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Emigrate to the Philippines

Planning to move to the Philippines? Besides its scenic landscapes and stunning islands and beaches, its rich history and various cultural influences add to the country's appeal as an expat destination. Check out our guide to help you get started.

Guide for Foreigners Looking to Buy Land in the Philippines

Guide for Foreigners Looking to Buy Land in the Philippines

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Foreigners may not own land in the Philippines. However, they can rent private land for fifty years, after which the business can be extended for another 25 years. Additionally, the Condominium Law allows individuals from other countries to purchase condominium housing units, as long as the total ownership of the building does not exceed forty percent.

happy family showing new house in the background

How can a foreigner own a property in the Philippines?

As a foreigner, you can lease a property for 25 years and also agree to extend the lease for another 25 years. At the end of these 50 years, the owner has full control over the property again.

Land for commercial use (e.g. hotel or resort) can be leased for 50 + 25 years. Renting or leasing is often the safest way to "own" land. However, this is not cheaper than buying the land, as the rent is usually equal to the purchase price and the entire rent must be paid in advance. You can then build a house on the rented land.

Formation of a company that acquires land: At least 60% or more of the shares, however, must be owned by Filipinos. One can also own up to 40% of the shares in a condominium project, but at least 60% must be owned by Filipino citizens.

Acquisition of a condominium unit: again, only a maximum of 40% of the residential units may be owned by foreigners.
smiling couple making a deal with real estate agent

Other things that need to be clarified when buying land

  • Title: If the seller is the sole owner, there are rights of third parties on the land (lease contracts).

  • Who pays the tax? In practice, there are often 2 sales contracts with different sums, and one of them serves as the tax base.

  • Water, electricity, telephone, and internet supply.

  • Access to the property.

smiling family holding Sold signage

Tips when buying land in the Philippines

Since foreigners are not allowed to own land in the Philippines, accommodation options are limited to condo units and townhouses. However, before you decide to invest in a Filipino property, it would be wise to take stock and consider the following guidelines.

Define your goal

First of all, ask yourself what your goal is when buying real estate in the Philippines. Are you planning to live in the Philippines with your family for a reasonable time? Or, will you just travel to the Philippines periodically for your business dealings?

The answers to these questions will determine the type of property investment you should make.

Identify the location

It is highly recommended to live close to your workplace. In addition to the convenience it offers, this also allows you to avoid the monstrous traffic in many areas in the country, particularly Metro Manila. 

Aside from practical reasons, living where you work also allows you to enjoy the entertainment options offered by the commercial or business area. Also, establishing a home in the Philippines in a highly urbanized and/or commercial area gives you a better return on your investment.

Choose a developer

The Philippine construction boom has seen several accommodation options available to locals and expats alike. Various developers have joined the property development bandwagon, from small-scale developers to large property moguls, with property offerings ranging from very affordable projects to more exclusive projects. 

Projects will differ in terms of quality, location, the inclusion of some amenities, and target market. It is recommended that you choose a reputable property developer to ensure that you are getting value for your money and that it is invested with the utmost integrity.

Financing the purchase

Due to the improving economic environment, several financing options are now available to prospective investors and home buyers. Several real estate developers offer presale rates that are expected to appreciate once the project is completed and delivered, giving investors a higher rate of return. Even initial payments can be paid in installments, at zero interest. 

Financing is also available through an accredited bank or, in some cases, through internal financing from the property developer. With very low rates, it is not surprising that many investors take the financing route to finance their investment in real estate.

Consult a licensed real estate agent.

Consult a licensed Filipino real estate agent. The profession of real estate broker, in recent years, has become professionalized and all legitimate real estate brokers are now licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission of the Philippines. 

Licensed real estate brokers receive training and certification that make them qualified and competent to advise you and help you choose the property that meets your lifestyle requirements. As a warning, avoid dealing with unlicensed agents so that you don't end up running into trouble.

Owning a home in the Philippines will be one of the best investments you will ever make. And the strength of investing in Filipino property will largely depend on the type of property you buy, where the property is located, and who you consult to help you make the right investment decisions.