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Buying Property In Philippines

7 Ways A Foreigner Can Own Property in the Philippines

Foreigners are generally prohibited from purchasing land in the Philippines. However, this restriction doesn’t completely prevent them from owning real estate.
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Buy A Condominium Unit

Acquiring condominium units is the most convenient option for foreigners to own real estate property in the Philippines.

According to the Condominium Act of the Philippines, also known as Republic Act (RA) 4726, foreign nationals are permitted to purchase condominium units in any condominium project, provided that the overall foreign ownership of the project doesn’t exceed 40%.

For example, a condo project with 100 units in total. Only 40 condo units can be sold and owned by non-Filipino citizens.

Even better is the affordability of housing compared to the US. You can still find furnished 387 sqft/36 sqm BGC or Makati studio apartments starting at $500 per month in a luxury condominium complex with fitness gyms, rooftop swimming pools, movie theatres, and more.

Ownership Of Condominium Units

Some freestanding houses or villas have condominium titles, allowing foreigners to own them. You can ask your real estate broker about the type of title the property has before making a purchase. While this is not a typical scenario, it’s important to note that the 40% foreign ownership restriction still applies to these properties.

Buy A House With Leased Land

As mentioned earlier, non-residents are generally prohibited from purchasing land in the Philippines. However, this restriction doesn’t completely prevent them from owning real property in the country.

The provisions on foreign ownership don’t extend to legally acquiring houses and other building structures. One solution is for expats to buy freestanding homes and get a long-term lease on the land.

According to the Investor’s Lease Act of the Philippines or the Republic Act No. 7652, it’s stipulated that a foreigner and a Filipino landowner can enter into a long-term land lease agreement. This involves initial periods extending up to 50 years, with a one-time option to renew for 25 years.

SRRV Lease Of House and Land

If you want to use your SRRV Classic deposit on a long-term lease of the lot and house, the lease term must be a minimum of 25 years and $10,000 USD or $20,000 in lease value depending on the type of visa.

Marry A Philippine Citizen

Foreigners married to Filipino citizens can acquire property under their spouse’s name. Even though the foreigner’s name may not appear on the land title (Transfer Certificate of Title), it’s possible to include their name in the property purchase agreement (Deed of Sale). This arrangement allows for a seamless and legally sound process while ensuring the interests of both parties are duly protected.

In case of a legal separation between the couple (as there is no divorce law in the Philippines) or the unfortunate passing of the Filipino spouse, the transfer of land to the foreign spouse is not permitted.

This is due to the foreign spouse’s restriction on land ownership in the Philippines. However, a reasonable amount of time will be granted for the sale of the property and the collection of proceeds. You can also transfer ownership to your children or legal heirs. Alternatively, if you don’t have any children, you can pass it on to your spouse’s relatives.

Acquire Through A Company With Philippine Majority Ownership

Philippine corporations are allowed to own land, provided Filipino citizens own at least 60% of the company, while foreign partners can own the remaining shares. When corporations meet this equity stake requirement, they must register with the government’s Board of Investment (BOI) to obtain permission to engage in real estate transactions, including buying, selling, or acting as an intermediary.

Additional Foreign Ownership Rules

The same maximum land restrictions imposed on foreign individuals also apply to the maximum area that expatriates can acquire through a company.

Buy a property as a Balikbayan foreign citizen

Former Filipino citizens who return to the Philippines as Balikbayan are fortunate to have the legal right to purchase property and own land in their home country. The Balikbayan program, established by the Philippine government, aims to encourage Filipinos who have migrated abroad to reconnect with their roots. This program grants Balikbayans special privileges, including purchasing property and owning land in the Philippines.

Even if they are no longer Philippine citizens, Balikbayans can take advantage of this legal provision to invest in real estate or own land in their native country.

The specific Balikbayan land ownership rights are covered under the 1982 Batas Pambansa 185 (BP 185) and Republic Act 8179 (RA 8179), which amended the Foreign Investment Act of 1991.

Definition of Balikbayan

A Balikbayan is a Filipino citizen who has acquired foreign citizenship and wishes to return to the Philippines for personal, business, or investment purposes. The Balikbayan Program is a government initiative to encourage Filipino citizens living abroad to maintain ties and contribute to the country’s development.

Become A Filipino Dual Citizen

Under the Dual Citizenship Law of 2003 (also known as RA 9225), Filipinos born in the Philippines who lost their Filipino citizenship to become naturalized foreign citizens of another country can regain their Philippine citizenship by swearing allegiance to the Philippines.

After reacquiring Philippine citizenship, they are considered citizens and may own any property without foreign citizen limitations.

Buy land before the 1935 Philippine Constitution was passed

This is pretty rare in 2023. As someone who purchased property at 18 years old in 1935 would now be years old. If your parents or family purchased the property before 1935, then the exceptions around property inheritance come into play (see section above under Hereditary Succession).

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