Can a foreigner own a home in the Philippines? One of the first things most of us learn about the Philippines is that only Filipino citizens can own land in the Philippines. However, it is still possible for foreigners  to own a home in the Philippines.

Path To Own A Home In The Philippines

There are two primary means for a foreigner to own a home in the Philippines. A foreigner can buy a condo with certain limitations. A foreigner can also lease real property for up to 50 years.

Own A Home In The PhilippinesIn both cases, acquiring a solid title to the property can be a concern. Perhaps title is not the correct legal word, I am uncertain. Perhaps, proper rights to the property is t`he proper word. This is less of an issue with condos. Where long term leases are concerned, it too often becomes an issue.

Sometimes titles to real property in the Philippines are challenged. This seems to most often happen where there land has been held by many people at the same time. From what I can tell, this is not uncommon. Any one of those people can challenge the title. Sometimes a family member leaves their land to several family members.

I also know of a case where a developer in Boracay developed a resort on the land and later the family claimed there was a problem with the lease. The foreigner holding the lease lost his claim in court. The last ruling I read found that the person with the lease waited to long to file his suit. The lease holder believed that the family reclaimed the land when they moved in and started living there. The court said it was when they notified him that there was a problem with the lease. In any case, the family that owned the land won the case and the investor lost everything he put into the resort.

Another potential area for problems to arise would be when the land holder dies and leaves the land to someone else. They may look for a way to break the lease. They may not want to wait 45 years for the land to have any real value for them. I can see how the motivation might be high for some people to look for a way to have the land be of value for them. Long term leases seem like a recipe for long term trouble to me. I don’t feel good about loose ends as they always seem to eventually tie me up.

All the same problems could happen with a condo as well but I feel it is less likely. This is especially true if you’re the first owner. There are lots of new condos going up. I personally would feel more comfortable with a condo.

The main limitation that I know of for buying a condo is that all the units must be owned by at least 60% Filipino. If you wanted to sell your condo, you may be limited to sell to only Filipino if the complex is already at its maximum percentage. That reduces your market and it could be harder to sell. Not because there there are a lack of Filipino that can buy it but you’re obviously limited in the number of buyers which could make cause it to take longer to sell or lower how much you will get for your condo.

There is a third option that many expats living in the Philippines take. Many also regret it later. They buy the property in their wife’s name. There is nothing wrong with this but if the marriage goes badly, it is hers. If  you put land in someone else’s name you must consider it a gift. Some want to put the property in their wife’s name and then lease it back. That is not legal. If you’re going to do this, you must understand that it is her property.

To become a citizen, you are required to denounce the citizenship of your original country. You must also be a resident of the Philippines continuously for ten years. I’ve been told the USA will not honor the denouncing of your citizenship. However, I also understand the USA could choose to honor it and I can’t see myself denouncing the USA. The Philippines is a wonderful place but I couldn’t denounce the USA myself.

Finding a condo is easy. If you go to a mall in Cebu City,  you’ll be offered literature if you walk around enough. I’m sure this happens in any big city. I have finally stopped taking them. Sometimes I tell them I already have a few hundred of those. 🙂 You can also go to a real estate agent. You will need a lawyer in the Philippines to make sure you have a good title. If you are not familiar with the Philippines, you’ll be surprised on how much cheaper lawyers in the Philippines are compared to the USA.

Prices are pretty good. Land here generally is much cheaper than what it is in the USA. Though in recent years that may not be as true as it once was. I’ve seen some remarkably low prices in Florida in the last year or two. There are some real bargains in the USA where land is concerned.

Visa Helps To Own A Home In The Philippines

There is a special retirement visa in the Philippines that can lead you into owning a home in the Philippines. This visa is known as the Special Resident Retirement Visa or SRRV. You’ll have to pay around $1500 for your application of the SRRV and there are fees of around $400 a year to renew it. However, if you’re living here on a tourist visa, you’re going to pay more than that for your bimonthly extensions. This visa means you have all the rights of a resident. You can earn an income and operate a business. An expat living in the Philippines with a tourist visa cannot do that.

There is also a requirement to deposit between $10,000 to $50,000 in a local bank. This amount varies depending on age and if you have a pension or not. There are some types of SRRVs that have different deposit requirements. If you want to know more visit this page.

You can, with prior approval, use this money to invest in a business, a long term lease or buy a condo in the Philippines. This paves the way to owning a home in the Philippines. However, your investment must be $50,000 and not just $10,000.

With rent being so low in the Philippines, many expats choose to live in the Philippines and pay rent. It would be nice to own some land or at least have long term rights to use the land.  To build a big nice home here would be very nice too. You do need to proceed with caution and make sure you have a solid lease. It is hard to predict what things will be like 20 years after you take out your lease. I might take out a lease myself someday but it does concern me. I might even buy land and put it in Jessie’s name. If were to do that, I would see it as a gift. These are the common pathways for you to own a home in the Philippines.

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Filed under: Living In The Philippines

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