Buying a property in the Philippines


Investing in a real estate property in the Philippines can be quite complicated. Here are some guidelines to help you with the procedures.

If you have been seduced by the Philippines, you would probably want to buy a property there so as to settle down permanently. You should know, above all, that foreigners are not authorized to buy land in the country. However, they are allowed to buy apartments or condominiums. In some cases, foreigners are allowed to own a land provided they are married to a Filipino national. You are therefore advised to seek thorough information on related formalities before proceeding.


The purchase of property by foreigners in the Philippines is regulated by some conditions. For instance, you are allowed to buy a condominium or an apartment covering a maximum of 40% of the building's total surface area. In the case of an apartment, it must be located in a high building. In short, you can own a property, but not the land on which it is built.

However, you can opt for the long-term lease which has a 50 years duration, renewable for an additional period of 25 years. You are hence advised to seek the assistance of real estate specialists on this issue, whether you are buying an old or a new property.

 Good to know:

Holders of the Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV), which is a non-immigrant resident retiree visa, are eligible to additional benefits besides the authorization to buy an apartment, rent a plot of land or a house. You can have more information about this on the Philippines Retirement Authority website.

Purchase of land

If you wish to purchase land in the Philippines, you have to indicate your Filipino spouse's name on the sales deed. However, this does not mean that you will recover the land after your spouse's death.

You can also purchase land through a company that you have set up in the country. Note, however, that you are not allowed to own more than 40% of the company's shares.

In the case of purchase of land for real estate purposes, the total area should not exceed 1,000 m² in an urban area and 1 hectare in a rural area.

Buying an apartment

To buy an apartment, you will have to pay a deposit which is equal to 10% to 30% of the price of the property.

The acquisition of co-ownership shares will be supported by the Co-ownership Title Certificate, but the transfer of ownership will be done once the full payment has been made. Remember that foreigners can own up to 40% of apartments in a residential building.

Title transfer

During the transfer of title, a Deed of Absolute Sale (DOAS) will be drafted by a lawyer following an agreement between the buyer and the seller. The document then has to be notarized by a sworn Filipino notary.

Thereafter, a property tax statement will be issue by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). This statement then has to be produced to the nearest municipality's Assessor's office. The buyer will have to pay property tax at the City Treasurer's Office.

Once the Assessor's office has estimated the property's market value, the buyer is required to pay transfer taxes. The Capital Gains Tax and Documentary Stamp payments are made at the BIR.

Finally, the Registry of Deeds (RD) will cancel the old title and issue a new document. The buyer will therefore be in possession of a copy of the new title and can request for a tax return from the Assessor's Office.

Costs involved

Notary fees (paid by the buyer): 5% to 10% of the sale price

The local transfer tax (paid by the buyer): 0.75% of the sale price

The sale agreement (paid by the buyer): 0.225% to 0.50% of the sale price

Capital Gains Tax and Documentary Stamp tax (paid by the seller): 6% and 1.50% of the sale price respectively

Agency fees (paid by the seller): 3% to 5% of the sale price.

Other taxes and fees

The local transfer tax is paid to municipalities at a rate varying between 0.5% and 0.75% of the sale price according to the zonal or market value (whichever is higher).

The capital gains tax applies at a rate of 6% of the gross sale or market value price (whichever is higher) of local transactions, usually based on zonal values. Payment conditions depend on an agreement between the buyer and seller. In some cases, either the buyer or the seller pays the total amount of taxes and fees. However, fees are generally charged on the sale price.

Real estate agency fees generally apply at a rate of 3% to 5% of the property value. There is no additional registration cost besides their commission.

Finally, the Documentary Stamp Tax applies at a rate of 1.5% directly on the property's sale price or market value (whichever is greater).

 Useful links: – Housing in the Philippines 
Philippine Retirement Authority
Bureau of Internal Revenue
Land Registration Authority

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See also

Cagayan de Oro, which is the capital city of the oriental Misamis province, provides a range of accommodation options for foreigners.
Cebu is one of the most popular Philippines cities as it provides not only various opportunities but also a range of accommodation for expats.
Located in the Mindanao region, Davao is a metropolitan region in the Philippines, providing many accommodations for expatriates.
Iloilo is one of the Philippines' provinces. Located on Panay Island, it hosts a range of housing units, especially in the city-center.
Manila, the Philippines capital city, consists of several districts where foreigners have settled due to the availability of accommodation.

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