Believe in Belize

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 6 June 2014 | 0 Comments

Property developer and real estate broker Boris Mannsfeld thinks now is the ideal time to invest in the under rated country of Belize.

Belize may not immediately spring to mind as the ideal place to buy a Caribbean home, but that could all be set to change, especially if property developer Boris Mannsfeld has his way.

Originally from Germany and raised in the USA, his love aff air with Belize began back in 1992 when he discovered it as a ‘backpack traveller’ while touring the world. Since then, he says he has visited 60 or 70 different countries, but ‘Belize keeps driving me back’.

Boris Mannsfeld worked in real estate for 12 years in Colorado after gaining an MBA in Denver and a degree in international economics at UCLA, so it was a natural progression that he should turn his international property eye to Belize, where he now runs a successful real estate business. Boris Mannsfeld and Associates, several development projects including Th e Villas at Cocoplum and a beach resort named Robert’s Grove. He saw the potential in the ‘barefoot paradise’ Placencia which he made his family home in 2006 and since then has invested considerably in the country.

He finds it difficult to disguise his passion for Belize. ‘We have the Caribbean ocean, the jungle, and the Maya mountains here. Th ere’s a barrier reef, coves, sailing. It can be peaceful, or it can be adventurous! Also, although this is a relatively poor country, everyone here is content. Business is good, he says, with sales of properties up 200% to 2012 as more people are discovering the good value and pleasant lifestyle to be found here.

‘Real estate is way cheaper here than in the BVI, The Bahamas and the Cayman islands’ he says. Two bedroom two bathroom properties go for around US$350,000, which could command millions elsewhere in the region. ‘It is pretty rare to fi nd a Caribbean beach front lot anywhere these days’ says Boris ‘But in Belize you can find one for around US$200,000.’

Beach front lots are the most popular buy here yet condominiums are also in solid demand offering a low maintenance, simple lifestyle option for buyers from the USA, Canada and, increasingly, Germany, Spain and the UK ‘Now is a good time to buy’ he says, for as tourism starts to take off , so will property prices. The recession may have slowed things down a little but arrivals are up 13% over last year (March was the busiest month ever) and despite its relative unsophistication, Belize is fi rmly on the travellers’ map. ‘There are no fast food joints here’, explains Boris ‘no MacDonald’s and only two recognized hotels, Radisson and Best Western.’

Yet this barefoot chic, exotic scenery and dramatic landscapes are fi nding their way into the pages of numerous glossy magazines and travellers of taste will no doubt follow. In real estate terms, Boris Mannsfeld is ‘walking the walk’, investing here himself in hotels and a home for his young family. ‘I’m speaking from the heart – and from the wallet’ he claims.

As the Belize government does not have great deal of money, it falls to the private sector to market the country and he admits that there are a few obstacles to selling here, manly in the areas of healthcare and schooling. However, a new high end private school has opened in Placencia where there are a number of foreigners living, and there is good private healthcare planned with more hospitals being built.

Selling points include the fact that Belize is English speaking, it is accessible, and it is friendly. ‘Less crime more smile’ says Boris, who stresses that despite the increase in tourists, the place looks set to remain relatively unspoilt for now. Th ere are a few restrictions on development by environmental groups with a view to keeping the country low-rise and low-key.

Has Boris Mannsfeld got any plans to look at investing in other destinations?’ No’ he says fi rmly ‘Belize is keeping me plenty busy’.