One way of ensuring wealth is by accumulating lands, houses, and condominium units.  Why?  Because as time goes by, its value increases.  Moreover, people who own these properties can do either of the two: sell them or use them for their own business/establishment.  The government declared numerous laws that revolve around this specific topic.  Most of these laws try to stop illegal ways of acquiring and owning certain properties in the Philippines.   On top of that, these decrees also try and regulate ownership and equity in acquisition.

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In this article, we are going to share some of the questions you might ask before you buy or sell properties here in the Philippines.  Make sure that you double check this article if you are having doubts on your decisions.  This is to ensure that you won’t be troubled with your business.

Read: Tips Before Buying a Land in the Philippines To Avoid Problems

First and foremost, who can buy real estate properties in the Philippines?

In general, all Filipinos can acquire properties here in the Philippines; even former Filipino citizens can. However, the latter type has certain limitations.  No matter what nationality you are now, if you’re a former Filipino citizen, you can still buy or acquire land here in our country. If you’re planning to buy a property in the urban area, you can buy only up to 1, 000 square meters.  But, if it’s located in a rural area, you can buy up to 1 hectare.

Can foreigners own land here in our country?

Unfortunately, no. Foreigners or non-Filipinos cannot acquire or own land here in the Philippines; they cannot own house and lots.  However, if a foreigner marries a Filipina, the wife (Filipina) has the right to buy a property (land; house and lot). Nevertheless, foreigners can buy and own condominium units.

If foreigners can own condo units, how much units can they own?

Republic Act 4726 or more commonly known as “Condominium Act” is the specific law that talks about this.  It’s one of the exemption where a foreigner can acquire properties here in our country. Technically speaking, condominium unit owners do not actually own the land where the condo was built. The condo-corporation actually owns this land.  In conclusion, foreigners can own condo units, not the land.  They can own up to 40% of the total ownership.

So after knowing all that, are there laws that can protect buyers/owners of residential properties?

If you are the one selling the property, let the buyer be aware of his rights. If you’re the buyer however, you should know your rights by heart. There are laws that are dedicated to protect buyers and soon-to-be-owners of a certain piece of land.  One example is the presidential decree we mentioned above. To further help you with this, you can see the laws and your rights in this link right here.

Are there government bodies/agencies you can approach to help or guide you in purchasing a property in the Philippines?

If you’re looking for an ally in the government side, then you can approach the House and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). And what does this agency do? They would verify the details of the project. They’ll let you show the records of the property (land) developers as they cannot push through with the project without the clearance from HLURB.

Let’s sway to a different direction; can you buy a real estate property without a written contract?

I think it’s a pretty obvious question because nowadays, most of the proofs should have legal documentation. Without it, a person can’t simply declare that “it has been agreed upon verbally,” as this would cause confusion and possibly – betrayal. But to answer the question – YES. You can still buy properties without a written contract but still, the best evidence of a transaction should be in documentation. If you would stick with oral, then you might encounter a huge problem. So, even if you do not have a valid and pure written contract, insist and demand evidence in writing.

But if there’s a written contract but it’s not notarized, can the buyer still legally possess the property?

In the first place, you need to ensure that when you are buying properties, there should be a written contract. Moreover, it should be notarized as it needs to be a public document. Don’t take it the wrong way as although the property is private, it’s actually the binding of the parties. If in any case you bought real estate property and the contract was not notarized, the seller cannot use it as a defense to say that you’re contract was not valid.  It’s still a valid contract; but for your protection, it has to be notarized in order to prevent the seller from selling the property to another person.

Let’s assume that the written contract is not notarized.  If the seller commits double-sale of the property, what’s going to happen?

Before anything else, what’s double sale?  Well, double sale is when the seller sells it to you and then he sells it to another person. Say the seller sold it to you through a private document (not notarized). After that, he sells it again to BUYER B.  Since BUYER B wants the property as well, he wants to register it under his name. The status of this certain property is in double sale.  So in this situation, who gets to legally own the property?  You or BUYER B?

In this case, whoever is the first possessor/buyer has the right to own the property. The succeeding supposed-to-be-buyer? He doesn’t have any right or he loses the right to own the property. So we really need to be careful in situations like this.

Here are some of the facts you need to be aware of before you either buy or sell a property here in the Philippines. These facts can ultimately help you in achieving a legal and an outstanding sale. Being keen to details and knowing the laws and your rights can project that you really know how to handle your property – which will then make the buyer think it’s a prime one.

Do you have any questions about the sale of lands and other properties here in the Philippines?  Did we miss something we should’ve mentioned?  Let us know!

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