Questions about Philippines real
estate and condos in Manila or Makati ranks among my most
asked questions in my e-mail. That's good, because
foreigners and balikbayans looking to retire here to the
Philippines constitute a great deal of our economic future.
So to get right to the point, I'll say that there are many
ways to go about looking for real estate here in the
Philippines. Much of what you can buy depends on your
citizen status. If you are a foreigner, you cannot own
land. For most people, this simply means that you only
can buy condos. For most foreigners, this is a perfect
fit. Most newer condominiums in Malate, Manila, or
Makati are first class all the way. They are clean and
secure, and are very close to malls, schools, business,
nightlife, or whatever else you want to live nearby.
Of course, there are many real estate developers from which
to choose here in the Philippines. All have their own
distinct styles of design. Some are small developers
who are personally overseeing their building, while other
real estate developers are part of large land-owning
corporations such as Citiland, Megaworld, or Ayala Land.
Personally I'm biased because I know people selling real
estate in Manila/Malate. Their site is actually next
to the Manila Bay so obviously you have the fresh air and
the view of the water and Makati skyline. My sales
pitch...if you are looking for a Philippines condominium, shoot me an e-mail and I'll do my best to help
you out. I'm not a licensed broker, but I get a small
referral commission from the developer. The developer
draws up the contracts and does in-house financing to cut
out the middle-men.
Real estate I deal less with in the
Philippines is land or "house and lot" as we Filipinos say
it. If you are a foreigner and male, you will need a
Filipina wife to own the land. (If you are a gay
couple, you can forget it...same sex marriages aren't
allowed.) The trick here is that she cannot be a
naturalized citizen of country other than the Philippines.
Before you correct me, it's true that the Government here
passed a bill allowing Filipinos who are citizens of another
country re-apply for a condition that allows them to retain
their Filipino citizenship. The thing is that you must
apply for your dual citizenship. From what I
understand, this can be done either in your current country
of residence via the Philippine consulate or you can do it
here in the Philippines upon your return. I'm
currently looking into exactly how to get "right to own real
estate paperwork" done since a few people have requested
that I do it for them instead of paying a lawyer 10 times
the price. In my experience, lawyers here are horribly
lazy and are just as likely to mess up the paperwork or pass
it off to an incompetent assistant who messes it up.
What I mean by this is that you'll get a document back where
your name is misspelled, your passport number will be wrong,
home address wrong, etc, etc. The time I witnessed it
there were so many mistakes that I wondered if the lawyer
didn't do it deliberately. What will
happen is that you will buy the house and lot, only to find
out later that you need to pay a fine or a "fee to fix it"
since all of your data is wrong, effectively making your
title null and void.
The next pitfall in real estate is
land disputes or title disputes. This is probably the
biggest problem in the Philippines and the quickest way to
get ripped off. Basically someone sells you a
property. For awhile you believe it's yours, free and
clear. Suddenly, one way or another, you'll come to
find out that another individual has, years ago, laid claim
to your property. You will suddenly find yourself in a
land dispute that could literally go on for years. And
during that time, obviously, the property must sit idle
until the dispute is cleared. The quick solution is to always do a background check on any real estate here
in the Philippines before you buy.
A few people have asked me if they
can buy real estate such as a condominium and rent it out
before they settle here for good. The answer is yes,
and I believe that this is a good strategy here in the
Philippines. While you are getting your affairs in
order you can offset your monthly payments via your rent.
I'll add more to this discussion later...probably talking
about more specific areas of Manila and Makati in greater