Editorial | Ambergris Caye is fast becoming like the Wild West of property developers. Resorts and hotel complexes are being seized by the various banks operating in Belize. It has been apparent to many inhabitants of Ambergris Caye, and on the mainland of Belize. that many smooth talking developers arrive and spend their time in bars and restaurants telling people how rich they are and how they are going to build golf courses, resorts and hotels which will bring many hundred of thousands of tourists from all over the world to the shores of Belize.
These people purchase a lot or two and immediately start selling pre-construction, offering insanely low prices and equally ludicrous completion dates. They spend a little money on the Internet by purchasing google words and the gullible come on down and hand over many of thousands to these sharpshooters/snake oil salesmen. Then the developers go to the bank and borrow more money showing sales contracts and put up the land as collateral with their bank of choice. The unsuspecting investor unknowingly has no chance of getting his or her title until the bank is paid off in full, which is highly unlikely in many cases.
The resorts that people have bought into that investors are having problems getting their titles include Reef Village, Sapphire Beach (four resorts), Belize Legacy Resort, Brahma Blue and others on the west coast of Ambergris Caye. There appears to be many lawsuits in the offing and in the end only the lawyers and the banks will win.
The worst case of all is Sueno del Mar, which was sold as fractional ownership and has recently been seized by Belize Bank. Individuals who have invested tens of millions of dollars have lost everything as the directors are still on the island and when asked said well it was the recession and not our fault. Perhaps they should have said we lived high off the hog and got all our original investment with a profit back and then let all their investors hang out to dry. The salesmen who sold this resort said it was our job to sell and make large commissions and all of these salesmen were from the U.S.A. as were and are their investors.
While there are many well run developments on the island and mainland it appears the ones with aggressive sales tactics are the ones that are most likely to go under. The promise of ridiculous returns on investments should be a warning in itself but when you look at how cossetted people are when they arrive in San Pedro/Placencia/Hopkins/Belmopan till when they leave. In some ways the writer of this piece is amazed that the salesmen/developers allow them to sleep in their hotel rooms without their supervision because during their waking hours they are/were only allowed to talk to their selected/approved people. Others sell reclaimed land which is very unlikely to be built on as the sewage/water and electricity will always be a problem and in these cases the land is sold so cheaply that you get what you pay for and everything will still remain a dream.
Anyone who lives on Ambergris Caye laughs when a tourist says ‘I hear they are going to start the golf course on the West Coast of the island’ as they know it will never happen as the water costs alone are totally prohibitive.
My advice is purchase wisely – check that you are guaranteed your title when you finish paying off your contract. Remember snake oil is sold in Belize but it only comes in bottles, sold by the Mayans and it is inexpensive. A lot of these so called developers have no ties to the local communities and when the money tree is empty will move to pastures new.