love to use bogus numbers to show how foolish you would be not to purchase. They want you to believe that your hotel room will forever be free for 1 week a year (or more if, heaven forbid, you buy more weeks). The bit about the annual $1000US or more "Maintenance Fee" for your 1 week of timeshare is always hidden deep in the small print. Let's face it, $1000US or more could easily get you a nice hotel room in most resort destinations. Why pay that PLUS the $25,000US or more the original timeshare week will cost you?
5. Woe betide you if you are late with the maintenance payment. It won't take much for the timeshare company to start the threatening letters.
6. Good luck with re-selling your timeshare when you're sick and tired of'll be "worth" less than half of what you paid for it. 
7. One final note, this post really refers to timeshare in Belize and particularly Ambergris Caye where it has an awful reputation. Of course there are broken timeshare dreams all over the world but I can't speak for those.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Great Mini Golf Course Site?? Why Not!

Do you know that Ambergris Caye doesn't have a mini-golf course and this property would be perfect for such a venture. There's ample room for 18 mini golf holes, a restaurant, bar and outside seating area. It's an important commercial property in a prime part of the island close to Banana Beach, Royal Palms, Mata Rocks, Grand Colony and Banyan Bay. for details.

Some properties are real "sleepers" which, when they sell, elicit cries of anguish from those who missed out. I think this one falls into that category.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We Always Try To Help But Sometimes It's a Losing Battle.

Sometimes you just can't help.

Today, in the morning, a gentleman came into the office inquiring about Pirate's Pizza. Later in the day  I was called by the agent dealing with the matter to attend a meeting to answer any remaining questions. At the appointed time we were all sat down in the conference room. I shook hands with the agent's client.

"YOU CANNOT VERIFY THESE NUMBERS" were about the first words out of his mouth.

I replied, "Correct, we can't verify them, we're in Belize, you're inquiring about a small business which is probably 90% cash based."


My reply: "Well, actually  you're right, I can't verify them but YOU CAN. Just site outside Pirates for a couple of weeks. See how it does."

The numbers we were given by the business owner showed that Pirates averages about 22 pizzas a night. If it did an average of 15 - 20 pizzas over the next 2 weeks or so, in the middle of the low season, then you could pretty much say the numbers would work. I was confident that Pirates would perform well. There was no possible way for us to verify the numbers but a potential buyer could easily do so just by "hangin' out" for a few days.


We were getting nowhere fast. This went on for 20 minutes with our advice for the client to see for himself, with no interference from anyone, if Pirates would be a good investment for him or not, falling on very deaf ears.  It all ended badly, client stomping out because we didn't tell him what he wanted to hear, we simply told him the truth..

The moral of this sad, but true, story is: If you don't trust the numbers given to you by the owner of a business in Belize (and why would you?) go and spend some time and see for yourself if it's successful. It's your money, find out for yourself if it's worth spending.

For those of you (like the guy in this true story) who just want fancy accounts and books placed in front of them that LOOK GOOD but are probably garbage you'll probably pay the price after buying. If you're also too lazy or stubborn to visit a business for a few days to see how it really does, the cartoon below applies.

We can't help you. We do not wish to waste any more of your valuable time.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What a Super Bargain!

I have posted this before on our Facebook page but it's such a bargain I thought it ought to go here too:

  • Fantastic Investment
  • Over 16500 square feet and 264 linear feet of canal frontage
  • Direct boat access to the sea
  • All necessary utilities close by.
  • 2 miles from San Pedro Town Center
  • This is Ref LAP. 
The owner is SUPER MOTIVATED telling what the final sale price will be! takes you to the listing page for what I consider to be the best budget land deal on the island!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Small Business, Buy The Right One and Prosper in Belize

Buying a small business is a great way to get started in Belize and especially on Ambergris Caye. But, there are pitfalls. Read on for some opinionated, but truthful, information about what to watch out for and what to do when buying and operating a small business in Belize.

1. Beware of purchasing a small business with fancy accounting showing that it's making a small fortune. Chances are those books are "cooked." In order to get a good idea as to whether a business is making money hang around the place and observe the comings and goings of business customers. If the people traffic doesn't match the fancy books you should probably avoid it....something is clearly wrong.

2. Look for a business where the owner is willing to allow you access to whatever paperwork he or she uses themselves. If the owner hangs over your shoulder or won't leave you in private while you're looking don't be probably means the paperwork is genuine. Look all the harder because the information you're getting will probably be accurate.

3. Once you've verified that the business you're interested in is for real and has potential to make money and more money, go for it!

4. And last but not least....expect to work HARD making your new business maintain its promise and become even more successful. Don't get caught up in the world of booze, drugs and "friends" who are really just parasitical hangers-on. We have seen so many failures because of alcohol and drugs. Moving to Belize with the intention of buying and running a new business means you're not on holiday. This is your new life, your responsibilities here will be just as onerous as they were where you came from.

Keep your eye on the ball, work hard, live long and prosper on La Isla Bonita!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Banana Beach Price SLASHED. What an Investment!

Wow, the lines have been humming since we posted the Banana Beach listing at its ridiculously low price and  we don't think it'll be long before a buyer snaps it up.

At its present rate of performance (which is nowhere near its potential) you could expect to net well over 10% per year, not bad in this day and age of savings accounts which produce nothing.

Email me at if you're seriously interested and would like more information.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Banana Beach, Unbelizeable Deal!

OK, time for some important investor news....Banana Beach Resort is available for sale at a MUCH REDUCED price. Go to for more photos and brief details. If you want more information email me at

This one is BIG. Majority ownership and full operational control of one of Belize's best known and renowned resort hotels at a ridiculously low price.

I Risked My Life.

(Chris) Frog Chorus last night behind Grand Caribe was amazing....millions of frogs, all going off at once. It was raining plus much thunder and lightning so I didn't try and video it.

But, for those of you who will accuse me of not taking sufficient personal risk for your entertainment, I deny that, you are wrong. To prove it I subjected myself to great danger this morning by taking this video of a hummingbird using our feeder. I was only separated from this dangerous animal by 2 layers of hurricane glass and a mosquito screen. Thank You.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

(Chris) The below satellite image taken at about 9:40pm Belize time suggests it will precipitate profusely in a downward and sometimes diagonal direction tonight. We can expect a bit more of the same tomorrow.

I actually got caught in a big rain shower today.

Duhhhhh....On Ambergris Caye you really have to be kind of dumb to be caught in big rain showers. If you look East towards the Barrier Reef you can see them coming from miles away. I did see it coming but I didn't believe it and SPLOSH went my day.

Financing in Belize

Read this because it's important information: People always email me and ask about mortgages and bank financing here in Belize. Allow me to give you an overall one-word synopsis of how friendly the banks here are with investors and home buyers: The word is "crap." Here's why. Banks in Belize want you to have at least a whopping 40% of what you need to buy your dream condo or house "up front."

On top of that you have transfer costs, lawyer fees and bank loan fees to pay as well. You might as well say that if you want to buy a $400,000US condo you need $200,000US up front if you want to borrow from a Belizean Bank. 

But, the real kicker is our awful bank interest rates. Expect to pay at least 10%-12% interest if you borrow from a bank in Belize. What nonsense especially when you consider savings accounts here pay about 3%. Don't bother asking your U.S. bank if they will lend you money to buy in Belize...most of your U.S. bank's money is taxpayer dollars and they're not going to want it to leave the USA.

Instead of screwing around with our banks (unless you need to borrow a fairly small amount for a very short period of time) consider looking for properties with Owner Financing. These days we are seeing more sellers willing to finance at reasonable rates and with relatively low down payments. Two great examples:

Worth a look!
And this is Grant. I too was first introduced to Belize by Her Majesty's armed forces, though it was the far more civilized Royal Air Force for me! That was back in early 1983, my job was to keep the Harriers flying over Belize and deter that nasty dictator in Guatemala from invading Belize, I even went over to the border to let them know I was here to stop them!!!

Me in much younger days, at the border.....

Also following in Chris's footsteps, I too met a lovely local lady, Dana, and got married here in San Pedro in 1988. A glorious event, and she is as lovely today as she was on our wedding day.

4th June, 1988, a very happy day.

After spending a total of 3 years and 6 months stationed in Belize, off and on, and over 17 years of service in the Royal Air Force, and having started a family with the arrival of my daughter, Lyndsey, I decided to call it a day on my service career. That was the start of my life in Belize, and very much centred on Ambergris Caye. Much has happened in those 20 years, including the arrival of my son, now 15 years old, and very recently, I was truly blessed with a beautiful grand daugher.

In my time here, I have been a scuba diving instructor, managed a bar and restaurant, a hotel and restaurant, and largely thanks to my determined efforts to keep the whole of the Guatemalan armed forces on their own soil, I am now in a position to help people own their own little piece of Paradise in Belize that we refer to as 'Ambergris Caye'. 'You betta Belize it!!'

'Dive in' to the real estate market with me.........

Friday, July 6, 2012

All About Chris (quite boring really)

(Chris) I came to Belize for the first time when I was 19 and a member of HM Forces. It was June 1979. People always ask me "What Brought You To Belize?" and I always answer "A Hercules C130 Transport" because it's the truth. We actually stopped over in Gander, Newfoundland for 2 days. I had Cod Tongues, a local delicacy. They were really good except I felt bad for all those cod who now could no longer speak or taste anything.

 I'd never been to the tropics before and when I stepped off the C130 at Belize International Airport  I thought "This is great, I'm not cold anymore."

Later that year (still 1979, I hope you're paying attention) I went on a quick r&r trip to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and met a girl who I eventually persuaded to spend her life with me. We got married the following year. She's still married to me. So, all you young and pretty girls out there,   I'm 53 years old, 5ft 6 inches short, and fairly much of a catch as I must be I'm taken and you'll just have to settle for second best elsewhere.

Me, my long suffering wife Ciela and our daughter Gina who apparently is quite brainy because she graduated from North Wales University at about the same age as I was wondering "What on earth am I still in the Army for?"

Me and my wife by a river in England

When I left the army in December 1988 we came to Belize as quickly as I could hand in my army clothing and other military stuff. We've lived in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye ever since. OK, that's my first post on this blog. It's all downhill from here...I hope you'll stick around!