Can Foriegners Own Real Estate In The Philippines

The answer is yes, foreigners may own real estate property in the Philippines, but they are not allowed to buy and own land. Foreign ownership of property in our country is not absolute and subject to restrictions. Non-Filipinos may purchase and own condominium units built on Philippine soil.

Foreigners cannot own land 100% but, you can create a legal corporation to include 60% Filipino and 40% Foreigner. My cousin and i have done this and I can assure you it is 100% doable!  Now with that said my cusin and I are now building condominiums and YOU can own condominium units or apartments in high-rise buildings. They can also buy a house but not the land on which it is built, unless you create a corporation… if married to a Filipino citizen, is to have the ownership of the land under the Filipino’s name.

Like anywhere in the world, housing makes up a large percentage of the budget. While many expats rent, it can be more cost effective to buy, particularly if you’re planning to stay in the country for more than a few years (or perhaps want a second home there). In general, foreigners are prohibited from owning land in the Philippines, but they can legally own a residence. Here are some options.

Buy a Condo

Perhaps the easiest option is to purchase a condominium, a hybrid type of ownership that falls outside traditional structures. With traditional property, you own the structure, plus the land on which it sits. If you buy a condo, however, you only own the condo unit itself – not the land beneath it. The Philippine Condominium Act specifies that foreigners can own condominium units, as long as 60 percent of the units in the building are owned by Filipinos.

Buy a House

As we mentioned, foreigners can legally own houses (and other types of buildings), but they are prohibited from owning the land on which it sits. To work around this, you can buy a freestanding house, but lease the property. Under the Investor’s Lease Act of the Philippines, a foreign national can enter into a  lease agreement with a Filipino landowner for a long-term lease with an initial period of up to 50 years, with a one-time option to renew for 25 years.

Marry a Native

If you are married to a Filipino citizen, you can buy property in your spouse’s name. While your name won’t be on the title, it can be included in the contract to buy the property. If you legally separate, or your spouse passes away, the land can’t be transferred to you (because you are still prohibited from owning land), but you’ll have a “reasonable” amount of time to sell the property and collect the proceeds. Otherwise, the property will pass to your spouse’s heirs and/or relatives.

Buy Through a Company

Corporations can own land in the Philippines, provided Filipino citizens own 60 percent or more of the company; the rest can be owned by a foreign partner or partners. Corporations that meet this equity stake requirement must be registered with government Board of Investment (BOI) for permission to buy, sell or act as an intermediary in a real estate transaction.

As a foreigner, the largest piece of residential land you can own – either with your Filipino spouse or through a corporation – is 1,000 square meters of urban land (just under a quarter acre), or one hectare of rural land (about 2.5 acres).

Transaction Fees

Real estate transactions always involve more than just the price tag. If you buy property in the Philippines, you can expect to pay several fees, including:

  • Capital Gains Tax – 6% of the residence’s sales price, zonal value or fair market value, whichever is highest. This is normally paid by the seller, but it some instances the buyer pays it, or it ends up rolled into the sales price.
  • Documentary Stamp Tax – 1.5% of the sales price, zonal value or fair market value, whichever is highest.
  • Transfer Tax – 0.5% to 0.75% of the sales price, zonal value or fair market value, whichever is highest.
  • Title Registration Fee – varies according to a published registration fee table; generally around 0.25% of the sales price.

How to Own Property in the Philippines

 SRRV

Foreign nationals who want to retire in the Philippines must secure a  Special Resident Retirees Visa (SSRV) issued by the Bureau of Immigration of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a special type of visa that grants the holder multiple-entry privileges and the right to stay in the country permanently or indefinitely. It may cost around $1,500 and has to be renewed with a yearly fee, an SSRV does give the foreign retiree the benefit of owning land in the Philippines.

Expat 

There are several thousand foreign national residentsliving all over the Philippines. There are many areas considered to be Expat Friendly… The reasons may include the convenience of their location, secured communities and proximity to transportation hubs. Angeles City and Subic were former U.S. military installations that have retained much of their American suburban ambiance.

 Monthly Dues

If you decide to purchase a condo, keep in mind that there are monthly fees that you need to settle. Commonly known as condo dues, the computation of which is based on the size of your unit. For example, for a 100-sqm unit in a condo that charges homeowners Php75/sqm, the monthly condo dues would be Php7,500. 

Clean Title

 It is always important to check the title for annotations, which a good lawyer can help ensure you as a buyer that you are protected.