Grand Baymen: Property investment in Belize

GrandBaymen

Grand Baymen Belize is a development which offers various investing opportunities for investors, Rachel Jensen is an agent for this project. In this interview, she explains the various investment opportunities available in a development project in Belize.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

After spending a couple of weeks in Nicaragua in 2010 during a medical mission trip, I was

Rachel Jensen
Rachel Jensen

drawn to the region, to the people, and to the no pasa nada lifestyle. The pace of life seemed a little slower, and the people seemed a little happier. Originally from NY (just 30 miles from Manhattan), I found something in this part of the world that I didn’t find in the States, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. It took me a couple of years, but I finally made the move to Nicaragua in 2012 to begin my international journey. Since then, I have been living and working in Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama with ECI Development, Grand Baymen’s parent company. Currently, my home is San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and it has been an exciting journey.

How long has GrandBaymen been in development?

Grand Baymen is the Belize sister property for an international realty and resort community based throughout Latin America, ECI Development. ECI originally came to Belize in 1998 with the purchase of a thatched-roof beachfront resort, currently Exotic Caye Beach Resort. This current property will be torn down later this year and replaced with the game-changing hotel, The Grand Baymen Oceanside. In 2007, ECI acquired the Baymen Gardens property, located a couple of blocks from Exotic Caye, which was already home to San Pedro Fitness Club (tennis courts, pool and fitness center). In 2015, Grand Baymen expanded onto West Ambergris with the ownership of 18 home lots, Grand Baymen Estates.

When will this project be completed? How many units have been sold? How many units have been re-sold?

There are 3 distinct properties at Grand Baymen, all of which offer something different to the consumer and have varying timelines. There is a unique synergy between the properties that you won’t find in other resorts on Ambergris.

The Grand Baymen Oceanside (which will replace the current Exotic Caye Beach Resort) will begin construction in late 2017, and will be opening early 2020. This hotel is one of the most anticipated properties on the island because of the high-end inventory that will be added to the rental market, the prime location on Ambergris, and for the expansion of jobs in the tourism industry. Out of the 149 units, ECI is only offering 54 for private ownership and will be retaining the remaining units for the cash-flow. Out of the 54, 70% are claimed. There have not been any re-sale units in the Oceanside.

The Baymen Gardens is Grand Baymen’s exclusive off-beach community that offers entry-level pricing to investors, second home buyers, and those wishing to relocate to Ambergris Caye. It has been a huge success because it is out of the tourist tracks, yet right down the road from the downtown area. With amenities already in place, it is a popular place for renters and owners alike to enjoy, relax, and feel at home. This property is currently home to 54 units (all sold), with an anticipated 100-125 entering the marketplace over the next 3-5 years. As landscaping is completed and the inventory increases, the property appreciates which is very advantageous to early investors and owners. To date, 2 units have been re-sold.

Grand Baymen’s third property, Grand Baymen Estates, is currently in the process of being surveyed and master planned. This property will enter the market in the next year.

Can you give us an overview of the units you have available for sale? (Their prices and the eventual cost of purchase) What are the yearly maintenance fees for these units? (Insurances, Taxes, Property Maintenance)

Between the Baymen Gardens and the Oceanside, there is a variety of options depending on your long-term goals. Are you looking for a place to retire to in 10 years? Or looking for cash-flow with a Caribbean vacation every once in a while? Or a place to relocate to now?

The Grand Baymen Oceanside is one of the most anticipated beachfront properties on Ambergris Caye right now. Because of its ideal location and locally unique features, it will provide a highly-in-demand product that is not yet being offered in San Pedro Town. The Oceanside is a pre-construction opportunity that will serve the incoming tourists who are looking for a 4-star Caribbean getaway, offering studios and 2BR condos. These units currently start under $270,000 including GST (General Sales Tax), with a 16% price increase coming as soon as we reveal some exciting branding news. COA fees start at $485/month. COA fees include: security, insurance on the exterior of the building and the common areas, landscaping, access to the on-site amenities (two pools, fitness club, dock).

The Baymen Gardens offers true 1BR and 2BR units with connecting doors between the neighbouring unit to allow for increased rental occupancy and a convenient place for your children to stay when they visit. In the Gardens the general clientele is long-term renters and economical travellers who’d prefer to put their money on water or land excursions. With Grand Baymen rental management company, there is flexibility around the owners’ visitation. You can come for a week, 6 months, or the full year. Or keep your real estate in the rental system to provide you with a nice return. These units are being offered under $160,000 including GST. COA (Condo Owners’ Association) fees include: Security, insurance on the exterior of the building and the common areas, landscaping, access and usage to San Pedro Fitness Club for owner and guests, and a COA reserve and start at USD$165/month.

You can come for a week, 6 months, or the full year. Or keep your real estate in the rental system to provide you with a nice return. These units are being offered under $160,000 including GST. COA (Condo Owners’ Association) fees include: Security, insurance on the exterior of the building and the common areas, landscaping, access and usage to San Pedro Fitness Club for owner and guests, and a COA reserve and start at USD$165/month.

In the Gardens, there is an optional USD$50/month maintenance program for owners to take advantage of. This means if there a problem in your unit, Grand Baymen’s in-house team will fix it for you at no cost. If a major repair or replacement is needed, the owner will be notified and additional payments may be required.

Property taxes in Belize are very low, only 1-1.5% the assessed value of the land. Do note that the assessed value may be different than the purchase price. In the Gardens, property taxes range from USD $300 for a 1BR, and USD $600 for a 2BR.

Who is the primary customer of GrandBaymen ? (Retirees, Rentals?) Are these properties rented, to whom and what has been the ROI in the past? What is the ROI with the today’s prices?

Projected net ROI for new properties (at today’s price) varies depending on many factors including how much time you’re planning to spend in the unit, where you purchase (Gardens or Oceanside), and the floor/size of your unit. On average, net projected ROI is between 3-12%. Existing property ranges anywhere from 1-12% depending on the factors above.

There is a large variation of customers at Grand Baymen.

Condo owners vary from investors to retirees to snowbirds to folks who just want a vacation place in paradise that will pay for itself. The ages vary from young 30s to 89 years old.

In the Gardens, the long-term renters are typically professionals on the island (government officials and business owners), medical students and professors (there is a medical school right around the corner), and expats who are test driving island living. The nightly rentals are typically people who’d rather spend money on excursions and dining than on accommodations. With the ADR (average daily rate) being extremely affordable for in-town hotels, there is a wide variety of vacationers.

Do you also syndicate purchases between multiple investors, how does this work?

Yes, great question. We will work directly with the Syndicator to put together a portfolio that works for them and their investors. With ECI Development, Grand Baymen’s parent company, having opportunities in multiple jurisdictions, it’s not uncommon to syndicate properties at the different ECI properties for increased diversification.

What are the main pros and cons of investing in Belize real estate?

Pros:

  • Low property taxes
  • No capital gains
  • Low income tax (1.75-3%)
  • English as the official language – makes it easy for paperwork!
  • Easy to get to from North America
  • T-3 Tax Haven
  • Increasing tourism
  • Appreciation opportunities
  • British Common Law – a familiar legal system for North Americans

Cons:

  • 12.5% GST on new property (however, the low fees after the purchase balance it out)
    Can be tricky to open a local bank account if you don’t own property or are not a residency
  • Financing options are not great. However, we have secured a special rate of 6.9% with an international bank on Ambergris Caye.

What kind of protection does GrandBaymen in terms of title rights?

Grand Baymen has full title to its properties and has title insurance with First American. All owners receive Strata Title (Baymen Gardens & The Grand Baymen Oceanside) to their property.

What does the Belize real estate market offer to investors? What is unique about Belize?

Belize has become one of the most popular places in the region to invest because it is English speaking, close to North America, and has a stable background. As a former British colony, today it follows

Where do you see GrandBaymen in the next 5 years?

The Oceanside will be up and running and offering a remarkable luxury, Caribbean beach getaway for vacationers. With direct ocean views, a quick stroll up the beach into town, and services and amenities on site, it will become the go-to place on Ambergris. For investors, it will be producing a significant yield.

The Gardens will be completed and will be home to more full-time residents, long-term renters and vacationers. It has already become a preferred community on the island, and with the completion means appreciation and increased rental occupancy for investors.

How can potential investors learn more about GrandBaymen?

Please contact us info@grandbaymen.com to learn about the Belize Discovery Tours. We enjoy meeting you in person, and seeing how Grand Baymen fits into your real estate goals.

We thank Rachel Jensen for the interview.