David Kafka: Investing in Belize

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As the founder and director of Caribbean Capital Group LLC, David Kafka oversees acquisitions, investment strategies, and business development.

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David Kafka: Investing in Belize

Hey, everybody, welcome back to Season Two of the real estate rundown. I hope you’ve been enjoying the episodes that we’ve been putting on. And if you do, make sure you subscribe and like our page on Facebook so that you can get the next episode. Also subscribe on YouTube. Because it’s with that encouragement that I get from you guys, the comments that I get from you guys that allow me to convince guests like our next one to travel all the way from Belize to be on the show. Luckily, we have zoom and while he’s not even in Belize, but you guys are gonna love what we’re going to talk about next because I’ve got Dave Kafka with me, Dave say, “Hi to everybody.”

Hey, everyone, how are you? Hey, Ken, it’s good to see you again, buddy.

So Dave, you live where everybody wants to go on vacation. You live in Belize. Right?

Yeah, it’s a tough job. But I figured somebody has to do it.

I really appreciate you jumping on that landmine for us, Dave. I mean, it really is. I tell you what, I don’t know how you deal with the stress and the pressure of which flip flops to wear. But, you know, so tell us a little bit about your story. How did you get into Belize? How did you get into real estate? What are you doing with yourself in that beautiful place?

Yeah, so it started probably about 16/17 years ago, I wanted a place to go on vacation. And when I, you know, came off the airplane. I just fell in love with it. I was a firefighter in Charleston, South Carolina that started a landscape company. And then the landscape company kind of grew and grew. And then I retired from the fire service. And once I retired from the fire service and grew the landscape company, I could work from anywhere because I had people you know, doing the work. And once I got to Belize, I just kind of fell in love with it. Love the people.

I can see why you would do that. I was there last June. It is as fabulous as it looks in the brochures, right? Easy going, you know, laid back. I mean, great, great tropical climate. So that part’s easy. I get that.

Yeah. So you know, fast forward, we went back and forth for a while in 2008. I sold everything, which wasn’t the best time to sell. But, you know, February 2010, next month will be my 12 year anniversary. I’ve been living there. I knew I wanted to do real estate so I started out as an assistant at a REMAX office and then had the, you know, just worked and had the opportunity to purchase the franchise in June of 2013.

So you actually own the REMAX franchise in Belize?

Yeah, I have the ReMax First Choice Belize offices. So I have two offices opening, the third one opening probably the end of this quarter. And that’s going to be in cortisol so I have Placentia Hopkins and cortisol. And I personally live between San Pedro and Placencia.

Okay, so you are in Belize full time you are wearing one of vacation. Correct? I get a lot of the reasons why you loved it. I mean, it’s tropical, it’s beautiful, the waters clear there’s tons of marine life. It’s a very easy going, what is there that a lot of people don’t realize about Belize that really made it something that you knew you could sell.

Some people like a lot of government, big government and some people like little government, not a lot of rules and that’s kind of Belize, they kind of leave you alone. There’s not a lot of government, not a lot of rules. You know, you don’t have like 10-15 different steps. When you’re doing a building permit. You just get one permit, you know, unless you’re in like, you know, a town then you get another one but it’s super easy. The people are great, the food’s great, the weather is just to die for – so it just kind of has everything you know, that people are looking for. And it’s undervalued compared to Grand Cayman and some of those other places. So, we’re not cheap by any means, but we’re definitely undervalued for the Caribbean.

So you get a lot of people coming down there wanting to buy their vacation home wanting to buy, you know, somewhere to just kind of get away, they, you know, what is it that you get asked the most? When someone comes in and goes, Hey, you know, what, I got some money, I want to buy something. What’s the first question that most people have to get their mind around?

A lot of them don’t understand. They think of Mexico where you can’t own property in your own name. Whereas in Belize, you can own property in your own name, or an entity of some sort, you know, an IBC, or beliefs company, or you can even own it, and a US company, then they wonder if they can get around not knowing the language. And then when I tell them, it’s English speaking, they just like, you know, are kind of floored. So the contracts are in English, everything’s in English. I call it “investing on training wheels” out of the country, you know, because everything is in English.

Right. Right. And so how do they view? I mean, I know that if you go to Costa Rica, which is a very popular one, this is a little bit farther down. If you are a landowner, you’re treated the same as a Costa Rican, natural born citizen. Is that kind of the same with Belize? Do you? Do you have the same property rights? Or the same constitutional rights with property ownership?

Yeah, exactly. It doesn’t give you the right to vote and things like that you don’t have citizenship, but believes you have the same rights as a belief. And when it comes to land rights, mineral rights, you know, all that

That’s great. So it really can become a plan B for you. Because you can really set up a secondary vacation lifestyle, and there, you can set up a business, you can really invest into it. Because not only money, you can invest hard work into it, because you can grow something that it can’t just be taken away from you like you can in other countries, ie Mexico, where, you know, you just have a lease and at the end of the lease, who knows if the government’s can even honor that lease, and then you’ve got all those other things. So, there’s a lot there. And what have you seen prices doing over the last, say, two or three years in Belize?

Yeah, it’s a pretty hot market. I mean, this 2020-2021 will probably one of the best years we’ve had, and 2022 doesn’t seem to be stopping. We’re actually getting into multiple contracts, multiple offers, I’m having to educate my agents on that, because we’ve never had that before. Right. So it’s just a hot market. Beachfront is definitely going up in price.

Any more that beachfront property?

They’re not. And it’s just, you know, prices are going up everywhere. And so, you know, it’s a good market, people are not happy with what’s going on in the US. And so we’re getting a lot of those people who are thinking of retiring, but still need to work a little bit. So they want to put it in a rental program or rental pool, and, and then possibly retire full time or part time for the rest of the year.

I’m assuming you have Airbnb type applications down there. I mean, guy can put his property on the market, you’ve got property management companies, I mean, whatever I wanted to do, I could probably just I know a good real estate agent and Billy’s name is Dave, but he would probably know who to put that with, that I could get all the management I need for that to make sure that when I show up, it’s ready. But also, when people want to read it, it’s ready also.

Yeah, for sure. My company, what we do is we don’t selling part is easy, right? The belief sells itself. What we mainly do is educate so we educate you about everything, right? If you want to build, we help you with the building process. If you want to just buy a property already there, we introduce you to how to get your, you know, your permits your your stuff from the your, you know, your stuff from the BTB, the Belize tourism board to make you legal to rent. So we help you through that whole process. We’re just not going to sell you a property and, and leave, you know. So we’re here to build relationships as you know, our mottos are relationships for life. It’s, you know, part of our mentors. And you know, so we

Yeah, you know, the mom had that model too. But yours is different, right? You Quick, shoot, you know, and when I was there in June, I was able to see a lot of the properties. And they are. I mean, they’re the things out of magazines right there. They’re not. When you think of places, sometimes everything gets lumped in. Oh, it’s south. It’s like Mexico, you know, is, but it’s not really the same at all, most of it is not built out of block. Right? Most of it is wood. Okay. And you don’t have a lot of hurricanes there. Right? I mean, so you’ve really got a great climate but but to me, it sounds like more than anything, you’ve got a great business culture, and a government that wants to encourage outside investing.

Yeah, it’s the government is very whining, you know, you can’t come and, and, and be a divemaster. But you can start a dive company really easy, and hire Blue jeans to be a divemaster. So the government is very pro business, they want the businesses to come in, they want to, you know, they want to get the imports. They want to, you know, export stuff. So they want people to come here, since you know, labor is inexpensive. You can start businesses and export stuff, or just start businesses and, and bring people into the country.

And because it’s English speaking, it makes it for a great plan being from somebody that doesn’t really want to learn now, is English, the official only language or is there so nobody speaks?

Excuse me? No, everybody, there’s, there’s probably six or seven different languages spoken there. But English is the official language.

So easy for me to invest outside of the US because it’s English documents. is I mean, it’s an English Realtors from South Carolina for crying out loud. Right. But it, it also gives me protection. Right? Correct. Correct? What are some of the things that somebody’s got to know other than don’t fall in love with the first house? You see? All right, what are some of the other things that you gotta watch out for in Belize?

We say that Belize is a sunny place for shady characters. So there is no land, you know, there’s no real estate, you know, rules, so to speak, there’s no disclosing laws. So you really got to be careful who you pick who you talk to pick somebody that will show everything right, not just money driven. You know, because there is no NMLS here. But you can still work with one agent who will show you everybody’s listings. So it’s, it’s things like that you really need to get to know. And like you said, Think beyond the first house, the palm trees, the beautiful life. And just think, you know, I mean, you got, you know, the healthcare is not as good as the US. But

That’s a matter of opinion, too. Because I mean, you know, if you’re looking for big pharma, not to interfere with your life, that’s not happening and believes, right? That’s true, right? Oh, that’s good there.

Yes. And so we, you know, we have we just, we just tried to educate and help you, you know, we, we don’t even want to show you property right away, we’ll show you what your money can buy. Because we do have things for everybody. You know, we have everything for $15,000 Lot to multimillion dollar houses. No, I also have the syndication company, if you want to invest passively, you know, we can do that as well. So it’s just, it’s just, you know, we have something for everybody. So it’s just a matter of talking to you and trying to see what’s best for you. And, you

It’s funny that you touch on that, too, Dave, because as most people probably don’t know, we were just chopping it up about syndications. Just the other day, you and I were in a beautiful place. Wasn’t Belize, but you know, it was close. But you know, so you have the ability for people to be involved on a passive level, generate income outside the United States, generate business that is growing outside the United States, and you are the GP so you’re managing all the details. And you know, all the deals, you know, we’re pricings that you know how to get people in front of the right thing so that they’re adequately inspired and protected at the same time, right?

Correct. Correct.

Describe to me for a minute if you would, one of the syndications that you have going currently and I’m putting you on the spot here, it wasn’t what we were planning on talking about but it happens with all my guests. So what is it that we are looking at for a syndication down there? Are we doing an apartment complex? What do you got? What do you got going on there?

So we can do pretty much anything. Like we just finished a raise of 34 units at the Hilton. Mahogany Bay. So that’s a 8% for that, I think I can talk about it because it’s closed. It’s not an open deal. That’s done and out of the way. I have a chocolate farm that I’m just indicating.

You said you’re syndicating a chocolate farm?

Yeah, we have a 515-acre chocolate farm, my friend and you get paid and chocolate. If you want to, we can.

I didn’t make any money, but I gained 50 pounds, but I didn’t make any money, right? You can’t tax what I ate.

That’s true.

So a 550-acre chocolate farm?

Yeah, we’re gonna subdivide it into three quarter acre lots. It’s an operating farm. So when you buy your three quarter acre parcel, you don’t have to wait three, four years to start earning money. We also put some hardwood on it. So it’s kind of a generational legacy type investment where after 20 years, we’ll harvest a hardwood. So you’re going to be getting chocolate money every year for the cacao that we harvest, and then, you know, at the end of, you know, in 15-20 years, we’ll harvest the hardwoods and then we just do it all over again. We just replant it and everything.

Wow, I never thought I’d be hearing about syndicating chocolate. Yeah, I’m gonna have to call you offline and talk more about that. I think I would. I think that one sounds like something that would be tasty, interesting. That’s great, what else you got?

This year, I’m probably going to do a mini storage. Okay. And I have a development project I have. It’s 246 acres and Hopkins. And we’re just going to subdivide it and sell the lots and many ranches. So people that want to grow their own food. I had a test pilot I did a couple years ago, right, is COVID was starting, and they sold out super fast. So I think there’s an appetite for that Jordo, I’m gonna try to, you know, we’re going to do some smaller lots on the river. But then, you know, many ranches across the street from the river. So we have that going on.

You know, the great thing is, Dave, having been there for 12 years, you’ve got to you’ve got a real depth of knowledge of, you know, the local area. I mean, you know, I’ve been in the Boise area for 40 years. And I find that when I go to Austin, or when I go to Tennessee or when I’m looking at, you know, Ocala, Florida, they’re not the same, they’re the same, but they’re not the same. And now you’re doing it out of the country, I can see where that value is there with that tribal knowledge, where, you know, you’ve been in the US, you know, how we’re used to doing things here in the US. But then you’re able to apply that there and make sure that people can do that, then you add the benefit of syndication where you’re not the only one in there, right? You’re not, you’re not trying to take this thing on yourself, you’ve got some somebody with local knowledge, that’s that’s not going to stay out of the park where you could be the passive investor. So before we get too far away from that comment, Dave, where can people go to find you to find out more information about the chocolate farm and other things like that? If they want to get to know what you’re doing more?

Yeah, my email address is [email protected]. Caribbean Capital Group is my syndication company. And that’s what we do all of our syndications under and so they can even go to Caribbean Capital Group. And that will take them you know, show him kind of what we’re doing and a little bit about me as well.

You know, and then you’re all the usual places, right? You’re on Facebook and you’re on LinkedIn and Instagram and YouTube, right? You I know that you’re also doing some stuff on YouTube, about just documenting a day in the life of a Belizean, right?

Correct. Yeah, just you know, helping people showing them you know, where’s my favorite places to go? colada you know, Pina Colada. Mojito is my drink of choice, there you go. So just things like that. And then doing some educational stuff. I kind of have an All Access Belize webinar where I kind of interview people that have moved here, contractors, doctors, things like that, where we kind of show them how you can do it as well.

You know, and that that is so key because you know, knowing what to do next is definitely always a good plan. Because, you know, we all grew up here in the United States saying, hey, when when Sunday comes, we can go to the tropical isle, but you’re there to come help them plan that now and have other people start paving the way for you by either reading it back out or being part of a passive group with a with a syndication. So. So Dave, if I wanted to just figure out what I was going to do next, could I just get a hold of you get a hold of your office and say, hey, I want to come down to Belize for 10 days, I want to look at property, I want to hang out, you know, and know where I’m going and why. I mean, I don’t have to, like, do most of this myself. Right? I can just get in touch with you.

Yep. most of the hotels give us a 20% commission. And what I tell my, what I tell the hotels I deal with, is don’t give me the commission, give it to my friends and my clients. And so, you know, you tell me, you just send me an email and look me up and, and I kind of help you plan the trip, where to stay, depending on what you want. If you want the beach, these are the areas you want. If you want the jungle, these are the areas you want. And then we just kind of plan the trip based on what you want.

You know, and I gotta tell you, I was planning today whether to wear a sweater and a coat. Or you know whether or not it was going to snow. Here you are trying to figure out if you want, oh, maybe I want jungle today. Oh, no, no, it’s beach today. I gotta tell you, Dave, there’s a lot to be envious about your life. I want to ask you something. On the personal level, though, did you find it hard to adapt to the difference in culture?

Oh, good question. No, not really.

I want to wear flip flops around for a long time.

Yeah, I fell in love with the warm weather. What was kind of hard is the archaic things, you know, like my driver’s license is a lamination. You know, they’re just now getting into like, a regular driver’s license card that you and I can are thinking of, right? When you go to a government office, and you have a list of things you need to take, they’ll tell you, Well, you forgot this document. So you have to come back, you know, and when you go back, they’ll say, Oh, well, no, you need this document now. And so things like that. Some people will drive them nuts. Yeah. It’s, it’s kind of rude to be at a restaurant and get your bill so they won’t come and give you your bill. They’ll wait for you to ask for it. Yeah, so some people just have a hard time, you know, especially, you know, people that are into like New York, Los Angeles, where it’s kind of go, go, go, go go. They kind of have a hard time just slowing down a little bit.

You know, I can see that as being part of a problem because you go from 60 to six miles an hour, right? I mean, what now when I was in mahogany Bay, everybody went everywhere. And golf carts, nobody walked. I mean, nobody drove a car. Just sorry. I mean, if people were walking or riding bikes or golf carts, I mean, there weren’t even using cars. That’s how slow life was. I mean, top speed of 20 miles an hour was island life. And it was beautiful. It was wonderful. I would recommend it to anyone that you go check it out and see if you can slow off current speed.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Well, Dave, I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to be with us. And guys, I would encourage you to find Dave on YouTube, watch some of his videos. He’s got some great information there. He’s also Dave Kafka on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can find him all over there. But as the number one Amazon Best Selling Author, the owner of the Caribbean Capital Group, and he’s actually also been featured on House Hunters, that guy is pretty easy to find when you google him. And they have good news about getting rid of that prison record, you know, just what So guys, if you’re looking for a Plan B, if you’re looking to get out of the country, if you’re just looking to have somebody else build equity for you in an offshore property, Dave is definitely the guy and you guys want to look him up. So guys, thanks for tuning in to the real estate rundown. Thanks for subscribing to the channel. We’d love it when you give us your comments and your and your thoughts. And so you do we appreciate that if you don’t mind you go up. There’s that little bell so you know when we’re creating more content, wherever you get your podcast, whether that’s iTunes or Spotify, subscribe to us there so you know what’s going on. And then also follow us on YouTube and Instagram. But guys, thank you so much for being a part of the real estate rundown and Dave, thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, Shannon for having me, buddy.

That’s a wrap for today’s episode of The Real Estate rundown. Let these newfound strategies pave the way to start a successful career or a profound rebranding. If you loved everything you have heard, listen to more conversations at www.shannonrobnett.com And be sure to leave a rating. Share it with your friends and subscribe until the next episode.

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About David Kafka:

As the founder and director of Caribbean Capital Group LLC, David Kafka oversees acquisitions, investment strategies, and business development.
Prior to living and investing in Belize, David was the founder and manager of Supergreen Inc., a successful landscaping company based in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition, he spent nearly 12 years serving his community as a Firefighter/Engineer for the Mount Pleasant, SC Fire Department.

David has resided in Belize for over 10 years with his family and is the Broker/Owner for RE/MAX 1st Choice real estate offices in Placencia and Hopkins. Along with his team, David shares his expertise in coastal, mountain, tropical jungle, riverfront, and agricultural properties as one of the top real estate brokerages in Belize serving the Placencia, Hopkins, Punta Gorda, Corozal, and Belmopan areas.

As a volunteer for Believe in Belize, David supports Belizeans through education, health and community development by partnering with other organizations to deliver high impact projects and services. To continue with his passion for animals and volunteerism, David has served as a board member and chairman of the Placencia Humane Society (PHS) for over five years.

He has donated a camcorder, tripod and 13 SD cards to the police major crimes unit to record interrogations for court. David is also a volunteer with the Placencia Volunteer Fire Department and a “Fire Board” member which builds new fire stations and soon the first trauma center in Placencia Village. He was recently featured on RE/MAX’s corporate website for donating fire trucks to the Belize community with the help of the organization Believe in Belize and the U.S. Air Force. Click here to read more about how David provided safety and protection to his community.